For years, if you wanted a barrier free shower the only options were to either ramp up into the shower or significantly recess the floor by notching or cutting into the joists 2″ to 3”. The latter method is controversial and frowned upon by structural engineers. Cutting floor supports can cause excessive floor deflection, tile cracking and costly structural damage to your home. Is it worth the gamble?
The Better Barrier Free Shower Solution
The VIM Level Entry Shower System was developed as a solution to this problem. Now you can create a true barrier free shower without having to cut floor supports or ramp the tile into the shower. We achieved this by designing a thinner, stronger, pre-sloped shower pan that’s easy to install and doesn’t affect the structural stability of your home.
Our pan is created from a rigid, ABS plastic that resists deflection and compression unlike other pans created with expanded polystyrene (EPS). At only 7/8″ thick, we’ve eliminated the practice of cutting the floor supports. These images demonstrate how our system is installed.
Add Blocking 3/4″ from the top of the Joist
Add reinforcement blocking spanning between the joists
A view from below – drain installation
Place 3/4″ plywood boards into the recessed spaces between the joists.
Once the recessed area framing is complete, the VIM pan is installed in the recessed area. You can see in the cutaway drawing that the VIM pan will sit a mere 1/8″ above the top of the ¾” subfloor. The transition slope between the pan and the ¼” backer board is then filled with a quick drying, non-shrinking patch material.
This method allows you to maintain the proper slope of 1/4″ per foot towards the drain. Your framing supports are kept intact and are even strengthened by the blocking process. The rigid, compression resistant design of the pan also increases the load-bearing capacity of the floor system.
The VIM Level Entry Shower System™ not only removes the potential for structural failure caused by cutting and notching, it also provides a superior waterproofing process. We’re so confident that our system is the best choice for creating your curbless, barrier free shower, that we back it with a full 10 year system warranty.
Want to create a Curbless, Barrier Free Shower? Check out the Level Entry Shower System™ today!
It’s almost Thanksgiving when many families will travel to visit their parents and grandparents. These visits, often to our childhood homes, are fun and memorable, but they can also offer a glimpse into the lives of our aging relatives. Is your childhood home safe and accessible for an aging parent?
85% of people over 65 say they would prefer to stay in their home, rather than relocate to a smaller home or an assisted living or nursing community. If your family members feel this way, it is important to assess whether any changes or adaptations will be required to make their home safe for them to live independently in.
So while you spend time with your loved ones this holiday season, use this checklist to evaluate the safety and accessibility of your parent or grandparent’s home.
Stairways & Multi-level Homes
Does your loved one live in a multi-story home? Stairs increase the chances of falling and are difficult to navigate as you get older. And what about if your parents need to use a walker or wheelchair? Ideally you want everything they need to be on one level. This includes the kitchen, their bedroom & an accessible full bath.
Lighting & Windows
Is the home well lit? Are light switches easy to reach at all entrances to the rooms? Remember that your loved one may be have a hard time seeing in low light. If there is no overhead light in a room, an easy solution would be to set up a switch to operate any lamps that can be turned on from the entrance to the room. Do not overlook lighting in places like pantries, stairways, garages, and closets either. You also want plenty of windows that are easy to operate but also lock for safety. Consider adding nightlights where possible as well.
Pay close attention to any tile and hardwood floors to make sure they are not slippery, both wet and dry. Secure or remove area rugs to reduce the chance your loved one may trip over them.
Layout and Hallways
Think about the open spaces in your loved one’s home. Are the hallways wide enough for a wheelchair? Do the rooms have enough room to maneuver through with a wheelchair or walker (a 60″ diameter space is considered suitable)? How is the flow of traffic through the home? Consider rearranging furniture to open the space up and remove tripping hazards and shorten travel distances.
Grab Bars and Railings
Installing grab bars in the bath by the toilet and shower and railings on any stairways should be a priority to help prevent falls. Grab Bars provide support and stability and will allow your loved one to maintain their independence and privacy.
