5 Things You Need to Know Before Building a Walk-In Shower

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Walk-in showers accommodate efficient morning scrubs and relaxing spa-style treatments. With proper preparations, thoughtful space planning, and wise material choices, you can build a walk-in shower that perfectly suits your bathroom space, getting-ready needs, and design preferences.

1. Consider construction costs. Generally, building a walk-in shower requires gutting walls to access plumbing pipes, applying waterproof poly sheeting to the walls and floor, rebuilding walls using moisture-resistant drywall or backer board, installing drains, and pouring mortar to create shower pans. Plumbing pipes might need to be moved to accommodate showerheads and sprays. Finally, the new walls will need to be tiled or clad in a waterproof surface. Easier and more affordable walk-in shower options include prefab shower kits, which can be installed by moderately handy do-it-yourselfers who are comfortable framing walls and working with plumbing pipes.

2. Find inspiration. Look for walk-in shower ideas in shelter magazines and at bath showrooms and home centers. Meet with a bathroom designer or construction professional to discuss your project, firm up goals, and solicit bids if needed.

3. Be space-savvy. When planning a walk-in shower, make sure there will be a minimum of 32 inches between the shower and the room’s other fixtures. Walk-in showers should supply at least 36×36 inches of space per person, so double that amount if two people will be using the shower at one time. Remember: Hinged shower doors must open outward and require 30 inches of clearance.

4. Review your options. Standard prefab shower kits range in size from 31×31 inches up to 36×48 inches and are available as one-piece stalls, as a shower pan and three walls, and as customizable units. But if you want a custom look, you’ll want to build a walk-in shower from scratch. This allows you to devise a stylish shower enclosure or opt for a wet-room-style shower, which is a barrier-free showering space that opens to the rest of the bathroom.

5. Think about entry and accessibility. Opt for a curbless shower or a low-threshold entry so you can safely move in and out of the shower. Consider whether you want to leave the shower’s entry undressed or add a curtain or hinged or track-style doors. Opting for an open doorway? Make sure the shower walls, base, and showerhead layout are designed to contain spraying water.

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