Walk-In vs. Enclosed Showers: Size and Layout Differences

When it comes to renovating a bathroom using a shower remodeling contractor, the choice between walk-in and enclosed showers is a significant one. 

Walk-in showers offer a luxurious, open design with customization options but are costlier and more complex to install. Enclosed showers are budget-friendly, provide privacy, and fit various bathroom sizes, with a simpler installation process and diverse style choices.

Let's take a look at the size and layout differences of walk-in vs. enclosed showers, offering a comprehensive guide to help you make an informed decision.

What are Walk-In Showers?

Walk-in showers, characterized by their open and seamless design, offer a sleek and modern look. They typically feature minimal barriers, making them an elegant addition to any bathroom.

What are Enclosed Showers?

Enclosed showers are defined by their enclosed structure, often featuring doors or curtains. This design provides privacy and can contain steam and water within a confined space.

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Walk-in vs Enclosed Showers: Design and Aesthetic Appeal

Walk-In Showers

  • Open and Airy Feel: Walk-in showers are renowned for their spacious and open design. This style contributes to a sense of luxury and modernity in the bathroom. They often feature glass panels or are entirely open, enhancing the visual space of the bathroom.

  • Minimalist Aesthetic: With clean lines and minimal obstructions, walk-in showers align perfectly with contemporary and minimalist interior designs. They can make a bathroom appear larger and more inviting.

  • Customization Flexibility: The open design of walk-in showers allows for a high degree of customization. Homeowners can choose from various materials, such as tile, stone, or glass, and incorporate unique design elements like benches or multiple showerheads.

Enclosed Showers

  • Privacy and Intimacy: Enclosed showers, with their defined boundaries, provide a sense of privacy and intimacy. This can be particularly appealing in shared or family bathrooms.

  • Diverse Styles: Enclosed showers come in a variety of styles, from classic framed doors to modern frameless designs. This versatility means they can fit into any bathroom aesthetic, whether it’s traditional or contemporary.

  • Space-Saving Solutions: For smaller bathrooms, enclosed showers can be a practical choice. They can be designed to fit into corners or specific areas, maximizing the use of available space.

Combining Both Elements

  • Harmonious Blending: In some bathrooms, designers blend elements of both walk-in and enclosed showers. For instance, a walk-in shower might include a partial glass enclosure for a balanced mix of openness and privacy.

  • Tailored to Lifestyle: The choice between walk-in and enclosed showers often depends on the homeowner's lifestyle and preferences. Families might prefer enclosed showers for practicality, while individuals or couples might opt for the spaciousness of walk-in designs.

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Installation Process Of Walk-in vs Enclosed Showers

Walk-In Showers

  • Complexity and Professional Assistance: The installation of walk-in showers can be more complex compared to enclosed showers. This complexity often necessitates the involvement of professional installers. Key aspects include ensuring proper drainage, waterproofing, and seamless integration with the bathroom floor.

  • Customization and Construction: Walk-in showers typically offer more room for customization, which can include the choice of tiles, multiple showerheads, and additional features like built-in benches or niches. This customization often requires detailed construction work, such as building a sloped shower pan or installing glass panels.

  • Time and Cost: Due to their complexity and the level of customization possible, the installation of walk-in showers can be more time-consuming and expensive. The cost will vary based on the materials used and the extent of the customization.

Enclosed Showers

  • Simpler Installation: Enclosed showers are generally easier and quicker to install. Many come as pre-fabricated units, which can be directly fitted into the designated space in the bathroom.

  • Flexibility in Design: Although they offer less customization than walk-in showers, enclosed showers still come in various styles and sizes. This flexibility allows them to be installed in different types of bathrooms, regardless of size.

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Enclosed showers tend to be more cost-effective due to the availability of pre-made kits and less complex installation requirements. This makes them a popular choice for budget-conscious homeowners or for secondary bathrooms.