Level Entry Shower
Many bathroom falls occur when a person is stepping in or out of the shower or tub. Stepping over the barrier, whether that be a tub wall or curb, can compromise their balance, and in those situations, even a grab bar may not be enough to keep them from falling. The safest option is to remove the curb or tub entirely.
We recommend a level entry shower with 4-way slope to a center drain as it provides optimal stability for bathers, particularly if they use a wheel chair or other other mobility aids. A person’s ability to bathe independently is crucial to their physical health and emotional well-being. Accessible showering and bathing options can improve the quality of life and health your aging-in-place relative.
Care & Maintenance of the Home
One of the most overlooked aspects of aging-in-place is the day to day maintenance of the home. Evaluate details such as yard care, access to electrical breakers, plumbing, cleaning & dusting, taking out the garbage, pet care, laundry, etc… If your loved one is struggling with any of these areas, you may need to consider hiring regular help with housekeeping and home maintenance.
Support & Community Amenities
Is your loved one’s community conducive to their aging-in-place? Consider things like distance and ease of access to doctors/hospitals, grocery stores, and transportation. Don’t forget entertainment and fellowship either! Do you know their neighbors? Exchange phone numbers and introduce yourselves and your loved one (if they haven’t already met). Having someone next door or across the street who can keep an eye out for your loved one is a great idea!
Aging-in-Place Remodels – Where to begin?
How did your parent’s or grandparent’s home perform as you went through this checklist? Do you have some changes to make? Aging-in-place renovations can feel overwhelming. Remodels do take time and investment, but the best thing to do is handle it before it is an urgent problem. The costliest renovations are the ones you have to do in a hurry.
A good place to start is the bathroom. The majority of senior falls happen in the bathroom or on stairs. The Level Entry Shower System™ creates accessible, curbless shower floors and can be used in bathrooms of all sizes. Accessorize with shower seats and stability accessories such as grab bars, soap dishes, towel bars, etc… Best of all, it can be installed without changing the structural design of your home, making it the perfect choice for remodels and retrofits.
Planning an aging-in-place remodel? Check out the Level Entry Shower System™ today!
One of the most popular remodels we see with the Level Entry Shower System is to remove a large whirlpool tub and increase the footprint of the shower. This homeowner removed a linen closet, tub, and a fiberglass shower alcove, but gained a large level entry shower and a new laundry area. Many homeowners find that they do not use their garden tubs and whirlpool tubs enough to warrant the space they take or the maintenance and cleaning required. In this case it makes sense to remove the tub and replace it with a large, curbless shower.
Peter S. did the majority of the work on this remodel himself with the guidance of our Installation Video. When he was researching curbless shower systems, the VIM Level Entry Shower System was the only code-approved level entry flooring system he could find. He appreciated the quality of the materials supplied in the VIM Level Entry Shower 60 x 48 Kit as well as our design and installation resources. Peter and his wife are both extremely happy with their new level entry shower!
This remodel is a good example of how you can transform a traditional shower alcove into an open-concept, curbless shower. We like how they utilized half walls and glass to manage water without needing a curtain or door. The wall niches and shelves are another nice touch to add functionality and organization to the shower.
Are you interested in remodeling your bath to include a level entry shower, but not sure how to design your space? Get in touch and we would be happy to give you some guidance on the layout of your new bathroom!
The tile for this project was installed by Garrett Tile of Crossville, TN.
Products used in this Project
The Strainer Grate seen above is the Grid Design in Brushed Stainless.
Mold and Mildew thrive in warm, wet spaces like bathrooms with the most common place being in the shower. Mildew is a surface fungus that is easily identified as a patch of gray or even white fungus. It forms on the surface of moist areas and is easily cleaned using everyday cleaning solutions. Mold on the other hand, is usually black or green and is often the result of a much larger problem.
