Some Outdoor Shower Considerations

Be careful that you don’t leave gaps that are too big; you could trip over them and even drop your soap through. 

I saw a really great idea at a lakeside shower. It had a built-in box, filled with pebbles that not only looked good, but had a massage effect on the bottom of the feet. The water filtered down through the rocks and back to the earth below. 

This simple solution places the water you use back into the water table naturally, while providing you with a therapeutic surface that stays free of mud. You won’t lose your soap either! 

Let’s talk about things to consider when choosing your tiny home shower type …

1. Privacy Concerns with Outdoor Showers

Where will your tiny home shower be in relation to other people? Just because you are off-grid doesn’t necessarily mean that you are miles from other people. 

If you like your privacy, you’ll want to build a secure building to enclose your outdoor shower. Essentially this can be an open-air shower with a roof over it, and walls like a bathroom stall. 

Again, you could get very elaborate and use cement blocks to create a shower house. You might want to make a shower/greenhouse combination that waters your plants as you shower. 

A shower can even be rigged as part of a hydroponics system that grows food and feeds fish – that’s if you’d like to get deep into the benefits of hydroponics. 

2. Drainage choices

Whether indoors or outdoors, how will your tiny home shower drain and where will it drain to?

An indoor, fully plumbed shower can be run outside to a French drain or into a small make-shift septic system. 

You can create a drain field with hoses and rocks that work much like those in septic tanks.  

Will this be legal in your area? Check to make sure that the location of your tiny home isn’t in an area where code enforcement strictly forbids draining gray water to the ground. 

You could face fines if you break local code and regulations. Be well-informed and do your research before beginning your project. 

What type of soil do you have – and will it drain well naturally – or will you need to build a platform for your outdoor shower? 

3. Permanent or Seasonal?

If you’re going to build a permanent tiny home in a place that has 4 seasons, you might not be able to use an outdoor shower year-round. 

What’s the work-around for this? Would you be better off building indoors, or should you add a small enclosed shower-house on the property that you can easily walk to and heat with a small wood stove in winter? 

Could the wood stove also act as your hot water heater? My brain loves that solution. 

Is it just as easy to build an indoor shower and be done with it? Which makes the most sense to you? 

If you’re living in a 12-foot wide and 20-foot long cabin, you may find it hard to make room inside for a shower. 

On the other hand, it may be more trouble to create an outdoor area that you can’t use in the winter. 

4. Running Water or Carried Water

Will you have water lines run to your shower or will you carry buckets of water to your shower? Both are viable options depending on your needs and your location. 

Using water from a bucket will definitely force you to conserve your water and learn to get wet, lather all over, then rinse. 

When running water is plumbed, it’s very easy to simply leave the water on, and this creates waste. Do you have plenty of water or do you absolutely need to conserve every drop? 

One potential solution that I saw in a tiny house on wheels was that the lady used a garden hose sprayer as her shower head.

It forced her to let go, which cut the water off throughout her showers. 

I don’t know about you, but I love simple solutions that produce good results. The hose nozzle in the shower was a huge knowledge bomb for me.

5. Will you be in the same location in a year?

Even those living in THOWs can build an outdoor shower just because showering outdoors is really fun. 

If you’ve never showered outdoors, let me say that it’s very liberating to feel the sunshine on your face and shoulders as you enjoy a shower, possibly with harvested rainwater. 

That said, it is a lot of work to build an outdoor shower.

You could create a temporary solution with a tarp that becomes a shower enclosure instead. 

Try using a small pallet with a rubber mat over it for standing on.

This will protect your feet while letting water drain so you aren’t standing in mud after a few minutes.

6. An outdoor shower allows you to get really creative

From a personal standpoint, building an outdoor shower will allow you to save space inside and save a lot of plumbing work. 

I’ve seen extravagant outdoor showers and some very simple applications. What sort of person are you? Do you really enjoy your showers or do you view it as a task to be done quickly? 

You don’t have to worry about installing drains for outdoor showers.

Water will drain away naturally, but you’ll want to provide for an elevated place to stand to avoid muddy feet. 

Teak wood handles exposure to water and the weather very nicely.

Consider using teak wood to make yourself a nice platform that you can use and move whenever you desire. 

7. Will you re-use your shower water?

Will you use holding tanks for your gray water (water that drains from your shower)?

My solution – and what many people off-grid do – has been to run a line for gray water out to gardens. 

Make sure you use biodegradable soaps and shampoos that have no harmful chemicals.

You can use your water twice; it really helps to conserve water in this way.

Sink water can also be used in the same fashion. 

Each time you use water to bathe or wash dishes, you water your garden at the same time. 

8. What Type of Home Are You Building?

A tiny home on wheels (THOW) will likely be plugged into the grid and have water connections available at least part of the time. 

Campgrounds will offer these hook-ups and some THOW owners are able to set up camp on a permanent lot that allows them to either hook to the resources there, or use shower facilities in a campground. 

If you are going to be living in campgrounds, you may never use your shower. I lived in a 27 foot Class C motorhome for 3 years, traveling around the country. 

