Make no mistake—remodeling your bathroom is one of the best investments you can make as a homeowner.
There are many good reasons to renovate a bathroom. It adds storage space, improves energy efficiency, adds more functionality, and fixes any existing problems.
More importantly, it adds to the resale value of your home.
One thing that can significantly impact your home’s resale value is having to choose between a shower and a bathtub.
It’s a tough decision to make. To let you decide, let’s go over their respective pros and cons.
Advantages of installing a shower
Thinking of installing a shower? Here are several good reasons why you should go through with it.
Showers require less space
Showers take up less space, at least if you’re going with a standard-sized shower stall, which measures nine square feet. A standard tub, on the other hand, takes up around 13 square feet. Big difference there!
You guessed it: you’re better off installing a shower if your bathroom is small—especially if you want to make more room for other bathroom fixtures. You can even have some wiggle room for a walk-in shower or a double vanity if you like.
Showers use less water
Are you always worried about your water bill? Then you might want to go with a shower instead. Think about it: did you know that using a standard-sized tub consumes between 25 to 40 gallons of water? If you think that’s a lot, wait till you use a whirlpool tub, which consumes between 80 to 100 gallons.
You don’t have to worry over losing that amount of water if you’re using a shower. According to Home Water Works, the average American consumes 17.2 gallons when using the shower for 8.2 minutes (the average shower length). Now go over the figures again and convert them to monthly (or yearly). Done? As you can already tell, the difference is staggering.
Showers are easier to access
Entering a shower is an effortless thing. You just open the door (or curtain), adjust the heat regulator, pull on the nozzle, and you’re off to the races. Showers can also come in with grab bars, non-slip tiles, and benches, making them more user-friendly.
Stepping into a bathtub, on the other hand, requires more physical work. You have to climb in to use and climb out when you’re done. Entering a tub can also be dangerous for the elderly. According to a study published by the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, a third of the elderly struggle getting in and out of the bath.
Showers offer many features
Showers offer many features that make bathing more user-friendly, practical, and luxurious. Steam options, custom wallpapers, benches, rain showers. Heck, even small tables. The point is this: with the right additions, your shower can offer so much more than a bathtub.
Advantages of installing a bathtub
On the other side of the argument, here are the advantages of installing a bathtub instead of a shower.
Bathtubs are cheaper to install
If you’re on a tight budget, you’re probably better off installing a bathtub. While prices vary, a regular bathtub can cost between $500 and $8000, while a shower can cost you between $600 and $12,000. Of course, materials and design factor into the equation. For example, a walk-in shower will typically cost you $6,000 to $7,000, including labor and materials. It can reach up to $10,000 if you want one that is custom-tiled. To customize your tiles, you may want to hire a professional shower tile repair contractor near you.
Bathtubs have more resale value
Bathtubs add that “special sauce” that appeals to a wide range of homebuyers. While there’s increasing interest in big, feature-heavy, walk-in showers, many buyers are still likely to want a bathtub.
That’s not to say that bathrooms without tubs are difficult to sell. Homes with smaller bathrooms, for starters, go better with showers.
But overall? Potential homeowners are likely to ask, “But is there a bathtub?” and we have to get used to it.
Bathtubs are safer for small children
Stephanie Mallios, a sales rep for Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, says that most parents want a traditional tub because it’s safer for children. Better yet, there are many ways for you to babyproof your tub. You can install a non-slip bath mat made of rubber, for starters. If you’re a parent, chances are you’re worried about that spout sticking out of the wall. Thankfully, you can put a cover on it to protect your little one in case she knocks her head against it. You can also prevent your baby from scalding accidents by installing anti-scald faucets.
Bathtubs have more health benefits
Bathtubs offer many health benefits. In fact, studies show that taking a hot bath has health benefits similar to exercise. Taking a hot bath can also boost your mood, help with cold and flu symptoms, and even give your immune system the boost it needs to fight off viruses.
To top it off, nothing beats the feeling of a relaxing bath after a long day. Throw in additives like Epsom salts, ginger, essential oils, and other additives and you get the perfect recipe for even more relaxing, soothing baths.
3/4 Bath vs Full Bath: What gives you more value?
We briefly discussed how significant bathtubs are for increasing a home’s resale value. Of course, the amount of features your bathtub has is a big part of that.
But before we proceed, let’s get something out of the way. When talking about bathtubs with home improvement companies and potential buyers, you may encounter the terms “¾ bath” and “full bath.” The confusing part is that people often mention any of these terms but are in truth referring to the other.
To avoid any confusion, let’s do a short breakdown of what each one is comprised of.
A full bathroom is comprised of four components: a bathtub, a toilet, a shower, and a sink. Without any of these key items, a room has no right to be called a full bathroom.
A ¾ bath, on the other hand, comes with three of the previously mentioned components. If your bathroom consists of a toilet, a tub, a sink, then you have a ¾ bath. If you take that same bathroom and replace the tub with a shower, then you still have a ¾ bath.