Shower Construction Failures
Traditional tile showers, when installed properly, are constructed by first pre-sloping the sub floor area towards the shower drain. A waterproofing membrane is installed and clamped into a drain assembly to seal the two parts together. A “mud-bed” made of finely graded sand and cement is installed on top of the waterproofing membrane to form a sloped base for the tile is be installed on. Tile is then installed using thin set to adhere it to the top of the mud bed.Once the tile has time to set up, the shower is finally ready to be grouted.
Mud beds are created using a porous material that is designed to allow water to seep through it. If working correctly, any water that penetrates through the tile should pass through the mud bed and eventually make it back to the drain where it can evacuate through a series of weep holes in the drain’s clamping flange.
Here’s the problem. Many showers are constructed without pre-sloping under the waterproofing membrane, so water sits rather than being diverted to the drain. Even if water makes it to the drain, improper installation techniques and clogged weep holes often render this method useless causing the mud bed to act like a big sponge that never dries out.
Mold in the Mud-Bed
When the mud-bed in your shower is not able to drain, mold can develop behind your tile & grout. No amount of surface cleaning can get rid of mold once it has taken hold within the mud-bed. You will have to consistently clean your tile and grout to keep the surface mold at bay.
The VIM Level Entry Shower System™
The VIM Level Entry Shower System utilizes a pre-sloped pan and topical waterproofing membrane that replaces the traditional mud-bed method in a shower. Tile is applied directly to the waterproofing membrane so any water that penetrates the tile is immediately directed towards the drain. The unique design of our clamping flange ensures that the weep holes will remain open allowing the water to seep back into the drainage system. This insures that the shower will dry completely so mold has no place to thrive.
If you are tired of fighting a never-ending battle against mold and mildew, it might be time to consider a more effective and long-term solution. The VIM Level Entry Shower System, gives you a beautiful, durable, easy-to-clean, curbless shower that is resistant to mold and mildew.
An accessible master bath that does not sacrifice style!
This accessible master bath was dramatically redesigned to increase safety and accessibility for a family member with a prosthetic leg. The result was both gorgeous and practical. The Level Entry Shower System was a perfect fit for their needs. The family wanted to reduce slipping and tripping hazards in their shower. Addding grab bars and improving the accessibility of the tub were also key improvements they wanted to make.
They had some spatial constraints as well. They were unable to move the location of the shower, or increase its size by much. The flexibility of the VIM Level Entry Shower System allowed them to create a true curbless shower in a relatively small alcove space. Their tub was also customized with grab bars and under-mounted in Quartzite. This made it easier to sit comfortably on the edge of the tub allowing for easier entrance and exit from the tub.
The design elements were also very important to the family. Even their daughter got involved in the selection of fixtures, finishes, and colors! Their interior designer, Nancy Bolen of Salem, NC brought their whole vision together seamlessly! Their plumbing fixtures were supplied by Splash Galleries in Raleigh, NC.
What we love about this accessible master bath remodel is that through quality design and carefully selected materials and fixtures, they created a safer bathing space for their family that is also a stylish highlight of their home’s design!
For our very first Featured Shower, we wanted to share this incredible shower designed and built by a homeowner using the Level Entry Shower System™. All the work with the exception of the glass doors was conducted by the homeowner. The glass doors were supplied and installed by Kenny Berry Shower Doors. We asked the homeowner to share a little about his shower and his experience working with the Level Entry Shower System.
Tell us about your project!
“We replaced a very standard shower pan, Corian wall and sliding door home-builder installation. The project required the removal of all materials including removal of the floor to allow the new VIM floor pan and new tile floor and walls. We also opted for new Kohler electric shower and wand controls to modernize the installation and create added interest. The demolition and installation work was accomplished by the homeowner with the sole exception of the new glass doors.”
Why did you choose the VIM Level Entry Shower System for your project?
