Linear Shower Drain Pros and Cons

If you haven’t heard about the “wonder drain” just yet, then you really are in for a surprise. The linear shower drain has definitely completely revolutionized shower design from the time it arrived and from there on out. It’s versatile and extremely slick, and the best part is that it can completely disappear. 

Black bathroom linear drain with ceramic tiles imitating wood

You have to understand that although you haven’t really thought much about your shower drain and how it’s designed or functions, it can make or break your overall bathroom experience. Unlike the typical central drain, a linear drain is narrow and long. It’s basically a single line in shape, and it will change your showering experience forever.

It maximizes the water flow towards a single exit port that’s marked out in a line as opposed to the usual circular drain, and this maximizes how all that water is technically drained out. It has been around for quite some time now in commercial plumbing, but it has also started to make its rounds in the residential scene as of late. It’s both aesthetic and construction-wise.[toc]

What Is a Linear Shower Drain

Drain with blue mosaic floor tiles

A linear shower drain is an enhanced drainage method that offers a seamless and minimalist look to your shower, or to any shower, for that matter. It is somewhat under the luxury plumbing category because many hotels have switched to these stylish straight-line shower drains. 

This is mainly because it’s a remarkably efficient and aesthetic way of removing excess water. It’s the perfect upgrade to not only your shower’s style but to its overall functionality as well.

Let’s check out all the pros and cons before switching. 

Advantages of Linear Drains for the Shower

Installation is fast and easy.  Get this: despite how efficient and aesthetic it looks, a linear shower drain can be installed almost anywhere and everywhere. To get this installed, the shower floor just needs to be sloped in one direction towards the drain instead of center drains, which need to be sloped evenly from all four corners of the shower area. 

Contractor installing drain on the floor

It’s important to know that this is a skilled job, and you need to hire out specialized labor to get it right. The measurements need to be exact.

You don’t have curbs to worry about! Stepping over a curb or stubbing a toe or hitting an ankle somewhere after we shower is fairly commonplace for regular showers but never for showers with linear shower drains because there is no need for a curb at all. 

This is even more appreciated by people who have had injuries or are recuperating from them or from older people who find it a challenge to lift their feet up. 

Newly installed drain on the shower floor

This makes linear shower drains compliant with the American Disability Act and can make the lives of countless individuals so much easier. People in wheelchairs, for example, can wheel in and out of the shower without difficulty.

They are versatile. Because linear drains have long lines, they are so versatile that they can be placed almost anywhere. You don’t have the same kind of freedom with center drains since as the name suggests, they always need to be placed at the center.

It’s extremely aesthetic. Design wise, linear drains are a dream to have for the shower area. They can be tiled in. This means you can use the same tile as with the rest of the bathroom, achieving a fluid and seamless look that doesn’t have any visual obstructions. See types of bathroom showers here.

Bathroom with floating vanity table, toilet, bidet with glass partition for the shower

It feels like a luxury. It’s a small modification, but it definitely makes your bathroom feel like a spa. It’s mainly because of the drain’s openness and because you see it so much in luxury hotels and spas as well.

Disadvantages of Linear Type Shower Drains

Cleaning and maintenance can be a drag. Longer drains mean that the velocity of water for draining out will also turn out to be slow. You need to be regularly on the lookout for grime or hair, dirt, or just about any other particle that could clog your drain. It’s not exactly something a lot of people look forward to doing.

Water containment is an issue. Unlike regular showers with a curb to keep the water in, this isn’t the case with a linear drain as it’s open but sloped. If the drain isn’t installed properly, you might end up having water all over, and that’s not a good experience. 

Some ways to remedy this would be to get a rainhead shower fixture installed so that the water direction is more controlled.

Beige bathroom with large rectangular mirror and storage cabinet

You will end up missing your sense of privacy. Showering is an extremely intimate act and usually something that you would prefer to do alone. This isn’t the case if you get a linear bathroom drain installed. 

These showers are generally “open”. So anybody who walks in will walk in and see you. If you have an open-door policy in your household, then this shouldn’t be that much of an issue, but if you have a growing family with different needs and you’re all sharing the same bathroom, this might not be the best option for you to go for. Read more about walk In shower designs here.

Issues of a Linear Water Drain in the Shower Area

Installation needs to be precise. This drain design can only work well if it is able to allow water to flow through the drain and into some sort of trough or channel underneath the floor. It then proceeds to enter the main drainage system.

Water drain int he shower box installation

This means that its installation must be very specialized or exact or never work. This requires additional money on top of its already high price tag.

Another major problem of a linear drain is that it performs unpredictably. They are too much of a hassle to clean, and they clog up easily as opposed to center drains, which go straight down to the main drainage system. 

These drains need to have water travel through a trough, which gunks up over time and is quite difficult to get into to clean regularly.

Linear Vs Center Drain

If you’re looking on the side of practicality and not aesthetics, we would have to vote on center drains all the way. They’re inexpensive. Some could be as cheap as only $10, whereas the priciest ones could be at $100. 

This is still pretty affordable compared to the linear drain which starts off at $100 per inlet yard in the minimum but could stretch out to outrageous rates of tens of thousands of dollars.

Chrome metal gutter next to the shower head on tiled floor

Installing center drains is a breeze, as any basic tile guy knows this like the back of his hand. Linear drains, on the other hand, require specialized labor that charges so much higher than your basic tile guy.

Center drains require little to no maintenance at all as they basically self-drain and are extremely fast, while linear drains take up a lot of grime, hair, and dirt and are at times quite difficult to clean.

Are Linear Drainage Systems for the Bathroom Better?

Bathroom with separate shower and toilet areas

If you want a showstopper for your bathroom floor area, nothing could really argue with the huge advantage of linear drains. 

And although it may be true that these drains can be crazy expensive, if they are something you can afford, it might just be worth your while. They’re gorgeous additions to the bathroom.

Theme and tile continuity is everything if you have linear drains, and they achieve that minimalist look for your bathroom, making it look so classy and sophisticated at the end of the day. See our gallery of gorgeous bathroom floor tile ideas here.

Again, we would like to reiterate that it isn’t for everyone. It’s expensive and truly painful to clean, but then again, if you can afford it, it’s aesthetics and the overall effect can be so satisfying.

How Well Do Linear Design Drain Systems Work?

Technically, with exact installation and the proper grating and trough installed, with just the correct angle for the slope, a linear drain for the showers should work just fine. 

It really functions pretty much the same way as a center drain does; it just has a lot of pre-drain aesthetics going on before it drains everything out. Under regular circumstances, they function just fine and can work extremely well. 

For more related ideas, see our gallery of the infinity shower drain page.

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