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Linear Drain or Center Drain?

Most of us have showers with Center Drains (image on right) but there’s another option: Linear Drains (image on left). Do you know the difference?

Linear Drain

(Image courtesy of

Center Drain

(Image courtesy of

Cheyanne Blue, RLP Interior Designer

This month, let’s talk shower drains! (Why not?) Most of us are very familiar with the round ones in the center of our showers. The ones we step on and sometimes accidentally loosen the top piece out of alignment…or have to bend down and clean out hair clogs – ugh! We usually step on it as soon as we step in and sometimes it’s a bit slippery. And if our shower floor is tiled, the area around the center drain is smooth which proves a slipping hazard. But there is another alternative: linear drains! Never heard of them? Allow me to elucidate! Here is a melding of two internet articles that touch on all the basics.

What Is a Linear Drain?

So, what exactly is a linear drain? A linear drain is exactly what it sounds like. It is an elongated, rectangular-shaped drain that captures the flow of water towards a single exit port, which allows for efficient use of water. It is often described as decorative plumbing because it is sleek and chic when compared to traditional shower drains.

Benefits of a Linear Drain

Linear drains are much more than an embellishment, but they can also be an essential improvement to your bathroom. Here are a few reasons why it is practical, and it can be a smart purchase:

Improves Accessibility

Linear drains eliminate the need for traditional step over or barrier tubs and shower enclosures. Curbless showers are ideal for homes with disabled individuals, the elderly, and children. Plus, it can also be efficient for regular users. Since linear drains draw water straight toward the drain, the transition from wet and dry areas of the bathroom is easy.

Improves Safety

Slips and falls in the shower occur every day. This factor has resulted in serious injuries that come with hefty medical expenses. Therefore, it is important to take safety measures to decrease the risk of injuring oneself in the shower. That is where linear drains come into play. The linear draining system draws excess water right to the drain, which makes the shower less slippery.

Easy Maintenance

Cleaning a linear drain is rather simple. According to cleaning experts, a simple water and soap mixture will suffice. What if it becomes clogged? It is crucial to make sure that whatever linear brand you select comes with a quality debris basket. Having a quality debris basket reduces the chance of blockage and clogging.


Linear drains offer design versatility. You can have it installed at the center of the shower stall, in the center, or even in the corner. The sky is the limit. (That is because the shower floor only needs to be sloped in the direction of the drain. For center drains, for instance, you would need to slop the floor in all four directions so that it funnels toward the center of the shower. The singular slope makes installation much quicker and easier, saving you on labor and installation costs along the way.)

Linear shower drains require no curbs. While it might not seem like that big of a deal, it can be. For those who struggle with mobility – older people or those coming off surgery, for instance – it can make a huge deal.


Another major reason that people opt for a linear shower drain is its safety. That is because this type of shower drain is compliant with the American Disability Act. So, it is safe to reason that if these drains are safe for those with disabilities, they are safe for just about anyone else.

General Appeal

If all of the aforementioned reasons were not enough to convince you of how good linear shower drains are, there is more. For one, they appeal to a huge range of people because designers can use the same tile from the floor of the shower in the rest of the bathroom.

Using the same tiling is done through what is known as a tile-in option. You won’t see visual disturbances that can interfere with the visual flow of the flooring. Any size of tile can be used during installation, even slab material.

A huge benefit to installing a linear shower drain is that they are much less susceptible to issues with leaking.

Cover Types

The cool thing about linear drains is that you can also choose between two different types. Since the larger debris gets caught before it goes down the drain, the water is able to flow easily through it. But there are two types that you would have to choose from.

The first is a grated channel cover. The grated covers are traditionally used and are safe to walk on. They might even have artistic coverings with smoother panels for a better overall design aesthetic. If properly installed, you don’t have to worry about tripping over them.

There is also the tiled-in option. These have an inset shelf where you can place designs on. The drain can be virtually invisible among the rest of the tile while still doing its job. The downside is that the tile cover can decrease flow rate.

The Cons of Linear Shower Drains

While there are a ton of positives to having a linear shower drain installed, there are some downsides to be had. Here are a few of the cons that you may have to contend with when installing a linear shower drain in your home.


Linear drains are quite long, so be prepared to clean a lot more than you would with a center drain. When you have a shower drain that is longer in nature, the velocity of the water that drains out is much slower.

When the velocity of the water is much slower, it has a more difficult time carrying out things like dirt, grime, and hair. So, be prepared to clean that sort of stuff out of your drain on a regular basis going forward.


Since linear shower drains do not have a curb, you are more likely to experience splashing since the water is not contained. Shower curtains may help to limit this a bit, but without that curb there, you are limited in terms of how water is contained.

The good news is that there are remedies for this. For instance, you can have a rain head fixture installed or even go with a curved shower wall to help direct the water into the drain a bit more effectively.

Lack of Privacy

Because of their design, linear showers also tend to be a lot more open than those with center drains. If you live in a home with a sort of open-door policy, then you run the risk of having far less privacy during shower time. It is not a major concern but it can lead to a lot of uncomfortable moments that could have been otherwise avoided.

The Final Verdict

For the most part, linear shower drains provide a greater level of safety and convenience than their center drain counterparts. Installations tend to be a bit cheaper on the whole and are safer for those dealing with disabilities or mobility problems.

If you do not mind a lack of privacy and a little more cleaning, you will generally enjoy linear shower drains. They drain better than center drains, making them more efficient and less prone to clogging in the future.


So, while there won’t be a quiz on what you just read, has your interest been piqued? Are you pulling on your spouse’s sleeve and murmuring something about, “Honey, I’ve always hated that shower drain. The top grill is always coming off. Look at these sexy linear ones! Don’t you think we deserve one?!” Or if you just think that the benefits of a linear drain are something you would want, Renewed Life Properties would be happy to help you get your own modern, dare we say sexy, linear drain! If you’re in the process of redoing your shower now…STOP!! This is the perfect chance to add one in. Let us know and you can have your very own linear drain too! Your neighbors will be SO jealous!

[Source: Accessed June 28, 2023.]

[Source: Accessed June 29, 2023.]


Below are some photos of shower drains that we’ve done in our projects.

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