“Much research was conducted in discovering the available shower pans that would allow us to modify our shower to attain a level entry shower with proper sloped drainage. We found 6 sloped floor pans in the marketplace. Since our home was built on a concrete slab, 3 of the choices were discarded as they where in excess of 1.5″ thick at the edge requiring unacceptable demolition and remaining slab strength to accomplish our goal. Of the 3 remaining products that had a 7/8″ edge thickness, the VIM Products Level Entry Shower System offered what we felt was the best product with excellent demonstrations of installation for both wood sub-floors and our concrete slab installation. The drain assembly offered by VIM was considered superior to most of the other offerings. Pricing was also competitive. “
Our Favorite Details
The Kohler DTV Prompt Shower Control System is a fantastic feature, adding safety, accessibility and luxury to your showering experience. The digital thermostatic valve accurately control water temperature and includes water-saving features such as a pause button, warm-up mode, and a countdown feature to limit overall water consumption.
Small details like the placement of the shampoo niche, a corner foot rest, and the fold up shower seat make great use of the space without cutting too far into the overall footprint of the shower. The french style glass shower doors allow easy access if a resident requires wheelchair access.
Finally, we love the placement of their handheld shower wand. By placing this fixture close to the seat, but at mid-height, it is easily reached when sitting or standing. This is a great feature to include if you are trying to improve the accessibility of your shower.
Want us to feature your Level Entry Shower System™ projects? Homeowners, Builders, Designers, or Suppliers are welcome to submit photos and details on the Project Submissions page!
Design for a multi-generational home has become an important topic among designers, architects, builders, and homeowners in recent years. More seniors are deciding to stay in their homes or move in with their younger family members. This shift combined with the growth of the over 65+ population is contributing to the rising interest in Universal Design, aging in place, and designing homes with multiple generations in mind.
With baby boomers aging, the U.S. population of people 65 or older is expected to burgeon from 39.6 million in 2009 to about 72.1 million in 2030, according to federal Administration on Aging data. Thus, more families are looking to provide space in their homes for an elderly relative. – Washington Post
Grandparents, adult children, and grandchildren are increasingly choosing to move back in with each other. Having three or more generations living under one roof is becoming the practical choice for many families. Grandparents can assist with childcare for working parents while also enjoying the safety and security that living alone simply would not afford them. The baby boomer generation also prefers to retain a high level of freedom that they just don’t get from assisted living and nursing facilities. Being close to loved ones in a home that is built with multiple generations in mind can allow for a more fulfilled lifestyle that is more in line with the values of the boomer generation.
Americans living in multi-generational family households has continued to rise in recent years, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center… In 2014, a record 60.6 million people, or 19% of the U.S. population, lived in a multi-generational household, up from 42.4 million (17%) in 2009 and 27.5 million (12%) in 1980. – Market Watch
One factor is the cost of nursing homes and assisted living, but also the cost of childcare and rising rent and mortgage costs. The average cost of a shared room in a nursing facility in 2016 was $225 a day, or $82,000 a year. For assisted living facilities, the average per year is around $43,000. Consider then that the average that American’s pay for childcare per year is around $10,000 per child and all of sudden it makes sense that some families are choosing to co-habitate.
The principles of Universal Design that are applied in designing a multi-generation home benefit more than just seniors who want to age-in-place. These design guidelines create spaces that are safer, adaptable, durable, and beneficial to occupants of all ages and abilities. One of the key concepts in Universal Design is that accessibility is built in, not an add-on. For example, a home might be built on one level with no curbs or steps. This saves the homeowners from having to add a ramp or lift if a family member ultimately needs a wheelchair. But if you think about it in terms of families with young children, having no curbs or steps can also protect your little ones from tripping or tumbles down stairs.
These principles are a great place to start when designing a new home or planning a renovation to accommodate multiple generations or abilities. With these principles in mind, here are some design ideas to consider in your multi-generational home.
