Planning Shower Niches- Eight Essentials to Keep in Mind
Walk-in showers never seem to have enough storage. All your bottles end up on the floor or a bench where they’re in the way or can be easily knocked over. Niches are the perfect answer. They’re cleaner than many wire storage devices and don’t take up any room in your shower.
If you are in the process of remodeling your bathroom, here are a few things to keep in mind while you are designing your shower niche:
- When putting a shower niche in an existing wall, 12”w x 24”h is a good size. It allows the niche to fit between studs which are often 16 inches apart. With a glass shelf at 12 inches this creates 2 feet of shelf space.
- The typical depth of a shower niche is 3.5 inches, the width of a wood stud. In a high rise building, the steel studs may be 2.5 inches deep and this should be considered. This is still wide enough for most bottles.
- Niches should not be against outside walls if possible in cold weather climates. The niche space will replace valuable insulation. If you must use an outside wall, be sure to put in some form of polyurethane insulation or the tile may frost up on cold winter days.
- Niches can be larger in new walls where your contractor can adjust the width of studs and make sure any plumbing or electrical pipes are not in the way. Wider niches are difficult in pre-existing walls but still possible. Keep in mind that every time a stud is cut there will likely be cosmetic damage to the wall it supports, so expect a little patching and painting in other rooms.
- Keep the tile dimensions in mind when specifying a niche. It’s best for tile to be symmetric around a niche. The tile line can end right on the niche for a very clean look. One thing to avoid is a very small tile on one or both sides of a niche. One solution is to frame the niche.
- Remember your niche may require bullnose tile, particularly when using ceramic tile that don’t have color through the clay body. This may be problematic with porcelain but is rarely an issue with stone.
- Specify all sides and back of your niche. If the niche is mosaic resting in larger field tiles, it often works best for all 5 walls (back, sides, top and bottom) to be mosaic. If the tile is glass, it allows you to hide the cut edge behind the field tile which is often easier to work with.
- Make sure your contractor waterproofs the niche with a product like Red Guard and ensures there is proper drainage into the shower area. This is particularly important with mosaic tiles. A leak from a niche will cause substantial damage over time.
With proper planning niches are practical and create a great visual focal point in any a shower or bath area.
Looking for more advice and inspiration?
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- Learn more about Habitar Design, Chicago’s premiere interior design firm!
Hannah Tindall is an assistant interior designer at Habitar Design specializing in kitchen and bathroom design in Chicago. Mitchell Newman is principal at Stratagem Construction, a leading Chicago construction company focusing on high end kitchen and bathroom remodels as well as custom wood work, built-ins and cabinetry.