How to Shower When You Only Have a Bathtub

Learn how to convert your tub only bathroom into a wonderful showering experience

Go from a tub only to a functional, refreshing shower without a complete renovation!

Showers or baths? Whatever your preference is, chances are you've had the opportunity to enjoy either, since a good majority of American homes have a tub/shower combination in one of their bathrooms. But what if you're doesn't have a tub/shower? As ubiquitous as showering is in American culture, there are homes with only a tub: no showerhead, no handshower... just... a tub. With a spout. For baths.

Yes, there are those who swear by their baths. Likewise, there are those that can't stand them. Maybe you've found an almost-perfect home, but can't picture yourself taking baths for the foreseeable future. Maybe you want a quick, refreshing shower. Or maybe you're concerned using 40+ gallons of water each time you bathe. Whatever the case, there are a couple of ways to supplement an old tub with a shower, saving water and time. Whether your upgrade will be easy and inexpensive or costly and involved depends on the tub, the room, and the type of shower you want.

Making Your Bathroom Splash-Proof

If a shower is installed, water will splash. Everywhere. While most of it will find its way to the drain, some won't. "It's fine, I have tiled walls", you might say. Well, tile is not waterproof, and neither is grout, even when sealed. When a bathroom is constructed, special materials are installed to protect the structure itself from water damage. So if you really want to add a shower, you'll need to determine just how you're going to protect those walls.

The simplest, low cost protection comes from a shower curtain. Provided you have proper ventilation, a good curtain on a rod that surrounds the entire unit should adequately capture escaping moisture. Typically hung from the ceiling or attached to a freestanding shower structure, this is often the most elegant solution for clawfoot or freestanding bathtubs. Those with tubs against a wall can use a "D" style rod to keep that wall dry.

If for some reason a curtain just won't cut it, you'll need to consider the costs and time associated with converting your bathroom into a suitable place for showering. On top of whatever shower you get, you'll need to put up prefabricated shower walls (aka surrounds), or a new wall altogether, along with a shower door (typically mounted along the rim of the tub). Depending on the shower you choose, you may need to hire a contractor to help. A contractor will be very helpful if you have a window above your tub.

Choosing Your Shower

The quickest and most basic way to add a shower is with an "Add-a-Shower" Diverter Tub Spout. These replace the existing spout, and allow you to securely connect a showerhead using a hose. Select the perfect handshower, then find a bracket and/or wall bar to create a one-of-a-kind shower. We also offer complete kits in a variety of styles.

Another way to avoid getting into the wall is the exposed shower. Installation of these units is a bit more involved, but these elegant sets can transform a bathroom. Generally available as a wall mounted unit, many include both a handshower and regular showerhead for the ultimate in convenience; some even include a tub spout just in case. Choose between classic two-handled units, or thermostatic models that maintain a pre-set temperature for safety.

If an exposed shower appeals to you, you'll want to be sure you can use one before ordering. To do so, you'll need to remove your existing tub handle(s) to expose the supply lines, and measure the distance between the centers of each hole (or the centers of each pipe). That measurement will determine which valve, if any, will work for you. Most of the showers we offer have centers from 3-3/8" to 8".

For those who have clawfoot or freestanding bathtubs, or have a deck mounted tub faucet, you may be able to install a tub/shower combination faucet with very little hassle. These units typically come with a tub filler, a riser rod for the shower portion, and a shower head. Some are even equipped with a shower curtain to surround your tub area and a handshower attachment.

With any luck, one of these options will appeal to you, and you'll soon be on your way to a convenient, water-saving shower. If not, you'll need to decide if it's worth it to get behind the wall to install new plumbing.

Ready to get started converting your tub to a shower?

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. "What are some benefits of adding a shower to a tub?"
A. With the addition of a shower, you can conserve water and energy as showering often takes less time. You can rinse off all the soil and soap, leaving you feeling more refreshed even after a soothing bath. You can also clean your tub easier.

Q. "Is there anything else to consider when adding a shower to a tub?"
A. Safety is most important, you may need to invest in a non-slip mat for standing and adding one or more grab bars for stability when entering and exiting the tub, would be very helpful.

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