a bathtub to a shower is becoming ever more popular. For many people,
it’s much easier to step into and out of a shower than a bathtub. A
shower also provides the opportunity to have a seat while bathing. Many
folks find sitting to bathe safer, more comfortable, and more
involved in turning a bathtub into a shower? First, you’ll need a
licensed General Contractor who knows what their doing and has lots of
hands-on experience! Here are the other items to consider:
project requires plans and
permits. The project will involve excavation (when converting over a
concrete foundation), plumbing, framing, concrete, hot mop, insulation,
drywall, cement lath and plaster, tile, electrical, and paint.
- Bathtubs and tub/shower
combinations have a 1-1/2” drain. Showers require a 2” drain to handle
the extra water. Therefore, the entire length of the 1-1/2” bathtub
drain will need to be removed and replaced with a 2” drain. The drain
will also need to be repositioned. Bathtub drains are located at the
front of the tub. Shower drains are in the middle. The effort to do
this primarily depends on 3 factors: (a) floor – concrete or wood
framing (b) distance the 2” drain will need to travel and connect to
another 2” or 3” drain (c) The number and type of plumbing fixtures
already on the line you’re connecting to and the number of turns and
bends to get there.
- Tile or 1 piece fiberglass shower?
Always go with a full tile shower. A fiberglass unit usually has a 1
year or less warranty, leak soon thereafter (it’s typically a small
leak that remains undetected for many years – until the damage becomes
great and expensive . . . think mold and dry rot), and is less safe and
durable. Most don’t have seats and the ones that do, are designed for
someone 5 years of age or less! A tiled floor is also much safer and
significantly reduces the chances of a slip and fall injury (provided
you use the correct tile!)
- For ceilings 8’ in height and less,
tile all the way to the ceiling. Make sure you also tile the floor
outside the shower. Carpet is the worst and vinyl is a close second.
These only encourage potentially harmful and destructive mold, mildew,
bacteria, and rot. Use tile as the baseboard. Never use wood or MDF
type baseboards outside any wet area. Make sure to include at least two
16” tall shampoo cubbies (I call this the “Costco Size”) that can be
comfortably reached when sitting or standing. Don’t forget the soap
- Make sure the Plumber installs the
shower head at 6’ 6” minimum. Standard shower heights put the shower
head in your chest! Not very helpful for washing anything above that.
It’s best to install an adjustable hand shower on a pole. This allows
you to raise and lower the shower head for different heights, sit and
wash yourself, shave your legs much more comfortably, and clean your
shower walls with ease. There are 60” and 72” hoses. Make sure you
select the correct length. It should comfortably reach where the seat
is located and allow for easy positioning when washing your body when
- Install a dedicated GFCI protected
LED light over the shower. You’ll love the direct light it provides,
especially when shaving your legs and when your eyesight starts to fade.
- Install a super quiet exhaust fan
that moves a minimum of 110 cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air. Don’t
vent it directly into the attic! You do, and you’re in for some happy
termites and very expensive termite and mold damage to your home. It
must vent directly outside. Use only fans with a 4” duct minimum. You
should also use a Humidistat as the fan control.
- Use a tempered glass enclosure.
Clear glass keeps the room looking large and allows you to enjoy your
beautiful new shower. Always use a minimum of 5/16” thick tempered
glass – the best and safest is 3/8” thick tempered glass. Never use
3/16” or 1/4” glass – it’s not strong enough and can easily shatter.
Always pay extra and have a factory applied glass sealer installed to
the shower side of the glass. Glass is very porous. That’s why you
can’t ever seem to get the outside of windows clean or your old
enclosure. The “porous” are microscopic craters in the glass that lime,
calcium, soap, shampoo, dirt, etc. get into. Once in, you can’t get the
glass clean and it gets that discolored and dingy look.
About the Author
Daniel A. Derkum
is the owner of DAD's Construction, a
leading South Orange County, California design-and-build remodeling and