My shower served as a closet. It may be a better use of space for you to rely on the public bathrooms where you are parked permanently. 

On the other hand …

9. If you are building a permanent off-grid paradise of your own, without wheels, you’ll need a way to bathe

Thousands of options are available for small sinks and custom sized shower surrounds.

You can also customize your own shower with a little work. 

If you choose to create an indoor shower, you’ll want to keep it small, yet big enough to be functional. 

I strongly suggest that you use some chalk and draw the dimensions on the floor and practice stepping in and out of the imaginary shower. 

Do you feel cramped? If you do, it will only feel more so when the walls are in place. 

10. How will you get your water to ‘run’ indoors?

Many off-grid tiny homes don’t have running water.

If you collect water or have it delivered to a water tank, you can gravity feed your water into the house by elevating your tank. 

On the other hand…

You can also use a 12-volt water pump that is made for RV and camper applications.

It will run from a 12-volt battery or from your solar power system. 

This will pump the water each time you turn on the faucet in your home.

It’s a very simple solution to having running water in your tiny home shower. 

Video

Our Verdict

The Gotonovo outdoor shower offers multiple options yet remains affordable. The Homewerks is a little rough around the edges, but it’s still a great value. For those who don’t mind a cool shower, the Poolmaster is an interesting and very portable alternative.

7. Wood Shower Enclosure Ideas

A garden shower next to a house should have good drainage. Here‘s a tutorial on how to build a wood platform for a garden shower.

28. One panel Outdoor Showers

These great looking open air outdoor shower struct

These great looking open air outdoor shower structures are made from just one panel of corrugated galvanized metal or horizontal wood slats.

Plumbing for Outdoor Showers

Hook up an outdoor shower much like you would an indoor one. If you want both cold and hot running water, This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey recommends adding a pressure-balance valve to prevent scalding.

“And for those who live in four-season climates, by far the biggest concern is having the ability to drain pipes when the temperature drops,” cautions Richard. Water trapped inside can freeze and crack the pipes.

Shutoff valves should be located in the house with pipes traveling on a downward slope. An exposed riser and a shower head that both unscrew ensure that every drop is eliminated.

Drainage is also an issue when the shower is in use. Local building codes vary about the disposal of gray water. But for the most part, outdoor showers simply drain into the ground. A drywell consisting of an earthen pit lined with landscape fabric and filled with gravel can be placed underneath the shower floor to help disperse the flow. More complicated, but required in some locales, is routing wastewater into the sewer system.

Outdoor shower plans

Building the frame

The first step of the outdoor project is to build the frame of the floor. As you can see in the plans, we recommend you to assemble the frame by using 2×6 lumber. Cut the components at the right size and lock them together with galvanized screws.

Drill pilot holes through the perimeter joists before inserting the screws, to prevent the wood from splitting. Check if the corners are right-angled and make sure the joists are horizontal.

Attaching the posts

Attach the 4×4 posts to the exterior of the frame, by using the information from the free plans. Drill pilot holes at the bottom of the posts and insert lag bolts into the frame, after plumbing them with a spirit level.

It is essential to cut the posts at the right size and to attach them tightly to the frame. Work with attention and plumb the posts before attaching them into place, if you want to get a professional result.

Attaching the flooring

Attach the 2×6 slats to the floor frame and lock them to the joists with 2 1/2″ galvanized screws. Drill pilot holes through the slats before inserting the screws, making sure you also countersink them.

Top Tip: Place a piece of wood between the slats, in order to get consistent gaps. Fit the 2×4 supports between the top of the posts, in order to reinforce the structure of the outdoor shower.

Attaching the side walls

Continue the woodworking project by attaching the side panels between the posts. Don’t forget that you should adjust the size of the slats before locking them to the cleats. Drill pocket holes at both ends of the cleats before locking them to the posts.

Top Tip: Add waterproof glue to the joints before inserting the galvanized screws, if you want to get the job done in a professional manner.

Fitting the rafters

Attach the 2×4 rafters to the supports, making sure you place them equally spaced. Drill pilot holes and insert the screws into the supports. Make sure the rafters overhang both on the front and the back of the shower.

Installing the door

Build the doors for the outdoor shower by using the information described in the plans. Attach the slats over the cleats and make sure the corners are right-angled. Fit the door inside the opening and lock it to the posts with metal hinges.

Top Tip: Check if the door opens properly and install a proper latch. Afterwards, you need to move the shower to the definitive location and take care of the finishing touches.

Outdoor Shower Plans

Fill the holes with putty and let it dry out for several days. Smooth the wooden surfaces with 120-grit sandpaper and clean the residues with a dry cloth. Cover the roof structure with a piece of waterproof fabric and lock it to the rafters with staples.

Top Tip: Apply several coats of paint over the wooden components, in order to protect them from water damage. Make the plumbing connections and enjoy your new backyard construction.

This woodworking project was about outdoor shower plans. If you want to see more outdoor plans, we recommend you to check out the rest of our step by step projects.  LIKE us on Facebook to be the first that gets our latest updates and submit pictures with your DIY projects.

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