What Is a Roll-In Shower?

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Roll in showers are an alternative for elderly or disabled homeowners and can be part of an accessible bathroom plan. A roll-in shower is a flat, curb-free shower that is easier for people in wheelchairs to use and maneuver. This accessible bathroom feature allows individuals with disabilities to have some independence when bathing, letting them get into and out of the shower on their own. The shower can be custom-built or homeowners can install a ready-made unit.


Basics of a Roll-In Shower

Roll in showers usually look like standard showers with a rectangular design and three walls, two shorter ends and one long side wall. The fourth side is typically completely open and doesn't have a curb. This allows you to roll directly into the showering area in a wheelchair without any barriers or bumps. The shower user can then transfer to a shower bench.


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Roll in showers usually have a completely open side for barrier-free entry. Design features help keep the water in the shower area, which might include a slight slope to the floor and an extra large shower drain that lets water flow down quickly. The showerhead is also strategically aimed to help the water flow down the drain and to minimize splatter.

Another option is a trench drain. It uses a perforated metal piece along the open edge where water can run before it goes out into the bathroom. It goes into a trough, which leads the water to the drain.


Roll in showers often have a shower curtain to help keep the water in the shower area. The curtain can be used with the trench drain and other design features to help keep the water inside better.

Roll-In Shower vs. Walk-In Bathtub

Roll-in shower

  • Has a flat entrance so that disabled users can enter it with their wheelchair or walker unassisted
  • You can turn exit the shower without having to wait for the water to drain completely

Walk-in bathtub

  • Has a door built into the front or side
  • Bathers in a wheelchair still need assistance to get in and out of the tub
  • You cannot open the door once the tub has started filling

Walk-in bathtubs offer another option for people with limited mobility, but they have some limitations. Walk-in tubs have a door built into the front or side of the unit that allows you to walk into the tub, which provides easier access for the elderly or disabled users.


Individuals in a wheelchair must still maneuver into a seat built into the tub to bathe, unlike a roll-in shower. Bathers in a wheelchair require assistance to get in and out of the walk-in tub. In addition, you cannot open the door of the walk-in tub once it starts filling, requiring you to sit and wait.

Features in Roll-In Showers

Roll-in showers can feature fold-down bench seating, soap dishes and hand-held showerheads for showering in a wheelchair. Fold-down seating allows disabled individuals without a wheelchair to use the roll-in shower as well. The bench folds up to provide room for the wheelchair when not in use. Built-in soap dishes are at a lower height than in a standard model for showering while seated.



For smaller bathrooms, accessible showers are available that fit into the corner of the room. The corner units have three pieces with an open front.

Benefits of Roll-In Showers

The roll-in shower allows disabled or elderly homeowners to live an independent lifestyle. While it benefits homeowners in a wheelchair, it's also helpful to people who might find getting over the side of a tub difficult. Homeowners without a disability can also benefit with a roll-in shower stall. The units can take up less space in a bathroom than the standard bathtub and shower combination and can change the appearance of a smaller bathroom. Barrier-free showers give your space an open, contemporary feel.


One- and Multi-Piece Units

You can choose a single unit or multi-piece unit for the bathroom. A single-piece unit is easier to install, but you need to make sure the unit fits through the door of the bathroom before making a purchase. The single-piece shower is best for installation during construction of a new home.



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