At a fundamental level, a shower cabin is just a very large piece of flat-pack furniture with connections to the water supply and sometimes an electrical connection as well. When people are thinking about buying a shower cabin, they often wonder how easy they will be to install. In all honesty, the answer to that question depends on your level of skill.
So that you can take a realistic assessment of your chances of completing the build successfully, we have put together a brief guide to its various components and what you need to think about if you plan to do them yourself.
All showers, by definition, need to be connected to the water supply. Steam showers have three connections, other showers have two. These connections are generally made by means of flexible, braided hoses.
If you have the relevant plumbing already in place where you want to site the shower (for example, if you’re replacing an existing shower), then connecting the shower should be a fairly straightforward job for anyone with a basic grounding in plumbing.
On the other hand, if installing the shower means putting in/altering piping in any meaningful way, for example if you are remodelling a bathroom and moving the shower to a new location, then it might be best to call in a professional plumber for whom such activities are, literally, all in a day’s work and who will have all the relevant tools.
Unless you happen to be a qualified electrician then you will need to hire a professional for this job. This is a legal requirement and will almost certainly be a requirement of your home insurance.
Putting the shower together
In the simplest of terms, if you feel confident that you could put together a large, fairly complex, piece of flat-pack furniture, such as a wardrobe, then you can probably put together a shower cabin without professional help, although you will probably need (or at least benefit from) a helper.
If you’ve ever installed a standard shower enclosure then you may actually find it easier to put together a stand-alone cabin.
We have to point out here, that quality brands such as Insignia and Vidalux are likely to be massively easier to put together than their cheaper counterparts, there are several reasons for this, of which three stand out.
- Their instruction manuals are comprehensive and written with care. In other words, you have a reasonable expectation of at least being able to understand what they are actually saying.
- They will come with all necessary hardware and tell you exactly what you need in the way of tools and supplies, for example, the manuals for these types of quality showers will make it explicitly clear that you need to use actual anti-bacterial sanitary silicone for the seals as opposed to the standard variety, which could harbour dangerous bacteria.
- The workmanship is almost certainly going to be of a better standard. If you’ve ever had the experience of having to put together cheap, flat-pack furniture, then you’ll probably have noticed that part of the challenge of putting it together is trying to work around less-than-perfect workmanship, like pieces being unable to line up the way they should, or holes being drilled in the wrong places.
One of the marks of quality flat-pack furniture and indeed quality shower cabins is that the manufacturing is of a much higher standard.
NB: if you’re not sure of your ability to put together a shower cabin, you could do a “dry run” i.e. put together the cabin without applying the sealant, so you can easily take it apart again if you decide to back out gracefully and call a professional.
Of course, this will add to the build time, which, as a rule of thumb is about 2-3 hours, in addition to which, you will need to allow time for any plumbing, connecting to the electrics, sealing (or more accurately the sealant curing) or testing.
Generally-speaking you want to allow at least 24 hours for the sealant to dry thoroughly before testing the water.
What if you decide to call in a professional?
These days, unless you actually know a bathroom fitter or similar tradesperson, or get a direct recommendation from someone you trust, we’d guess that you’ll start looking for a fitter via the internet and ones you have some possible candidates, you’ll check out their website/social media site and/or look on review sites to see how other people have rated them.
We’d also guess that once you’ve whittled down your candidates to a viable shortlist, you’ll want to speak to them on the phone or at least have a direct email conversation with them.
Obviously you’re going to want to know what their price would be and it’s a good idea to have them give a breakdown of the charges so you know, exactly, where your money’s going.
When you’re having this conversation, we recommend that you specify clearly that you want them to build a self-contained shower cabin, rather than a standard shower enclosure.
Because they’re still somewhat niche products, unless you are absolutely clear about this, then the chances are that your fitter will assume, quite reasonably, that you want them to fit a standard shower enclosure and may well start factoring in costs such as tiling, which are irrelevant in this situation.
Be prepared to be asked what brand and model of shower cabin you want to be installed.
While shower cabins are still niche products, they are widespread enough that most full-time bathroom fitters will at least have heard of them and may well have heard of how challenging it can be to install lower-end models and how easily they can fail afterwards.
Some may decline to install these or charge a high price for doing so because of the amount of hassle involved, particularly if the shower cabins develop faults soon after installation and the fitter is blamed for the product’s defects.
Remember that these days good reviews are becoming increasingly important and fitters may be unwilling to risk jeopardizing them if customer’s take out their frustrations with the product on the person who fitted it.
If, however, you are buying a quality shower cabin, such as Insignia or Vidalux, you should find it very easy to find a fitter who’s able and willing to do the job.