You have come to the right place if you are looking to replace a bath with a shower and need some advice.
This article will help you understand exactly what is involved in the process and it will provide details of the different options that are open to you.
There are choices to be made about the shower itself plus there are many considerations with regard to its installation. All will be addressed in detail.
Why Take Out Your Bath?
There can be a number of reasons why you want to do this and some of them will have an impact on what you put in its place. The main reasons are usually:
- mobility issues getting in and out of a bath
- the bath is never used
- a preference for a luxury showering experience
Or any combination of the above.
Baths can be a problem area if someone in the household is struggling with their mobility.
You can install grab rails and aids to help ingress and egress but even with these in place, many people will still struggle.
Most people will be able to use a standard shower cubicle even if they have limited mobility. The step-up into the shower is usually around six inches. A level access shower tray will be required if this is too high or if the user requires a wheelchair. This is fitted flat on the floor and has a very small lip to keep the water inside the tray.
Drainage can be an issue with this type of tray because the pipes ducting the waste water away will need to be run under the floor. This might work well on a wooden floor providing the joists are running the right way. On a masonry floor, a channel will need to be cut out in which to run the pipes. The shower waste and pipework will need to be sufficient to carry the water away because the low lip means the water will spill over if it is insufficient.
If You Never Use Your Bath…
Maybe it would be best to replace your bath if you rarely use it and always use a shower.
Some people worry that removing a bath will affect the value of the property. This could be an issue but not always. We have an article here on deciding between a shower and a bath.
Showering over a bath is alright but it does have its limitations.
Most baths only have a limited non-slip area so getting in and out at the non-tap end can be slippery.
Power showers do not work well with shower curtains because they billow out under the strength of the water flow. Bath shower screens are not that big and, as a consequence, spray can get deflected out.
So if you really want a luxurious showering experience then a shower enclosure is the way to go.
What Are My Options?
There are a few different options open to you if you are looking to replace a bath with a shower.
They broadly fall into these categories:
- remove the bath and install a full-width cubicle the same size as the bath
- install a standard sized cubicle
- you could install a shower pod
- or convert the whole room into a wet room
Let’s have a look at these 4 options in a bit more detail.
When you remove an existing bath there will be visible damage to the walls. There will be no tiles or wall panels below the rim of the bath if it has been installed correctly. So this area will need attention.
You could try and patch the damaged area if you have spare tiles. But this is not that straightforward. You would need to get the level of the substrate exactly right and the tiles will need to be spaced exactly the same as the existing tiles. Usually, it is just easier to re-decorate the whole area.
A standard UK bath is 1700 long or 5’6″ if it is an old imperial model. Standard width is 700mm or 2’6″. Replacing the bath with a unit this size will give a generous amount of space but only in one direction – 700mm is quite narrow. Opt for a slight deeper unit if you have the space available. You may need to move some of the other components of your bathroom around to allow this – this article has more details on moving things around.
Standard-Sized Shower Enclosure
Standard-sized shower cubicles are a little smaller than a bath.
The maximum size would usually be around 1400mm. This will leave a small gap if you are replacing a standard size bath. 300mm is not a huge amount of space so there is not a lot you can do with this.
You could build a stud wall out to meet the tray rather than using a glass side panel. Niches can be built into the wall inside the shower for soaps and shampoos. You could also incorporate shelves on the outside for towels and other bathroom items.
See this article on bathroom storage ideas for more inspiration.
A shower pod is basically a shower enclosure that comes with its own walls. This makes them perfect for this application because the visible wall damage will be covered by the new unit.
There are different approaches to designing shower pods with some manufacturers moulding the tray and a section of the wall as one section. Others have a waterproof interlocking system that ensures the joint between the wall and tray will never leak. The lack of leaks is a great advantage of a shower pod.
They can prove to be a bit on the expensive side so it might be worth getting quotes for one of the other options listed above too.
Installing A Wet Room
This is not usually an option in a small bathroom because ideally, you need quite a bit of space for this approach to be effective.
Basically, with a wet room, you line the floor and all of the walls with a waterproof covering. You can do away with the enclosure if you like because any water will just land on the floor and will drain away. In a small room, this approach would result in the water getting sprayed over the other items in the room such as the toilet and basin. A fixed glass panel can help reduce this problem and will provide the “walk-in” approach to design – no doors, no steps.
