Skip to content
Free Shipping On US & CA!
Free Shipping On US & CA!
How to Convert a Tub to a Walk-In Shower: A Complete Guide

How to Convert a Tub to a Walk-In Shower: A Complete Guide

Converting an old, unused bathtub to a shower is a stylish and practical update for any home. A walk-in shower can make your bathroom feel larger and more modern. It also improves accessibility for people with limited mobility.

Not sure how to get started with a DIY tub-to-shower conversion? Bostingner' step-by-step guide will make the process easier.

Can I Replace My Tub With a Shower?

While a walk-in shower sounds great in theory, it's not right for every home. Before embarking on this project, you should consider your family's needs, bathroom layout, and budget.

1. Family Needs

Replacing a tub with a shower can affect the ease and comfort of your family members, so consider the following:

  • Elderly or disabled family members: A walk-in shower is safer and more convenient than a traditional tub. Safety can be enhanced by installing grab bars, non-slip floors, and built-in seats.
  • Children: If you have children, a tub may still be necessary. Keep one in another bathroom if you can.
  • Family lifestyle: Decide based on your family's daily habits. If everyone prefers a quick shower, a shower stall will be more practical.

2. Bathroom Layout

The layout and size of your bathroom can affect the feasibility and execution of a remodel:

  • Space availability: Assess your bathroom space. Showers typically take up less floor space than bathtubs and may make the bathroom feel more spacious.
  • Plumbing layout: Check the existing plumbing layout. Try to use existing plumbing to reduce relocation costs and complexity.
  • Structural considerations: Make sure the floor can support the new shower, especially if it is custom or has a tile base.
  • Design coordination: Consider how the new shower will coordinate with the overall bathroom design, including style, color, and material choices.

3. Budget

There are several cost factors to consider when budgeting for a bathtub-to-shower conversion:

  • Material costs: Material choices (e.g., tiles, shower doors, shower accessories) can greatly affect your budget. High-end materials and custom designs can cost more.
  • Labor costs: It is recommended to hire professionals to install plumbing and waterproofing. Get quotes from several contractors to get the best price.
  • Unexpected expenses: Set aside a contingency fund in case hidden water damage or structural repair issues are discovered during the renovation process.
  • Long-term savings: Consider long-term benefits and savings. Modern, efficient shower systems use less water than bathtubs, potentially reducing your water bill.

Replacing a bathtub with a shower is a beneficial home improvement that can improve safety, convenience, and a modern feel. By carefully considering your family's needs, bathroom layout, and budget, you can make an informed decision that will enhance your home's functionality and beauty. With proper planning and selection, your new shower can provide comfort and enjoyment for many years to come.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Tub with a Shower?

The cost of replacing a tub with a shower depends on several factors, including material costs, labor costs, design complexity, and unexpected expenses. Here is a detailed cost analysis:

1. Material Costs

Material selection is one of the main factors that determine the cost of a remodel. Here are some common materials and their price ranges:

  • Shower bases: Prefabricated shower bases typically cost between $200 and $500, while custom tile bases can cost upwards of $1,000.
  • Wall coverings: Materials such as tile, glass tile, or stone vary in price. Common tile costs about $2 to $10 per square foot, while high-end tile and stone can cost upwards of $20 per square foot.
  • Shower doors: Simple shower curtains cost between $20 and $50, while glass shower doors can cost anywhere from $300 to $1,500, depending on style and quality.
  • Fittings and hardware: The cost of shower heads, faucets, grab bars, and other accessories also need to be considered. A typical shower head can cost around $20 to $200, while a high-end thermostatic shower system can cost over $500.

2. Labor Costs

Labor costs are another big expense in your remodeling budget, especially when it comes to plumbing and electrical modifications:

  • Plumbers: Plumbers typically charge by the hour, ranging from $50 to $150 per hour, depending on the region and the complexity of the project. Replacing or relocating pipes can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days.
  • Tilers: Tilers also charge by the hour or by the square foot, ranging from about $5 to $15 per square foot. Complex patterns and high-end materials can add to the cost.
  • Other Professionals: If electricians, carpenters, or waterproofing experts are needed, their fees should also be factored into the budget, ranging from $50 to $100 per hour.

