Shower remodeling trends

Trends reflect a desire for a more sensuous wash-and-dry experience, coupled with what could be called lame-fixtures-and-finishes fatigue and spa-bath aspirations.

What do consumers want most? Let’s start with replacing the classic hot-and-cold-water mixing valve encased in a circular or lever-handle trim kit: Calibrating the water temp with one of these things is like cracking a safe, as British comedian Eddie Izzard once put it. A thermostatic mixer, in contrast, allows you to set and hold temperature and volume, making it one of most popular bath upgrades, says Houzz, the home-improvement site.

Then there’s the whole concept of a separate shower stall. Traditional bath-and-tub combo, out; a cubicle with doors or enclosures that separate the shower from the rest of the bathroom, in.

Other wants:

  • Rainheads. These plate-size sprayers, typically mounted overhead, have been around a while, but over half of homeowners doing bathroom upgrades want them, says the 2021 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study. They retain a certain allure, thanks partly to their name and look and all-encompassing sprays.
  • Barrier-free enclosures. Walk right in and — if that’s a flip-down or freestanding bench — sit right down. Aside from accessibility, curbless enclosures offer a seamless, space-enhancing look.
  • More elbow room. Bigger feels more luxurious and sensual — shower with a friend! — even if it also makes the shower harder to heat. Half of all renovating homeowners (50%) increase their shower size, the Houzz survey says.

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Custom Shower Pan Surface Materials

If you opt for a tile-ready pan or a completely custom pan, it needs to be finished. This is done with tile measuring 2 inches or less. This is important because the tiles must slope to the drain. Tiles larger than 2 inches may crack rather than slope. Any floor-rated ceramic, porcelain, or glass tile can be used on a shower pan, and many types of stone can be used as well.

Custom Pan Surface MaterialAverage Cost per Sq.Ft.

Custom Pan Surface MaterialAverage Cost per Sq.Ft. (Surface Material Only)
Tile$20 – $50
Stone$20 – $100

Tile Shower Pan

Tile pans can be created to match or coordinate with the tile walls or make a statement independently. Tiles used for pans typically cost between $20 and $50 a square foot on average. Many tiles come in sizes small enough for a tile pan, and tiles, such as glass, can be used to create a fun pop of color or sparkle in this area. Because mosaics are more expensive than larger tiles, the tiles you choose for this area cost more than the tiles used elsewhere.

Stone Shower Pan

Stone for a shower pan costs between $20 and $100 a square foot. There are many ways to create it. A popular method is to use pebbles or rounded beach stones, which massage your feet while you shower. You can also use a textured stone underfoot like slate or marble or granite that matches your walls. Avoid using soft stones like limestone on the shower floor because these may pit. Also, avoid green marbles because these may spall or become scaly over time. Any stone in this area should be sealed to impede staining.

Shower Remodel Cost

Remodeling an existing shower in your home can take on many variations. It is possible to leave your existing surround but change the trim and showerhead and install a new door. You can also replace an existing prefab shower with a new one, remove tile and trim, leave the plumbing and walls the same, and install new tiles and trims.

You can also tear it down to the studs and start over completely, installing new framing, backerboard, plumbing, and surround.

Each of these scenarios has a cost. At the lowest end, you can do a minor remodel for around $1,000, or you can do a completely new shower remodel for as high as $10,000. Most people find their shower remodel is in the middle, with typical remodeling costs of $4,000 to $5,000 on average.

How to Save Money on Shower Remodel Cost

If you’re looking at the cost of remodeling your shower and hesitating a bit, you’re not alone. The potential for the budget to increase without warning is a concern for many remodelers. There are several ways to keep costs under control without sacrificing a clean, new look.

  • Keep the walls in place and the size and layout the same. Keeping plumbing and electrical as-is will significantly reduce the total cost (and the potential for surprises).
  • If the drywall behind the existing shower is relatively new or in excellent condition, see if it can be saved. Individual sections that have failed or been damaged can often be replaced with new pieces without tearing out the whole wall.
  • If your tub is in satisfactory condition, consider reinstalling it with the new tile and shower fixtures or having it reglazed to match.
  • Consider a prefab unit. These are less expensive across the board and have come a long way from the shiny, plastic-looking models of the past. Many have a much more luxurious appearance than expected, and they offer significant cost savings.

Cost to Tile a Custom Shower

Instead of an acrylic or fiberglass surround, custom showers are usually tiled. In terms of labor costs, you can look to spend $10 to $20 per square foot.

