11 Frequently Asked Questions about Tub to Shower Conversions to Save You Time, Money & Aggravation
You’ve (almost) convinced yourself to ditch your tub and convert to a shower. After all you never use the tub anyway. You’re also worried about your spouse falling while climbing into your tub/shower. And your tub surround and tub have seen their better days…years ago!
However, you’re still not ready to pull the trigger and replace the tub. You have questions about cost. You wonder if this project will reduce your resale value. You wonder how to design the shower, so it works –today and into the future.
You’ve visited many bathroom remodeling contractor websites ‘pitching’ you on their tub to shower conversion service. They offer big discounts and financing specials when you ‘sign up now.’ However, your questions linger. These ‘pitch-driven’ web pages aren’t making things clearer for you. Their focus is SELLING YOU NOW with their (supposed) deals of a lifetime!
You’d like to tell these sites, “Whoa Nellie, I have a few questions first.” You’re determined not to waste your time or money until you have clear answers to your questions about tub to shower conversions. And this is EXACTLY what this article is about.
From my years leading a business wholesaling shower materials across the country and who also has a division which does bathtub to shower conversions in Cleveland Ohio, I know there’s a lot to know to make an educated decision about tub to shower conversion.
So, in this article my goal will be to give you the ‘straight scoop’ to make a thoughtful decision (which saves you time, money and aggravation) about tub to shower conversions. Let’s dig into these 11 frequently asked questions.
FAQ #1 about tub to shower conversions– Will getting rid of my tub reduce my resale value?
You’ve heard the ‘age-old’ realtor wisdom you have to have a bathtub for ‘resale.’ And I’ll grant you it’s ‘safer’ to have one bathroom with a tub to check the ‘home has a tub box’ before listing your home. However, I’ll also tell you it really depends on who(m) the target market is for your home. If your market is young families with small children, then a tub is a must. If your market is 50+ couples – the exact opposite logic applies. The shower will be preferred.
And if you want more input on this topic read 4 Reasons You Shouldn’t Listen to Your Realtor – (why a shower is better than a tub – even for resale).
FAQ #2 about tub to shower conversions– How much is the installed cost of a tub to shower conversion?
Just like your Dad used to say you’re ‘not made of money!’ And you don’t want to invest a lot of time researching a tub to shower conversion if it’s out of your budget.
And while I could give you the ‘cop-out’ answer the installed costs of a tub to shower conversion project depends on a lot of variables (including what materials you choose, local labor rates and if you need to make significant changes in the plumbing) that doesn’t help you one ‘iota’ (whatever the heck an iota is).
So, here’s what I will tell you. Most installed bath to shower conversion projects in Cleveland Ohio (which is one of the markets we install in) range from $6,000 to $10,000 (including a new valve, shower head, shower pan and shower wall surrounds). And if you DIY this job, you’ll likely cut these costs in half.
FAQ #3 about tub to shower conversions– Now that I’ve given you the bad news about costs, you may be wondering how you can save money on this project?
Whether you’re looking to DIY your tub to shower conversion, or have it professionally installed, here’s 5 money-saving tips you can use to keep a lid on costs.
- Money-saving tip #1 – Don’t move the plumbing. Moving plumbing has a major impact on cost (especially if you have a concrete floor or have a joist located exactly where you’d like the drain to go). Keep costs down by installing your new shower where your old tub was.
- Money saving tip #2 – Use grout free wall panels vs. ceramic tile surrounds – A tile shower adds a lot of cost if you’re having this project professionally installed. Shower wall panels are faster to install. They cut labor costs. And you’ll also find there are new generation wall panels which look exactly like tile (like the ones below).
- Money saving tip #3 – Don’t be afraid to get dusty and do your own demo – While demo is a dirty job, it doesn’t require much skill and can save you a few dollars.
- Money saving tip #4 – Use a solid one-piece shower pan vs. a tile shower floor – A professionally installed tile shower floor pan is time consuming vs. the simplicity of a one-piece pan. With a cultured stone shower pan you’ll also get one which is as solid as a rock.