In a large bathroom, you would usually have enough room for a shower area and a bath so it would not be an either/or decision.
Replace A Bath With A Shower Costs
The cost of replacing a bath with a shower can vary greatly.
There are a whole host of factors that will have an effect on how much it is going to cost you. We will have a look at each of them in turn as they all can all make a big difference to how much you will need to budget for.
Questions to ponder:
- How big a cubicle are you fitting and is it good quality?
- Can an existing mixer/electric shower be re-used?
- How much redecoration is required?
- Drainage – can you connect to existing bath waste pipes?
- What size contracting firm are you using?
- Can you undertake any of the work yourself?
Let’s start with the shower cubicle itself.
Shower Cubicle Quality
Like most things in life, there are cheap versions and expensive versions. A quick search for a 1400mm enclosure online showed one cubicle to be twice the price of another. Obviously, variations like this will have a huge effect on your overall budget. There are some very cheap products available online and there are some very poor quality products too. Bigger is almost always more expensive. So if you need to shave a few pounds off your budget a slightly smaller cubicle might be a means to achieving this.
Ideally, you need to see these items in the flesh to get a feel for them and gauge how well made they are. But make sure that any clear components are made from safety glass and don’t skimp on the shower tray – this is the most critical component in the whole replacement process.
Do You Have An Existing Shower?
If you already have a mixer shower or an electric shower that can be re-used then this can save you quite a bit of money. There will be little or no extra plumbing required.
Your existing bath might have a bath shower mixer. These should be supplied by a hot and cold water feed of equal pressure (either both high or both low pressure). But sometimes corners are cut and you will have low-pressure hot water from your tank and high-pressure cold water from the mains. This is not ideal for a decent shower as it is difficult to get the two pressure to mix correctly. Some showers have restrictors to help deal with the situation.
If you have a combination boiler this will supply hot and cold water to the mixer valve at a decent pressure. If you have a tank fed system it will be low pressure so you might want to think about installing a pump. This will give you a power shower. See this article on choosing a shower system.
How Much Redecoration Will Be Required?
This can be quite a sizeable chunk of our overall budget so again costs can vary widely.
There are tiles available for £10 a square metre and tiles that are five times that price. If your room requires hacking off and re-plastering then costs can rocket. A shower pod can help reduce these costs (or even eliminate them) but then they are expensive items to buy in the first place.
One way to speed up the redecoration process and keep the costs down is to fit shower wall panels instead of tiles. These require little or no preparation and go up over rough surfaces with no issues.
There are now PVC shower panels available that have brought the cost down even further. They should certainly be considered because there are some extremely attractive designs available. And they do away with the need for grout.
Click the link above to see for yourself.
Who Will Be Doing The Work?
If you know some tradespeople then it might be possible to get the work done relatively cheaply. If not, then your choice of contractor will have a big effect on your overall costs.
Large building firms will employ sub-contractors and then charge a premium over their costs. This would probably be the easiest route to replacing your bath as you can just put everything in their hands. But it will certainly be the most expensive.
Smaller, independent plumbing or bathroom installation firms might be able to offer all of the services you require at a cheaper rate. But whoever you choose, you need to get references so you can be confident that they are capable of undertaking the work correctly.
Can You Undertake Any Of The Work Yourself?
You might not be confident at plumbing in a whole new shower system but there might be some aspects of the job that you could undertake yourself.
Ripping out the old bath and disposing of it could save you a bit of money. You would need to be able to turn the water off and drain down your hot water tank. If you have some spanners and a hacksaw you could cut the pipes off to the bath and fit two service valves – no need to solder anything. These will enable you to turn your water back on until the plumbing team arrive.
You could ask the contractors to just fit the tray and you could undertake the redecoration yourself. As mentioned above, shower wall panels are easy to install and are much more forgiving than tiles. Maybe this is something you could discuss with your contractor if costs are getting too high.
Replacing a bath with a shower raises a lot of questions and we hope this article has answered most of them. You will need to make some decisions on size, quality, decoration, trades-people and the showering system itself.
So take your time and make sure you cover all bases. You will then be able to move forward and achieve the shower of your dreams.