What Is a Prefab Shower Stall?

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A prefab shower stall (prefabricated shower stall) can provide homeowners with a complete shower stall, as opposed to the classic but painstaking method of building a tiled shower from scratch.

It's a vast help for homeowners who want to DIY their shower stall but may not feel confident about their tiling skills. Even if you choose to have professionals install the prefab shower stall, it means that the unit will go in faster, with far fewer re-visits for grouting, sealing, and other follow-ups associated with tiling.

Definition

A prefabricated shower stall is made off-site at a factory, leaving the only assembly to be done at your home. This method means that the shower can be completed in a few hours, rather than the several days required to custom-build a tiled shower stall unit.

Interlocking Multi-Piece Prefab Stalls

The most common and easiest type of prefabricated shower unit to install is the multi-piece shower.

Muti-piece prefab shower stalls consist of several components made of acrylic or fiberglass which interlock to form a cohesive unit.

Typically, this complete package includes a shower pan or bathtub, two separate side pieces, one larger back piece, and front doors (optional) or the front is left open and covered with a shower curtain.

Prefab Wall Units or Surrounds

Often, the lower shower pan or the bathtub basin is in good condition, but the upper walls are not.

It's possible to purchase the wall units or wall surrounds separately. They can be paired with matching, same-brand units, or, in some cases, with different brands of surrounds and pans or basins can be paired.

  • Shower/Tub Wall Kit Best PickSwanstone Veritek is a three-piece wall kit: one back panel and two side panels. This product's greatest selling point is that the ledges and soap dishes are molded straight into the plastic, saving you from adding these accessories. Also, the back panel is one single panel, not an adjustable panel like this next one, the QWALL.
  • Shower/Tub Adjustable Wall Kit Best Pick: The name is deceptive; this wall kit actually includes all necessary sections: a back wall and two side walls. The QWALL is more affordable than the Veritek. However, there are fewer shelves (two), and they are made of tempered safety glass rather than molded into the panels.  
  • Shower-Only Best Pick: This Sterling unit is a shower only, with a square 32-inch by 32-inch footprint.  

Single-Piece Prefab Shower Stalls

Single-piece prefabricated showers are typically more expensive and more difficult to transport and install. The main body of the shower stall is a single, molded piece.

The single piece units have fewer spaces for mold and mildew to grow and are structurally more solid. Even so-called single-piece units are not truly single-piece since the door is a separate piece. Also, what appears to be a single-piece unit is actually separate pieces that were expertly welded together back in the manufacturing plant.

Call a bathroom remodeling company for installation of these one-piece shower units. One thing to keep in mind is if your doors are large enough to allow a single piece unit to come through. Many older houses have narrower doorways, making this difficult. Door jambs can sometimes be removed to allow extra width for the doorways. If not, then a multi-piece unit it usually the best option.

Direct-to-Stud Prefab Shower Stalls

Direct-to-stud (DTS) shower stalls are a type of multi-piece unit that, true to its name, installs directly to the studs of the shower or shower/tub enclosure.

The prefab pieces are screwed or nailed straight to the wall studs, with no intervening drywall or cement board. This is a plus in several ways. For one, wall coverings behind high-moisture environments are often problematic, due to leakage, rot, mold, and mildew. So, the fewer materials behind the wall surrounds, the better.

DTS prefab units also eliminate the work and expense of building walls that will be invisible once the prefab unit is installed. DTS units should have insulation when the wall is exterior-facing.

One downside of DTS units is that interior walls are less soundproofed than if they were covered with drywall or cement board.

Also, DTS units have just one obstacle between the moisture and the insulation: the vapor barrier. If the vapor barrier should fail, then the moisture will work it way into the insulation. Once insulation is soaked with water, it's always best to remove it and replace it.