Revamp Your Bath Space: How to Turn a Bathtub Into a Walk-In Shower

Bathroom Remodel
Written by: Emily Simmons
September 26, 2023

The modern bathroom is a haven of relaxation, rejuvenation, and style. As design trends shift and homeowners prioritize both aesthetics and functionality, many are seeking to transform their traditional bathtubs into sleek, accessible walk-in showers. This transition not only elevates the overall look of the bathroom but also optimizes space and enhances safety.

If you’re contemplating a shower installation upgrade, you’re in the right place. Dive into our comprehensive guide on how to turn a bathtub into a walk-in show and seamlessly revamp your bath space. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or simply gathering information for a professional overhaul, we’ve got you covered!

Factors to Consider Before Converting Your Tub Into a Walk-In Shower

Over the years, walk-in showers have been the favorite choice for those with contemporary homes. Many homeowners love walk-in showers compared to tubs because they offer a modern and sleek aesthetic that fits modern home design trends. Walk-in showers also provide a sense of spaciousness and are often easier to access, making them more user-friendly, especially for seniors and those with mobility challenges.

Converting a tub into a walk-in shower can be a game-changer for many homeowners, but there are several factors one should consider before making the leap:

  • Space and Size: Ensure that your bathroom has enough space for the walk-in shower design you have in mind. While walk-in showers can be more space-efficient, the layout and dimensions still need to be adequate for a comfortable showering experience.

  • Budget: Establish a clear budget for the conversion. The costs of replacing tub with shower can vary based on the complexity of the project, the quality of materials chosen, and labor rates in your area.

  • Resale Value: While many modern homebuyers appreciate the aesthetic and functionality of a walk-in shower, some families with young children or individuals who enjoy baths might prefer at least one tub in the home. If you’re considering selling your home in the future, think about how this change might impact its market appeal.

  • Plumbing and Drainage: Assess the current plumbing setup. Converting from a tub to a shower might require some adjustments to existing plumbing. Consideration must also be given to drainage, ensuring water flows out efficiently and doesn’t pool.

  • Waterproofing: Proper waterproofing is vital when transitioning to a walk-in shower to prevent potential water damage. Ensure the installation includes adequate moisture barriers.

  • Accessibility Needs: If you or a family member has mobility issues or if you’re planning for long-term accessibility as you age, consider features like no-threshold designs, grab bars, non-slip flooring, and seating.

  • Maintenance: Walk-in showers, particularly those with fewer crevices and grout lines, can be easier to clean than tubs. However, if you’re considering designs with more intricate tiles or finishes, think about the cleaning and maintenance they might require.

While converting a tub to a walk-in shower can enhance the functionality and aesthetics of a bathroom, it’s essential to weigh these considerations carefully to ensure the end result aligns with your needs and preferences. Once you’ve carefully considered your options, it’s time to get down to the details: how to turn your bathtub into a walk-in shower.

How to Turn a Bathtub Into a Walk-In Shower: A Step-By-Step Guide

Step 1: Planning and Design

Start by meticulously measuring the space occupied by your current bathtub to determine the precise dimensions available for your new shower. Designing is not just about aesthetics; it’s about ensuring functionality. When deciding on tiles, fixtures, built-in niches, or benches, remember that material quality can vary widely, with costs to match.

For instance, marble tiles will be significantly pricier than ceramic ones. Also, verify that your existing plumbing aligns with your new design. If not, factor in potential expenses for making necessary adjustments.

Step 2: Demolition

Always shut off the water supply to the bathroom before starting any work. Removing a bathtub can be labor-intensive and may involve some force or specialized tools, especially if the tub is cast iron or has been built into the structure of the bathroom. The costs here will include labor (if you’re not doing it yourself) and disposal fees for the old tub, tiles, and other debris.

Step 3: Preparing the Space

Post-demolition, take the time to thoroughly inspect the area. Repair any damages to exposed studs, plumbing, or flooring — these repairs can add unexpected costs if significant damage is uncovered. When installing the shower base, your choice between a pre-fabricated pan or a custom-tiled base will influence costs.

A pre-fabricated pan can be more affordable and quicker to install, while a custom-tiled base offers more design flexibility but at a higher price point. Crucially, don’t skimp on bathroom waterproofing. Investing in a high-quality waterproof membrane or backer board is essential to preventing costly water damage in the future.

