The Level Entry Shower System vs. EPS Systems

We are often asked what sets the VIM Level Entry Shower System™ apart from widely used EPS shower pans and systems. The short answer is that there is a big difference between the two kinds of systems in everything from methods to materials.  The Level Entry Shower System was in part developed as an alternative to using EPS Systems for use in curbless showers.  There are a few metrics where the EPS fell short and often led to tile failure and structural issues.  We considered those issues and sought to rectify them in the design of our own system.

Before we get into the specifics of how the two systems differ, let us explain what EPS is for those who may not know. Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) foam is a lightweight, rigid, closed cell insulation material that is often used in place of a traditional mud-bed in tile showers.

As we mentioned, there are a few key elements and metrics where the Level Entry Shower System and EPS systems can be compared. These are important to understand when you are searching for a curbless shower system for your home or project.

Engineering

The VIM Level Entry Shower System was specifically designed and engineered for use in curbless applications. Most EPS systems require retrofitting or customization before they can be used in curbless showers. The Level Entry Shower Pan is only 7/8” allowing it to be used without cutting into joists or lowering the floors. EPS shower pans are usually thicker and require the floor to be lowered or ramped up. To lower the floor enough to achieve a true level entry with an EPS shower pan, you may have to cut notches in the joists, which can lead to excessive deflection and bending of the floor joists. This compromises the whole flooring system and the structural integrity of your project.

Compression

Our Level Entry Shower Pan is created from recycled ABS plastic that is pre-sloped and non-compressible. Compression occurs when the pan crushes or condenses due to weight placed on a specific point (point-load). Compression of the floor system can lead to warping of your til, and cracks in the grout.  EPS pans are available in various densities some of which resist compression better than others, but all EPS shower pans are susceptible to compression, resulting in uneven tile, poor drainage, and tile failure. Additionally, the Level Entry Shower System Pan is has a high bariatric rating, making it perfect for use in showers where a high weight-bearing capacity is required.

Deflection

Deflection is when the weight of the tile, grout, fixtures, and home occupants walking on the tiled floor cause the floor system to bend or bow between the joists. Deflection is a major cause of tile failure over time as it puts strain on the mechanical bond between the floor system and the tile. The rigid plastic of the Level Entry Shower Pan does not allow for deflection while EPS shower pans can allow for significant deflection depending on their density and thickness.

Delamination

Delamination is when the waterproofing materials chemically and physically separate from the shower pan. This can cause pockets where water can penetrate, causing mold, mildew, water damage, and tile failure. EPS systems rely mainly on chemical bonds and difficult installation procedures that can result in delamination if not installed properly and with no physical process to act as a back-up if the chemical bond were to fail. The Level Entry Shower System’s pan and waterproofing membrane are bonded via chemical and mechanical processes, preventing delamination entirely.

All in one, code-approved Kit

With VIM, there is no guess work about what materials are needed to complete your job or whether the results will be durable and long-lasting. Our system is sold and Code Approved as a kit including the shower pan, waterproofing liquid membrane, anti-fracture fabric layer, and a specially designed drain assembly. Our straightforward installation method also ensures that even industrious DIYers can feel confident that their shower system will be robust and long-lasting. Many of the EPS systems are sold piece by piece and are not necessarily code approved as a system for use in curbless showers.

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