How to build an outdoor shower

How to build an outdoor showerHow to build an outdoor showerHow to build an outdoor shower

Outdoor showers may seem like a luxury—something that only those with beach houses would need or be lucky enough to have. But if you have kids and pets that love to play in the yard, or if you’re an avid gardener, runner, or someone that enjoys the freedom of bathing in nature, you may want to consider an outdoor shower for your own home.

Lucky for you, an outdoor shower can be an accessible feature for just about anyone. It all depends on how simple or complex you want your shower to be. A simple outdoor shower with cold water costs approximately $1,000 or less. An outdoor shower with an enclosure and hot and cold water will run about $4,000–$8,000.

Join Zillow as they walk us through four things to consider before taking the plunge on your own little piece of outdoor bathing heaven.

The home’s exterior fittings, like the outdoor shower, offer modern comforts.

Location

This is one of the most important considerations. It’s best to choose a spot that you use often. In most cases, anywhere near the back entrance to your home is a good choice—maybe adjacent to the back door or on the back deck. If you have a pool, situate the shower nearby for easy rinse-offs before and after swimming.

Another major consideration is plumbing access. Unless you’re installing the type of shower that attaches to a garden hose, you’ll need to install it close to existing plumbing.

Last but not least, go for a sunny spot. This will help keep mold and mildew at bay, and provide natural warmth while you rinse.

After a day at the beach, an outdoor shower tucked toward the back of the house allows everyone to rinse off without tracking sand indoors.

Privacy

Privacy is a fairly important consideration, unless you think only swimsuit-clad people will use the outdoor shower. “I encourage people to build with the most modest person in mind,” says Ethan Fierro, author of The Outdoor Shower. The trick is, you want the shower to feel private and far from prying eyes, but you also want to keep the natural feeling.

An outdoor shower was the family’s first construction project. “Doing the shower made us realize we can build things the way we want to build them,” says Meg.

An easy and adjustable choice is a freestanding folding screen. These screens work particularly well on decks and patios, where it might be impractical to build any type of wall.

An outdoor shower in the lower courtyard includes most of the materials that define the project, including Cor-Ten steel posts, horizontal ipe slats and decking, a custom seat and towel shelf set into a natural boulder, and concrete pavers. The yard includes many elements built for play, like a water feature embedded in a concrete wall that is fed by runoff rainwater collected from the breezeway roof.

Another option is building corrugated metal wing walls to create a shower “corner” of sorts, where swimmers can rinse off after a dip. You can make this more private by adding a third wall to the design. Of course, there’s always the more elaborate option, which would be to surround the shower with wooden walls.

The wood screen concealing this outdoor shower was painted yellow and white, matching the color scheme in the home’s guest bathroom.

Plumbing

The simplest and most inexpensive plumbing option, and one that many people choose, is a shower connected to a garden hose, which is then hooked up to an outside faucet. This cold-water fixture is perfect for an outdoor shower that’s used only in the heat of summer, and mostly for cleaning off dirt and sand.

Next up is the hot-and-cold hose option. First, you’ll need a plumber to install an outdoor hot-water faucet next to the cold one. From there, it basically works in a similar fashion to the cold-water hose shower.

Mimicking the cantilever of the house, an outdoor shower just off the master bedroom stretches out gently toward the surrounding woods.

The most elaborate—and most expensive—is the plumbed-in outdoor shower. This is worth investing in if you anticipate consistent outdoor showers, and not just for cleaning up after a hot day in the sun. The only downside to this option: if you live in an area with freezing winters, you have to make sure you can fully drain and insulate the plumbing so it doesn’t burst.

Drainage

The simplest and most common drainage system is letting the used water drain into your yard. If you don’t have very porous ground in your yard, or if the outdoor shower is close to your home, consider attaching the plumbing to your home’s drainage pipes or installing a French drain (essentially, a gravel-lined channel connected to a pipe that directs water to a drainage area).

The easiest thing to do, of course, is to go with the first option and recycle the water into your garden.

The shower offers a multisensory experience: the architect described how clients can take hot showers in the rain or simply lounge in the capacious garden area. Mint plants growing between the pavers release a pleasant smell when stepped upon.

