Updating your existing shower to a walk-in one can make your bathroom look larger and more modern. With a few steps, you may even be able to complete your update yourself. Let's take a look at how you can add your own DIY walk-in shower.
What Is a Walk-In Shower?
It can be helpful to first begin with the basics and identify what a walk-in shower is. A walk-in shower is a separate unit from a bathtub. It usually has a glass door and a raised threshold to prevent water from escaping the bathroom. Walk-in showers make bathrooms look more spacious, modern, and can be a practical addition.
Step-By-Step How to Build a Walk-In Shower
You have decided that you want a walk-in shower. Do you hire a professional or go it alone? If you think you have the skills, then this step-by-step guide can help you install your walk-in shower.
Build a walk-in shower with the following steps:
Step 1- Demolition and Measuring
If you are installing a walk-in shower where a bathroom or tub already exists, you will first need to remove the previous items. It is best to install the new walk-in shower in the same space where your bathtub or shower is. This usually means that you can keep the same plumbing, keeping the project affordable.
Turn off the water and disconnect the water fixtures. Then, begin pulling the drywall and tile out, and remove the bathtub if you have one. Take out the wall panels and shower door. You will also need to remove any screws, fixtures, and some drywall around the bathtub. Once you have cleared the space and gotten rid of the bathtub, you are ready to begin.
Before buying materials or a kit, take your bathroom's measurements. This includes determining the spacing and placement of each item. Decide if you will install the walk-in shower with the existing pipes and drain, or if you will need to upgrade it to fit the new bathroom space.
If you always wanted to move around things like the showerhead location or fixtures, this is the time to do it. New Bathroom accessories can make a big difference to your bathroom remodel.
The easiest way to upgrade your shower is to install new fixtures over existing ones. While it is possible to install new fixtures in different locations, like on the ceiling, this may require professional service.
Step 2- Choose the Right Kit
A shower kit can provide you with the tools and materials you need. Regardless of which shower kit you choose, you will need a showerhead, shower arm, hand-held shower, and faucets. Other items you need include a shower pan or tray, a shower curb, sealants or screws, a shower drain, and waterproofing materials.
Optional items may include built-in soap dishes or shower walls. It is also possible to buy the materials separately. Additionally, if you are changing out the shower fixtures, you will want to get these ahead of time. You will find installation much easier if you have everything you need right there.
Step 3- Gather Your Tools
It can also be helpful to gather the tools you need ahead of time. The installation will require you to cut, drill, glue, and dry. Decide ahead of time which tools you need before beginning the installation.
Just a few items you may need include:
- Utility knife
- Reciprocating saw
- Circular saw
- Hole cutter
- Power drill
- Chalk line
- Caulk and caulking gun
- Tape measure
- Palette knife
- Sand mix
- Thin-set mortar
You may also need cement board and tile, depending on if your DIY walk-in shower includes an updated shower wall.
Step 4- Install the Shower Floor
A lot of shower trays come pre-cut, so you can find one that fits your current drain hole or you can cut a hole in the floor yourself.
If you choose to cut your own drain hole, you will need an Orientated Strand Board. Be sure to measure and identify where the drain hole is so the new hole is in the right position. Then, drop the shower tray into the shower floor. Make sure the board lies flat before screwing plywood on top to form the base.
Then, add primer and sealant to the drain hole and push the drain into place.
Finally, tighten the nuts and apply pressure for a few seconds.
Step 5- Clean the Area
If any primer or sealant leaked from the floor, wipe it up. Leaving dried drops of primer or sealant on the bathroom floor can lead to the shower tray being uneven.
Then, sweep up any dust or debris near the drain cover. A palette knife may also be useful for removing any excess materials. Place some heavy items on the floor and let them dry for at least one hour.
Step 6- Install the Shower Walls
Now you are ready to install your shower walls. If you're using a DIY shower kit, it will likely come with divets in the shower tray where you can place the walls. Depending on the kit, you may or may not have to drill the walls into the right position. You may also have to install them on the wall studs. If you're installing new drywall, then you will need to screw them into the wall studs.