Here’s how much the materials cost:

Ceramic

Ceramic tiles come in many colors and shapes and can be used for the walls, floor and ceiling of a shower. Price varies based on quality, so you might pay anywhere from $1 to $100 per square foot of ceramic tile.

Porcelain

Porcelain tiles are usually larger than ceramic tiles and cost $3 to $8 per square foot. For even larger tiles, you can opt for porcelain slabs at $8 to $30 per square foot. Slabs cannot be used on a shower floor.

Stone

Granite, marble and slate are the most popular stone tiles used in showers. Tiles cost between $5 and $100 per square foot. Similar to porcelain, you can also tile your shower with larger stone slabs. However, all that added weight means you’ll probably have to reinforce your shower walls. It costs up to $400 to put stone slabs in a standard shower.

Keep in mind any stone used in the shower has to be resealed often.

Glass

Glass tiles are easy to care for and come in a variety of colors. For a unique look, glass tiles can also be arranged into mosaics. These tiles cost $20 to $50 per square foot for materials, but installation costs are also higher than average.

Shower Fixture Costs

Adding new fixtures can make an old shower look new again at a fraction of the expense.

Shower fixtures typically come in chrome, bronze, nickel, or brass finishes for around $100 – $200 for the on and off knobs and showerheads. Fixtures for a shower/tub combo are usually double that at $200 – $400 for the set. Installation can often be completed in about an hour to an hour and a half if you should be able to use the old water lines and drainpipes.

Showerheads

The homeowner or a handyperson can usually replace showerheads without hiring a plumber. Most showerheads can get twisted off, as there are usually screw threads holding it in place. It will require thread seal tape, a polytetrafluoroethylene tape placed over the threads before screwing on the new shower head to keep water from leaking.

If you do hire a plumber to replace a showerhead, it should not take more than one hour, unless the old showerhead got welded together by rust. You should not pay more than $100 – $150, and then only because they usually have a minimum service call price.

Multiple Head – Full-Body Showers

These used to be so expensive, only the very wealthy could afford one. Now with PEX pipes and other innovations, the price is reasonable. A basic unit will cost $300 – $500, but those with colored lights and aromatherapy can cost as much as $3,000.

Walk-in shower cost

A walk-in shower costs $1,000 to $8,000 for a prefab stall with installation or $3,500 to $15,000 for a custom tile shower. Converting a tub to a walk-in shower costs $2,000 to $12,000 on average. Walk-in shower prices depend on the shower size, material, and plumbing work required.

Walk-in shower cost - chart
Walk-in shower cost – chart

Walk-in shower cost
Parts / service Cost of labor and materials
Shower stall $1,000 – $8,000
Custom shower $3,500 – $15,000
Shower door $400 – $1,900
New faucet $250 – $800
Plumbing $850 – $1,200

Custom walk-in tile shower and glass shower door
Custom walk-in tile shower and glass shower door

Cost to install tile stand-up shower

Retiling a shower costs $7 to $25 per square foot or $800 to $3,000 on average. Tile shower installation costs depend on the shower size, tile type, and tile layout or design. Ceramic tile is the most budget-friendly and costs $1 to $8 per square foot for materials alone.

Stone or concrete walk-in shower cost

A cultured marble or stone walk-in shower costs $2,000 to $7,500 installed. Cultured marble shower panels feature crushed stone particles blended in resin to replicate the look of marble slabs. Retiling a shower with marble or natural stone tile costs $11 to $54 per square foot total.

Marble walk-in shower with dual shower heads
Marble walk-in shower with dual shower heads

A concrete shower costs $1,200 to $2,400 for a 3’x3′ stall. However, concrete is slippery, porous, and prone to staining. Corian or solid surface panels are a better option for showers and come in concrete lookalike styles.

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Picking Materials and Accessories

An important part of installing a walk-in shower is picking out the tiles and additions for your shower.

It can cost from $1,800 to $6,850 to install new tile for a shower. On the other hand, replacing the wall and floor tiles can cost $1,000 to $3,000.

These prices vary depending on the tile or material you choose. Lower-cost options like ceramic usually start at $7 per square foot, while more expensive options like glass and stone cost $25 and $14 per square foot respectively.

There’s also the costs of accessories for your walk-in shower. Many people invest in these easily-accessible showers for eldery folks or people with a physical handicap.