3. Design Complexity

The complexity of the design directly affects the material and labor costs:

  • Simple designs: Simple shower designs, using prefabricated bases and standard tiles, are relatively inexpensive, with total costs ranging from about $1,500 to $3,000.
  • Moderate complexity: Using high-quality tile and glass doors, custom plumbing and routing may be required, with total costs ranging from $3,000 to $7,000.
  • High-end design: Including custom tile bases, high-end shower fixtures, and intricate patterns, the total cost may exceed $10,000.

4. Unexpected Expenses

During the construction process, unexpected problems may be discovered, such as hidden water damage, mold, or structural problems:

  • Water damage repair: The cost of repairing water damage depends on the extent of the damage, and generally ranges from $500 to $2,500.
  • Structural repair: If structural problems in the floor or walls need to be repaired, the cost may range from $1,000 to $5,000.

5. Long-term Savings

Despite the higher initial cost of the remodel, modern high-efficiency showers can save money on water and maintenance costs in the long run:

  • Water bill savings: High-efficiency rain shower heads can significantly reduce water usage, saving hundreds of dollars per year on water bills.
  • Maintenance costs: A properly waterproofed shower reduces the likelihood of mold and water damage, saving long-term maintenance costs.

The total cost of replacing a bathtub with a shower typically ranges from $1,500 to over $10,000, depending on material selection, labor costs, design complexity, and unexpected expenses. With proper planning and selection, a comfortable, safe, and beautiful shower remodel can be achieved within budget.

Why Should You Convert a Bathtub into a Walk-in Shower?

There are many advantages to converting a bathtub into a walk-in shower, which can not only improve your quality of life, but also increase the value of your property. Here are some of the main reasons:

1. Improved Convenience and Safety

Walk-in showers are designed to be more convenient and safer, especially for certain groups of people:

  • Elderly and people with limited mobility: Walk-in showers can eliminate high-sided obstacles when entering and exiting the bathtub, reducing the risk of slips and falls. Installing handrails and non-slip floors can further improve safety.
  • Pregnant women and children: For pregnant women and children, walk-in showers are easier to enter than traditional bathtubs, reducing the risk of falls.

2. Space Saving

Walk-in showers usually take up less floor space than bathtubs, making the bathroom appear more spacious:

  • Ideal for small bathrooms: If the bathroom space is limited, a walk-in shower is a more space-saving solution, freeing up more space for other storage or decoration.
  • Visual sense of spaciousness: Clear glass shower doors or open designs can increase the visual spaciousness of the bathroom, making the entire space look larger and brighter.

3. Modern Design

Walk-in showers have a modern design that enhances the overall aesthetics of a bathroom:

  • Stylish and beautiful: Walk-in showers are simple and stylish, with a wide range of tiles and accessories to personalize your style.
  • Value-added features: Modern shower designs can enhance a property's market appeal, especially for buyers who value bathroom design.

4. Water Conservation

Walk-in showers typically use less water than bathtubs, helping to save water and reduce water bills:

  • Efficient water use: Many walk-in showers are equipped with water-saving shower heads, which can significantly reduce water consumption.
  • Environmental protection and energy saving: Reducing water use not only saves water bills, but also has a positive impact on environmental protection, which is in line with modern families' pursuit of environmental protection.

5. Easy Maintenance

Walk-in showers are easier to maintain and clean than bathtubs:

  • Easy to clean: The smooth surface and simple design of the shower make cleaning easier and reduce the accumulation of dirt and mold.
  • Good waterproof performance: Modern walk-in showers usually have good waterproof design, reducing the risk of leaks and water damage, and reducing repair costs.

Converting a bathtub into a walk-in shower not only improves the convenience and safety of life, but also saves space, brings a modern design, saves water resources, and is easier to maintain. These advantages make walk-in showers the first choice for more and more families, and are a practical and beautiful home improvement solution.