Many architects say they see their clients asking to redesign a home to accommodate an elderly parent, or a family visiting for the holidays. “I see it now more than 10 years ago,” said Dawn Zuber, an architect in Plymouth, Mich. – Market Watch
Level Entry Showers
Many trips, slips and falls can happen in the bathroom, particularly the shower. Level Entry Showers remove the curb and feature gradual sloping to a center drain, removing a tripping hazard while also making the shower accessible to people of all abilities. A Level Entry Shower helps accomplish 3 of the 7 Universal Design Principles. Equitable Use by making the shower accessible to all people including those in need of wheelchairs and walkers. Tolerance for Error by reducing the risk of falls from tripping and reduce slipping hazards from proper drainage and slope. Size and Space for Approach and Use in that a Level Entry Shower can open up the space and allow for easy access to the shower.
Easy to Reach Cabinets
Apply this idea to any room with storage. If cabinets or shelves are too high, too deep, or too low, they are potentially not accessible to all the residents of your home. Cabinets and shelves should be easily reached by a person of average height without the use of a step ladder or stool. For elderly or If a deep cabinet is not being replaced, use a Lazy Susan to provide easier access to items in the back and better utilize the space. Make sure you cabinet handles are easy to grasp or pull and that hinges and slides operate smoothly. These suggestions are informed by a few of the principles: Equitable Use, Flexibility in Use, and Low Physical Effort.
Grab Bars & Stability Aids
Grab Bars do not have to be ugly, commercial stainless steel in order to be effective. Invest in some stylish, coordinating Grab Bars and other integrated stability aids to improve safety, particularly in wet areas like the bathroom. Also consider dual hand rails on any staircase so they may be grabbed no matter which hand is free. Keep in mind that you can add stability aids in unexpected, but helpful places such as a toilet paper holder with an integrated grab bar. Stability aids are helpful no matter your age or ability. By equipping your home with integrated stability aids you are fulfilling the Equitable Use and Tolerance for Error standards.
Open Floor Plans
A design trend that is taking hold in New Construction is also a key element of Universal Design. By opening up our living spaces, they are also optimized for flexible use throughout our lives. Wide passageways & doors benefit all people, whether you are moving in a large piece of furniture or navigating your home in a wheelchair. Open floor plans take it a step further by eliminating doors and hallways all together. Rearrange your spaces as needed to accommodate any special needs that may arise, whether that is a new child, a new home office, or a elderly parent with limited mobility. In addition to incorporating an open floor plan, consider using wide door frames or pocket doors when possible to improve mobility through your home. Like the Level Entry Showers, this fulfills the Size and Space for Approach and Use principle of Universal Design.
Applying these Design Ideas in your Multi-Generational Home
We hope these suggestions help you design a functional and welcoming multi-generational home for you and your loved ones. Maybe you are not in a place to completely renovate at this time. Make a list of priority renovations to start with.
One third of all falls in the elderly population involve hazards at home. Factors include: poor lighting, loose carpets and lack of safety equipment. – Aging Care
Optimizing your home for multi-generational living can be one of the most rewarding investments you will make in your future. Not only are you setting yourself up to live comfortably for years to come in your family home, you are also prepared for any unforeseen circumstances such as temporary disability, new children, or a elderly parent coming to live with you. The savings can be huge, but the memories you will have in your home and peace of mind you will have are priceless.
The VIM Products Blog will be launching soon and we want to share your projects and articles! If you are interested in writing an article or guest post, please send your pitch to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are looking for projects constructed using the Level Entry Shower System to feature on our website, blog, and social media. If you are interested in sharing your projects please fill out this form. We request that photos are of finished projects, a minimum of 1000 pixels wide, not blurry, free of personal items or construction debris. If you need further assistance, please email email@example.com. Please only submit photos that you have the publishing rights for. If a professional photographer shot the images, please provide their contact information below as well.
We will be featuring your Level Entry Showers on our blog, so make sure to tell us any interesting details about the project or any challenges that the Level Entry Shower System helped you to overcome! When we publish your project on the blog, we will link back to your own business, and any other designers or contractors you include in the form. We will also share the projects on our social media outlets such as Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Houzz.
We look forward to seeing all of your beautiful work!