Most of the walk-in shower stalls in use today are manufactured units made from reinforced fiberglass or acrylic material. One-piece factory-made units are installed in new construction. For remodeling, it's usually necessary to install a multi-piece walk-in shower stall whose parts interlock. Seats, shelves and cubbyholes are frequently cast into the walls of factory-made walk-in showers. A shiny, gel-coated finish resists staining and makes the stall surfaces easy to clean. Manufactured walk-in shower units come in different sizes and colors, with different wall design features.
The opposite of a factory-made walk-in shower is a walk-in shower made on site. With this type of walk-in shower, the contractor frames the walls and floor of the shower and installs masonry backing or base material along with a drain and waterproof membranes. Then the contractor finishes the shower walls and floor with tile. Because of the labor involved, this type of walk-in shower is usually more expensive to install than a factory-made unit.
While any walk-in shower could be described as "accessible," some units have special features designed to accommodate individuals with physical disabilities. For this reason, this type of walk-in shower is sometimes referred to as "barrier-free," "handicap-accessible," or "ADA-compliant." (ADA stands for American Disabilities Act.)
An accessible walk-in shower is most likely to have a shower curtain that can be pulled aside to provide easy access to the shower. Other walk-in showers (especially custom-made showers) are fitted with sleek, frameless glass doors that keep water inside the shower stall. Still other walk-in showers may not require doors at all because of their configuration or because of the bathroom's design.