The Pros and Cons of Doing A Tub To Shower Conversion

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Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of converting a tub to a shower with EZ Bath's comprehensive analysis, helping you make an informed decision.

Are you thinking about remodeling and redesigning your bathroom? Whether you’ve bought an older home with a bathroom that is outdated or your own family bathroom no longer fits your needs, a bathroom remodel is a common upgrade to your home. One of the most common remodeling jobs in a bathroom is to replace the bathtub with a shower. This is a common change for lots of reasons. Maybe your children have outgrown the stage where you need a bath to wash them and you think a walk-in shower would be nicer to have and would look better in your bathroom. Perhaps you’re tired of the shower head over your bath sitting too low, or maybe your bath has just seen better days.

A lot of people love a bath for a relaxing soak, but a lot of people are choosing to get rid of the baths or bath/shower head combinations entirely and are opting to have a free-standing shower instead. This is partly due to the busy lives we all lead now, as many people find a shower to be invigorating and more efficient than taking a bath. It also helps you to save on water.

Some people feel that a bath is an essential thing that all homes should have. However, according to many estate agents, it won’t have any real effect on your sale price. You can always choose to reinstall a bath if you want to sell in the future and find that buyers really want a bath.

Swapping your old bath out for a brand new shower enclosure is actually a pretty straightforward task, rather than a large renovation. In fact, you can probably manage to complete this change over a couple of days.

Perhaps you’re just tired of the way that your bathroom looks and feel as though it’s time for a refresh. As with any level of a home remodel, there is a lot that you should consider first before you go for it. Carefully weigh up the pros and cons of ditching your bathtub in favor of a shower to help you make the right decisions for your bathroom.

The Pros of a Tub to Shower Conversion

You Boost the Value of Your Home

If you own your home and think you might want to sell at some point in the future, then a tub to shower conversion could add some value to your home. This could be part of the reason why pulling out the old bathtub and installing a shower instead is one of the most popular bathroom remodels.

Some remodeling projects can be very expensive but don’t have the same return on investment. Some projects don’t ever allow you to earn the money you have spent on your remodel back when you sell your home. This change to your bathroom, in most cases, should repay you more than the investment that you made to make the upgrade.

A Shower Takes up Less Room Than a Tub

If you have a lot of spare room, you can install a much more luxurious shower. However, sometimes, if you have a smaller bathroom, you need to make the most of whatever spare space you do have leftover in your bathroom. If your bath currently feels as though it is taking up most of the space in your bathroom, pulling it out and replacing it with a shower will make a lot of sense to make better use of your space.

A square shower unit can be installed in a very small space. In fact, it can be installed in a space as small as 30 inches by 30 inches. Your current tub could be 6 feet or even more in length, which takes up a lot of space. By swapping a bath for a shower, you will give yourself a lot more room to move around in the bathroom. You can use the extra space that you have given yourself to make your bathroom a lot more functional and better for your family.  

You’ll Save Money on Your Water Bill

Filling up a bathtub takes a lot of water to fill it completely. You can, of course, fill it up slightly less, but in order to effectively wash, you do need a pretty full tub, so there’s only so much water you can save. This is obviously not a requirement of a shower. Showering instead of taking baths can save you a huge amount of money every year, just on the cost of the water that you need to bathe. If you have a big family needing to wash in the bathroom, this water-saving will soon add up even more, helping you to make some real savings. A lot of people don’t think about this part of the tub-to-shower conversion, but saving money and having some extra is always nice.

You Can Improve the Safety of Your Home

As an added bonus, a shower could actually make your home safer for you and your family. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) think that changing your tub for a shower is a good decision. Did you know that the bathroom is often the most dangerous room in the house? According to the CDC, more than 20 million people over the age of 18 are injured in the bathroom every year, just in the USA. More are injured elsewhere in the world.

One of the most common accidents in the bathroom is slipping and falling. It’s much easier, and more common, tip slip in a bathtub than it is in the shower. You have to step up and over the side of the rub to get in and out, and this can be a problem for people too, especially those with reduced mobility. A tub to shower conversion can make your bathroom, and your home, a safer place to be.

The Perception of More Space

Showers that have clear doors and walls can make even the smallest bathroom look and feel much bigger. They will look a lot roomier and they won’t feel as cramped as some small bathrooms or small showers can feel. Depending on what you choose, your shower might actually take up more room than your tub, especially if you pick a more luxury option. Even with this larger shower, the room will look and feel bigger.

Easier Access

Easier access is a nice bonus, especially if you’re older and are beginning to find getting in and out of the bath difficult or uncomfortable. The improved access is also one of the reasons that showers are safer than baths. With a shower, you get a lot of extra room to move and maneuver. You have more elbow room. It’s also much easier to make a shower more accessible for those with reduced mobility. You could build a walk-in shower without doors, add some grabrails or a seat inside, and you have a very easy access space that is perfect for older or disabled people.

The Cons of a Tub to Shower Conversion

Kids Love Baths

This isn’t a big thing to consider if you have a bathtub elsewhere in the house in another bathroom, but if there’s only one bathroom in the house, you do need to think about whether you still need a bath for your children. Children love a bath, and for parents, washing a small child in a bath is a lot easier than a shower. If your children are still young, you will probably need to keep a bath for at least a little while, until your kids are a bit older.