Accessories

Add some affordable accessories that greatly increase the fun and pleasure of showering outdoors. A large rainfall showerhead enhances that outdoor feeling, and plants or flowers in the shower area or peeping through the enclosure add a whimsical touch.

A wood-lined outdoor shower adds a modern touch to one of the decks.

Add some soft solar-powered lights for showering at dusk, install hooks for hanging towels and wet bathing suits, and maybe even add a chair to sit in. Most importantly, design your shower to take advantage of nature’s views, whether that’s the sky overhead or the splendor of your backyard garden.

The outdoor shower situated off of the master bedroom is enclosed to offer privacy and features a courtyard garden. Michael Arp of Lanoha Nurseries designed the house’s landscaping.

With just a little planning and effort, you can install your own outdoor shower and stay cool during the rest of the warm summer months.

Written by Jane Drill for Zillow

An outdoor shower tucked behind a screen off the master bedroom neutralizes this threat. “We thought it sounded great for muddy kids to run up and shower off there,” Coco says.

Shop These Outdoor Shower Supplies Recommended by Dwell

Spring is here, and summer is right around the corner. There is still time to do some DIY projects and build something that can greatly enhance your outdoor life — like an outdoor shower. It may seem like a luxury, but outdoor showers can be fairly inexpensive to build if you stick with cold water, which will feel great in the hot summer sun!

If you’re an avid runner, swimmer, gardener, or anyone who enjoys breaking a sweat in the summer, an outdoor shower can improve your life dramatically. A simple shower can cost you less than $1,000, and we’re going to show you how to build one step by step.

How to build an outdoor showerPapin Lab

How to build an outdoor shower enclosure

Plan the shower drainage

First things first, check with your local regulations to make sure you can build an outdoor shower. Some communities require you to install a drain that connects to your home’s waste system, which needs to be done first. The base will also need to have a drain strainer and be sloped so water flows into the drain. If this is required, a concrete base is your best bet; it will be easy to mold and will last a long time. You can even tile the concrete base if you want to go the extra mile.

If you don’t need to regulate water runoff, then the easiest thing to do is allow the water to flow into a garden.

Construct a shower base

Unless you are lucky enough to have a flat piece of ground that drains well or you have a deck, you will need to construct a shower base. A flat, stable base is required for functionality and safety. The dimensions should be, at a minimum, 30×30 inches because this is the most common floor space required by code; however, it is usually a good idea to make it bigger.

As we said before, create the base from concrete or another nonporous material if your shower needs a drain. If no drain is needed, then you have two options that allow water to soak into the ground: cement pavers or wood decking. In addition, some freestanding shower kits are available with a platform so you can skip this step and save some time.

Build the enclosure

If you want to enclose your shower for privacy, now is the best time to create it, specifically the back wall where you will mount the showerhead and valve. Construct the back wall out of wood, vinyl, or any material that is strong enough to support a showerhead and heating unit if you are going with hot water. Alternatively, if you are building your shower next to a fence or similar structure, you can simply mount the shower head on an existing fence post.

The enclosure is really where your creativity can shine. Enclosures can be made with almost anything, as long as you use a waterproof sealer, including bamboo, corrugated metal, sliding door, or simply a curtain.

Install the shower head and valve

This step will be the easiest or hardest, depending on whether you’re using a freestanding shower. If you are, then all you have to do is position it wherever you want. Stabilize it by pounding a 6-foot metal stake or rebar at least a couple of feet into the ground, then tie the shower riser to it.

If you are using a propane shower instead, which usually comes equipped with a handheld showerhead, make sure to mount it high enough so you can stand underneath it when the handheld showerhead is not in use. Remember to create a place for the propane tank. When installing an outdoor shower valve and head, secure everything to the wall with copper pipe clamps.

Hook up the water

Finally, you are ready to hook up the most essential part: the water. When installing a freestanding shower — solar or propane — all you need to do is take a garden hose and screw it into a hose bib. Turn the water on and leave it to control water flow from the shower. If you went with a solar shower, then the heating reservoir needs to remain in complete sunlight for a few hours before the water will be warm enough to use.