- Money saving tip #5 – Use standard sized glass doors and wall surrounds – Since most tubs are 60” wide you’ll be able to find standard shower glass doors kits vs. enlarging the shower and needing custom glass and walls.
FAQ #4 about tub to shower conversions– How long does it take to complete this project?
For a professionally installed tub to shower conversion allow 2 to 3 days for completion (note: this will include the installation of new plumbing valve, shower head and a glass enclosure with shower wall surround panels). On the other hand, if you do a tile shower add 3 or 4 more days.
FAQ #5 about tub to shower conversions– How can I reduce the chance of mold and mildew in my new shower?
Perhaps there’s no time in our lives where we understand the negative impacts of bacteria than today. Living through a pandemic is something most of us (certainly me included) never even considered.
However, understanding the negative impact of bacteria is one thing but developing strategies to minimize bad bacteria is another.
And while I won’t claim to be a ‘Junior Dr. Fauci’ (although I am Italian like the good Doctor)– it’s easy to understand mold and mildew in our bathrooms IS NOT OUR LITTLE ‘FRE (as Tony Montana might have said in the movie Scarface). So, what can you do to reduce this problem in your bathtub to shower conversion?
The simplest way is to get rid of grout joints. These would be grout joints in your shower pan and shower walls. And if you’re saying right now, “But Mike, I DON’T WANT UGLY PLASTIC MATERIALS,” I’m totally with you.
FAQ #6 about tub to shower conversions– I’d like seating in my new shower, what’s the best option?
I’m asked all the time about installing bench seats in a tub to shower conversion and I’ll tell you what I tell others….
I’m not a fan of bench seating in tub to shower conversions!
And you may be wondering what I’ve got against bench seating. Well – I don’t like how they eat 20-25% of the shower space. And I don’t like how they require more expensive glass packages since the glass has to ‘climb over’ the tub deck (see what I mean from this stylish – yet expensive – system below).
OK – you may be saying, “But Mike I NEED seating in my new shower to shave my legs. I need seating so my Mom can sit while showering. I need some type of seating!” I get it. I get it. And I’ve got 2 better solutions than a bench seat for you.
- Solution #1 – The corner seat – It takes far less room, yet still gives you seating.
- Solution #2 – The fold down seat. It offers more ‘butt-room’ than a corner seat yet occupies no space when it’s not in use.
FAQ #7 about tub to shower conversions– I hate contractors in my home (especially now). How can I reduce the amount of time this job takes?
Every ‘non-delusional contractor’ knows even if you love us, you really don’t want us in your home. Let’s face facts….
Contractors are an imposition. They get in the way of living freely in your home. And if you have a touch of O.C.D. you might chime in and say… remodeling is messy.
When you have contractors in your home – not only are they expensive – but you can’t be as uninhibited as you normally are. You might even feel you need to be ‘somewhat presentable’ in your own home! You can’t even wear your oh-so-comfortable t-shirt with all the holes around your house.
So, how can you make sure the time to do a tub to shower conversion is as short as possible BEFORE your contractor starts kicking up dust? Here’s 4 ideas:
- Idea #1 – Make sure the materials are on site BEFORE the project begins. Make sure everything is in good condition.
- Idea #2 – Make sure your contractor is experienced. Don’t hire a boy (or girl) to do the job of a man (or woman). Hiring the cheapest rookie contractor you can find to save a few bucks is a recipe for disaster.
- Idea #3 – Discuss with your contractor (before the project begins) what the plan would be if they find a rotten subfloor, or there’s mold behind the walls. How would these problems be handled? How would they impact the schedule? Have these conversations BEFORE a problem occurs.
- Idea #4 – Use materials which are time-effective to install like grout free wall panels and one-piece shower pans.
FAQ #8 about tub to shower conversions– I’d like to convert my tub to a walk-in shower. What’s the best way to make sure the water stays inside the shower and doesn’t end up on the bathroom floor?