Your Home Might Be Less Appealing When You Sell

This might not be true or a problem for you if there is a bathtub elsewhere in the house. If you’re selling your home, not having a bath at all could cause a problem. If your home is a ‘family’ home, then your buyer is likely to be a family. If there’s no bathtub anywhere in the house, families who have young children might be put off buying your house, as they need a bath to bathe their kids, and don’t want the extra expense of putting one in. Think carefully before removing your bath if you don’t have another bathroom with a bath in, and want to sell your home at some point.

No Tub for Soaking

Are you someone who enjoys a long soak in a hot tub after a long, tough day? If you do love this, remember that you won’t have this option anymore if you completely replace your tub with a shower, if there isn’t a bath somewhere else in the house. Even if you want all the advantages of having only a shower, think carefully about whether you think you will miss the option of a relaxing soak in the tub. A showerhead over the tub could be a better compromise so you can mostly use the shower, but still have the option of a soak in the tub.

How To Replace Your Tub With A Shower

If you’ve decided that a tub to shower conversion is for you, here’s how to go about it.

Measure Your Bath and Check Plumbing

Before you do anything else, make sure you take accurate measurements of your bathroom so you know exactly what will fit. Most of the rectangular shower enclosures on the market are designed to fit into the footprint of a standard straight bath, so this conversion is reasonably easy to do. Measure the space where your bath is to find the right dimensions for your shower enclosure.

Check where your plumbing is so you can make the change as simple and cheap as possible. In most houses, all of the pipework will be at one end of the bath. If you put your shower at this end, it will be much simpler to re-plumb the bathroom for your shower and shower tray instead of the bath. If you need to move any pipes, this is a bigger, more expensive job, but it can be done. If you aren’t sure what can be done with your plumbing, get a professional plumber to have a look and talk you through your options.

Get Inspiration and Advice

There are hundreds of options for showers out there, and it can be overwhelming to choose what you want. Start by getting some inspiration. Look at Pinterest or at home design magazines to see what you like. Take a note of what your friends have if you’ve always thought their bathrooms look nice. Go to bathroom stores and look at the different showers. Look at the showers themselves, cubicles, doors, and other options.

A plumber should be able to give you some advice too. They can use their knowledge and experience to help you understand what your best options would be, depending on the space you have available, your budget, and the styles that you like. They can also make sure your new shower fits your needs, such as suggesting a style with the easiest access to get in and out.

Choose Your Shower Enclosure

Once you have some ideas and inspiration and have taken some good advice, it’s time to choose your shower enclosure. Rectangular shower enclosures are the most common and most popular, but you could also choose a more curved shape or a corner enclosure. Look at lots of options and think carefully about what will fit best into the space that you have, and how easy it will be to get in and out of your shower enclosure of choice. Many shower enclosures come with a matching shower tray, but if yours doesn’t, remember that you will have to choose this too. Think about whether you want a completely enclosed shower, with doors (and how you want those doors to open), or if you want a more wet room style shower with just a screen.

Choose Your Shower

When it comes to choosing the shower itself, there really is an option out there to suit everyone. You could choose anything from a simple slider rail mixer shower to a high-end full smart showering system. Think about what sort of shower you want and need. Do you want a luxurious waterfall shower, or do you need to be able to lift the shower-head down off the wall to help with washing yourself or a pet? Think carefully about your needs and choose accordingly.

Choose Your Wall Covering

The internal walls within your shower enclosure will need to be properly protected from water. Tiles are a very popular choice for the walls inside a shower, but there are other options if you prefer a different look. Shower wall panels, for example, are becoming more popular and allow you to get a smooth finish in a much wider range of colors and patterns than tiles currently offer. Wall panels are quicker and easier to install than tiles are, and they offer a seamless appearance in a wide range of beautiful colors and designs. These panels can even be fitted directly over the top of your existing wall coverings. Depending on what you choose, panels can be a more cost-effective choice than tiles. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s able to cope with all the water!

Add Some Finishing Touches

After the shower has been installed, you can create maximum impact in your bathroom without making much more effort by choosing some beautiful finishing touches for your room. Think about the finishing details for your shower, such as the handles for the shower door, and anything extra you want, like a caddy or shelving to store the toiletries that you need to keep in the shower. Good quality bathroom accessories can really complement your lovely new shower. The right storage for your toiletries will help you to reduce clutter.

Think about details like your towel rail, hooks for hanging your dressing gown, storage both in and outside of the shower, and your decor. Most people don’t think much about bringing much decor into the bathroom, but you can make the room feel much more welcoming if you choose nice pieces. A pretty pot to keep your toothbrushes in, a smart toilet roll holder, or a few plants and a candle on the windowsill can make a big difference. Think about how anything you add will react to being kept in a warm, damp environment. Some plants thrive in these conditions and are an easy way to add some color to an otherwise plain bathroom.

There’s a lot to consider when making a big change to your bathroom, but a tub to shower conversion is a popular bathroom upgrade for a reason. It’s an affordable, low-stress renovation to make that makes a big difference. Make sure you get a professional to do the work if you do decide this is the right option for you and enjoy a more spacious bathroom, a lower water bill, less risk of slips and falls, and an easier access option in your bathroom.

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Written by
Mitchell Clay

Proud father and husband. A big comic book nerd and sweets are my kryptonite. I fell in love with the remodeling industry in 2008 and it's held a tight grip on me ever since.

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