Before installing each wall, it can be helpful to measure and cut a hole for each shower fixture. Plan for any accessories like a shower dish or your showerhead. Be sure to also measure for plumbing and accurately line up each of the holes.
Step 7- Install the Shower Curb
Decide if you want a shower curb and how tall you want it off the floor. This is the small lip that separates the bathroom floor from the shower. It prevents water from leaking into the bathroom.
Curbless designs can be a little more difficult to install. However, they can give the space a more open and modern overall feel. If you prefer a curbless design, you can raise or lower the shower pan to be even with the shower floor. You will also have to account for a drainage slope.
If you opt for a shower curb, then you will need to choose a curb that meets your wall length dimensions. Use chalk to measure the line and adhere it to the shower floor with thin-set glue. Remove any excess thin-set sealant from the curb and check how easy it is to get in and out of the area.
Step 8- Waterproof the Room
Regardless of what type of walls you choose, you want them to be waterproof. Before adding tile to your shower, use a paintbrush to apply liquid waterproofing to the cement board.
You might also use waterproof tape on the corners to make the whole area waterproof. Let it dry for a minimum of one hour.
Step 9- Add Fixtures
Add the shower fixtures to the existing plumbing and screw them tightly. You can install the same items or get rid of them and update them to create a new bathroom look. Once installed, test that they work and that the water flows right.
Step 10- Install the Tiles
Tiling comes in all different types and designs, allowing you to create a room look that you enjoy. Choose a tile design that matches the floor and overall design of the room. Be sure to buy a thin set that is made for the size of tile you choose. You will need to measure and cut the tile to fit the area around the shower accessories. This includes the shower head and controls.
For a seamless design, match the tiles to the other fixtures in the room like the sink or faucet. You may also install tile to a certain point in the shower, or from the floor to the ceiling.
Apply a thin-set to adhere the tile to the wall. Then carefully place the tiles to create your intended design. If any thin-set seeps out of the tile, wipe it off with a wet cloth.
Step 11- Install the Glass Enclosure
A glass piece completes the shower enclosure. It prevents water from leaking out on the floor and gives the bathroom a fresh and modern feel. Finally, turn the water supply back on and test the features, including the shower head and drain, checking that everything is installed correctly. If there are any leaks in the drain or showerhead, you may be able to add more thin-set to secure them.
Shower Kits: To Use Them or Not?
Shower kits come with most of the materials you need to install a walk-in shower. Consider a few pros and cons of using a shower kit.
Here are a few pros of using a DIY kit:
- Easy to install
- Good for people that want easy access to the materials they need
- Clear instructions
Here are a few cons of a DIY kit to consider:
- Less control over design
- Must choose a kit that fits your current dimensions
- It may not include all materials
Considerations Before Replacing Your Tub With a Shower
Before removing your bathtub and replacing it with a walk-in shower, it is a good idea to consider if it is right for you.
There are many pros to a walk-in shower including a more modern feel and in some cases, a higher return on investment. Of course, there are also some considerations. If you have young children in the household, a bathtub may be more useful. You also want to account for resale value. Having at least one bathtub in the house is important to buyers.
But, if you have other shower systems in the household with a bathtub, then you might turn your unused bathtub into a walk-in shower.
How Much Does it Cost to Build a Walk-In Shower?
A lot goes into the cost of building a walk-in shower. If you choose to hire a professional, the project will cost more than if you do it yourself. Other factors, like if the existing shower has a bathtub, will also affect the cost. Building a walk-in shower can range in price from $2,500- $15,000. The cost of the kit can also make a difference in price, as well as other bathroom materials you might need.
Are Walk-in Showers Easy to Install?
The level of difficulty will vary, depending on your comfort level and the current setup of your bathroom. Some shower systems are easier to install, especially if you don't have to replace the shower tray or remove a bathtub.
With a little planning and a DIY shower kit, you can install your own shower. Changing out a few wall panels and removing the bathtub can give you the modern bathroom you desire.