Retrofitting an accessible shower

Architectura shower tray from Villeroy & Boch

An accessible shower offers floor-level access into the shower cabinet. There must be no – or only a very low – threshold between the bathroom floor and the shower tray. An accessible shower thus offers greater safety and comfort for people with limited mobility. Retrofitting an accessible shower is therefore an important step towards making one's own home age-appropriate. Here you will find all the important information about retrofitting walk-in showers. 

Can a floor-level shower be installed anywhere?

A modern bathroom boosts your quality of life and sustainably increases your enjoyment of your home. These days, a floor-level shower – also known as a walk-in shower – is fitted as standard in newly built bathrooms. In a bathroom of recent construction, the retrofitting of floor-level showers is usually not a problem.

But what about older bathrooms that still have shower trays with a raised ledge – or only a bath instead of a shower cabinet? Can a floor-level shower be retrofitted in such cases? Perhaps you even want to retrofit a floor-level shower in a bathroom that previously had neither a shower nor a bath?

Whether it is possible to retrofit a floor-level shower depends largely on the following factors: 

Squaro Infinity shower tray from Villeroy & Boch
Squaro Infinity shower tray from Villeroy & Boch


Fundamentally, of course, you need sufficient space in your bathroom for a floor-level shower. The building standard DIN 18040-2 for age-appropriate living stipulates a minimum area of 120 x 120 centimetres for the shower. But even if you don't have that much space available, you don't have to give up the benefits of a floor-level shower – because even a small floor-level shower is easier to use as you get older than an older shower with a raised ledge of the same size. At Villeroy & Boch, you will find various floor-level showers that are perfect for small bathrooms. For example, floor-level quadrant shower trays are an elegant solution for space-saving corner showers in small bathrooms. Narrow, rectangular shower trays are ideal in narrow bathrooms. 

Retrofitting an accessible shower Villeroy & Boch
Retrofitting an accessible shower Villeroy & Boch

Water connection and drainage:

In order to retrofit an accessible shower, a connection to the property's water and drainage system is required. If the new shower is replacing an older one, these requirements are already met – after all, the existing shower also has a water connection and drain. Even if the bath will make way for the new shower, all the necessary connections are available. It can be a little more complicated if neither a shower nor a bath have been installed in the bathroom thus far. In this case it can make sense to place the shower where the toilet used to be – because at this point there is at least a connection for cold water and a water drain in the wall. However, a hot water connection must often be retrofitted. If the shower will be installed in a part of the bathroom where there was previously neither a shower or bath nor a toilet, new pipes and water lines must be laid. This is usually possible, but involves additional effort and expense. 

How big does a walk-in shower need to be?

One of the key questions to answer when retrofitting an accessible shower is: how big does a walk-in shower need to be? Basically, of course, this also depends on the local conditions. Especially in older bathrooms, there is often not a lot of space for a new shower. If possible, however, the shower should not be too small. 

Villeroy & Boch shower tray
Squaro Infinity shower tray from Villeroy & Boch

There are two different recommendations in DIN 18040-2 for accessible living – the first is primarily aimed at people who want to convert their bathroom to be accessible for elderly people. The assumption here is that the shower may one day be used with a walking frame. There should also be enough space to retrofit a folding shower seat. The specified minimum dimensions for an accessible shower are 120 x 120 centimetres. 

Squaro Infinity shower tray from Villeroy & Boch
Squaro Infinity shower tray from Villeroy & Boch

Even more space is recommended if the shower must not only be accessible, but also wheelchair-friendly. A wheelchair-accessible shower means that the shower tray is also accessible with a wheelchair. In addition, it should offer enough room to move so that the wheelchair can be turned around in the shower cabinet. The building standard therefore specifies 150 x 150 centimetres as the minimum size for a shower suitable for wheelchairs. 


The building standard only makes recommendations – how these can be implemented should be decided by the specialist company carrying out the work on site in consultation with you. The minimum requirements must be met if KfW funding for age-appropriate housing is claimed. In addition to the size, additional criteria play a role – for example, the shower floor must be non-slip and it must be possible to retrofit shower handles on the wall. 

Which shower elements and floor-level access shower trays are suitable?

Not every shower tray is suitable for a floor-level shower – and other shower elements should also be chosen carefully. Anyone who wants to retrofit a shower to make it accessible should make sure that the threshold between the bathroom floor and the shower tray has a maximum height of two centimetres. Such a small step can be easily managed with a walking frame or wheelchair. As a rule, the shower tray must be levelled for flush and threshold-free installation in the bathroom floor. As part of a bathroom renovation, this offers a good opportunity to directly install a modern and non-slip floor covering. 

Particularly flat shower trays can also be installed directly on the floor tiles. Villeroy & Boch offers a number of collections that include flat shower trays with a rim height of only two to four centimetres, even when laid on top of the existing floor. This is made possible thanks to ultra-flat designs, extremely sturdy materials – such as our innovative MetalRim – and intelligent solutions for the shower drain. This means that the shower can also be installed in bathrooms with a shallow floor depth. While then no longer completely floor-level and accessible, the shower can nevertheless be entered in comfort. The following Villeroy & Boch product lines are suitable for retrofitting a floor-level shower tray: 

When selecting the material for the shower tray, you should pay attention to non-slip properties – but at the same time, the shower tray should also be easy to clean. With this in mind, the acrylic and sanitary ceramic shower trays from Villeroy & Boch are a good choice. 

When selecting the material for the shower tray, you should pay attention to non-slip properties – but at the same time, the shower tray should also be easy to clean. With this in mind, the acrylic and sanitary ceramic shower trays from Villeroy & Boch are a good choice. 

When designing an accessible shower, it makes sense to install shower handles. These grab handles provide more safety when showering and can prevent falls. A shower rail system, for example, is a safety handle that is also an appealing design feature thanks to its discreet and aesthetic appearance. A shower stool in a stylish design offers even more comfort when showering. 

Accessible solutions by Villeroy & Boch

What additional benefits does an accessible shower offer?

People often shy away from the effort of renovating a bathroom that is already rather old, as long as it still fulfils its basic function. But at some point, the time comes for many to ask themselves: How do we actually want to live in old age? How will we cope if someone in our family is no longer fully mobile due to an accident or illness? 

An accessible conversion provides peace of mind – by ensuring that independent personal hygiene in their own home is also possible for older people or individuals with restricted mobility. A floor-level shower is also safer for children to use and also has additional advantages that you can already enjoy today. An open walk-in shower, for example, creates a spacious and modern feeling in the bathroom. 

Furthermore, floor-level showers are not only more comfortable to use for people without disabilities, but thanks to modern materials, they are also durable and easy to clean. Remodelling the bathroom is therefore worthwhile in more ways than one. You and your family will enjoy your accessible shower for many years to come.