Bathtub to Shower Conversion

If you’re thinking of converting your bathtub to a shower, you’re in good company with One Day Bath, Inc.

The American Institute of Architects says that the tub-less bathroom is growing in popularity.

However, there’s a caveat: Even if you only use your tub to wash the mini-blinds, most real estate agents are adamant about having at least one bathtub in your house to preserve marketability.

So the conclusion is, go ahead and convert your old tub or tub/shower combo into a cool, walk-in shower, as long as one other bathroom in your house has a tub for tasks such as bathing small children.

Do You Need to Relocate Your Shower?

If you’re planning a simple conversion, not a full bathroom makeover, then your project is straightforward.

If your old tub is in an alcove, it can be removed and be left with a space that’s about 30 to 34 inches deep and 5 feet wide, a good space for a shower. With minor modifications, the water supply and drain lines will already be in place, saving you money on plumbing costs.

If you have a free-standing tub, a bit more planning may be involved. Many free-standing tubs are positioned under or near windows and you’ll want to avoid windows in your new shower enclosure. That means putting your shower in a different location. But you’ll want to have it as close as possible to the existing water supply and drain lines to keep plumbing costs low. Moving plumbing to a new location can add hundreds of dollars to your project.

Will Your Dream Shower Fit?

Most building codes say the floor of a shower stall should be at least 30-inches-by-30 inches. A 36-inch-by-36-inch-wide stall is recommended by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). If you’re building to the NKBA standards, an existing tub alcove probably needs modification — such as adding short sections of wall — to make the finished shower space 36 inches deep.

Other key measurement facts:

  • Finished ceiling height: At least 80 inches.
  • Distance from side of toilet to shower wall: 15 inches minimum measured from the center of the toilet to the wall; 18 inches is recommended.
  • Distance from front of toilet to shower wall or any wall: 21 inches minimum measured from the front of the toilet bowl to the wall; 30 inches is recommended.
  • Shower door swing: Should clear all obstructions, especially the toilet and vanity cabinet. Sliding glass doors or shower curtains can help solve door swing problems.

The Shower Floor: Curbs or Curbless?

The floor of your shower has a lot to say about the style and cost of your conversion. You have a choice of two basic types of pan: one corrals water with curbs that you step over as you enter; the other is curbless.

Shower pans with curbs form a complete enclosure to contain water spray and channel it to a drain. The floor of the shower pan has the proper pitch to drain water. Showers with curbs are usually easier and cheaper to install than curbless installations.

Curbless shower stalls are very au courant but trickier to make, the drainage slope of the floor has to be built below the level of the surrounding flooring surface. That means either raising the level of the surrounding floor, or lowering the shower pan.

If you raise the bathroom floor, it’ll be higher than any other floor that it meets, such as the floor of your master bedroom. You’ll need a transition threshold, which can be awkward and defeats the advantage of curbless shower if you want to be able to roll in a wheelchair.

What are the Options?

Shower stall kits are low-cost options. They’re typically made of acrylic or fiberglass, and include pre-made sides, a skid-proof floor pan with curbs and a drain hole, and a hinged glass door. They’re made to fit into corners and old bathtub alcoves.

The seamless, individual pieces make kit installation fast and relatively easy. The shower pan has curbs to contain water and a built-in slope for drainage. Kits are made in various sizes to fit all sorts of configurations, and some include extras such as built-in seats and shelves for bath products.

You can also have a curbless kits, but the requirements are the same, you’ll either have to raise the level of the bathroom floor, or lower the floor of the kit for a seamless transition.

Tiled showers with curbs are built on site. The curbs typically are made with flat two-by-fours stacked on top of each other and finished with ceramic tile. Either a solid or glass wall sits atop the curbs.

Shower pans for use with tile are one-piece acrylic or fiberglass, or custom-made from poured mortar. The mortar is sloped by hand toward the drain, and then covered with a waterproof rubber or vinyl membrane. Another layer of mortar then tile completes the job.

Curbless showers use specially-made pans designed to fit flush with the surrounding subfloor so that tile can be laid continuously over both the shower and bathroom floor.

An alternative is to cut down the tops of the floor joists so that you can install a shower pan slightly below the level of your existing flooring. That way, the tile of your new shower will be flush with your existing flooring and you’ll have a continuous, seamless floor. However, altering joists requires approval from your local building authority. You might be required to beef up supports before removing any wood.

Take a look at our Tub to Shower Gallery for inspiration!

What’s the Cost?

A professionally installed, tiled shower enclosure at an average of  $1,000 to $3,500 depending on complexity, size, and the type of tile and fixtures you choose. Add about another $500 to $1,000 for tear-out, new plumbing pipes, fixtures, and any custom carpentry.

Our daily goal is to improve the lives of everyone who uses our bathroom remodeling products.

With One Day Bath, your bathroom remodeling options are endless. Contact us at (877) 656-7875 for a free in-home consultation!


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