Step 4: Plumbing Adjustments

Depending on your new design, rerouting or adjusting the plumbing might be required. While minor adjustments might seem simple, they can sometimes reveal more extensive plumbing issues that can significantly impact your budget.

When installing new fixtures, consider both their functionality and their contribution to the overall aesthetic of the space. Premium fixtures might be an investment, but they can elevate the entire feel of the shower.

Step 5: Tiling and Finishing

Your choice of tiles will be one of the most significant factors in your project’s cost. Tiles can range from affordable ceramics to high-end natural stones. Proper installation is key, as improperly set tiles can lead to water damage and mold issues. After setting the tiles and letting them dry, grouting is the next step. The color and quality of the grout can also influence the final look and longevity of the job.

Step 6: Install the Shower Door

If you opt for a glass door or panel, costs can vary based on the thickness and type of the glass, as well as any additional features like frosted designs. Installation should always be done following the manufacturer’s guidelines, and for a seamless finish, it might be worth hiring professionals.

Step 7: Final Touches

Sealing the grout is a small step that can significantly extend the life of your shower, protecting against moisture, stains, and mold. Additional accessories, from shower caddies to handles, can add both functionality and style, but remember to budget for these finishing touches.

Step 8: Cleanup

A thorough cleanup is crucial not just for aesthetics but also for safety, as debris or dust can be hazardous. While disposing of the old tub and other materials, be aware that some disposal sites might charge fees, especially for larger items like bathtubs.

How Much Does it Cost to Turn a Bathtub Into a Walk-In Shower?

On average, converting a bathtub to a walk-in shower can cost between $2,500 and $7,500. This range covers a basic conversion with off-the-shelf materials and fixtures. More luxury conversions, involving high-end materials or custom work, can exceed this range and may cost upwards of $10,000 to $15,000 or more. Here’s a detailed breakdown:

  1. Demolition and Disposal: Removing the existing tub and surrounding materials can cost a few hundred dollars. This includes the labor for demolition and the fees for disposing of the old tub and other debris.

  2. Plumbing Adjustments: If the existing plumbing needs to be rerouted or significantly altered, this can add $1,000 to $3,500 to the total cost. The addition of new fixtures, like rainfall showerheads or multiple jets, can also increase expenses.

  3. Materials: The choice of tiles and fixtures plays a significant role in determining the overall cost. Basic ceramic tiles can be relatively inexpensive, while natural stone or high-end porcelain tiles can cost considerably more.

  4. Shower Pan vs. Tiled Floor: Prefabricated shower pans tend to be more affordable, often ranging from $100 to $1,000. Custom-tiled shower floors offer more design flexibility but can cost more in terms of both materials and labor.

  5. Shower Doors: Glass doors can vary in cost based on their thickness, design, and type of glass. Basic models might start at $500, while more luxurious or custom-made doors can exceed $2,000.

  6. Waterproofing: Essential for any shower installation, waterproofing measures can add $500 to $1,000 to the project, depending on the methods and materials used.

  7. Labor: Labor costs will vary based on your location, the complexity of the project, and the rates of the professionals you hire. On average, you might expect to pay between $50 to $100 per hour or more for skilled labor.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why should I consider converting my tub into a walk-in shower?

A walk-in shower can offer easier accessibility, modern aesthetics, and may increase the resale value of your home. It’s also a practical choice for those with mobility issues or who prefer the spaciousness of a shower over a tub.

2. How long does the conversion process typically take?

For most standard conversions, the process can take anywhere from a couple of days to a week, depending on the complexity of the project and any unexpected issues encountered during the renovation.

3. Will I need to update my bathroom’s plumbing?

While existing plumbing often works for a shower conversion, adjustments might be needed based on your new shower design, the location of fixtures, and any added features.

4. What kind of maintenance does a walk-in shower require?

Walk-in showers require regular cleaning to prevent soap scum and mold buildup. Additionally, you should periodically check and reseal grout and caulk to prevent water leaks.

5. Is a permit necessary for this kind of renovation?

Many municipalities require permits for bathroom renovations, especially when plumbing is involved. It’s essential to check local regulations before beginning the project.

Transform Your Bathroom With Shower Remodelling Services

Whether you’re seeking enhanced accessibility, a touch of modern elegance, or simply a refreshing change, the conversion can bring newfound luxury to your daily routines. Ready to make the leap and reimagine your bathroom space? Find the best professionals to bring your shower remodel projects to life!

Bathroom Remodeling & Installation

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