Don’t Get Stuck with a Shower Caddy – Plan for a Shower Niche
Leave no room for regret. Plan the height, size, style & placement of your shower niche
Shower Niche Planning is becoming an increasingly important part of most modern bathroom remodel plans. This process involves determining the correct shower niche height, size and style for yourself and your family. You must also consider whether or not to build a custom sized tiled shower niche, a tiled standard sized shower niche, or install the much simpler “finished” shower niche. After choosing how big you want your niche, where to put it is the next important consideration. By including shower niche planning in your shower remodel plan, you can avoid the clutter (and regret) that inevitably follows a remodel that neglected the shower niche.
If you want more details on shower niches, see our article: SECRETS of the Shower Niche.
SHOWER NICHE SIZE & STYLE IS KEY
To get the most out of your new shower niche, you should carefully consider how large it will need to be and what style of niche you prefer. Do you want one larger niche for bottle storage only? Do you need a shelf for razors and bar soap? Do you want a vertically oriented rectangular shaped niche with several shelves, or a large horizontal niche with one long ledge for all you shower items? Or perhaps you would prefer two smaller niches to increase your storage, while also adding some style & symmetry to your shower design. This decision involves both practical storage concerns as well as aesthetic considerations. In your shower niche plan you must weigh the importance of each, to come up with a solution that fits your needs but doesn’t interfere with your design.
STANDARD SIZED TILEABLE SHOWER NICHE
During your planning, you may decide that you’re not too concerned about custom sizing your niche, and you want to keep your shower niche budget in check. This is where a pre-manufactured niche can come in handy. You can choose one or two (or more) of these standard sized tileable shower niches that meet your needs. They come in various standard sizes depending on the manufacturer, and can all be tiled just like a custom tiled niche. All these shower niches are also designed to bond to a waterproofing membrane, which is very important. Here is an example from Schluter Systems.
See our article: Shower membrane waterproofing – How important?
FINISHED SHOWER NICHE
Alternatively you could choose to install a finished shower niche in your shower niche plan. These products also come in a few different sizes but only a few are designed to bond to the shower wall waterproofing membrane. Be sure that you purchase one that includes this feature as it is extremely important.
See our article: Shower niche insert – a responsible redesign
CUSTOM BUILT TILED SHOWER NICHE
If you are intent on creating a custom sized tiled shower niche, you can create any sized niche you want. This can be a bit daunting, but thankfully there are some structural and financial constraints that will likely limit your choices. A custom tiled shower niche can also cost a fair bit more than a standard sized tiled niche or a finished niche, so this will likely ensure that you don’t get too carried away with your niche storage.
CUSTOM HORIZONTAL NICHE
If your shower niche plan involves a custom horizontal shower niche, this type of niche will increase your shower storage significantly, but some structural reinforcement of the wall will be required. This can vary from a relatively small amount of work, to considerable, and quite expensive. Ask your contractor about this if you are planning to install a horizontal niche.
Read more about this in our article: 4 BIG shower install mistakes to avoid
CUSTOM VERTICAL SHOWER NICHE
If you don’t want to pay for additional structural fortifications you can still create a relatively large shower niche; you just need to extend your niche up vertically instead of horizontally. This niche will be much more reasonably priced because it is built between the existing wall studs. If you want to create a huge custom tiled shower niche, the amount of vertical height you could utilize is almost unrestricted from the ceiling down to the floor or tub deck,. The higher your niche becomes, the larger number of shelves you can put in as well. Just make sure that you talk to your contractor about shelf material. Glass shelves and bar soap don’t really work. If you love your bar soap, a shelf like this one pictured, won’t let it get away from you.
DON’T GET CARRIED AWAY
One last thing to consider when choosing your shower niche size is what personal care products are absolutely necessary in your shower and which items you can do without. If you don’t use certain items regularly, consider storing them outside the shower and bringing them in only when needed. When attempting to create a storage space in your new shower for absolutely everything you may need, you may be creating a shower niche that is too large and obtrusive. Always be aware of the balance that you are trying to achieve between storage practicality and your design aesthetic. To address this tendency, it is also a great idea to consider using two niches to spread out the product storage in two locations. This is a great idea for a couple that prefers their own personal shower storage area. It can also provide a compelling design symmetry that is impossible to achieve with just one shower niche.
SHOWER NICHE PLACEMENT
The decision of your shower niche size & style must always be accompanied by a shower niche height and horizontal placement decision when planning your shower remodel. These decisions also involve practical and aesthetic considerations. A homeowner that wants to create a shower niche that is a design showpiece will be more inclined to focus on the symmetry and finish of their niche. A more practical bias would lead a homeowner to position their shower niche where products can be easily accessed, and focus less on aesthetic concerns.
PRACTICALITY OVER AESTHETICS
Most homeowners will normally consider at least a few of the practical issues associated with proper placement. For example, a tub shower combination demands that the shower niche height be slightly lower to allow access to someone in the bath. As well, there are some very practical benefits to placing the niche outside of the “splash zone”, especially if you are a bar soap user. The splash zone is simply the area near the shower head where you stand & rinse yourself. A fair bit of water deflects onto the shower walls in this area, so a bar of soap can become a sloppy mess and dissolve down the drain, if stored within this zone. For this reason, the wall opposite the shower head is the most popular place for shower niches. Regarding shower niche height; if it’s a regular stand up shower, a placement height above the waist (approximately 3 feet from the shower pan/base) would be most convenient for reach. If it’s a tub/ shower, waist height or lower is more common to achieve a compromise for bathers. Some people obsessed with easy access, will place their niche between the shower valve control and the shower head. Although it may seem like an intuitive location, it has the distinct disadvantage of being directly in the splash zone, as well as being directly behind the water stream, which obscures your items from view. In addition, this installation requires that the water lines be redirected which also adds to your plumbing labour expense.
AESTHETICS A PRIORITY?
Those concerned about symmetry often horizontally center their shower niche on the back wall (wall adjacent to the shower head). Another option is placing two niches side by side, or above and below each other on this wall. This can also look super cool yet less dominant because each of the niches can be smaller, which may allow them to be more compatible with your shower tile design. With two or four niches, you can achieve a design symmetry impossible with a single niche. As well as being a very attractive option, multiple niches can also meet, or exceed the storage capacity of one single larger shower niche.
Choosing the right size, style, and placement of a shower niche in your new shower remodel may seem trivial, but it requires some important practical and aesthetic considerations. The last thing you need is to experience any regret about your shower storage after your shower remodel is finished. Hopefully this article can provide you with some clarity about this seemingly unimportant, (but actually crucial!) decision.
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