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Required shower enclosure height


Brandon Whitmore
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I have a question regarding R307.2 in the IRC.

I am seeing more and more one piece tub/ shower units where the enclosure is about 4" short of the 6' rule. I contacted a couple of plumber buddies who have never heard of this 6' requirement before.

The wording in the IRC says that such wall surfaces (shower enclosures) shall extend to a height of not less than 6' above the floor. I am assuming this is measured from inside the tub (makes sense to me), but are they allowing this 6' measurement to be taken from the subfloor/ floor outside of the tub?

I have started to second guess myself since they are manufacturing these units short of 6'. Is it not required to have a shower enclosure extend at least 6' from the standing surface of the tub? If it is required, why are they manufacturing lower shower enclosures?

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Originally posted by Brandon Whitmore

I have a question regarding R307.2 in the IRC.

I am seeing more and more one piece tub/ shower units where the enclosure is about 4" short of the 6' rule. I contacted a couple of plumber buddies who have never heard of this 6' requirement before.

That's because it's not in the plumbing code. It's in the "building planning" section. Lots of trades miss lots of requirements in chapter 3. So do lots of inspectors. Chapter 3 is sort of the catchall chapter. There are all kinds of interesting requirements in there.

Also consider that, in the case of fiberglass enclosures, the plumber mostly doesn't need to know this rule. In new construction, the architect specs the shower enclosure, the general orders it and the framers place it. By the time the plumber gets there, it's a done deal.

The wording in the IRC says that such wall surfaces (shower enclosures) shall extend to a height of not less than 6' above the floor. I am assuming this is measured from inside the tub (makes sense to me), but are they allowing this 6' measurement to be taken from the subfloor/ floor outside of the tub?

It's unclear, but I'd tend to interpret it as being measured from the bathroom's finished floor.

I have started to second guess myself since they are manufacturing these units short of 6'. Is it not required to have a shower enclosure extend at least 6' from the standing surface of the tub? If it is required, why are they manufacturing lower shower enclosures?

It could be that the manufacturers never looked in Chapter 3 either. If no one calls them on it, they just keep making them the way they always did. Most of the ones I see are about 71".

Here's another idea. Perhaps there's a limitation on either manufacturing or transporting shower units that are more than 72" tall overall, including the top wall flange. If this were the case, that would explain why the finished wall surface is only about 71".

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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