Questions that are frequently asked

Can somebody explain the logic of the European “we forgot to make the doors go all the way” shower/bath?

That is from Alex Rampell.  Here are the lame answers from the otherwise excellent Twitter.


It's supposed to invite people to come in for sex.

I call it "The Weinstein".

I call it the "Trump during Shark Week."


The modern shower has no bathtub underneath, and sometimes no glass wall at all. Aesthetics > Functionality.

Yes, that's how my custom mini-mansion I built for my hot gf half my age (still!) here in the Philippines is: the entire bathroom is titled, and there's no shower curtain or glass walls, just a detachable shower-head and bidet. You can safely spray water all over the bathroom, in fact that's how I clean it.

Bonus trivia: the real question for bathrooms is why Americans don't use bidets like they do in EU, JP and the Philippines (not sure about South America, they may use an old-fashioned pot, TR?). Are you telling me Americans actually use toilet paper to wipe their sticky feces? I don't want to know!

President Temer married his wife when she wasyoungernthan a third of his age. She lives in in one of his three Presidential Palaces.

Is Thiago signaling some sort of kinship with Ray? The Brazil-Philipino connection...

The point is, Brazil is superior. We built many Presidential Palaces the President can enjoy.

Can you call it a palace if it doesn't have a bidet?

Maybe it has. In President Temer's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you.
My parents' house has tree bathrooms, only one had a bidet. I expect President Temer's have multiple bidets. He decided to stay in the Vice-presidential Palace because he is a humble person. He didn't become president to seek presonal profit.

Pity the poor VP that got kicked out of his palace.

A house of many mansions -- I like that, very poetic.

"A house of many mansions -- I like that, very poetic."
Biblical, even.
"Pity the poor VP that got kicked out of his palace."
He used to be the VP before Mrs. Rousseff was impeached. He could have moved to one of the Presidential Palaces, but he declined to stay nearer his humble roots. He used to be very poor before his social ascension as one of Brazil's top lawyers/professors/writers, congressmen.

Brazil's Presidential Palaces are among the most beautiful palaces in the world. Hundreds of employees work there (smaids, doctors, security agents, cooks).ácio_da_Alvorada#Gallery

Fake Ray Lopez...

We shower regularly, unlike the rest of the world...

Actually, according to experts, Brazil is the country where people bath more times. I bath two or three times a day.

Some bathrooms (for visits, basically) contain bidets. I myself favor what is true and tested. Toiled paper is much better.

As for Americans,

A hot young wife and a mini mansion but no cleaning lady?

How quaint.

Not wife, 'girlfriend'. I suspect marriage is not part of the services she offers.

If only there were an alliterative quip to sum that up.

Ok. Now a real answer: cost.
We just moved into a new appartment where we had to make these decisions. The door needs space to open, so it is not possible in small bathroom. The extra cost for the glass door is about 1500 euros. In big bathrooms that can fit a door, the door is unnecessary because the shower does not reach the other end.

The door needs space to open

I'm skeptical. Sliding glass doors weren't an option? Why not an old fashioned shower curtain?

In Brazil, we have lots of space (as opposed to the Japanese, who live in rabbit hutches), yet we use sliding glass doors. Mine is very reliable.

Everyone knows Argentina has the most reliable sliding glass doors in all of South America.

It is not true. Brazilian sliding doors are much better. I have used them my whole life. Never had a problem, they added too much to my confort.

My experience with Argentinean and Ecuadorian sliding glass doors was far superior. Sorry.

You probably never saw a good sliding door. A good sljding door is in a league of their own.

The nice thing about the Ecuadorian doors is that they cover both sides of the Equator, if you know what I mean.

In response to Sr Messi:

Everyone knows that Argentina has a lot of SPACE. Reliability, not so much. The only thing reliable in Argentina is inflation.

Current fashions rule out shower curtains and sliding doors. Cost and space rule out a full glass enclosure with a hinged door. So you get an ineffective half-glass enclosure.

So the real answer is Current Fashions, aka collective stupidity.

Question 2: Why are the no screens on any of the windows?

Because insects are not a problem.

We live in Amsterdam. My wife disagrees!

I've wondered too. I don't know how often they shower and when they do perhaps use the detachable shower head so they may not stand under running water for much time.

European showers are one of the enduring mysteries of the world. Even some new hotels seem to have showers designed so that water will leak all over the bathroom. Sad!

The sliding shower door is just going to break anyway, as the rails will get all cruddy with soap and gunk. Easier to just not have one in the first place.

This is correct - if you are running a hotel you want something easy to clean and maintain, so no sliding doors. I don't understand all the puzzlement here, the screen is big enough to stop major splashes, which is all that is needed as the rest of the bathroom is waterproof. I stay in plenty of hotels with this arrangement and it works fine.

At least it's not a shower curtain.

At least you can throw away shower curtains and get new ones. When the glass gets all crudded up with soap you have to stand there and scrub it.

You need to wipe it down every time.

