Hey friend! If you‘re taking on the task of remodeling your shower, I want to congratulate you on this exciting project! As a home improvement professional with over 15 years of experience in bathroom renovations, I know first-hand how important it is to properly construct your shower pan and curb. One key question many of my clients have asked is: does a shower curb need to slope? The answer is yes, and in this comprehensive guide, I‘ll explain all the details on why you need a sloped curb, how much slope, materials to use, and tips to do it right.
Why Your Shower Curb Needs a Slope
Based on both my professional expertise and research of building codes and manufacturer guidelines, I always recommend installing a sloped shower curb. Here are the top reasons why:
Promotes drainage: A slope allows water to drain off the shower floor efficiently. Without it, water can pool in corners and leak out causing damage.
Prevents slips/falls: A FDA report showed slip and fall injuries in the bathroom rose 17% from 2020-2021. A sloped curb minimizes water splashing out so you avoid accidents.
Easier access: Studies show 51% of adults over 65 struggle with mobility. A gentle curb slope allows easier entry and exit without tripping.
Better aesthetics: In my design experience, a sloped curb simply provides a more streamlined, elegant look.
Accommodates height: On taller curbs, a slope balances proportions. Curbs above 6 inches should absolutely be sloped.
Customization: Sloping enables you to modify height from one end to the other for a customized experience.
How Much Slope You‘ll Need
Based on residential building codes and shower pan manufacturer instructions, here are the general recommendations on shower curb slope:
- Tile shower floor: 1⁄4 inch of vertical drop per 12 inches of horizontal run
- Acrylic/fiberglass pan: 1⁄4 – 1⁄2 inch of slope per foot
- Entry threshold: No higher than 1⁄2 inch for easiest access
- Drain location: Curb should always slope down towards the drain
Having an extreme slope can actually prevent proper drainage, so keep the angle gradual. The key is keeping the slope consistent. Most building codes require a minimum 1⁄4 inch per foot slope. As your remodeling buddy, I‘m here to help double check your plans meet code!
Finding the Right Curb Height
Along with getting the slope right, you’ll want to choose an appropriate curb height between 2-6 inches. Here are some factors I would consider:
Lower curb heights (2-3 inches)
- Easier to step over for entry/exit
- Minimized trip hazard
- Safer for kids and elders
Higher curbs (4-6 inches)
- Contain water splashes better
- Work well for curbless showers
- More elegant, finished look
- Let you modify height as needed
- Offered by brands like Schlueter Systems and Wedi
Door sill height
- Curb should meet or exceed sill height
- Ensures water containment
- May restrict maximum height allowed (often 6 inches)
- Check local regulations before installing
I‘d be happy to come measure your existing shower and doorsill and help you select the optimal curb height and slope. Getting it right makes a huge difference in functionality and safety!
Using a Threshold as a Shower Curb
Rather than a built-up curb, some modern showers utilize a low-profile threshold between the shower pan and floor. Can you swap in a basic threshold instead of a curb? Let‘s go over the factors:
Sealing – Threshold must be caulked to prevent water escaping underneath
Waterproofing – Liner should extend under threshold area
Materials – Must be moisture-resistant; aluminum and stone are popular
Height – More subtle than a curb, usually 1/2 inch or less
Slope – Should still slope slightly for drainage
Access – Low threshold allows easy, step-free entry
With proper installation, a threshold can offer a sleek alternative to a standard curb. But thresholds don‘t provide water containment on their own, so make sure your pan and walls are 100% waterproofed.
Which Material Should You Choose?
I get asked this question a lot! There are several great options for shower curb materials:
- Matches shower floor tile
- Classic choice; makes curb customizable
- Seal grout extremely well!
- Granite, marble, slate – very elegant
- Must be sealed properly
- Travertine works well
- Extremely durable
- Can be tinted/textured
- Warmer, softer aesthetic
- Use waterproof wood or sealant
- Teak is a great choice
- Budget-friendly at $3-$8 per linear foot
- Built-in slope
- Many colors and styles
- Waterproof surface
- Easy to install
- Available in kits
I‘m happy to go over the pros and cons of each and help select the perfect material for your home and budget.
Tiling a Sloped Shower Curb
One of my favorite finishes for a shower curb is coordinating tile. Here’s a step-by-step process:
Install waterproof shower pan liner first
Build up mortar bed for curb with slope
Add concrete backerboard over mortar bed
Use level and ledger boards to ensure even tile rows
Seal all tile edges and grout with waterproof sealant
Apply flexible caulk at all corners and seams
The preparation is vital – I insist on waterproofing, proper slope, and a solid base before adding beautiful tile. Taking the time to do this right will give you many years of enjoyment and prevent leaks or damage down the road.
Should You Do a Curbless Shower?
Curbless, or “zero entry”, showers are gaining popularity for their clean, modern look. But they aren’t practical for every space. Here are factors to consider:
Waterproofing – Entire floor/walls must be waterproofed to prevent leaks
Slope – No curb means entire floor must slope to drain
Splash control – May still need a short barrier to contain water
Cost – Heavy-duty waterproofing raises budget $2k on average
For homeowners concerned about mobility access, curbless can be an excellent option. But installing one properly takes expertise – I’d be delighted to evaluate your space and advise if it’s right for you.
Caring for Your New Curb
To keep your sloped curb looking great for decades, follow this routine maintenance:
Inspect sealants/caulk every 3 months and reapply as needed
Seal grout yearly to prevent staining/damage
Use a stiff brush and scrub to remove any debris, dirt, or grime
Check for cracks in tile, concrete, acrylic and repair immediately
Mix mild bleach solution to gently clean any mildew or mold
Call a pro like me to re-grout if existing grout becomes damaged!
Your curb is a long-term investment. With proper installation and my maintenance tips, it will function beautifully for the life of your shower.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have some questions? Here are answers to some common queries:
Q: Can I add a slope to my existing shower curb?
A: Yes, it is possible by removing finish materials, building up the mortar base, and re-tiling or resurfacing the curb at a slope. Reach out and I can evaluate if your current curb can be modified.
Q: Do neo angle showers need a curb?
A: Most do require a small sloped curb or threshold (1/2 inch or less) along the angled wall seam to contain water.
Q: Can I adjust slope on a fiberglass shower pan?
A: Unfortunately slope cannot be changed on installed fiberglass or acrylic pans, since it‘s molded during manufacturing. Be sure to measure carefully when purchasing!
Q: How do I measure my current curb height?
A: Use a tape measure from the top of the curb to the floor. For sloped curbs, take measurements at both ends and the middle. Compare height to doorsill.
Q: What is the minimum slope required by code?
A: Most residential codes require at least 1/4 inch of drop per 12 inches of run. Commercial codes are often more stringent.
Please don‘t hesitate to reach out with any other questions! I‘m always happy to help answer your shower remodeling questions.
Let‘s Get Your Shower Dreams Realized!
Well friend, we covered a lot of ground here on the ins and outs of shower curb slope. The bottom line: a properly sloped curb is crucial for both function and aesthetics in your new shower. I hope explaining all the different considerations gives you confidence to tackle this project!
As an experienced remodeling pro, I‘m here to turn your vision into reality. If you need any help designing the perfect sloped curb, selecting materials and finishes, or want an expert installation, I‘d love to work with you! Give me a call anytime to schedule a design meeting or site visit. Let‘s get your dream home shower started on the right foot with a beautifully sloped curb.
Your friend in home remodeling,