While most showers come with grab bars, you may want to install additional ones. That can add $100-$200 per bar. Along with those, a bench could cost anywhere from $300 to $500. There’s also the costs of new showerheads and faucets, which can add $70 to almost $2,000 depending on what options you need.

Factors Influencing the Cost of Your Walk in Shower Project

To understand what factors influence the cost of a new walk-in shower, it is important to be clear on what are the features that set this kind of shower aside from other models.

Walk-in showers are stand-alone showers that are free of enclosures such as curtains or doors, and have no physical threshold or curb. The area around the shower head is called a surround, and can be made of tiling work, half walls, or glass panels. However, most walk-in showers often remain partially open on one side, so that you can walk into it.

These unique features make walk-in showers particularly attractive – but also more expensive. Here’s what causes the cost of a walk-in shower to fluctuate.

Panels and Surround Materials

Unlike standard showers, most walk-in showers don’t have an enclosure that separates the shower area to the rest of the bathroom. However, the part of the shower containing the shower head can be partially enclosed by half walls or glass panes. This area is called surround.

Depending on the materials you choose for this part of the shower, you can see the price of your shower remodel project increase or drop. Here are estimations of the most common surround materials:

  • Ceramic tiles – ceramic tiles can cost anywhere between $1.25 to $50 per square foot, but they can last longer than 50 years and allow for high customizability.
  • Fiberglass – fiberglass panels can cost between $300 and $600. While they are not as long-lasting as acrylic, they are more affordable.
  • Acrylic – acrylic surround can cost up to $1000. This material is far longer-lasting than fiberglass and easier to maintain.
  • Cultured marble – cultured marble can cost between $700 and $2,000. This is a great material choice for luxury walk-in showers!

Other common materials include stone, porcelain, and glass tiles. And, to the surround’s cost, you will need to add the price of custom glass panels.

Photo by Vecislavas Popa from Pexels
Photo by Vecislavas Popa from Pexels

Prefabricated Showers vs Custom Designs

Prefabricated walk-in showers are an affordable alternative to installing a custom-made shower. Ranging in price between $1000 and $3000, prefabricated walk-in showers offer a compromise for homeowners who want the luxury of a walk-in shower without the price tag.

However, because of the features of a walk-in shower, this is not always a viable option. And, most homeowners often prefer to opt for a custom-made shower design because of its unique aesthetic appeal. Nonetheless, tailor-made walk-in showers require the help of expert designers and installation professionals, which can increase the project’s cost. Make sure to get a quote before diving into your bathroom reno!

Size, Shape, and Style

The shape, layout, and style of your walk-in shower can influence how much you will spend. Of course, the bigger your shower is, the more you will need to spend. However, custom design elements – such as curved edges or a particular tile pattern – can increase the shower’s cost because they require more expertise and time.

Number of Fixtures and Features

One of the main benefits of custom-made walk-in showers is that you can add as many elements and features as you wish. For example, you can add custom-made benches, shelves, and alcoves. Other appealing accessories include multiple shower heads and lights.

However, each of these features will make the cost go up! Getting a custom quote before you begin your project can help you know exactly what to expect.

Plumbing Alterations

When adding a brand new shower or altering the plumbing to relocate a shower, a plumber will need to do a rough-in for the project. Installing or relocating plumbing will vary in cost depending on the conditions of the project.

In most cases, water lines and the drain can be installed for under $1,500, but that cost could rise if the conditions are not favorable. When plumbing needs to be relocated a permit and inspection might be required. Plan on spending $20 to $200 for one if your locality requires it.

Do I Need a Shower Remodel?

Why remodel the shower? You could certainly choose to regrout and recaulk your existing shower, reglaze, or possibly even paint what you have to refresh it. But there are some excellent reasons to go the step further and remodel.

Increase Home Value

When you were shopping for your home, what did you look for? An old bathroom with patched-over age markers will drag down the value of any home, as most buyers see a bathroom that needs complete rehab as a potential money pit. Bathroom remodels have some of the highest returns on investment in the real estate market because a fresh, new bathroom can make buyers feel like a higher price is worthwhile—even if the remodel was completed economically.

Installing a shower?Leave it to the pros. Compare multiple quotes from licensed contractors in your local area today. Compare quotes ++

Safety

Slippery tiles, cracked grout, and out-of-date fixtures are all safety hazards, and you’re dealing with them daily in a space that also includes electrical features. If it’s been a while since the shower was updated, there may be valid safety concerns that can be addressed with a remodel.

