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Don't Get in a Lather with Your Shower

Tuesday, 7th April, 2015

The single biggest cost to landlords and their insurers is water damage, the annual bill for which runs into millions of pounds. Unfortunately, a significant amount of flooding is caused either maliciously or through negligence on behalf of the tenant - there is little that can be done to mitigate this. There are ways, however, of avoiding accidental water damage through careful design, installation and regular maintenance.

Traditional "tile and tray" showers are currently the most common type of installation. Relatively inexpensive in terms of materials, they tend to take longer to install and require significant maintenance once fitted. Care should be taken to use adhesives and grouts that are truly waterproof. Failure to do this could result in water being absorbed through the grout into the walls and subsequently the floor. Ensuring a perfect seal between the walls and tray is also critical, for obvious reasons. There are many ways of achieving this - from good, old fashioned silicone, trays that have up-stands that are tiled over and self-adhesive sealing strips - to name a few. The issue with tile and tray solutions is that they require regular inspection and, potentially expensive maintenance to ensure they remain free from leaks. Digging out old grout and silicone is a tedious business and the results are seldom as good as the original. They also tend to harbour dirt, mould and bacteria which brings other problems.

Recent years have seen an increase in the use of waterproof shower boards as an alternative to tiling. This solution tends to be more expensive than tile/tray but effectively eliminates the potential for leakage through the walls of the shower area - except at the vertical joint lines between panels. It is essential to ensure that the joints are sealed correctly and according to the manufacturer's instructions. Panels also greatly reduce the amount of maintenance required due to the elimination of grout lines and the potential for the growth of mould etc. They do not, however, address the issue of leakage at the wall/tray interface.

Far more recently we have seen the introduction of fully moulded "shower pods" that, as the name suggests, have walls and floors that are moulded as single pieces. These solutions completely remove adhesives, grouts and silicones from the shower area. They are manufactured from GRP (Fibre Glass) and have a very high quality surface finish - very similar to a bath. Fitting can be completed in a few hours and once complete, these units offer absolute protection from leakage through both the walls and the tray/wall interface. The surface coating and lack of grout and silicone also means that mould and bacteria are virtually eliminated and ongoing maintenance is virtually zero.

In short, careful selection of materials can result in a truly leak free shower area. Think about the total cost of ownership of the area - cost of installation, how often maintenance will be required, the potential costs involved if it all goes wrong. Seldom is the cheapest option the best in the long term. Better to fit once and forget about it than to live with the constant threat of leaks and the associated costs.


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