How Much to Replace a Shower?
When considering how much to replace a shower, the most important factor is the shower type or configuration. Configuration has 2 parts: The existing shower and the new shower. Replacing an existing fiberglass panel shower with a new tile surround shower costs more than replacing with another fiberglass panel shower. For more specific information on shower replacement, see:
Before we get into the cost, it is important to understand some of the dynamics of shower remodeling. This background information will prove very helpful.
For Orange County, shower configurations primarily consist of:
- One-piece fiberglass unit.
- Two-piece fiberglass unit.
- Stand-alone tile shower.
- Tiled shower with a connecting bathtub.
Fiberglass showers are very common throughout Orange County. Mostly located in the master bathroom, this is an inexpensive shower stall. The warranty is typically 1 year.
Many homes in Lake Forest and Mission Viejo are Deane Homes. Common to all tract housing is the use of lower quality products to maximize profit. Many Deane Homes used fiberglass showers. Because these shower units are low quality, they leak around the drain. Notice that when standing in a fiberglass shower, they flex, creak, and have an overall feeling of being unstable. All this movement from the weight of standing and moving in the shower causes the drain to break and leak.
Why don’t you see this leak? On single story homes, Deane Homes, as well as many other builders, simply left the area around the drain open to the dirt. In this manner, as the shower leaked, it simply drained into the dirt around the drain. A good concept, but very unhealthful for the home’s occupants. If your bathroom smells sour, rancid, or like a sewer, it could be from open soil below the shower drain. Over decades, the soil becomes contaminated and rotten, producing unhealthful odorous pathogens.
What About Leaks From Above?
Many of the drains for these fiberglass units were either installed incorrectly and/or have broken due to the weight on and around the shower drain (standing on and around the drain when showering). This, along with the constant flexing of the fiberglass shower pan when showering, causes a leak.
Therefore, many people in Orange County experience water leaks from the second floor into the kitchen/dining space below. These leaks typically first occur when the home is between 10-30 years old. This dirty sewer water is not typically noticed until after several years. By this point, there is usually damage to the supporting floor/ceiling structure and drywall. There is mold, mildew, rot, and sometimes active insect infestation damage.
When water starts dripping from the ceiling or brown staining is noticed on the ceiling, folks call a Plumber. The Plumber simply repairs the drainpipe or replaces the shower drain. Unfortunately, this does not fix the culprit – the fiberglass shower! I have personally witnessed these repairs lasting a few months to a few years. The only way to truly fix the problem is to replace the fiberglass shower with a new tiled surround shower.
Tile Surround Showers
Tile surround showers when properly constructed enjoy significantly longer durability. The cemented walls, porcelain or ceramic tile, and hot mopped pan creates the required “swimming pool”. A swimming pool is a solid, fully integrated, watertight structure designed to withstand heavy use in submerged water. The same concept applies to a tile shower.
Tile showers experience leaks when they are constructed using fiberglass, acrylic, and polyurethane receptors (pans) vs a tiled pan. Other than tile, these pans all flex. Because they flex, the drains loosen, break, and began leaking. They can leak for years, even decades, before the leak is noticed.
Unlike tile, fiberglass, acrylic, and polyurethane pans have 3 disconnected, overlap sides. This is a break in the “swimming pool”. The tile is installed over these integrated 1-inch fins or tile flanges. When the pan flexes, the tile and its substrate loosen. Moreover, if you allow the pan to fill with water by covering the drain with your foot, wash cloth, or a slow drain, water will flow into the wall cavity. Over time, these conditions allow dangerous pathogens such as mold, mildew, bacteria, and moisture to develop behind the tile. Damage and destruction occur in the walls and floor around and under the shower.
Anything Else I Should Know on How Much to Replace a Shower?
Shower remodeling has 5 major parts. These are demolition, plumbing, surface preparation, water proofing, selecting and installing the tile. The discussion of these is outside the scope of this article. For more on these, see:
Removing a fiberglass shower requires less time, resources, and disposal than a tile shower. The effort and resources necessary to remove and dispose of a tile shower is about 3-5 times that of a fiberglass system.
In similar fashion, installing a tile shower is about triple+ versus a fiberglass shower. It begs the question “why install a tile shower?” A properly installed tile shower provides the following benefits:
- Beautiful – Provides a cost effective, elegant, and relaxing bathing environment.
- Strong and Durable – A tile shower will easily outperform and outlast a fiberglass, acrylic, and polyurethane system.
- Less costly over time – Tile shower systems will provide trouble free use for many decades. Along with proper maintenance, they provide a watertight, mold, mildew, and bacteria free environment.
- Flexible – Unlike fiberglass, acrylic, and polyurethane, tile showers allow for almost unlimited design, size, access, and accessory options. Walk-in (curb less), bench seat, deep and multiple shampoo recesses, multiple shower fixtures, 2-person showers, etc. are all possible with tile. Whatever size, features, and access you need, tile showers can give you to support and enhance your lifestyle.
How Much to Replace a Shower?
In over 45 years remodeling bathrooms and showers, I have never had a client replace a fiberglass or acrylic surround shower with another one. In similar fashion, no client has ever replaced a tile surround shower with a fiberglass or acrylic surround shower. Therefore, I can confidently provide the following per square foot pricing estimates:
- Fiberglass Surround to Tile Surround………………………………………………………………… $775 and up
- Tile Surround to Tile Surround………………………………………………………………………… $900 and up
To calculate, simply multiply the length and the width of your shower by one of the above figures. For example: If you are replacing a 5×3 tile surround shower with a new tile surround shower the calculation is:
- 5 foot long by 3 foot wide tile surround shower equals 15 square feet (5×3). $900 x 15 = $13,500.
This estimate is just for the shower. There are other costs associated with replacing a shower. Therefore, the total overall cost will be higher.
These figures are for midpoint showers. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being junk and 10 being the best, these figures are a 5. This is really important to understand. Anything under 5 is tract grade. Remember, tract grade is the lowest quality. I do not recommend anything less than a level 5 shower. I will not install a shower less than a level 5. Why? Five to ten years down the road, the likely expense from the damage will far exceed any savings from a less than midpoint shower.
A well thought out midpoint shower will consider all of the following:
- Forged-brass lifetime warranty shower valve.
- Brass fixtures with guaranteed lifetime finish.
- Forged-brass shower drain trim with guaranteed lifetime finish.
- Wall cavity, pan, dam, and return blocking and framing for reliability and strength.
- Insulation that provides exceptional thermal and sound control performance.
- Hot mop with 4 layers of premium asphalt and 3 layers of 15 lb. felt.
- Sloping for proper drainage and no pooling of water.
- Water proofing materials. Includes top quality bonded 2-layer laminated paper, galvanized diamond lath, and premium cement.
- Porcelain tile.
- Ultimate performance grout.
- Premium, maximum stain resistant sealing and polishing.
- Artisan and Contractor level of experience, knowledge, and care.
How Can I Receive More Information on Replacing my Shower?
If you would like more information on enjoying the best shower, bathroom, kitchen, and interior remodeling experience in Orange County, call Dan at (949) 380-0177 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free in home consultation. DAD’s serves all of South Orange County California. This includes Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Foothill Ranch, Portola Hills, Ladera Ranch, Irvine, San Clemente, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, Rancho Santa Margarita, Coto de Caza, Dove Canyon, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Newport Beach, and Aliso Viejo).