How To Build A Shower

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If you are looking for ways to make your bathroom more space-efficient, consider building a shower – rather than having a bath. 

The good news is that you will also be able to add seating and storage with the addition of a bench seat or ledge when having the right plan in place. While you are at it, be sure to also check our guide for straight vs. curved shower curtain rod and select the one that fits your bathroom the best.

In this article, we will explore how you can build a shower without compromising safety or comfort – let's get right into it.

Start with the right foundation

When considering the size of your shower area, remember this basic rule: Your shower should be at least 4 feet x 5 feet. This will allow you to comfortably fit a standard 60-inch stall shower into any bathroom. Although there is no set standard for dimensions or shape, we do recommend choosing an oblong, enclosed space that will allow water to drain and circulate easily. 

Starting with the right foundation is especially important if you are going the extra mile and building a DIY walk-in shower.

Evaluate the available space when building a shower

The first step in building a shower is to evaluate your space. Look for structurally sound walls, at least 10 feet apart from the nearest water pipes, septic lines, and power outlets.

Make sure the area you choose is wide enough for you to comfortably fit inside as well as tall enough so that you can stand up straight with at least an inch of clearance above your head.

Take into consideration any additional storage or shelving needs you may have when planning overall size; remember that shelves are an excellent way to make your shower more functional by adding additional space for storing shampoo bottles, brushes, and other bathroom essentials.

Marking out / cutting your materials

Once you have chosen your space, build two of these structures (one for the left side and one for the right) out of plywood if you're building from scratch. Choose a wood that will consistently absorb water, such as cedar or redwood.

The fastest way to create these two structures is to “cut out” the shape of your shower area directly from plywood. You can also use an economic method for creating a structure by using pressure-treated wood, which is very inexpensive and can be found at your local home improvement store – however, this might give you some problems down the line.

Select a flooring material for your shower area that will work well in wet areas 

When building a shower, whether you are renovating your bathroom or creating a new one from scratch, it is very important to create a waterproof and temperature-proof structure. There are several options for flooring material that will work well in wet areas including vinyl, ceramic tile, or even stone.

You can also choose a material that will be easy to clean, like concrete. 

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Your tile floor should have at least a half-inch lip around the perimeter of your shower space; this is extremely important because it prevents water from flooding out onto the rest of your bathroom floor.

Adding bench seating or storage in your shower area

Now is the time to choose any additional piece of furniture for your new shower area, whether you want to build a bench with storage compartments (available at most home improvement stores) or simply install some shelves over the drain so you can store shampoo bottles and bath gels when you're not using them.

You can learn about how to build shower curb on our blog.

Each option has its own merits – benches are available in many different shapes and sizes while shelves are often more economical; however, a shelf on top of the drain will add an extra step to your showering routine because you'll have to grab each item individually creating an area for bench seating or shelves in the corner of your shower can be easily done with inexpensive plywood.

Cut two pieces of wood out that are four feet by three feet; this will create enough room for you to comfortably sit down and get ready for work in the morning without having to bend over the edge of your shower stall.

Use waterproof tiles to create a non-slip surface on the shower floor

You can also choose to install a floor that is made of waterproof tile – be sure to buy one that has a non-slip surface. Generally, you'll find various types of surfaces: 

Choose the polished variety for your shower area because this texture will help keep you from slipping inside the tub.

However, if you are concerned about how slippery the piece of tile might feel while standing in water, purchase the mat style. You may have to remove it temporarily during installation and then reinstall it after finishing with epoxy grout; or, ask your local home repair store's staff for an alternative tip on how to get rid of its slickness.

waterproof tile for shower floor
Image Credit: Kitchen Infinity Photo

Add an exhaust fan to reduce moisture and prevent mold growth

If you are building a shower area from scratch, install a ventilation fan in the corner of the structure (usually near the bench or shelves). This will help reduce moisture and prevent mold growth while you're not using your new shower.

The fan will be connected to a bathroom exhaust duct that goes through an opening in the wall behind your toilet. The duct should have been installed by your heating and cooling contractor when they put it in your air conditioning system.

Adding an exhaust fan to your shower will make cleaning it much easier. This is done by wiring the motor and vents into a thermostat which turns on when the heat or air conditioning system turns on and off when it is turned off. Installing an exhaust fan in your shower stall can be achieved easily; however, you should contact a professional if you are not familiar with electrical work before proceeding with this installation.

Install an insulated glass door or curtain that seals tightly against water leaks and prevents heat loss

It is also necessary to create an insulated barrier between the shower area and your bedroom. This can be done in two ways: you can install a glass door or curtain that seals tightly against water leaks and prevents heat loss; or, you can use a thick waterproof material (such as rubber) to build your custom curtain that drapes over the opening of your new shower space.

Use waterproof silicone caulk to seal between the wall and your glass door or curtain.

To prevent water leaks, create a waterproof barrier by using silicone caulk. Make sure the caulk is waterproof and use plenty of it in each corner. Begin at the top of the track where your glass shower door will meet it; then, work your way down until you have covered all sides of the frame with an extra-thick layer of silicone material.

Install non-slip surfaces on the bottom rails or edge of your new shower area

In addition to stopping slipping, adding a non-slip surface on both bottom rails or along the edges of your new shower area will also help keep water inside. These can be made of rubber or silicon; but, both are equally effective in making your stall waterproof.

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Moreover, these materials can be installed easily with silicone or water-based caulk. Just make sure to put down a sufficient amount of the material and spread it evenly before allowing it to dry – this will make your shower stall stronger and more effective in preventing leaks and flooding.

Create a threshold to prevent water from leaking into your bedroom

The final step in creating a safe shower area is to create an elevated landing inside the entrance of this new room area. This will help direct the water away from the floor of your bedroom while keeping it contained within your shower space.

Final thoughts on How to build a shower

In conclusion, building a shower or changing your existing one is not as difficult as you might think. All you need are the right plan, materials and tools to help make this project safe and water-proof for everyone in your household. Using these tips will ensure that you'll be getting clean with minimal fuss each day.

Finally, if you’d like some more ideas and inspiration for your shower building project, check out this article on stunning walk-in shower ideas on our blog.


Jim Spencer

Jim Spencer

Jim has been in the construction business for over 12 years with plenty of experience working on client projects, from start to finish. From kitchens to bathrooms and backyard spaces, he writes on a wide variety of topics surrounding home improvement.

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