Types of Shower Tray & Shower Tray Materials
Shower trays, shower bases, shower pans, shower surfaces – there are many different names regionally and globally for these understated items. There are also many different types of shower tray on the market currently, each of them varied in different ways.
These include the format and purpose – from enclosure to wet rooms – to sizes, colours, shapes and even the additional features some have.
The humble shower tray or base might not often be the focus of your bathroom, given that it is discretely placed, and not necessarily a feature item. However, when you are standing on it frequently when using your shower, it is important to be confident that the shower tray is going to provide reliability, be hard-wearing and give you value for money.
Therefore, we have created this buying guide to break down all the types simply for you, so that you can make a great choice and create a fantastic shower space.
What Type of Shower Tray Do I Need For Each Space?
When looking at shower trays, a good starting point to consider is what type of area you are looking to create in your bathroom. Our shower tray sizes guide offers advice on different depths and sizes and provides extra information, if you are after a bit more advice.
Wet Room Shower Trays & Kits
A wet room is a shower space that is entirely level with the floor, making it more accessible for people with walking difficulties, disabilities, or accessibility issues. It is bordering on a misconception, though, that wet rooms always require a shower tray. The main type of wetroom shower trays are low profile shower trays, which can be recessed to create a flat and floor-level aligned shower. These will add colour, style and a great modern touch.
However, if you are looking to create a space that is continuous in visuals and aesthetics, then an alternative option to a shower tray is something like Abacus Wetroom Kits, which can sit underneath a floor type of your choice, such as tiles.
Walk-In Shower Trays
Walk in shower trays are extremely similar to those required in wet rooms in that they are all low profile trays with depths of 35mm or less, making them great for accessibility. The only differentiating feature is that while wetrooms are completely floor level, walk-in shower trays are slightly raised.
In terms of shower enclosures, the reality is that no shower tray is off-limits, with a wide spectrum of choice to create your space. From different sizes – small, narrow, low-profile, or large and deep, they all become viable options. Additionally, it opens the door to a broad range of shower tray shapes. The only consideration to make is to find one you like, ensuring the shower enclosures and shower door you purchase match the size of the tray.
What Shower Tray Shapes Can You Get?
Now you have decided on the type of shower space you are having and the shower tray to match it, as well as the size considerations, the next step is to consider the shape of the shower tray you want.
Square Shower Trays
Starting with conventional shapes available, square shower trays have equal sized edges. Square shower trays are available in a broad range of sizes and colours and are great for small bathrooms and compact spaces. They can also be used for shower areas that are enclosed in a wall recess, which has a fixed size.
Rectangular Shower Trays
Rectangular shower trays feature one longer edge and one shorter edge. Some rectangular trays do have the ability to be cut down if you are looking for a more specific size.
Large rectangular sized trays are great for full-length bathroom shower enclosures and walk-in spaces, offering the luxury of additional space and avoiding tight squeezes.
Bowed & Curved Shower Trays
A type of curved shower tray, bowed shower trays are essentially rectangular trays but the front, including entry point, is curved.
These are available in specific sizes, and some, such as those made by Kudos, feature bespoke shower enclosures made to fit them. They can create a unique feature in your bathroom, as well as maximising space and often use leg and plinth kits for a solid foundation and proper fit.
Pentagonal Shower Trays
Like the five-sided shape, pentagon shower trays unsurprisingly also feature five sides. The design of pentagon shower trays usually features a squared right-angle width and length that is flush to the wall and a squared length and width to the front. The corner opposite the wall has a 45-degree angle edge, which is where the shower door and entry point is.
Quadrant Shower Trays
The shape of quadrant shower trays is based on the quadrant of a circle, resembling one piece of a circle cut into four. The shape of this shower tray therefore features 90-degree angle edges that are equal in length and width, flush to the wall and a curved front that joins the two. All quadrant shower trays are equilateral in size like square shower trays.
Offset-Quadrant Shower Trays
Offset-quadrant shower trays are like their namesake, the quadrant shower tray. However, offset quadrant shower trays are shaped like one quarter of an oval, similar to an egg-shape or stretched circle. This means that they have a larger length than width, with a larger curved edge.
What is a Shower Tray Made of?
The final area to consider is what material of shower tray would be suitable for your space. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages, so it is important to consider everything from cost and features to colour and style.
Acrylic, Acrylic Coated and ABS Capped Acrylic (ABS Acrylic) Shower Trays
The most common shower tray material is acrylic, a form of plastic that is strong but incredibly lightweight and can be moulded extremely well, making it a perfect fit for bathroom items such as shower trays.
Acrylic can also come under many names including Acrylite and Lucite, which may be referenced by brands in their products. Some shower trays only feature an acrylic coating, instead relying on other durable materials, such as steel, to create the internal structure for a stronger, long-lasting and more weight-resistant product.
