Lynda and Tom – a super nice couple in their 50’s living in the Columbus Ohio burbs (can you say O-H-I-O – yes I’m a OSU Buckeye fan) – came into my showroom with their floor plan for a bathroom remodeling project. They want to make the bathroom larger and have a double bowl vanity top. They are going to increase the size of the window for improved natural light. They plan to move the tub from one side of the room to another to improve the layout. They came to see us to look at grout free tub wall panel options.
They told me they decided on a bathtub again because (as everyone knows) you have to have at least one tub in the home (all realtors and many family members backed up the need for at least one tub). Given this “commonly held truth” they planned to keep the tub in the newly remodeled 1st floor bathroom.
As a nationwide supplier of shower and tub wall panels (and local Cleveland bathroom remodeler) who has worked with countless tub to shower conversions I can’t even think of one time I’ve worked with someone on changing a shower into a tub. “Why the heck is that?” Why are people overwhelmingly getting rid of bathtubs and dusty useless “soaking tubs” home builders insisted on putting in homes in the late 90’s and early 2000’s? Do you really have to have a tub in a home for resale? Conversely, should you even give a hoot about resale?
In this article, I’m going to do two things. First, I’ll give you 4 good reasons a shower is a better option than a tub. Second, I’ll offer up 7 practical advantages of a shower over a tub. At the end of the article I’d love to hear your arguments and if you think I’m a bit nuts (yes – even my wife, kids and fellow co-workers would say I resemble this remark from time to time!).
4 good reasons a shower is better than a tub
Reason #1 why a shower is better than a tub – It should be all about YOU
Let say you’re in your 50’s (like Lynda and Tom) and decide today to put a tub in for future resale purposes. Then 5 years from now your health (and mobility) starts going downhill. Climbing over 12 – 15” high tub rail just ain’t gonna happen. Now you’re forced to either “re-remodel” the bathroom you worked on 5 years ago or hire a realtor to help you find a new home. If you decide to remodel again you’ll spend 2x as much as if you put in a shower in the first place. If you love your neighborhood and want to be there as long as you can, why should you be designing your bathroom for resale? Shouldn’t you be designing this bathroom for you and your family in the short and long run?
Reason #2 why a shower is better than a tub – It may not be all about YOU (caring for your aging Mom, Dad or In-Laws)
It’s interesting because as I age (I’m 57 but with one $9.99 bottle of Just for Men hair coloring I can be delusionally transformed into a 37-year-old!) my perspective has changed a lot. I now understand how important it is to spend time with my Mom and mother in law (my Dad and Father in Law are no longer with us). I have a better understanding of the sacrifices and love they have given me, my wife and our kids. I want to be there for them (or at least provide some comic relief – although I’m not sure if they’re laughing with me or at me). A good decision (and usually more economical) to help an aging parent is for them move in with you (if you won’t kill each other- ha! ha!). If you think this is a possibility – do you really think a tub will work better for Mom and Dad than a shower?
Reason #3 why a shower is better than a tub. You’re staying until they “roll you out.” Should it matter if it takes longer for your kids (or spouse) to sell your home?
It was sad to see my Dad rolled out of the house he built (my Dad was a passionate entrepreneur and a mason contractor who general contracted his dream home in the beautiful suburb of Cleveland called Gates Mills) at the age of 59 after he took his last breath. While it was a sad day (to say the least), I can look back and say, Dad had the ability to die in the home he worked his whole life and career to build (note: my father came to this country from Italy with his brother at the age of 16 with virtually no money and no high school degree).
While this home did have a couple of bathtubs, even if it didn’t (and it took longer to sell) I still would have chosen for my Dad to live (and enjoy) his dream home for as long as possible. It’s not about the money I would have received. It’s not about how quickly my brother, sister and Mom could have sold the home Dad built. It should be all about Dad’s quality of life!
Reason #4 why a shower is better than a tub. The target market with ‘mo money will like your home better!
Who do you think has more disposable income to afford to buy your home? Is it behind……
- Door #1 (a 35-year-old Millennial couple buried under debt from student loans looking for their first home)
- Door #2 (a Generation X couple aged 46 with 2 kids who are 8 and 10) or
- Door #3 (a Baby Boomer couple aged 58 with the kids – almost – off the payroll and out of the house)
If you guessed doors #2 and #3 would be the better prospects, I’m totally with you. They have more money and less debt.
I’m a marketing and entrepreneurial geek. Although I have a B.S. – hopefully not too much “BS”– and an MBA in business, I’m still learning like a maniac today. I’ve learned when selling a product (a home in this case) trying to appeal to everyone will make your offering “generic” and you’ll end up appealing to no one. The key is to offer the best value (product or service) for your specific target market. Given this train of thought – wouldn’t it be best to focus on the Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers who have a lifestyle which would prefer a shower (and have money) vs. the Millennials who will need the tub (but may lack the money to buy your home)?
