Changing tub to shower

denali2007September 16, 2012

We need to redo our master bath. We've lived in our house for 27 years and never have used the tub. We both enjoy showers. I have a hot tub outside so if I want to soak I use that. Has anyone done this? What advice can you give me on doing this. My DH plans on doing it himself.

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I understand where you're coming from, but it's a rookie mistake for resale. Not having a tub would be a dealbreaker for many potential homebuyers.

You may not plan to sell, but you never know what will happen.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 1:33AM
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If it is a master bath, and there is a tub elsewhere, a nice master shower is WAY better than a never-used master tub with a 3' square master shower stall...

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 11:42AM
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In addition to our master bath tub, we have 2 other bathrooms with tubs, so I am not concerned about resale.

Still wondering if anyone else has done this.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 1:59PM
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A quality-built master shower is certainly a plus. The market is going this way, particularly if you have tubs elsewhere.

You can spend from 2-4/K for a qualified Tile Mechanic to build you your dream shower....but, well worth it. (IMHO)

Post your questions here and we'll try to answer them...

    Bookmark   September 17, 2012 at 6:50PM
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Yes, in a former house, I had a tub replaced with a shower. In fact, there was an unused closet on the wall immediately behind the tub, so I had that closet space incorporated to give a nice, big, barrier-free walk-in shower - ended up being about 4 feet by 6 feet, with a corner bench. I could roll a wheelchair in there if I had to (future planning). The hard part was getting a custom mud shower pan - the first plumber did it wrong and we ended up having to have it redone. This was several years ago so perhaps techniques and materials have improved since then.

In my present house, I am planning to replace the master tub with a shower. There is another bathroom with a tub, so as long as there is one tub in the house (for bathing kids, dogs, etc), that's fine.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 9:30AM
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Do it! You are so lucky to have other bathrooms with tubs. I have only 1 1/2 baths and would love to have replaced the tub in the main bath with a walk-in shower, but knew that it would affect resale and so I could not do this. Instead I'm glassing in the tub, which is not a bad alternative. But I sure would have loved that big shower. So go for it!!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 9:53AM
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"What advice can you give me on doing this. My DH plans on doing it himself."

There are a few considerations, the first decision is keeping the footprint the same as the tub, which would give you a roughly 30" by 60" shower, or changing the footprint to a different size.

If keeping the tub footprint, the easiest way to DIY is to not move the drain location and use a prefab "tub sized" shower tray with the drain located where the tub drain is now located. You can use that pan for your shower floor, then use cement board on the walls and tile the walls. Or if you want "really easy" then you can use an acrylic surround kit. Not the most attractive if you have a fully tiled shower in mind, but the surround kits are the easiest.

If you're looking for a "nice custom walk-in shower" with different dimensions, that'll usually entail moving the location of the drain. It's certainly do-able DIY, just keep in mind branch length restrictions, to install a trap, and to pitch the branch line as needed. The newer drains are 2" drains, your older shower may have a smaller branch line.

I truly and honestly feel that the easiest way to get the "best custom" shower is to use a topical membrane. Some basic steps:


-Rough out your new shower; walls, electrical, plumbing, ventilation, etc. Relocate your drain trap and stub out drain pipe as needed.

-Cement board the walls.

-Plan on using a flanged drain, the new Laticrete drain or the Kerdi Drain. Set the drain at the proper elevation.
-Mud the floor with a sloped layer of deck mud, usually 1-1/4" thick at the drain, and increasing by 1/4" in thickness per foot of run to the walls. Example...if you have a 4' square shower with the drain centered in the floor, you have 2' from the drain to the adjacent walls. 2' times 1/4" per foot is 1/2", so your mud thickness would be 1-1/4" thick at the drain flange and 1-3/4" thick at the walls, with a nice even slope from the walls to the drain.

-Hydroban the walls and sloped floor with two coats.

-Tile and grout.

Much depends on what you want; an easy-to-do acrylic shower surround? Or a fully tiled, sort of luxurious walk-in shower?

And probably more importantly, what your husband feels comfortable doing. How competent he is. Is he willing to read instructions, watch a few youtube videos, etc. Does he follow through on projects once started? Having a realistic time line. Finances.

Best thing to do is to work through the project in your head from start-to-finish in detail, from demo to grouting.

Topical membrane showers (HydroBan, Kerdi, RedGard, etc) are a little more expensive in materials. But they handle moisture much better and when built well, they will perform much much better over time.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 12:15PM
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Kohler makes a cast iron shower base (Salient) that fits in standard tub footprints - definitely worth a look, and less expensive than a custom shower. I didn't want an acrylic base, but I love that cast iron!

We are in the process of removing an old clawfoot tub and replacing it with a shower. We had a ginormous jetted tub in our old house, and the only time it was used was when our 7 year old had slumber parties. She's now 21, so we've tumbled to the fact that we really don't use a tub. I'm excited about having a nice shower, and a bit nervous about removing the tub when it comes to resale. But I think a nice shower is a big selling point these days, especially if you have tubs elsewhere in the house.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2012 at 10:07PM
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"Still wondering if anyone else has done this."

Yes, we did, and I wish we had done it 10 years ago.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 8:06AM
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Although retrfitting existing tub spaces into showers is popular, most retrofits tend to ignore modern building codes and do not give you either a large enough shower to move around in, or a large enough drain to handle the water from the shower. You are required to bring your renovation up to current building codes, and any permitted and inspected bathroom will not pass inspection without it. And don't say that you don't plan to get it inspected, or that building to code isn't applicable in your area. It's important to be sure that things are done correctly, and it's probably even more important to any subsequent buyers to your home to know that.

A 36x36 space is the minimum for a shower, and in a master, that's really too small to say "master". The smallest shower I would want in a master is 42x42, and bigger would be better. Like 48x60. And a bench. People like the idea of being able to shower two, even if they never do.

Your current tub only has 1 1/2" drain, and all new showers need a 2" drain. If you are on a slab, that increases the difficulty and expense of the conversion. That is an important consideration if you are planning on doing anything beyond just a single conventional shower head. You want to be sure that the hand shower, rain shower, and body sprays won't overwhelm the drain and cause a flood in your home.

And, speaking of the multi point showers that are so popular, if you do want a shower with plenty of output "stuff", you need to be sure that you have the hot water production system and pressure to keep up. Most homes can handle a 3 output system, if you only use 1 or 2 of the outputs at once. If you want to run all of that and body sprays too, you will need to add in a larger water heater, and potentially, a pressure tank.

So yes, it's worth doing. But only if it's done RIGHT. A poorly sized and badly waterproofed shower conversion will not add any convenience to you or value to the home.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 9:50AM
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We bought a house with a master bath that has a jetted tub, but no shower. The tub is old and gets yucky stuff in the jets so we do not use it. The bathroom is small and long, and the tub is surrounded by three walls, approx. 61/2 feet long by 4 feet wide. I would like tomake the entire enclosure into a shower, but money is an issue, so we want to do it as economically as possible, yet make it look as nice as we can. We have also considered adding a soaking tub/shower combination, but only if we can figure out how to make it look nice (no curtain, etc). We have other tubs, so losing one would not be a big deal. There is not enough space between the tub area and the vanity for a shower door that opens, and i donot like the sliding doors that i have seen before. If we have someone build a shower floor that has a 'lip' on the outside edge, could we install a wall of glass that extends from the shower-head wall to a walk-in opening? Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 10:34AM
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Also, i love the look of tile for the shower walls, but i do not like the grout issues. Is there an affordable shower wall material that looks like tile or granite?

    Bookmark   September 20, 2012 at 10:37AM
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