Cleaning water from your bathroom floor not only isn’t fun, but it can cause leaks in the floor, and onto the furniture, in the room below. Water outside the shower is not good (states Captain Obvious).
So, if you’re looking to convert to a walk-in shower you need a game-plan to keep the water in the areas of your bathroom which are waterproofed. But how? Here’s 3 strategies to keep your ‘head above water’ (yes, this bad pun was intended).
- Strategy #1 – Choose the right shower head(s) – Look for shower heads which won’t spray water outside the shower opening. One option is to use a rain head which is directed down vs. a stationary shower head which is spraying at you. Another is a hand-held shower.
- Strategy #2 – Use curved or pivoting glass – A cool thing about curved glass systems (or pivoting glass) is the glass is angled into the shower which bounces water back towards the drain (and not outside the shower).
- Strategy #3 – Choose the right curb height for your shower pan or build a waterproof one level shower- If you’re going with a one-piece shower pan (which will be most cost-effective) don’t choose the lowest curb threshold. Go with a mid-height (2” to 3” tall) or a full height curb (4” or 5” tall) to keep the water inside. And if you want no curb at all find a waterproof one level shower
FAQ #9 about tub to shower conversions– Is it best to build a ceramic tile shower or use grout free shower wall panels?
While you can inject a HUGE amount of creativity into a tile shower, they’re a pain to maintain, take a long time to build, are prone to leaking and expensive.
Personally, I’m a big fan of grout free laminate wall panels and PVC composite panels. They look realistic. They save time and money. However, when choosing between tile and shower wall panels there’s a number of factors to consider. This is why I’d recommend ‘digging deeper’ and reading (or click on the image below) How to Compare a Ceramic Tile Surround vs. Laminate Shower Wall Panels.
FAQ #10 about tub to shower conversions– How can I make a larger shower without dramatically increasing cost?
As we’ve discussed earlier when you want to keep costs down it’ll be best if your new shower goes into the same space where the old tub was. However, given this tip you may wonder then how it’s also possible to make a larger shower WITHOUT customizing and draining your wallet in the process?
Well – a fantastic way to do this is to use a curved shower base and curved sliding glass doors designed specifically for a tub to shower conversion. They have the same drain location as your old tub. They also ‘bow out’ so you get a roomier shower in the same place where the old tub was. Ingenious.
FAQ #11 about tub to shower conversions– Why am I better off with a shower than a tub?
If you’ve read the previous 10 frequently asked questions and you’re still uncertain about why a shower is better than a tub, consider these benefits.
- Showers are safer to walk into (and can keep your loved ones out of the hospital).
- Showers use less water. It’s estimated a 10-minute shower uses 25 gallons of water vs. filling a tub requires 35 to 50 gallons.
- You’ll have more space in the shower vs. the tub.
- Showers are easier to clean.
- Few people use a tub anymore.
So, now that you’ve read the 11 frequently asked questions about tub to shower conversions are you ‘sold’ they’re right for you?
My goal with this article was to make your decision clearer if a tub to shower is right for you. So, after reading this article – are you sold converting your bathtub into a shower is a good idea? And – equally as important, are you confident where to get practical (and honest) answers to your questions about this project (whether you’re looking to DIY the job, or have it professionally installed)?
If you’d still like a ‘tour guide’ to help, my business Innovate Building Solutions would love to assist. And here’s how.
If you’re in Cleveland or Akron Ohio and trying to find a contractor we’d be happy to come to your home, discuss your needs, educate you on products and systems and install the job for you. Call our Cleveland bath remodeling contractor division at 216-658-1270 or click for a Free bath to shower conversion estimate.
And finally, if you’re not a DIY’er and don’t live in Cleveland Ohio comment at the bottom of this post where you live, and we’ll see if one of our authorized wall panel and shower pan dealers can assist (or call 877-668-5888).
Thanks for reading. I’m looking forward to helping you further.
If you want more advice (with a little less wacky humor because you’ll see the ‘buttoned-up’ business version of me) follow me on LinkedIn @MikeFoti.