Regardless of scope or scale, it’s common to remove and replace the original shower and vanity system during a bathroom renovation. After the preliminary design phase, the fun begins with product selections for your new shower and vanity, including the hardware, finishes, tile, and stone type(s). Typically, the homeowner will select a slab for the entire bathroom which will be milled to size to fit the shower and vanity locations.
High-end bathroom renovations can include a walk-in shower with a shower curb, a custom niche, corner shelves, a bench seat, a pony wall to separate the shower from the bathroom, and the vanity countertop – meaning you need to secure enough material to finish the space.
However, you may be wondering how thick your stone should be. While a minor detail in the world of renovation, the thickness of stone can impact other areas of the project, including pricing, fabrication and installation labor, and durability.
The most common, and recommended, thicknesses for stone are 2cm and 3cm – which roughly equal to 3/4″ and 1-1/4″ respectively. Obviously, the thicker stone will provide enhanced durability but will add a bulky aesthetic if it is applied throughout the entire bathroom. Thinner stone will improve the bathroom’s aesthetic with delicate sizing and be less of an installation burden, however, it’s not very durable.
Below, we’ve shared a few best practices when selecting the right thickness for your stone applications.
Exterior Shower Applications: Curb, Jambs, and Caps
The shower curb is the border that separates the shower and shower pan from the bathroom floor. The purpose of a curb is to contain the water within the shower, mitigate moisture penetration, and can serve as a mount for a glass enclosure.
If a pony wall was constructed, it’s recommended to carry the curbstone up the wall jamb and return it along the top of the wall. While multiple will be fabricated, it’s best to match the thickness of the curb, jambs, and caps, enhancing the overall style of the shower.
Although the shower is considered to be a high-traffic area, it’s uncommon and not recommended to stand or apply significant pressure to the curb, jambs, and caps. Therefore, we recommend choosing 2cm thick stone applications for these locations. The thinner stone will also provide a lighter aesthetic by avoiding the possibility of making the shower seem too bulky and bogged down by excess weight.
Interior Shower Applications: Niches and Bench
A niche and bench can elevate your shower from standard to high-end and provide increased functionality and form. Niche edges can be finished with a variety of materials, including Schluter edging or tile, however, the most common finish is stone – specifically at the niche base. Using a thinner piece of stone is standard for niche applications and is essential when maximizing the space of a small niche.
Is your shower too small for a niche or outside of your project’s scope of work? We recommend using prefabricated 2cm corner shelves, with standard sizes available at most tile supply stores or, for a custom size, at local stone fabricators.
A bench should always be a thicker piece of stone. While some benches are merely for an enhanced design, such as the small corner bench in the photo above, some homeowners opt-in for a bench to increase comfort while they shower. Regardless of a bench’s intended use, 3cm thickness is recommended to ensure durability, longevity, and strength.
Considerably the most important piece of stone in your bathroom, the vanity countertop thickness you choose is crucial for proper sink and faucet location and installation. You’ll want a thicker piece of stone for countertops as this area will get a fair amount of use. The vanity countertop is also considered to be a “work surface,” therefore many stone fabricators and suppliers recommend a sturdier stone for daily use.
Keep in mind that if a side of the countertop is touching a wall, a backsplash is recommended to avoid water damage to sheetrock or plaster walls. While the countertop itself should be thicker, backsplashes have some leeway. As a water barrier, there is no need to install a thick stone – most backsplashes are milled to 2cm to provide enough clearance for the faucet position and mobility.
While it is common to allocate thinner material for low-traffic areas, including niche shelves, curbs, jambs, and caps, some may prefer to install 3cm thick stone to maintain cohesiveness with their countertop and bench seat.
The “2c or not 2c” question is really up to the homeowner and the current conditions of the space. Puns aside, selecting the right stone thickness depends on the application of the surface and your personal aesthetic taste.
When remodeling your bathroom, make sure you hire a licensed general contractor who can guide you through product selections and provide you with a list of reputable vendors to assist on your stone thickness journey.
Photography by Kate McNamara, Freebird Photography