Outdoor Showers – Gaining Ground
‘Bringing the outdoors in’ is so passé. Bring the inside outside – that’s where’s it’s truly at. When our family looks to get away in a summer rental, the outdoor shower is the box everyone wants checked. Everything else we can live without, but somehow, the outdoor shower is synonymous with vacation. So, why not bring some of that vacation mojo to your 365-day home? Serene or fanciful; there are lots of shower options these days. Before you buy though, there are some considerations and questions you need ask yourself.
Different strokes for different folks. Will you use the outdoor shower primarily for cleaning off sand, garden soil, and dirty dogs, or will you reserve this fancy for sunset rinses? As you consider its utilitarian merit versus the bucolic, this will help shape your decision around placement, privacy, and materials. Notice below that this double shower also offers a foot rinse option for greater practicality.
Location and Orientation
Next, decide on your ideal location for said outdoor shower. Do you want it on the side of the house (as is common), alongside a pool shed, or freestanding? Will you be incorporating it into an existing hardscape or create a new space for it? Shall it face front, so its easily accessible (but also viewable) or will it be entered into through the side and be more discreet? Either way, you should choose somewhere that gets direct sun because it’ll keep the shower walls and floor drier — and that’s key to preventing rot. Before you set your heart on a particular site, make sure to consult a plumber to go over options (and cost). It might be best to consider a couple favorable locations.
Now to the aesthetics. You can go ornate or simple. Will you want it to stand the test of time, alongside your abode or do you expect this is something, you might later remove or outgrow? The one below, though not enclosed, took the opportunity to lay a beautiful tile back in which the fixtures are sunk. If building yourself or having custom built, your shower has endless material options from which to choose – teak, mahogany, cedar, corrugated metal, tile, even stone. You’ll have to decide upon the look you’re going for and the budget with which you have to work. My two are so rarely aligned. If, however, you’re looking to do this as simply as possible and for the greatest value, you might consider a shower kit. (More on this below).
Source: Sausalito Architects & Designers
Does your blood run cold or are you always in hot water? If you enjoy a warm shower and might hope to use your outdoor shower in the spring and fall seasons (of New England), you’ll want to have a hot water faucet tapped into the existing hot water supply or have new underground lines run specifically for the shower. Either way, you’ll want to consult a plumber before deciding the placement of your shower. These costs can vary depending on which you choose to do and how far you run them.
Make sure you consult your professional about water drainage as well. Most outdoor showers drain into a manhole, storm ditch, or a gutter system that links up with your gray water tank. Another factor that contributes to drainage is sunlight; the more the shower is exposed to, the less likely you’ll run into water build-up or mildew. River rocks paired with larger stepping stones allow for good drainage, as do the lava rocks pictured underneath. Whatever surface you choose for your floor, you’ll want it to drain away from the foundation.
To Enclose or Not to Enclose
Are you bold or bashful? Would you prefer your outdoor shower installation be visible or would you rather it be behind closed doors? Will the natural backdrop of shrubs and tree branches be screen enough or will you opt for a solid partition? Depending on how removed your property is, you may not need nor want partitions… or your guests may just have to leave their suits on while showering.
Further down the line but no less important is the topic of install. Budget more often than not steers the scope of any project. Big or small, you’ll have to decide if this is an installation you can take on yourself or whether you’ll be hiring professionals to undertake it. Scope dependent, you will likely need a plumber and quite possibly a contractor, who can ready the site. Choosing a plumber with shower installation experience will be helpful in determining the need for a contractor. That plumber’s expertise will then help inform if a contractor is necessary or can be bypassed. That’s true as it relates to the need for a work permit too. The plumber should be able to speak to this.
Last but most importantly perhaps, it comes down to cost. According to Houzz contributor Fred Albert, a simple shower with hot and cold running water, like this one, can cost less than $1,000 to install. A more modern enclosure can run anywhere from $1,000 to $4,000. And a more elaborate shower can cost $4,000 to $8,000 or more.
Certain retailers sell outdoor shower kits: from concept to construction of your modular shower enclosure. Some also include installation (plumbing and carpentry) at your selected site. These are great values and given the specialization of the work these companies do, you are far more likely to get an accurate cost upfront.
Cape Cod Outdoor Showers is the only complete outdoor shower installation company in New England- seeing to the design, construction and plumbing. Showers range in cost and installation but the least expensive job is $2600, including install and plumbing. That includes water lines, controls and a 4×4 cedar inclosure.
However, if you have a plumber on retainer or are prepared to hire one, Walpole Outdoors also sells beautiful shower enclosure kits available in Chatham, Sandwich, or Barnstable styles. Offered in cedar or low maintenance AZEK cellular PVC, freestanding or attached, with or without a pergola top. These are the modular enclosures only; all fixtures, plumbing and installation are left for the owner to arrange. These range in price from $1200-$6500.