And wiping it down every time is a cost that Americans dont seem to prefer.

I have a fully enclosed shower in my Master. My wife and I constantly struggle to keep it clean, and we are no slouches on cleaning.

No cheap labor in Europe, only the very rich can afford maids at home.

Hard water leaves calcite deposits at any surface. I feel sorry for the maid that has to clean those huge glass doors in the Texas shower. Removing stains from the floor or drying it is easier and cheaper than keeping glass clean.

Just estimate how many square meters of glass have to be cleaned to keep a hotel neat. Smaller doors = lower labor costs = higher profit.

I completely forgot about their hard water. Yeah, that is a significant factor.

That depends on the country.... and it might even differ within each country.

Ventilation. A door holds water vapor in after a shower which causes mold. Without the door, the door will be better ventilated and have a better chance of drying out. These showers are typically found in rentals and hotels where the users aren't owners. It is assumed the users don't have incentive to run the fan until the shower is dry.

Winner. I think showers came after communal living. I’ve been in quite a few European showers where there was just a nozzle and no separate area at all. In this case, they often have a squeegie for you to wipe down the whole bathroom. Put another way, I think the concept of having water hit you at 80 psi for 20 minutes is foreign to them. A lot of showers in Europe are gravity-driven, only the first floor gets decent water pressure. Do your business quickly and get out. It’s not time to meditate.

Having recently built a house and gone through design decisions to ensure that a largish shower had enough water coming into it to guarantee it would steam up, I find that hard to believe. Don't you want it steamy, or at least capable of being steamy? My wife sure does.

And modern AC should have no problem drying it out. Based on style the picture is of a bathroom no more than 20 years old.

Easier to clean and makes the bathroom look bigger.

Assuming the shower itself is far enough away from the opening to avoid problems, why bother with a door? Much nicer without.
NB plenty of newer apartments and hotels in the US have such showers.

I have one of those -- installed it myself. It has many functions.
- Space. I don't want the bathtub to take too much space in the bathroom.
- Aesthetically I find it more appealing to not have glass doors all the way, but rather one third or so of the bathtub length.
- I have small kids who bathe, and I have better control with hte not drowning, washing their hair and so on through the opening beside the door. If I'd had doors all the way, i guess thy would have been in the way given the space-issue.

You are a contemptible moron and I hope your kids drown.

Well that escalated quickly...

I’ll probably just move houses or something instead.

Ah well, tough luck for Thorfinnsson. Your kids will probably survive.

If Europeans wanted full shower doors their ancestors would have come to America. Evolution in action.

It is like the Central European poop shelf, those with an aversion to shoveling others manure didn’t want to look at their own either. Thus the European population and thus the gene pool fractionated so Americans and other colonials were preselecting for nice bathrooms. The can be shown graphically by plotting how terrible bathrooms are in a European Country by how much of its population emigrated. Of course there are outliers, Ireland for example, but that can easily be explained by looking into the peculiarities of Irish emigration.

This makes the most sense to me ;)

1. Why touch a dirty shower door when exiting the shower? You are clean, the towel is clean but the door is teeming with microbes.

2. Modern aesthetics. Think Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater. Why cantilever a home above a shifting creek? Because we can.

That's pretty obvious. The window is here only to prevent water from flooding the bathroom when you have a shower in the bathtub. For this purpose, there is no need to cover its full length. And on top of that, you can go inside easily through the empy side.

The shower dries out faster without the door, which prevents mold from developing.

Is mold a problem on a hard impermeable surface that can be easily bleached?

Is drying out a problem with a fan? With AC? With occasional cleaning?

My money is on this just being "Europeans are poor."

It’s another familiar story that bathroom designers have built themselves a closed information system. The system generates and repeats agreed fictions, and people are rewarded according to their ability to internalize, repeat, and embellish these fictions.

- borrowing from David Frum

The whole point of a closed information system is that the things are not believed because they make sense. Things are believed because the closed information system of bathroom designers has ratified and repeated them.

Can somebody explain the logic of the American “we forgot to make the walls go all the way” toilet stalls?

Some people have wide stances and the police have to be able to see if you are one of them.

Oh yes this is the million $ question for all Euros here in the US

Why do you want your colleagues to catch a glimpse of your activities?

Why do you want to be able to see who's next to you by checking their shoes?

Why do you want to hear everything?

More difficult to install things flush. Walls and floors can be out of level. If you float everything off the wall and floor, easier to level?

Don't actually know, just guessing.

Easier for janitors/etc. to see if someone is in a stall.
Easier to mop and quicker to dry after the mopping.
Possible for help to enter quickly if there's some kind of health emergency in a stall...

We'll let you know when you tell us why American toilet cubicles always have gaps between the door and the walls.

1. Cost benefit analysis
2. Preferences over costs and benefits.

The longer the glass, the less likely water gets on the floor. Europeans have decided that the added cost of full length glass doesnt justify the benefit of slightly more water on the floor. The cost includes not only the cost of the glass, but the cost of cleaning and the unquantifiable cost of having to move the glass to get in. There could of course be other costs and benefits I haven't considered.