So which one provides more value?
Since a full bathroom is often bigger than a ¾ bath, many would think it’s the more expensive one. In reality? Not really. The value of a bathroom, regardless of whether it’s a full bath or a ¾ bath, depends on so many factors, most notably the preferences of potential buyers.
Most of the time, it comes down to whether a potential homebuyer prefers a bathtub or a shower.
How important is a bathtub for your home’s resale value?
To give you a better idea of how a bathtub can boost a home’s resale value, let’s take a deep dive into why most potential homeowners are always on the lookout for bathtubs when buying a new home.
A home’s resale value is mostly dependent on trends. Over the last few years, oversized walk-in showers were the rage, though many buyers still want to own a tub in their home. Most homeowners, particularly young families with children and homeowners with multiple bathrooms, still view tubs as a required fixture in the home.
So, should you install a bathtub for the sole purpose of boosting your home’s resale value?
Our answer is a resounding yes. However, you may want to reconsider if your bathroom is small or if you have small children.
Does replacing a bathtub with a shower decrease your home’s resale value?
Maybe you’re done with your bathtub and want to turn it into a shower instead. But you’re hesitating because you don’t want your home’s resale value to take a dive. After all, as discussed in the previous section, a bathtub adds more to a home’s value than a shower does.
However, it also begs this question: will you be staying in that home long enough to use the shower? If you’ll be staying in that home for many years, why deprive yourself of the conveniences a shower can bring you in all that time?
To find out if converting your tub into a shower is worth it, you may need to think of it in terms of what it will mean for your ROI (return on investment).
You may want to think twice about going through with it if you’re selling the home to parents of small children. Why? Because a bathroom without a bathtub is a deal-breaker for most of them. As already mentioned earlier, it’s safer to bathe children in a bathtub rather than in a shower.
In the end, the general rule of thumb is that it’s perfectly fine to replace a tub with a shower as long as there’s still one remaining tub in the house. Because in most cases, that one tub can spell the difference between a home that gets sold for a premium amount and one that does not. In fact, it’s a good idea to install a bathtub for the sole purpose of increasing the resale value of a home.
If there’s anything that proves without any shadow of a doubt that tubs are highly valued, it’s the survey data compiled by NAHB between 2007 and 2018, which states that 70% of millennials prefer whirlpool tubs, compared to Gen Xers with 62%, baby boomers with 47%, and seniors with 44%.
Always remember this: when you’re selling a home with a bathtub, you’re not just selling a bathtub, but you’re selling a lifestyle.
Steps to Converting a Tub to a Shower
So you’ve decided to convert your bathtub into a shower? Good on you! But before you do, make sure that you know the proper procedures. Converting a tub into a shower is not easy, and involves a wide range of mini-projects, including plumbing, insulation, demolition, and more. But if done well, the myriad of benefits you get more than makes up for time and effort spent on the project.
So, let’s get to it, shall we? Here are the steps to converting a bathtub into a shower.
1. Decide on the shower size
If you’re removing a standard-sized tub (60 inches long, 30-32 inches wide), you’re better off replacing it with a shower that’s roughly similar in size. This way, you don’t need to do any modifications to the wall and the shower pan. If you go with a smaller shower, you will have to carry out minor repairs to the walls and the floors. On the bright side, you’re getting more wiggle room in the bathroom as a result.
2. Get the necessary permits
To ensure that you’re not violating any local laws, check with your municipality if converting a tub into a shower in your home will require permits.
3. Shut off the water supply
Is your bathtub connected to a shut-off valve? Make sure you shut it off before pushing through with the project.
4. Remove or strip away the bathtub surround
Remove the tub surround from the tub with a pry bar and an oscillating multi-tool. If you’re having difficulties prying it off, give it a little nudge using the pry bar and a hammer. If the tub’s surround is made of plastic, it might be glued to a substrate material, in which case you need to strip it off.
5. Remove the tub
You may need to ask for assistance to do this. To remove the tub, you will need to unscrew the wall from the tub’s rim. Once it’s unscrewed, ask someone to help you lift one side of the tub and tip it over. Set it aside for the meantime.
6. Fix the studs, flooring, and joists
Once the tub is removed, you must repair the studs, flooring or joists that are exposed underneath.
7. Adjust the shower valves and the showerhead
At this point, the water outlet and tub controls are positioned to service the bathtub. You need to raise both to position them for shower use. Typically, the valves should be located approximately 47 inches above the floor, while the showerhead is right smack dab in the center, 78 inches from the floor.
8. Install the shower pan
Next, you must install the shower pan. But before you do, you must set up a mortar bed for the pan to stand on. Make sure the shower pan is attached securely by screwing its lip tight to the studs.
