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Houston Bathroom Remodeling: Tub to Shower Conversion


Wish your bathroom were more modern and practical for your needs? One great Houston bathroom remodeling option is to convert a bathtub to a shower. This is a popular project for homeowners that can have a huge impact on looks, without a big dent in your wallet. Just keep in mind that you’ll need a licensed plumber for the job!

Why Convert a Tub to a Shower for Houston Bathroom Remodeling?

It’s been a pretty big trend for several years to turn bathtubs into showers. This might be because many of us don’t have time to soak in the tub! Showers are often much more convenient, but older homes often have tub-only bathrooms. That’s why many people are opting to update their bathrooms with a tub-to-shower conversion.

In addition, many families convert bathtubs to walk-in showers for accessibility. The elderly and those with mobility issues can have a hard time getting into bathtubs because they have such high walls. Therefore, converting a tub to a walk-in shower may also help increase safety and independence.

Why You Might Not Want to Convert a Tub to a Walk-In Shower

Tub-to-shower conversions are becoming incredibly popular, but it might not be the right fit for your home. For instance, if you still have young children (or plan to have them in the future), tubs can make bathing easier until they’re older. Also, if you love to soak and relax in the bathtub after a long day, it probably doesn’t make sense to turn your most used bathtub into a walk-in shower. 

Also, keep in mind that homes can be hard to sell if they don’t have at least one bathtub. So, if you think you might ever move, having an all-shower house is probably not the best option for you. Sure, you may prefer showers, but potential home buyers may not. 

Two Options for Tub-to-Shower Conversions

Now, when you think of converting a tub to a shower for Houston bathroom remodeling, you’re probably picturing ripping the bathtub out and putting in a new shower. This is absolutely an option, but not your only option! If you have a bathtub, there are two basic ways to turn it into a shower. 

Bathtub to Tub and Shower Combo

First off, if you have a tub-only bathroom, but still want to keep the bathtub around, you might be able to convert it into a tub and shower combo. This is typically a fairly quick and affordable project. Usually, this involves connecting a water line that will supply the shower head. Also, you’ll also need a shower valve as well as controls to let you choose between filling the tub or having a shower.

Tub to Walk-In Shower

However, if you’re interested in a more drastic change, then you might consider turning that bathtub into a walk-in shower. This is especially popular for alcove tubs. Alcoves are typically already the right size for a shower enclosure. For this project, you’ll take the bathtub out and completely remodel the area into a shower-only space.

There are a few ways to do this, depending on your needs and budget. For example, buying a shower kit is a pretty budget-friendly way to turn a tub into a shower. These are essentially prefabricated walls and floors, usually made of vinyl or acrylic. They fit right into the alcove, making them simple to install.

The other option is to custom-build a new walk-in shower. This usually involves having a contractor tile the walls, install shower glass, etc. You’ll also need a plumber to install a shower pan to make sure you get proper drainage. Custom walk-in showers tend to be more aesthetically pleasing and give you a lot more control. Just keep in mind they’re also more expensive and take more time.

Plumbing Considerations for Houston Bathroom Remodeling

No matter what option you choose for your remodeling project, there are several plumbing considerations for tub-to-shower conversions. That’s why it’s important to get a consultation with an experienced Houston plumber for your project. 

Converting a tub to a walk-in shower is more complex and more popular these days, so we’ll focus on plumbing for this type of project.

Installing the Shower Pan

The floor of your shower, also known as the shower pan, is one of the most important things to consider for your project. An improperly installed shower pan can lead to water damage that’s expensive to fix and even unsafe for you and your family. So, it’s important to have an experienced plumber install the shower pan for your tub-to-shower conversion. Shower pans need to connect to the drain line properly and also to have the right slope to help water from your shower flow to the drain. 

Generally, you have two options for a shower pan: curbed or curbless. Curbed shower pans have a raised lip that helps act as a corral for water. These tend to be easier (and cheaper) to install. However, they aren’t as good for accessibility for those with mobility issues, as you must step over the curb to get into the shower.

Curbless don’t have a curb, and instead use just the slope of the floor to help keep water inside the shower and away from your bathroom floors. These are good for accessibility and look really sleek and modern, but do require more work. With curbless shower floors, you typically either have to raise the bathroom floor or lower the shower floor, which gets pretty complex and costly. In either case, you need a plumber to help determine the right slope and connect the shower pan to the drain line to prevent potential unseen water damage.

Shower Drain Size and Plumbing Code

Another plumbing consideration when converting a tub to a walk-in shower is the drain size. Most building codes require bathtubs to have a 1 ½ inch drain line, while showers need a 2 inch drain line. Connecting a shower to an old bathtub drain may not be allowed by code because of this size difference. If this is the case, then your plumber may need to replace the drain line to meet code requirements. 

Moving Plumbing

In some cases, converting a tub to a shower may involve moving around water and drain lines. Moving plumbing isn’t always possible and can get expensive, so most people try to avoid it while Houston bathroom remodeling. However, it might be necessary for your project. For instance, sometimes you may want to relocate the plumbing so the shower head goes on a different wall, or even on the ceiling for a rainfall effect. Also, if you choose to go with the shower kit option, in many cases the hole for the drain line won’t perfectly match up with the current drain line. So, as you’re planning your project, consider whether you’ll need to move plumbing around to accommodate your new shower. Also, don’t forget to consult with a Houston plumber about feasibility, code considerations, and cost.

Replacing Old Plumbing While Houston Bathroom Remodeling

Also, during your project, it’s important to assess the condition of your current plumbing. Now, obviously, when you’re dreaming of your newly remodeled shower, you’re probably not thinking about the condition of your pipes. However, it’s important to talk about during your project. This can help you avoid major Houston plumbing repairs later that may cause trouble for your brand-new shower. Instead, it may make sense to replace any old or worn plumbing with modern versions that will last longer. Your bathroom remodel plumber can inspect the condition of your current plumbing and replace it as needed before you put the finishing touches on your new, luxurious shower. 

High Quality, Experienced Houston Plumber for Your Bathroom Remodeling Project

If you’re starting a Houston bathroom remodeling project, you’ll need an expert plumber on your side. At Santhoff Plumbing, we offer the highest quality services for your home. We work with your remodeling contractor for a smooth, stress-free project. We’re a local, family-owned and operated business, which means we’re committed to your absolute satisfaction and providing the level of service we’d expect in our own homes. Call us now at (713) 360-2185 to learn more and schedule a consultation for your remodel with one of our plumbing specialists!

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