Considerations for Both Types

  • Plumbing Requirements: Both walk-in and enclosed showers have specific plumbing requirements. It's important to consider the location of existing plumbing and the feasibility of any required changes.

  • Space and Layout: The available space and layout of the bathroom will significantly influence the installation process. For smaller bathrooms, enclosed showers might be more feasible, while larger bathrooms can accommodate the spacious design of walk-in showers.

  • Waterproofing and Ventilation: Proper waterproofing is crucial for both types of showers to prevent water damage. Adequate ventilation is also important to manage humidity and prevent mold growth.

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Cost Comparison: Walk-in vs Enclosed Shower

Walk-In Showers

  • Higher Initial Investment: Walk-in showers generally require a higher initial investment compared to enclosed showers. This is due to factors like the cost of custom materials (e.g., tiles, glass panels), the complexity of the design, and the need for professional installation.

  • Customization and Luxury Features: The cost can increase significantly with added luxury features like multiple showerheads, custom tiling, built-in seating, or advanced shower systems. These customizations, while enhancing the shower experience, add to the overall expense.

  • Long-Term Value: Despite the higher upfront cost, walk-in showers can add significant value to a property. They are often viewed as a premium feature in modern home designs and can be a selling point, potentially offering a return on investment in the long run.

Enclosed Showers

  • More Budget-Friendly: Enclosed showers are typically more budget-friendly. Many enclosed showers come in pre-fabricated kits, which reduce both the cost of materials and installation.

  • Variability in Price: The cost of enclosed showers can vary based on the type of enclosure, materials used, and features included. Frameless glass enclosures, for example, may be more expensive than framed ones.

  • Efficiency in Installation: The less complex installation process of enclosed showers also contributes to cost savings. They can often be installed quickly and without the extensive labor required for custom walk-in showers.

Comparative Analysis

  • Long-Term Costs: When considering long-term costs, it's important to factor in maintenance and potential repairs. Walk-in showers with fewer components, like doors or seals, might have lower maintenance costs over time.

  • Impact on Utility Bills: The design of the shower can affect water usage. Walk-in showers, due to their open design, might lead to more water usage and, consequently, higher water bills.

  • Resale Considerations: In terms of resale value, walk-in showers can be more appealing to prospective buyers, offering a modern and luxurious feel compared to standard enclosed showers.

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FAQs On Walk-In vs. Enclosed Showers

Which is more expensive to install, walk-in or enclosed showers?

Walk-in showers are generally more expensive to install due to their complex design.

Are walk-in showers suitable for small bathrooms?

While challenging, it is possible to fit a walk-in shower in a small bathroom with careful planning.

Can enclosed showers be customized?

Yes, enclosed showers offer a range of customization options, including different door styles and materials.

Which shower type is better for resale value?

Walk-in showers often add more value to a home, being a sought-after feature in modern bathroom designs.

How do the cleaning requirements differ between the two types?

Walk-in showers are generally easier to clean due to their open design and fewer corners.

The Showdown: Walk-In Showers vs. Enclosed Showers

When deciding between walk-in and enclosed showers, it's essential to weigh various factors. 

Walk-in showers excel at providing a luxurious, open feel and offer more customization, but they come with a higher cost and a more complex installation. Enclosed showers, on the other hand, are more budget-friendly, offer privacy, and are easier to install, making them suitable for a variety of bathroom sizes and styles.

Ultimately, the choice depends on individual preferences, budget, and the specific needs of your bathroom space. Whether you prioritize design and luxury or functionality and cost-effectiveness, both options can significantly enhance your bathroom's appeal and functionality. 

By carefully considering these aspects, you can make an informed decision that best fits your lifestyle and home.

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About the author

Hi my name is Jeremy Maher. My wife, 2 kids and I went through Contractor Nightmares for 3 years straight.

Ben, Mark, and I teamed up to start Phoenix Home Remodeling to help homeowners remodel without the common contractor nightmares.

Learn more about Jeremy's expertise and topics he likes to write about on his author page.