How to Convert a Bathtub into a Walk-in Shower in 9 Steps

Converting a bathtub into a walk-in shower is a complex but rewarding home remodeling project. Here are nine detailed steps to help you accomplish this task.

1. Gather Your Tools

Before removing your bathtub, make sure you have the right materials to complete the job. You should have the following tools before you begin work:

  • Plywood for floor protection
  • Tape measure
  • Flat and Phillips screwdrivers
  • Wrenches and/or Allen wrenches
  • Putty knife and utility knife
  • Drywall saw and reciprocating saw
  • Levers
  • Jigsaw
  • Grade
  • Caulk and caulking gun
  • 10-yard dumpster
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves and goggles

2. Determine Spacing and Location

You should install your walk-in shower where the bathtub was. The drain and water supply are already in place, which makes installation much easier. Moving pipes will add a significant cost to this part of your DIY bathroom remodel, and you will need to hire a plumber to do the job properly. Use a tape measure to make sure you have the proper spacing.

Spacing Required for a Walk-In Shower:

  • At least 30 inches by 30 inches of floor space
  • At least 80 inches in height
  • At least 15 inches between the side of the toilet and the shower
  • Or at least 21 inches between the front of the toilet and the shower
  • If you plan to install a swing door, leave a radius around the shower that is the width of the door

3. Choose a Walk-in Shower Design

There are two main types of walk-in showers: rimmed and rimless.

Before you remodel your bathtub, you need to decide which style you prefer. Rimless showers have a slightly raised barrier, or rim, on the floor that separates the shower from the rest of the bathroom. Rimless showers have no such barrier. Instead, they flow seamlessly into the rest of the bathroom.

Since a roll-in shower has no barrier, you must install it at a slight downward slope so that water flows toward the drain instead of into the rest of the bathroom.

4. Get the Necessary Permits

Before removing your bathtub, make sure you have the necessary permits. Most cities require a plumbing permit when replacing pipes, even for small jobs.

Your local permitting agency will have all the information you need about the project. Once you have your permit, you can begin your bathroom renovation. However, having a permit does not mean you are already safe. An inspector will need to come out and inspect your work to ensure it meets the requirements set by the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials.

5. Turn off the Water

Now that the permit is in hand, you can begin work. First, shut off the water to prevent water from splashing everywhere while you remove the tub.

Look for shutoff valves for the hot and cold faucets; they may be located under the sink. If there are no shutoff valves available, you must shut off the main water supply located in the crawl space, near the water heater, or in the basement.

6. Remove Tile and Wall Coverings

Before converting the tub to a shower, remove some of the surrounding tile and drywall. This will make it easier to remove the tub from the wall. Follow these steps to prepare the area for tub removal.

How to Prepare the Area:

  • Cover the floor with plywood to prevent tile damage.
  • Turn off the water to the bathroom at the home's main water shutoff valve.
  • Unscrew the drain cover, overflow drain cover, and faucet knobs. Pull the faucet out of the tub and use a hex wrench to loosen all screws.
  • Disconnect the main drain and overflow drain from the access panel behind the tub or from the basement. Turn the locking nuts counterclockwise with a wrench.
  • Remove the tile about 8 inches high around the tub by scoring the grout with a utility knife and then prying the tile off with a putty knife.
  • Cut through the drywall with a drywall saw, being careful not to cut into any studs. If your walls are drywall, use a reciprocating saw for this step.

7. Remove the Tub

It’s finally time to remove the tub. Use these five easy steps to remove the old tub and prepare for a walk-in shower.

How to Remove the Tub

  • Remove any nails or screws that secure the tub to the wall studs.
  • Use a utility knife to cut through the caulk between the tub and the floor.
  • Use a crowbar to pry the tub a few inches away from the wall.
  • With an assistant, use the crowbar to pry off one end of the tub and set it upright. Make sure it fits through the door first.
  • Toss the old tub into your rental dumpster, then repair the drywall you cut away.

Removing the tub will expose the concrete backerboard and subfloor underneath, so this is a good time to repair any damage. Subfloor damage is usually caused by overexposure to moisture. If you need to replace the subfloor, take care of this now and you'll save yourself a lot of time, effort, and stress later on.