There is also another type of acrylic shower base called acrylic-capped ABS (or acrylic ABS) shower trays. This combines ABS with standard acrylic to create a stronger and more durable material, perfect for frequent use.
All types of acrylic have the surprising characteristic of feeling warm to touch meaning that when it comes to colder, winter months, there is a reduced chance of chilly feet!
Despite this, acrylic does have its limitation and its robustness is not as long-lasting as other materials, making it susceptible to breaks and cracks that will mean it eventually needs replacing. It is also commonly only ever provided in white meaning that if you are looking for colour choices, then acrylic may be limited.
Natural Stone, Ceramic & Stone Resin Trays
Another common shower tray material is stone, with both natural stone, such as ceramic, and stone-resin options available. Stone resin shower trays usually feature a stone-compound internal centre for extra weight and solidity, coated in acrylic. Many manufacturers have used other names for this including Merlyn Mstone, Truestone and Kudos KStone.
As they are a more solid compound mix, this provides a longer-lasting shower tray, as well as being more resistant to scratches, stains, and cracks. The other advantage of stone resin or stone trays is that they feature designs that retain the stone look such as slate and feature more colourful finishes.
Ceramic shower trays are colder to touch than their stone resin counterparts, while both are also slightly pricier than acrylic shower trays. However, that investment is worthwhile if you are looking for lifespan and choice over price.
Steel Shower Trays
Less common, but now more widely available are steel shower trays. These shower trays feature a steel interior with a coating, usually in steel enamel. They are strong but lightweight and are great at avoiding scratches and impact damage. Some designs are also able to withstand household cleaners, though it is always worth checking the manufacturer recommendations on this.
As they are metallic, they are also resistant to thermal stress, which is the change in temperature that can cause cracking, meaning steel trays have distinct advantages over both stone and acrylic trays. However, the pitfalls of steel and steel enamel shower trays include limited choice, noise issues from water running off the tray, as well as watermarking after a period of use, which can be off-putting to some people.
Despite this, because the steel enamel coating is a mix of glass and steel, they retain a shiny, luxurious look.
What is the Best Shower Tray Material?
Every person will have a different view on the best and it is important to consider what factor is best for you. Here are the best materials for whatever you are after:
- Best shower tray material for price – Acrylic
- Best material for availability/choice – Acrylic or Stone Resin
- Best material for colour options – Stone Resin
- Best shower tray for lifespan and hardiness – Steel & Steel Enamel
What Finish and Colours of Shower Tray Can You Get?
You can get lots of colours! While white is the most common colour, like all bathroom items, manufacturers are responding to customers by incorporating more colour into their designs. The most prominent colours you can get are:
- White (ice white, matt white, gloss white)
- Greige (a mix of grey and beige)
A popular finish is that of the slate-effect on shower trays. Manufactured from a stone-resin mix, these trays are finished with a gorgeous slate finish for a truly authentic stone tile appearance. These are also available in colours like the above.
What Features Can You Get With Types of Shower Trays?
The final consideration is whether you would like any other features with your shower tray. However, it is worth noting that these will limit your choice since not all shower trays will have these.
Anti-slip, Non-Slip and Slip Resistant Shower Trays
These shower trays all have the same goal, helping to reduce the risk of slipping. Since shower trays obviously encounter water quite a lot, as well as mixing with shower gels, soaps and shampoos that add to the mix, it is not shocking that the risk of slipping is increased. Non-slip shower trays feature an anti-slip coating to improve safety and minimise risk, especially since you will be close to glass in most cases. All these shower trays, and indeed anything being called non-slip or similar, must go through rigorous safety tests, so you can be assured of their safety and have peace of mind before you install them.
Wastes, Drains & Waste Shapes and Locations
A lot of shower trays will come with a compatible shower waste, however it is always worth checking to see if an alternative is available separately.
Some shower trays also feature variations in both location and type of shower waste or drain holes. Shower wastes can be in one corner, centrally at one end, or even in the middle of the shower tray.
The most common shape of waste is circular but some more contemporary designed shower trays also have square wastes or drains, or even what is called linear drains (a drain that is a long thin, rectangle).
Many shower wastes are also available to match or complement the finish of the shower tray itself. Chrome is a common finish for many manufacturers, but some, such as Crosswater and Tissino’s Giorgio2 range, feature Matt Black, Brushed Brass or Slate effect wastes for an extra finishing touch.
British-made Shower Trays
There is plenty to consider when buying a shower tray, but this guide will give you all the information you need when shopping to get started and make the right decision for you.
If you have any questions or feel something is missing that should be added, please contact us and we will be delighted to help you or click below to start shopping!