Efficiency and Sustainability

New showers include fixtures that save water without reducing the pressure, so you can feel good about the environmental impact of your shower without losing the personal impact of a strong, hot shower. Older bathroom materials may consist of elements that aren’t as environmentally friendly, and older pipes may have chemicals leaching into the water. While a shower remodel will add some materials to a landfill (less if you recycle some of the debris), the sustainable materials and water-saving devices in the new one will protect the environment for years to come.

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Aging in Place

A high tub wall may be too much for older people or those with knee, hip, or balance concerns to overcome. Something that seems so minor can be an obstacle that prevents people from remaining in their homes as they age. Low- or zero-entry tubs and showers make it easier and safer to access the shower. Slip-resistant coatings or flooring choices make falls less likely. Modern safety grab bars, especially those installed as part of a remodel instead of added on later, can be aesthetically pleasing as well as sturdy. In some communities, this will absolutely add value to the home. In other cases, if the remodel allows a family member to stay comfortably in their own home instead of being uprooted, it’s worthwhile whether it adds value or not.

Photo: istockphoto.com

How Much Do Showerheads Cost?

Installing a rainfall or tile showerhead in the ceiling may add $600 to your project, plus the cost of the shower head. Body jets shoot water from the walls at all angles, but adding a set to your new shower may cost up to $1,000.

Fixed and handheld showerheads range in price from $25 for basic models to $500 for expensive finishes.

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Frequently asked questions

What is the cheapest way to install a shower?

The cheapest shower is installing a fiberglass prefab shower stall with a built-in shower pan. Budget-friendly fiberglass shower stall kits cost $400 to $700. Using a shower curtain instead of a glass shower door also reduces costs.

What are standard walk-in shower sizes?

Standard walk-in shower sizes are:

  • 34″ x 34″ or 36″ x 36″ for small showers
  • 48″ x 36″ or 48″ x 48″ for mid-sized showers
  • 60″ x 36″ or more for large showers
  • 60″ x 30″ or 60″ x 32″ when replacing a standard alcove tub with a shower

A walk-in shower must be at least 30″ x 30″ to meet minimum code requirements. Guidelines from the ADA and the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommend a minimum of 36″ x 36″ for improved accessibility and comfort.

What is a walk-in shower?

A walk-in shower is a standalone shower without a tub. Some walk-in showers are enclosed by a partial wall or a fixed glass shower screen and don’t require a door or curtain. Walk-in showers can be built in any shape and typically have a low threshold or curbless entry.

Is it more expensive to install a shower or bathtub?

Installing a tub is cheaper than installing a shower. Bathtub installation costs $800 to $4,600, whereas shower installation costs $2,000 to $9,000 on average.

How much does it cost to install a shower liner?

Installing a shower liner costs $1,000 to $2,600 for a basic acrylic liner or $4,000 to $7,000 for a custom liner with built-in soap dishes, shampoo shelves, and grab-bars. A shower liner is a solid vacuum-formed piece designed to precisely mold to the contours of the existing shower.

Will Medicare help pay for a walk-in shower?

Medicare will not pay for a walk-in shower. Medicare doesn’t cover walk-in showers because they are not considered “durable medical equipment” since anyone in the home can use them. Medicare Advantage plans may reimburse part of the cost when prescribed by a doctor, but coverage varies.

Other financial assistance options for seniors:

Can I install a shower myself?

Installing a new shower is a complex project that requires plumbing experience and specialized tools. Replacing an existing shower with a prefab stall may be manageable as a DIY project, but new shower installation needs a professional. Incorrect installation may result in water leaks and damage.

Still have questions? Ask a shower installer. View Pros

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The bottom line on shower remodeling costs

Shower upgrades are what make a bathroom remodel major — coinciding with a threefold increase in the overall renovation cost of $15,000 compared to $5,000 for a minor remodel, according to the Houzz survey. Angi says shower upgrades constitute 5 to 25 percent of a total bath renovation’s costs.

Of course, state-of-the-art bathrooms have a big wow factor, ranking among the top five projects that appeal to buyers, according to a 2019 remodeling-impact report by the National Association of Realtors. The NAR says new baths also are likely to add value to the home for resale. But don’t count on getting all your money back: According to Remodeling magazine, the rate of return on bath remodels in general is only about 56 to 62 percent (interestingly, the more expensive the remodel, the lower the return).

Still, there’s nothing like showering in a spacious, well-lighted place, ideally one tailored to your tastes and style. Hello, stone-lined, spiffy, sliding-door spa shower. Where have you been all my life?

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