Turning a bathtub into a shower is growing in popularity with many homeowners right now. But what should you think about before making the move from a tub to a shower and how much should you expect it to cost?
Don’t Get Rid of Your Home’s Only Bathtub
Even if you never use the tub, except for the occasional large cleaning job, it is a very good idea to keep at least one tub in your home. According to many big real estate experts having a bathtub in a home is important for resale. A large percentage of home buyers right now are those with young families or are purchasing homes in hopes of growing a family, and those buyers are looking for tubs.
Some Options That Could Save Money
Positioning the New Shower in a Tub Alcove: if your bathroom’s tub/shower combo is currently in an alcove where the walls surround the tub on three sides, it is easier to pull out the tub and turn the area into a shower. It requires very minor modifications and the cost to replace a bathtub with a shower will be lower than expected because the plumbing is already in place unless you plan to add a second showerhead.
Buying a Pre-made shower kit: A pre-made shower stall that just slides into a tub alcove is an option to save money versus tiling the walls and purchasing a separate shower door system. Some even include built-in shelves and seats. It can save you several hundreds of dollars. A custom tile shower can cost anywhere between $1,000 and $3,500 depending on the tile you choose and the plumbing specifics.
Don’t Build a Shower Where the Window Is
If you are planning to put your new shower where there currently is only a tub and it sits under a window, there are some things to think about. It will not be as easy as just sticking a shower there.
(Photo from our Westwood Luxury Bath Remodel Project)
You want to avoid having a window in your shower at all costs. There is too much opportunity for water to get into the window casing and this means a high possibility of having yucky mold growth and damage that is expensive to repair. It could lead to the tearing out of your new shower. So put the shower where there is no window or consider moving the window if possible to keep the shower as close as possible to the current water lines.
Choosing the Right Size of Shower
Many building codes state that a shower needs to be at least 30 inches square. The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends a shower of at least 36 inches square. If you are building to the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s standards you may have to modify an existing tub alcove in your home.
(Photo from our Finn Hill Master Bath Remodel Project)
The Shower Floor is Important
The floor of your shower, referred to as the shower pan, makes a big impact on the style and cost of your new shower. There are two basic types of shower pans: curbed and curbless.
Curbed Shower Pans: This type of pan forms a complete enclosure to help contain water run-off and channel it down the drain. Curbed shower pans are usually premade and come with the proper pitch to drain the water. This is usually the cheaper option.
Curbless Shower Pans: also called a barrier-free shower, where there is a seamless transition from the shower floor to the rest of the bathroom floor. These are very desirable right now, but they are much more labor-intensive to install. The drainage slope needs to be put in by lowering a bit of the floor or raising the floor, which can add to the cost significantly.
(Photo from our Ballard Old World Bath Remodel Project)
Look for These Things When Demo-ing
While you have the walls around the tub ripped out check for these things in your home to avoid hassle later and save some money.
- the condition of all pipes in the walls and replace them if needed
- the wall framing and subfloor for mold, mildew, rot, structural integrity. Etc.
- shower valve: this is a good time to switch to a single-handle, pressure-balancing valve that can control both temp and volume.
(Photo 1 from our Finn Hill Master Bath Remodel Project)
(Photo 2 from our Capitol Hill Guest Bedroom Suite Bath Remodel Project)
The Important Thing to Remember on the Cost of a Tub to Shower Conversion
No matter how much money you hope to save or how many adjustments you make to the style of your new shower, do not try to cut costs on the labor you hire to get the job done. Make sure you are hiring a high-quality bathroom remodeling contractor to do the work. Check out their credentials on the Department of Labor and Industries website, ask them plenty of questions, research them from many different angles online, and ask for referrals from past jobs they have completed. A shower is only as good as the person who installs it. You don’t want to end up paying more later for a job that was not well done.