What type of drain is best for your shower?

When it comes to bathroom design, the devil is often in the details. What type of drain is best for your shower is not the most glamorous topic, but it’s a crucial consideration that can impact both aesthetics and functionality.

In bathrooms, the choice between linear/channel drains and standard square drains has gained prominence due to their distinct advantages and disadvantages. Let’s dive into the pros and cons of each, their compliance with Australian standards, and how to factor them into your bathroom design.

Linear/Channel Drains: Aesthetic Elegance and Accessibility


  • Aesthetic Appeal: Channel drains, also known as linear drains, offer a sleek and modern appearance. They create a seamless look by integrating with the bathroom floor, making them an excellent choice for contemporary designs. The single slope towards the drain also opens up endless opportunities for tile choice whilst minimising grout lines. 
  • Water Management: Strip drains efficiently manage water by collecting it across a wider surface area. This minimizes the risk of water pooling, which is especially important in open/wet room-style bathroom designs.
  • Accessibility: Strip drains can be placed at the entrance of the shower area, creating a barrier-free, wheelchair-friendly entry. This aligns with the principles of universal design.

Linear Drain vs Square Drain what type for your shower


  • Installation Complexity: Installing linear drains requires careful consideration during the design and construction phases. Proper slope and waterproofing are essential to prevent water from seeping into unintended areas.
  • Cost: Linear drains are often pricier than standard drains due to their design and installation requirements.
  • Cleaning: Because linear drains are installed flush with the ground they can be harder to access for cleaning and accumulate more hair than a standard square drain. Ensure you consider ease of access when considering your design and that you can lift them clearly out without bumping screens etc.

Standard Square Drains: Time tested and Versatile


  • Simplicity: Square drains are straightforward to install and typically involve less complexity during construction.
  • Variety: A wide range of grate designs are available for square drains from tile insets to round decorative grates, allowing you to find one that complements your bathroom’s aesthetic.
  • Cost-Effective: Square drains are generally more budget-friendly compared to linear drains.

Square tile shower drain


  • Water Management: Standard drains have a smaller surface area for water collection, which might lead to water pooling if not designed and installed properly.
  • Aesthetics: Depending on tile choice the requirement for adequate falls to the central drain point may require numerous cuts in the tiles resulting in more grout lines.
Central shower drain tiling grout lines
Tile cuts required to form adequate fall for drainage.

BCA, Australian Standards and Design Considerations:

Both linear drains and square drains must meet BCA and Australian standards for installation, drainage efficiency and waterproofing to prevent water damage. When designing your bathroom, consider factors such as the bathroom’s layout, size, and overall aesthetic.

For linear drains, ensure proper floor slope, waterproofing, and appropriate positioning to guarantee efficient water drainage. For central square drains, choose a design that complements your bathroom tiles and overall theme.

Also ensure that all drains are installed by a licensed plumber!

Shower Design: Wet Room Style or Enclosed

The choice between a wet room-style shower and an enclosed shower impacts the drainage solution you opt for. Wet room designs often favor linear drains for their water management capabilities, while enclosed showers can work well with both strip and square drains based on aesthetic preferences, budget and accessibility needs.

In conclusion, bathroom drainage, particularly in shower areas, is a significant consideration when designing your bathroom. Linear drains offer a modern look and improved water management, while square drains provide versatility and cost-effectiveness. Both options must adhere to Australian standards for proper drainage and waterproofing. When designing your bathroom, factor in the shower type (wet room or enclosed) and your aesthetic preferences to make an informed choice that balances style and functionality.

For more goodness and advice on bathroom renovations check out our articles here

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