9. Install the surround panels
It bears noting that you need to install the large back panel first when working with surround panels. Once it’s set up, install the side without the shower controls before doing the same with the panel on the control side. Drill holes through the controls and showerhead and then attach the last surround panel by nailing studs and caulk along the seams.
10. Install the shower door
Next, install the door by following the directions provided by the manufacturer.
11. Install the showerhead and the controls
Check to make sure the rough-ins are aligned with the holes in the surround panel before installing the controls and the showerhead.
12. Test the shower
Turn the shut-off valve back on and test if the shower is working.
Steps to Converting a Shower into a Bathtub
Now, what if it’s the other way around? There’s a myriad of ways to convert a shower into a bathtub, and the type of conversion you want to do will depend on many factors. But to give you some idea about the scope involved, here’s a standard procedure you can follow as you deem fit:
1. Get the shower area’s dimensions
The first order of business is to measure the area. You have two approaches to choose from: either you demolish the shower area and install a bathtub as a replacement or you modify the shower area so it can be converted into a tub.
2. Check if the tub will fit
A standard tub measures 60 inches (length) x 30 inches (width) x 14 1/4” (height). Now, look at the shower area’s dimensions. Is the shower area big enough to accommodate a standard-sized bathtub? If not, you’ll need to carry out a demolition so that the tub can fit inside the area for installation. If you don’t want a full demolition, you can opt for a smaller tub.
3. Build a wall for the tub
To build the wall, cut a rectangular frame and place support boards every 10 inches along its length. Attach the frame in front of the shower and secure it by drilling long screws to the floor and adjacent walls.
3. Screw the concrete backer board into the wood frame
4. Tile the new bathtub wall
Install the first tile to the adhesive and put a spacer next to it before installing the next tile. Continue doing this until you get to the other end. Use a cutter if some of the tiles don’t fit.
5. Apply bullnose tile pieces on the top of the wall using the adhesive
6. Start grouting
You can use premixed grout or prepare dry mix grout. Word of caution: make sure that you wear safety gear to protect your eyes and skin from grout. For best results, the rubber float must be used at a 46-degree angle to ensure that the grout is spread across the tiles and into the gaps smoothly. Wipe away any excess grout by using a sponge.
7. Clean up
Clean the tile after the grout has hardened and then apply some water-soluble caulking along the part of the tile that meets the walls and the shower’s edge
8. Grout it up
Wait a week before applying grout sealer on the joints and the grout lines.
6 Cheap ways to remodel a Bath for resale before selling
So, are you going with a bathtub? Or is it a shower? Or a good combination of both? Whatever your decision is, it’s worth considering what other changes you can make to improve your home’s resale value. Owning a home, after all, is a good investment. And if you’re going to make any changes, you need to know what it entails for your home’s ROI.
So, without further ado, here are cheap bathroom upgrades that will bode well for your home’s resale value down the line.
1. Install a new showerhead
If your shower head is old and outdated fashion-wise, you’re not doing your bathroom any favors. Besides, there are many “upgrades” you can do with a showerhead that both homeowners and prospective homeowners alike will find appealing. For one, current shower technology allows showers to maximize water flow with minimal need for water. Some showerheads also have added massage action to help you get rid of those tension aches after a long day at work. When it comes to showerheads, there’s plenty for everyone, from multiple spray settings to embedded Bluetooth speakers, to anti-scald technology to water conservation
2. Reglaze your bathtub
Bathtubs may accumulate chips and cracks over time. If you’re going to sell your home, you better make sure that your tub looks good as new. You can pull this off with the help of a reglazing kit. However, it bears noting that reglazing is only for cosmetic purposes. If you want to fully restore your bathtub, call a professional plumbing contractor or a bathroom contractor (you’ll need a mobile home contractor if the bathroom is in a trailer or a camper).
3. Retile your bathtub
If the bathtub is too damaged for reglazing, you can do better than to restore it, you can also change the style by retiling everything. There are many styles to choose from, including glass, marble, and metal. Allow yourself to be creative by choosing patterns and designs that showcase your personality.
4. Install a concealed shower valve
A “concealed” shower is the way to go if you want your bathroom to have a streamlined look. Because let’s face it, exposed fittings and pipes aren’t nice to look at. Besides, they give your bathroom a more contemporary look, which will make it look more attractive to prospective homebuyers.
5. Convert your shower into a steam shower
Why go to a spa if you have a steam shower right in your own home? Having a steam shower isn’t only soothing and pleasant, but it also improves blood circulation, relieves muscle tension, and removes toxins from your body. Okay, fine, converting a shower into a steam shower isn’t exactly cheap, as it costs between $2,500 and $6,000, but the price people are willing to pay for that added feature will more than compensate for it.
6. Install shower body sprays
Who doesn’t like a good massage? Believe it or not, you can get a soothing massage by installing shower body sprays in your bathroom. All you need are separate mini-body sprays that can apply water pressure across your entire body. Who needs a masseuse when you have those? Better yet, it will only cost you $500!