How to build an outdoor showerOzymandian/Shutterstock

Protect your shower in the winter

Not many people remember this, but your outdoor shower will be exposed to the winter months when not in use. This means you will need to protect it from cold temperatures, depending on your location. The most important thing to do is make sure your shower is completely drained of water to prevent freezing and cracking to the supply hoses and shower fixtures. If you bought a freestanding shower, things are easy for you. Simply remove the garden hose and put away the shower for the winter.

If your shower valve is installed on the wall and connected to a heater, turn off the water supply, put away the hose, and open the shower valves and leave them open. Also, make sure to remove the showerhead and valve from the faucet so that any residual moisture can escape.

The actual shower enclosure will also need to be protected during the winter. When you are ready to close the shower for the season, thoroughly dry the inside and cover the enclosure with a tarp, making sure the tarp is tied securely. If you did not build an enclosure, then cover the shower pipes.

Final thoughts

Outdoor showers may have seemed like a luxury for the wealthy, but anyone can create their own unique shower to enjoy during the summer. Whether you go with a simple freestanding shower with only cold water or go all out with a bamboo enclosure and propane heater, building one only requires some planning, patience, and the willingness to learn.

How to build an outdoor shower

Outdoor showers are an often overlooked luxury. At first glance an outdoor shower may seem primitive, but once you experience a cool refreshing shower on a hot summer day, you’ll never want to shower indoors again.

For some an outdoor shower is built for convenience and not wanting to track sand or dirt into a home, but for most others it’s simply an enjoyable way to get clean.

The setup for building an outdoor shower is relatively simple. You need an accessible water source—usually an already available spigot—and a solid floor with a drain that guides the water away from the house. Most opt for an enclosed shower, but it isn’t strictly necessary; it just depends on the privacy of your backyard and how modest you are.

Use wood that is weatherproof and make sure you paint or stain it to protect it from the elements. You can also use corrugated plastic like April Wilkerson used in the video below, which will last a long time and is maintenance free.

For a sharp looking all wood outdoor shower, check out this build from Ontario Lakeside.

You can purchase the necessary PVC pipes, fittings, and splitters at any home improvement store. If you’re not picky about the showerhead, pick one up at a ReStore or the discount bin at Home Depot. Add hooks, benches, and shelves, to customize your shower even more, and you’ll never leave.

For our trellis grid we ripped cedar stock into 1-1/2 by 1-1/2 inch strips.

We installed out grid, spaced approximately 10-inches apart with stainless steel screws.

How to build an outdoor shower

Step 7 – Assemble and Install the Gate

We made our board and batten gate similar to the wall partitions but doubled up on the thickness.

Assemble the door frame first, by fitting the T&G boards and cutting them to size. Ensuring it is square, add the diagonal batten pieces and secure them in place.

Batten doors can be made with tongue and groove doors, ship-lap or simple boards that are typically suitable for outdoor use. Tongue and groove and ship lap doors offer privacy by closing the seams off. Read more on how to make a board and batten door here.

Fasten all the parts with rust resistant screws.

TIP: Cutting a bevel on the hinge side of the gate will allow the door to open and close better during times of high humidity by reducing the surface area that could touch when the gate is closed. The goal is to install the gate with a consistent reveal or gap on both sides.

Use a track saw, circular saw, power plane or block plane to adjust the door in place. Once trimmed and fitted install heavy duty hinges, gate stop, lock and latch set.

TIP– Space gate equally in opening and secure hinges along one edge of the door for maximum support. Rest the door temporarily on support blocks while positioning and securing the hinges. Add a gate stop on the opposite side.

How to build an outdoor shower

Step 8 – Build Bench Seat

On our shower we built a seat in the shower area and used all cedar stock. The frame is secured to three support posts with one vertical support leg on the corner not attached to a post.

The bench seat is 1×4 strips of cedar spaced ¼- inch apart for airflow and drainage.

Enjoy Your Outdoor Shower

Regardless of your climate outdoor showers are quickly becoming popular and part of the outdoor living.

The goal is to bring the same comforts they have inside to outdoor spaces, by creating multipurpose outdoor living spaces that function as extensions of their home.

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