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Guest Column - February 2008

Shower Strategies

Reducing Maintenance & Water Use

By Ryan Pfund


A
shower is no longer just a shower. Today, there is a shower for virtually every application. Yet selecting an appropriate shower is relatively simple. The first step is to determine your priority. Is it water conservation, user privacy, reduced maintenance or a combination of several things?

The best solution also depends on the application. Members of an upscale fitness center have different expectations for the showers than visitors using a community recreation center, and the requirements for these different types of facilities are vastly different. In a recreation center, vandal resistance is a key consideration because students using the facility for after-school programs often tend to abuse restroom and shower room fixtures. Elite fitness clubs need to cater to members' discerning tastes.

High-traffic showers

In busy areas used mostly for rinsing off, such as near swimming pools, column showers offer an efficient option for accommodating a high volume of users. For such applications, it is critical to look for fixtures designed for commercial use, and that can withstand nearly constant use. Choosing commercial-grade shower fixtures with vandal-resistant features will help keep locker rooms in good working order and deter future vandalism. It also saves on ongoing repairs and maintenance costs.

Column showers with vandal-resistant features, such as security screws, usually perform better than other types of showers better suited for moderate or low traffic. An added benefit to column showers placed in the center of the shower room is that they minimize water sprayed on the outside walls, making the shower area easier to keep clean. Another convenience: Column showers can be configured to fit any application—from two to six user stations.

Another tip to maximize the number of showerheads in busy locker rooms: Combine column showers and wall showers to use all the available space. Today's newest fixtures offer a wide variety of valves, showerheads and options that meet individual facilities' needs.

For new showers on a tighter budget, hinged pivoting wall showers can be quickly installed and the special hinge door simplifies installation and ongoing maintenance, which saves time and money. By removing vandal-proof fasteners from one side of the shower panel, the unit swings away from the wall, providing easy access to components.

To ensure showers are accessible to all users, ADA-compliant showers are an option to consider, particularly if your facility caters to aging Americans or individuals with physical disabilities. Many types of shower configurations are available, from barrier-free surface-mounted shower units to handheld showerheads with slide bars.

Privacy solutions

One of the biggest challenges for fitness centers is actually getting patrons to shower in a public setting. The answer, particularly for more upscale facilities, is to offer users more privacy and more luxurious amenities. Be sure showers are not only clean and inviting, but also appealing to use. Better finishes throughout the restroom and locker room show visitors and club patrons their membership is valued.

For higher-end facilities, luxurious spa showers that pamper and indulge guests are a necessity. Rather than molded units, showers with ceramic- or glass-tile-adorned shower stalls with invisible glass partitions are common. "Rain" showerheads, multiple body sprays and handheld personal sprayers are the ultimate in aqua therapy.

Individual tile showers are appropriate for some types of facilities, but when budget and space dictate a more efficient solution, privacy curtains or "modesty modules" can be effective for larger shower areas. Similar to toilet partitions, modesty modules are low-profile stainless-steel partitions grouped around column showers and typically include a stall for showering and another area for dressing, separated by a curtain. The dressing stall can include a teakwood seat and robe hooks.

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