As the coronavirus crisis unfolded, revised standards in bathroom design started coming into play. Wellness is now a homeowner prerequisite to bathroom upgrades, which involves promoting spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical well-being.

The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health. The pandemic had a devastating effect on our physical, mental, and emotional well-being, and many homeowners have become increasingly aware of how home updates can lead to increased holistic health and well-being. One of these updates includes making the shower work for us and not against us.

Consumers now have an increased interest in taking their bathroom remodels and showers to the next level by creating the ultimate bathroom oasis. Linear drains can play a key role in accommodating emerging post-pandemic bathroom trends. Here are some of the benefits to linear drains as they relate to well-being, cleanliness, sustainability, and multigenerational living.

1. The bathroom sanctuary

While stuck at home many homeowners found new ways to increase well-being and manage stress in the bathroom. Managing stress by adding the necessary self-care amenities gives consumers the opportunity to regenerate in the comfort of their own homes. There is an increasing demand for amenities such as steam showers, extra-deep soaking tubs, water filtration, and voice-activated smart features that promote relaxation for the homeowner.

Inspired by luxurious “wet-room” spa baths in upscale hotels and health clubs, consumers of all ages now seek to enjoy the same look and feel at home to promote well-being. Part of that look are linear drains used in curbless showers, and popular thanks to the way they marry style and functionality. A curbless shower means cleaner lines in the bathroom, less visual clutter, and added accessibility—all features that enhance well-being.

Curbless showers feature striking linear drains that add a clean, contemporary European feel. Superior performance in a curbless shower starts with having a single directional slope with a linear drain spanning wall to wall at the bottom of the slope. This approach creates more freedom for design because the single slope accommodates large format tiles. The use of linear drains also offers labor savings, as installers need to only create a slope one direction compared with a conventional four-way compound slope used with center point drains

In addition, linear drain cover designs continue to evolve. Previously in design, the shower drain was little more than an afterthought. Today’s drain cover designs match the stylistic direction of the overall bathroom, complementing different motifs and aesthetics.

2. Cleanliness

It’s no secret that the coronavirus crisis reinforced the importance of illness prevention and health optimization in the home.

Manufacturing products from materials that are antimicrobial and/or self-cleaning is an important part of product development in the bath space. Ease of maintenance within showers for hotels, hospitals, and homeowners is also crucial to enhancing the longevity of any remodeling project.

One of the key benefits of linear drains is that they offer the convenience of lower maintenance because they can be integrated with larger-format tiles. This strategy reduces the number of grout joints and seams where mold, mildew, and grime can take hold.

A wall-to-wall linear drain not only maximizes drainage but also offers a clean look that enhances the homeowner’s shower experience.

A linear drain with a single-direction slope has less chance of water pooling or running out of the shower. Shower floors without enough pitch usually puddle and hold water. Soap scum and water deposits form in these wet areas, which makes the tile and grout look dirty.

3. Sustainability

There is an increased focus on sustainable solutions in the wake of Covid-19, such as the use of recycled materials to reduce our footprint in the building process. According to The Global Wellness Institute, wellness is multidimensional and includes promoting a healthy physical environment free of hazards and awareness of the role we play in bettering—rather than denigrating—the natural environment.

In both the commercial and residential segments, there is an equal focus on the sustainable renovation of bathroom spaces. As sustainability pertains to wellness, there is an increased focus on the use of sustainable solutions in the bathroom, such as efficient faucets, water-saving showerheads, and LED lighting.

The needs revolve around implementing products and materials that offer flexibility in layout and energy efficiency. Linear drains can accommodate a variety of shower-floor panels, as well as environmentally friendly options, such as QuickDrain’s PET (polyethylene terephthalate) rigid-foam shower floor panels.

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Pre-sloped and tile-ready shower pan kits from QuickDrain USA are made from 100% recycled plastic. Courtesy of Oatey Co.

This environmentally friendly option is fabricated from recycled, plastic water and soda bottles. There are many opportunities to create a sustainably designed bathroom environment that will, in turn, enhance wellness and offer a guilt-free, relaxing bath experience.

4. Multigenerational living

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QuickDrain USA’s “invisible” linear drain, WallDrain, offers a cutting-edge design for ADA-compliant showers. Photo courtesy of Oatey Co.

According to Colin Milner, CEO of the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), the senior living industry has embraced wellness as a means to address shifting expectations and mindsets toward aging.

Multigenerational households were on the rise during the pandemic, which rose to 15% between April and June 2020, according to the National Association of Realtors. To accommodate different generations in the home, we are seeing an increasing demand for accessibility in the bathroom and shower.

Linear drains used in curbless showers provide a universal design that appeals to multigenerational living conditions. Homeowners benefit any time safety measures can be taken into consideration within an upgraded bathroom design. Linear drains in curbless showers are the ideal design solution for creating ADA-compliant showers and wet spaces that are universally accessible. With no barrier to cross, the floor more easily accommodates a freestanding bench, a wheelchair, or some other mobility aid.

An added benefit is that linear drains generally avoid looking institutional, as so many ADA bathrooms do. An excellent example of this counter-institutional trend is QuickDrain’s WallDrain, which practically disappears into the wall, offering an ultra-clean and contemporary look.

The pandemic has definitely shifted homeowner perspectives and expectations. Their health and overall wellness concerns will impact the future of home-design for years to come. One place to start is in the bathroom, where the benefits of linear drains nicely align with the surging consumer trends of wellness, cleanliness, sustainability, and multigenerational living.

Learn more about Oatey Co.


gb&dPRO members are recognized experts in their fields and contribute opinion columns as one of their member benefits. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and may not reflect the view of gb&d. We are committed to a diversity of voices advocating for high-performing, sustainable built environment practices. We’d like to hear what you think about this article or any of our other coverage. Send us an email at [email protected].