The Evolution of the Modern Bath Tub and Shower Combo
The tub shower combo has come a long way since I was a kid, that’s for sure! A while back I started to do a little research into bath and shower combinations – I was looking for a way to maximize the space in a small apartment bathroom where there was not enough room for a shower enclosure and a bath. I was shocked to see just how designs have advanced in recent years. It gave me the idea to write this article and share a few thoughts and ideas.
The First Shower Tub Combo
When I was growing up everyone just had a bath in their homes – if they were lucky. The first shower I ever had was in fact an early example of the tub shower combination, though it wasn’t called that back then. It consisted of a small rubber hose, split in two, with one part pushing on over the cold tap and one over the hot tap. At the other end was a small shower rose or head – you either held this in your hand or some of them had a fitting to secure it to the wall. It was a crude but effective mixer tap set-up although getting the water temperature just right was a constant battle. You stood in the bath and showered. They were awful – the pressure was non existent and if you raised the shower head too high the water stopped altogether. The bath was definitely the easier alternative.
The Original Wet Room
Of course now we had the added problem of soaking the whole room. Shower curtains came to the rescue, cheap and easy to fit (normally fitted to a telescopic pole which would fall down unexpectedly every so often). Next in the long line of problems was the wall getting damp and water leaking down behind the bath. Up until then the tiles in the bathroom would only have been one or two rows high around the bath – now we all started to tile the walls higher, to help combat the leaks and the mold that would inevitably form.
All this extra effort and expense – tiling, sealing and shower curtains – and still you were lucky to get wet with those awful tap fittings (more water leaked around the taps than made it to your head!). But don’t worry things began to change. The hose mechanism began to improve – added clips meant a tighter seal and more water pressure. Now you had a decent amount of freezing or roasting hot water on your head!
Shower Curtains Evolved
Soon we had Perspex shower screens that fitted to the edge of the bath, followed soon after by glass shower screens. I remember some of the early glass screens with hideous floral designs etched into the surface of the glass, but it was progress from those mold ridden curtains that kept falling on my head. The shower tub combo ideas were gathering pace, helped by technology.
The Arrival of the Mixer Tap
The early versions of the mixer tap were amazing (at that time). Now you could buy a proper steel tap with a hose and shower head attached. They had a little plunger which you pulled out to direct the water to the shower fitting but you still had to play around with the hot and cold taps to get the right temperature. Every now and then, in the middle of your shower, the plunger would pop back in and the shower stopped leaving the bath taps running onto your feet. The other trick they played was to stay set to shower so that when you went to run the bath you got soaked by the shower – all good fun!
Today we have digital mixer valves that self regulate – you set the desired temperature and you get a constant stream of water at exactly that temperature – backed up by a pump if you want a high pressure shower. Oh the luxury!
Just the Other Year
Just a few years ago we thought we had it made with tub shower combinations. Good tiling and sealants kept our walls good, shower screens that worked and looked good and even the tap mixers had given way to dedicated shower mixer valves that actually worked – independently from the bath faucets, so no unexpected wet heads! Corner tub shower combos and enclosed combos with steam nozzles were top of the range. That is where I was at before my recent research – but things continue to develop apace.
The Truly Modern Tub Shower Combo
Today, all the advances in bathroom technology seem to have been brought together in the latest, luxury bath shower combination units. Jacuzzi and whirlpool bathtubs, multi-jet power showers, steam showers, digital controls, totally enclosed shower tub pods, massage or rain shower heads …the list goes on. All the latest technology for the shower and for the bathtub can now be combined to give the ultimate in tub shower combos.
The latest is the walk in tub shower combo – we used to have trouble sealing the edge of the tiles now you have a glass door that forms the bottom of the bath and seals perfectly – even locking electronically when the water reaches a certain level (see the pic of the Twinline walk in shower tub combo by Artweger). How difficult is it to step over the edge of the bath? But when you
think about this idea of a walk in – it may be perfect for the elderly or people with a disability. The thing about these latest walk in combos is that they look so fantastic – almost space age. How’s that for a disabled bathroom!
The advances in technology continue and the styles get more contemporary. Of course all this comes at a price, but if you have the dollars you can have some fun. If all this is a bit rich for your budget – can I interest you in an old shower curtain and a hose shower fitting – hey, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!