8. Install a Walk-In Shower

Now all you have to do is replace the tub with a shower. If you're using a shower kit, follow the instructions carefully. Remember, to change to a rimless walk-in shower, you'll need to lower the shower floor. This will allow the basin to sit flush with the rest of the bathroom floor.

If your bathroom has a slab floor, you'll need to hire a concrete contractor. Fortunately, this is usually a quick job that won't break your budget.

If your subfloor isn't slab, ask your city's building department for permission to cut the top of the floor joists under the shower pan until it's level. Use your level to make sure the shower pan is properly aligned. If it's not level, your shower could leak.

9. Cleaning Up after a Tub-to-shower Conversion

After converting your tub to a walk-in shower, you should feel a sense of accomplishment and not be stressed about the cleanup. We recommend renting a dumpster so you can dispose of the old tub, broken tile, and drywall as you work. Keep in mind that most cities only have one garbage disposal day per month, so keeping a renovation dumpster nearby is the quickest and easiest way to clean up.

Tips for Converting a Bathtub to a Shower

When you plan to convert a bathtub to a shower, here are a few things you should keep in mind:

1. Make Sure You Have the Right Slope

Shower floors should have a 1/4-inch slope per foot to help direct water into the drain.

2. Think About Your Shower Door

Shower doors need a certain amount of space to meet plumbing guidelines. Ideally, you can open every door in your bathroom (including cabinets) without them interfering with each other. If you don't have room for a shower door, consider using a curtain.

3. Choose Your Shower Floor Carefully

Rimless shower pans are the easiest to install, but they're not always the best choice for people with limited mobility. Rimless shower pans sit completely flush with the floor and are ideal for people with limited mobility. They're also a bit more expensive and harder to install.

4. Upgrade Your Glass for Privacy

If you don't install a curtain, you may want to spend a little money on frosted glass or rain glass.

5. If You Need to Install New Plumbing, Consider Hiring a Professional

DIY plumbing can void your home insurance and cause thousands of dollars in water damage if not done correctly. You can save on installation costs by hiring a plumber to do the plumbing while you install the rest of the shower.

    FAQ about Convert a Tub to a Walk-In Shower

    Q: Is it worth converting a bathtub to a shower?

    A: Whether it's worth converting a bathtub to a shower depends on your situation. If you never use a bathtub and a shower is a better fit for your lifestyle and family, then it might be worth it. On the other hand, many parents find it easier to bathe their children in a bathtub, so if you have young children at home, you might want to keep the bathtub until they grow up.

    In addition, if you convert the only bathtub in the house to a shower, it will reduce the value of your house in the eyes of potential buyers.

    Q: How long does it take to convert a bathtub to a walk-in shower?

    A: It usually takes one to two weeks, depending on the complexity of the project, the availability of materials, and the progress of the construction team.

    Q: Does converting a bathtub to a walk-in shower increase the value of your home?

    A: Yes, a modern walk-in shower will often increase the market value of a home, especially when an older bathroom is converted to a stylish and practical shower.

    Q: What is the difference between a walk-in shower and a stall shower?

    A: A stall is a basic shower stall that is usually smaller than a walk-in shower. Stalls are usually only large enough for one person to stand and turn around. Walk-in showers are usually large enough to walk around in or accommodate more than one person. And because of their larger size, walk-in showers usually don't need curtains or doors to block loose water.

    Q: Will Medicare pay for a walk-in shower?

    A: Medicare generally doesn't cover the cost of a walk-in shower. Federal health insurance programs consider walk-in showers to be a home modification, not a medical necessity, even though walk-in showers can help many Medicare-eligible people. Medicare Advantage plans and Medicaid are more likely to cover the cost of a walk-in shower. Even with a doctor's note, it's not a guarantee, and if reimbursement is obtained, it's usually after the individual pays the upfront installation fee.

    Previous article Ceiling Mounted vs Wall Mounted Shower Head: Which One Is Better?
    Next article How to Build a Walk-In Shower: A Comprehensive Guide

    Leave a comment

    Comments must be approved before appearing

    * Required fields