And even if no one actually does a CBA, they act as if they do.

There are also cultural preferences and inertia. There could have been a time decades ago when glass was prohibitively expensive. And despite the fact that glass might be cheaper now, the shorter glass stuck around.

When I lived in Germany, i learned that "Americans like lather" in their soaps. I have never liked the European body wash.

A cost benefit analysis could never produce all that grout!
Grout, how I hate you.
As a housewife, I would love to have one of those "dated-looking" plastic, no-grout shower surrounds.

You and my wife would be best friends. Putting in a new shower and she refuses anything with grout lines. Hates them so much she doesn't even want fake grout lines. Dated looking shower is on its way.

Of course, the problem is designing an appliance that serves two purposes: a bathtub and a shower. I've taken a shower, and I've taken a bath. Believe me, they aren't the same, and require very different applicances. I suppose they are like so-called mid-sized cars, that have the advantages of neither a small car nor the large car and the disadvantages of both. What I find amazing is that with all these comments on something so mundane as a place to bathe, nobody noticed the obvious. The reason is that we've been conditioned to accept an appliance that serves two purposes very poorly.

This is a good example of why we need bathtub/shower regulation.

I have almost fallen several times getting into and out of a very high european bathtub/shower configuration which provides no handles and a swinging door shower stall.

Don't slip and don't fall getting into or out of the shower/tub.

I can almost guess which hotel chain you are staying at.

Big Tension Rod Shower Curtain strikes again!

I had it just gotten it perfect! It wouldn't happen if you wouldn't hang your clothes on it!

It saves space. Separate bath, shower and door clearance is expansive. The cost saving on space is much more significant than the cost saving on extra glass. It's not about cleaning; you have to clean the same amount of water either way. Nor is it a time-honoured tradition, as showering at home is rather new and American, while bathing is more traditional and leisurely.

Interesting that we are all (including me!) happy to just throw out an opinion here, when the answer is probably researchable: someone at a bathroom fixture company would actually KNOW why these things are actually chosen by architects and designers. So I talked to a couple of (admittedly American, though they thought they knew European trends also) designers. The short answer (and of course perhaps these two people are wrong) is "purely a matter of preference, a matter of style and looks." In terms of PERFORMANCE (keeping water out of the rest of the bathroom), a shower curtain is better and so is a framed sliding door. (You can argue all day long whether you care about water on the floor, but in terms of simply keeping water in, this thing doesn't work well.) In terms of COST believe it or not this frameless half-door costs MUCH more than the framed sliding door, because without the supporting frame the glass has to be thicker and stronger, and then also the mounting hardware must be more robust. Shower curtain cheapest (~$25), then framed slider (~$100), then this (~$500... no typo). In terms of CLEANING, yes this is the easiest to clean but that is somewhat offset by its almost always being clear glass as opposed to patterned glass (as used in the slider): you have to clean it more often since soap marks are much more visible than with a curtain or slider. So call that a wash (ha ha I made a pun). Neither of the two said it saved any SPACE, since the tub is the same size anyway. But they said that in upscale environments, where a curtain (cheapest alternative) or slider would look.... cheap... this thing is preferred because it makes the bathroom LOOK LARGER than a frosted slider (does White Castle sell those?), giving hotel guests or flat owners a sense of roominess (but only a sense). As to the HISTORY of why Europe goes this way, they did not know, but only speculated, and that speculation is already captured in the comments above.

Anyway, for what it is worth, two people who actually buy, sell, install, and spec these things (for American clients and for European clients building in America) assert it is a STYLING and TRADITION decision, not a PRACTICAL one.

Now, onto important stuff, like the hotdog and bun count mismatch.

Beats me.

Glenn, you are now my favorite MR commenter. Sorry, msgkings.

More generally, satisficing.

Bias blindness. "If I cannot make sense of something, it must be wrong." Very common in the academy I am told.

Also, why the hell are the tub sides so high?

I'm 30 and athletic and have trouble climbing into one without dying. What happens to the elderly?

They are also known as "walk in" showers. They are very trendy in interior design. I didn't think these needed an explanation.

This trend is widespread throughout the US. I also never thought of them as European. Did this originate in Europe?

This site explains the pros/cons better than a comment section:

The pictured shower is not particularly beautiful. Look at these walk in showers to see more inspired designs:

But at least it will have a functioning mixing tap, something you’re unlikely to find in the UK, and I hear, also in the US.

I have flooded many a bathroom floor in Europe. Never in the states.

I installed a half glass door in my bathroom in Paris. I looked at the alternatives: 3 times more expensive, nobody wants sliding doors in Europe because water is usually very hard so it is super difficult to clean and revolving door take too much space.

I liked this reason:
"our answer to your "we forgot to make the doors go all the way down" in public restrooms ;) "

It's a fashion statement about open borders.

(This might, in fact, be true. I'm afraid to check.)

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