We have a huge number of shower trays on offer on our website, over 150 in fact and it is now possible for you to design and build your own shower to exactly the style to suit your particular requirements.
The evolution of shower trays has traditionally been slow, but the 21st century has seen a revolution in the materials used and the quality and performance of shower trays. In Victorian times baths evolved into shower baths, but it wasn’t until just before the second world war when manufacturers of thin gauge steel baths conceptualized the shower tray. The early trays were quite deep and small. Waste technology was not advanced enough to remove the water from the tray fast enough so a deeper tray was able to collect the water and let it drain more slowly.
There was little demand and due to the production cost of steel enamel shower trays were very expensive. The concept though was born and due to the ease of showering rather than filling a bath demand grew rapidly through the middle of the 20th Century.
New technology in plastics produced acrylic shower trays. Shapes and sizes were initially limited and the strength of acrylics was also limited. They were generally supported on a leg set so access could be gained to remove the trap in case of blockages. The lack of strength in the trays created flexibility and the seal between the shower tray and the wall finish would often perish allowing the shower water to escape causing major issues. Plastic technology moved at a pace during the 60’s and 70’s and the bathroom industry was not shy in benefitting from it. Acrylics became much stronger and therefore less flexible.
Shower tray manufacturers then combined the acrylic technology with resins. The stone resin moulded base was far more rigid than even a reinforced acrylic would be, but also ugly and cold and it was difficult to avoid the brittleness in the stone resin and hair line cracks. They used an acrylic cap to cover the stone resin; and so we saw the development of the current most popular style of shower tray, the acrylic capped stone resin tray.
Acrylic capped Stone resin shower trays
By far the most popular tray in the UK market; mainly due the fact that it has been around for the longest period. This type of manufacture creates a very strong, good quality tray. Thicknesses will vary between manufacturers, but they normally range from 100mm thick to 25mm.
There are numerous sizes and shapes of tray available which will suit just about any shower enclosure on the market. Certain shower cubicle manufacturers will make their own showers trays to suit the size of the cubicle. In these cases you must use the recommended tray. This manufacture method is generally widely accepted in the industry for a number of reasons.
Firstly of all the final product is good quality and provides the functionality required. It is also a very economic way of producing a shower tray. Once the moulds have been made they can be used many times. With the materials used for the manufacture being relatively inexpensive, a very cost effective final product can be achieved.
Limitations come in a number of ways. The resins used can become very heavy.
There is more and more demand for larger shower area’s so resin trays can become very heavy.
This means they can be more difficult to handle and therefore fit. The current trend for very thin trays has helped with this issue a little but the resins being thinner has also created more structural integrity issue’s for the manufacturers. Different, more expensive resin compounds are being used but this does not resolve every problem. The nature of acrylic is that it cannot be folded to produce a very square sharp corner. It is more bent, or rounded, over the resins. For certain aesthetics and designs this creates problems for the designers. Different colours and anti-slip shower trays are also available. Certain suppliers will also use slate effect moulds for the acrylics in varying colours which can produce a more creative design.
Plastic or foam shower trays
These trays have recently been introduced into the market. They overcome the weight issues associated with resin trays. They are either made using a lightweight steel frame which is then injected with foam and capped with acrylic or with ABS plastics (used in car body manufacture).
They are available in many different shapes and sizes and again use the new acrylic technology to produce various colours, slate effects and anti-slip versions. Many installers were at first a little conscious that the lightweight meant less quality. As long as the tray is installed with good all round support then you will not find an issue with the quality. Large, thin trays can be produced using this method which are very strong and functional. Standard sizes are also available.
Solid surface shower trays
Solid surface technology has been used in worktops for a number of years. The shower tray manufacturers are now utilizing the solid surface properties to produce shower trays. Different colours can be used, with matt effects if required. Solid surface trays are very rigid, thin and structurally sound. They tend to be available in fewer sizes but can add a little difference in design for the bathroom when a more bespoke aesthetic is required. They can also be produced in sleeker looking designs with a sharper edge to compliment the cubicle design or the overall bathroom feel.
Not to be confused with cast iron, steel enamel trays are very thin gauge steel which is protected and finished with an enamel (glass) coating. They are very strong and can be made in depths down to about 20mm. Now available in a number of colours to compliment the room design and with easy clean coatings or anti-slip actually burnt into the trays. A wide variety of sizes is available. The production costs of steel trays is generally more, but as they grow in popularity due to certain advantages in installation, quality of the feel and touch and there use as an alternative to a tiled wet room, the costs are coming down.
How to fit a shower tray
Having explain the history and development of showers trays and the different types available, it is important to remember that the shower tray is really a means to collect, contain and drain away the water produced by the shower. The vast majority of trays will have the slopes built into them so that the water runs towards the drain point. The drain point will vary in size and the position with the tray depending on the manufacture, but the tray will always be made so that it is meant to be installed perfectly level.
The majority of trays still require full support underneath so that there is no flexibility allowed and that the complete structural integrity of the tray is maintained throughout its life. This is normally achieved by placing the tray directly onto the floor or sub floor, or when raised access is required, by placing the tray on a raised deck or plinth. Most suppliers will provide a plinth kit as an option which will raise the tray up to 100mm in most cases.
The trays are then bedded on a thin sand/cement bed. This helps in not only being able to level the tray but also means that the tray is fully supported from the underside.
Once levelled and the waste connected, silicone is generally used around the outside of the tray to provide an initial seal where the tray meets the wall or board it is installed against. When level access is required the same principles are followed but a suitable level base will need to be created or provided under the floor level.
It is generally not enough to simply cut out the floor and rest the tray on the joists below. The trays are not designed to bridge gaps between joists or other supports. A floor with the floor must be created.
Some manufacturers will provide sub-trays and leg sets or even polystyrene supports in more specialist cases. If in any doubt about the suitability of the trays support and installation you must take advice to ensure the product is the correct one. Once installed they are very difficult to alter so installation instructions must be followed to the letter.