If your days of taking lengthy, luxurious baths are long behind you – or if you're anxious to minimize the amount of water your kids leave behind on the floor after each solo bath – you may be wondering whether replacing your bathtub with a sleek, spacious shower is a good idea. As the Baby Boomer generation ages and universal design principles take hold, more and more households are opting for convenient (and easily accessible) showers rather than deep, unwieldy bathtubs. Read on to learn about some of the factors you'll want to consider before demolishing your tub, as well as some helpful ideas you may want to adopt when performing your own tub-to-shower conversion.
What should you consider before embarking on the conversion process?
Depending upon the layout of your current bathroom and the type of tub you have, this process can be relatively simple – or may require the intervention of a professional. For homes that have a fairly standard floor plan and a one-piece fiberglass tub, removing the tub and replacing it with a shower that has a similar "footprint" can often be accomplished by a couple of enterprising homeowners with a free weekend afternoon. On the other hand, rerouting plumbing, tearing down interior walls to change the shape or size of your bathroom, or performing other, more extensive renovations may be best left to a professional plumbing contractor. After you decide how you'd like your new shower (and bathroom) to look, you'll be in a better position to evaluate whether you can perform this process yourself.
You'll also want to take the weight of your prospective renovations into account. With a single gallon of water weighing more than eight pounds, a filled bathtub can be one of the heaviest items in your home -- so it's likely that a floor that can accommodate a tub can also easily handle a shower in its place. However, if you're upgrading from a small or shallow tub to a large shower made from heavy materials like tempered glass or steel, you may want to give some thought to the amount of weight you're adding and whether the structural beams under your floor can support it. In some cases, switching to a smaller shower or one made from lighter-weight materials will be all that's needed to bring your shower's weight back into the safe range.
Finally, you'll want to consider whether total replacement of your tub is necessary (or desired). In some larger bathrooms, retrofitting the plumbing to accommodate both a bathtub and shower may be the best option from a resale perspective (especially if your home has relatively few bathrooms). If you're planning to sell your home within the next few years, the removal of a bathtub may be a turnoff to some potential buyers, especially if other homes in your area and price range tend to have the tub-and-shower combination.
Is there anything you can do to make this process simpler or more streamlined?
When performing any type of home renovation, pre-planning is the name of the game – especially if you're trying to get most of the work done yourself. Stopping mid-project to make yet another run to the hardware or home supply store can slow you down, while ending the project to discover you've spent twice your budgeted amount can be quite a blow. Making a list of the tools and equipment you'll need, the arrangements you'll need to make (whether delivery of a rental jackhammer or babysitting arrangements to keep the kids out of your hair for the day), and the maximum amount you'd like to spend can go a long way toward keeping your project timeline and costs under control.