Now that we’re done talking about 4 reasons to choose a shower over a tub, let’s look at 7 practical day to day living advantages of a shower.
7 Advantages of a Shower over a Tub
Advantage #1 – Safety, safety and safety
Climbing over a tub rail is an accident waiting to happen. Hospital costs and orthopedic visits are not cheap! What’s nice today is a safe shower can also be a cool shower. The options in shower bases (from fun shaped acrylic pans to higher quality solid surface bases with low profile curbs) provide a wide range of design options – while keeping you and your family safe.
Advantage #2 – It’s easier to clean a shower than a tub
If you’ve experienced bending over a tub rail to clean scum off your tub bottom you know it’s one job you’d like to ditch ASAP. If you add a hand-held shower it’s a snap to clean your shower (and/or glass enclosure). You can even bring your dog in for his/her occasional de-stink-ifying (not sure this is a word – but it accurately describes the event) session!
Advantage #3 – A shower is better for our environment and lowers water usage
The average 5-minute shower uses 12.5 gallons of water. The average tub needs 25 to 45 gallons of water to fill up – and if your hot water tank isn’t big – it won’t be too comfortable once you get in anyway. If you care about the planet – you’ll like your shower better.
Advantage #4 – A shower fits your lifestyle better
If you’re like me, life is moving fast and getting ready in the morning wouldn’t qualify as a relaxed experience. You want to get in, get out and as Larry the Cable Guy would say “get ‘er done.” The reason people are converting tubs to showers (and not the other way around) is showers are quick and tubs are not (you’ve got to wait for the water to fill up and whose got time to wait?). Showers fit our lifestyles – tubs do not.
Advantage #5 – A walk in or roll in shower can be essential to stay in your home
In some cases, a tub is simply out of the question. If you have a child who has physical disabilities or your Mom or Dad needs a wheelchair or walker – a tub won’t work without a lot of discomfort for everyone. What’s cool is one level walk in or roll in shower are hot architecturally and create a “universal design” (i.e. a design which works for all members of your family from grandchildren to grandparents). You don’t have to have a walk in or roll in shower which screams “Grandma lives with us!” Style and an accessible shower are not mutually exclusive.
Advantage #6 – Leveraging “not-so-big” minimalist living. Showers are IN, bathtubs are OUT!
Back in the late 80’s movies like Wall Street popularized the term “greed is good” (we wanted more and were willing to do whatever we could to get it). It was all about BIG things. Big houses, big cars and of course – big hair (admit it if you resembled this remark). Now house sizes are getting smaller for the first time in history. Minimalism is in – greed and consumption are out.
With the movement to smaller homes (note – this movement is also fueled by the practical problem of land costs due to zoning restrictions) and growing concepts like tiny homes, bathroom space planning must get more efficient. Showers are being designed to fit into a small corner or 36” x 36” alcove spaces. If you’re into tiny, minimalist, eco-friendly living the shower will be the ticket for you. Check out this corner shower with decorative DIY faux wall panels in the “Tiny House Escapade” home. It’s all about shower style – even if you have a small space.
Advantage #7 – You want luxury – you don’t want small
In advantage 6 we talked about small being in (for some). However, when it comes to bathrooms the “big shower” today is as hot as the episode on Seinfeld about the “big salad” (does anyone remember this show?). Today people in suburban homes are removing the small 3’ x 3’ stand up shower with the adjoining soaking tub and transforming the space into a big spa shower. Some of the cool features of these spa showers are rain heads, body sprays, sleek high gloss wall panels and even downloadable music coming out of a shower heads with colored LED lighting. If you want luxury, the spa shower is hot (yes – pun intended).
When I talked to Lynda and Tom I did try to guide them to a shower for many of the reasons (and advantages) I mentioned above (although the decision they make will need to be driven by how they want to use this bathroom and their lifestyle). I will say I’m not anti-tub – but I would describe myself as pro-shower. Not matter where you land in this debate, it makes sense to be a thoughtful consumer when choosing between a shower and tub for your bathroom remodel.
Don’t believe everything you hear (like you must have one tub per home). Make choices which work for you and your family both today and into your future.
I’d love to hear your opinions about this tub vs. shower debate. I’m just a dude looking to learn and grow (even at the age of 57) and I know (because I’ve been married for 32 years) there are A LOT of times where I’m just not right! Please comment below or call with your tub or shower questions or opinions.
How can I (or a member of my team) help you with your bath or shower problems?
If you need some insight on your next remodeling project – or quality products for your shower or tub on a nationwide factory-direct supply basis contact Innovate Building Solutions at 877-668-5888. If you need a remodeling contractor in the Cleveland and Akron call Cleveland Design and Remodeling at 216-658-1270. Click here for a Free Design Consultation.
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