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If you have been working or exercising outdoors, and in particular, your yard, then one of your next priorities is likely to be to take a shower. For most people that will involve heading indoors, but there is a fantastic alternative, and that is to have an outdoor shower. Learn how to build an outdoor shower.
With an outdoor shower there are several advantages, not least being the fact that you are not taking dirt, grime, or sweat with you indoors to mess up your home. Another advantage of outdoor showers is that all the mud and dirt that you shower off stays outdoors and therefore your indoor shower does not require as much cleaning.
If you’ve got kids, who might otherwise run in the opposite direction when you tell them it is shower time, they will love the novelty and fun of showering outdoors, and therefore another benefit is realized as you are not having a nightly battle to get them to wash.
Building an outdoor shower is not a small project but it is also not one that necessarily requires you to call in a team of contractors as there are lots of relatively simple ways it can be created. Some basic DIY and plumbing skills are needed, but these can be mastered by anyone who takes the time to follow the steps one by one. So, if you want to build an outdoor shower, read on.
Types of Outdoor Showers
Obviously planning your outdoor shower is a crucial part of the process, not least in choosing what type of outdoor shower you are going to install. Now it would be impossible for this article to give detailed guidance on every possible type, so we will limit it to just one, however, here are some possibilities you could consider.
At the very simplest level, you could use a portable outdoor shower which is powered by batteries. These can be quickly set up in your garden or backyard anytime they need to be used, and thus you do not really have any installation to undertake. If this appeals to you rather than a more permanent option then take a look at Ivation Portable Outdoor Shower which has thousands of positive reviews.
For something which is at the opposite end of the spectrum you could for a wood-lined shower house with decking, benches, towel rails and even soap dishes. An alternative to this would be a shower where concrete and stone are the main materials rather than wood.
While these kinds of outdoor shower could be something you might undertake on your own, unless you are a tradesman, it is more likely you would pay contractors to install this type of outdoor shower for you.
Before You Start
Before you even buy materials for your shower you should check what your local regulations and codes are for this kind of installation. In particular, you will want to check plumbing codes and also the regulations as they apply to the drainage of water. Some local codes require this water to drain via storm drains, and others allow for it to drain through gravel beds and into the ground, so you definitely need to know what the rules are where you live.
You also want to take time to establish in advance which safety precautions you are going to have to take. This can cover a broad number of points such as isolating power, personal safety equipment such as gloves, and also ensuring that any small children do not have access to the construction area while the project is in progress.
An Outdoor Shower You Can Build
Between the portable option and the more complex showers, there are outdoor shower projects which almost anyone can build, and we are going to explain one of them to you. It does require a reasonable level of DIY skills including carpentry and plumbing, but even for keen amateurs, it is doable.
This is not a 10-minute project so you should allow sufficient time, which for this outdoor shower will be about 5 or 6 days. As a rule of thumb, it is always easier to undertake this type of project in the spring and summer months rather than fall or winter. The simple reason for that is that this is an outdoor project and they are always easier when the sun is shining versus when the wind and rain are battering you.
Tools and Materials Required
Let’s start with a list of the tools and materials you are going to need:
- 8 x bags of quick-setting concrete
- 10 x bags of 0.8 cubic ft. 7/8″ drainage rock
- 18 x red cedar fence boards (5/8″ x 5 1/2″ x 6 ft.)
- 4 x 8 ft. four-by-fours
- 8 x 8 ft. pressure-treated two-by-fours
- 4 x 2″ x 4″ double shear face mount joist hangers
- 1″ and 2″ construction screws
- 2 x push-fit 1/2″ x 1/2″ x 1/2″ plumbing tees
- 2 x 8 ft. 1/2″ PEX pipe
- Showerhead assembly
- Single handle shower faucet
- Silicone-based caulk
- Circular saw
- Cordless drill, drill bits and driver bits
- Speed square
- Tape measure
- Stud finder
- Bubble level
- Jab saw
- Post hole digger
- Step ladder
The step ladder should be a six-foot one and as this needs to be as safe as possible, so we recommend you only use one which has been tried and tested. That applies to the Flip-N-Lite 6-foot Stepladder with Platform that has a remarkable 97% 5-star review rating from thousands of users.
Instructions for Building Your Outdoor Shower
While a ‘cold water only’ shower might appeal to some, you really want to have both hot and cold water available for your outdoor shower. For this reason, you should seek to locate your shower in a location that is close as possible to where there are supply lines of both hot and cold water.
Locate Hot and Cold Water Supply Lines
You next want to locate the cold and hot water supply lines that are at the closest point to the exterior of your house and switch both those supply lines off. The shut-off point may be in your basement or attic. If these cannot be found, you may have to shut off the main water supply valve for your house.
Expose the Water Supply Lines
Using a stud finder locate the studs and mark their location. Cut out a section of drywall using the manual jab saw so that the supply lines are exposed and that you have a hole big enough for access for the shower’s water supply pipes.
Connect Into the Water Supply
Double-check that your main water supply is shut off. Cut through both the cold and the hot water supply pipes and fit one of the plumbing tees to each one. Push 1/2-inch PEX pipes into each end of the plumbing tee and then roll them out until they reach where the shower assembly will be located.
Connect PEX Pipes to Shower Faucet and Showerhead
Secure the shower faucet assembly to the wall of the house. Next, connect two PEX pipes to the shower handles assembly. Secure the showerhead assembly to the wall and then connect the third PEX pipe to it. Seal around the faucet using the silicone caulk.
Position the Shower Cubicle Posts
For a 4ft. x 4ft. cubicle dig the post holes at the corner points 4 ft apart. Each hole should be 3ft. deep. Pour in about 6 inches of gravel to each hole. Position each post individually and check it is straight using the bubble level. With the posts straight, fill each post hole with 2 bags of quick setting concrete and then fill the hole to the top with water.
Drainage Area Creation
Dig a square 3 ft. x 3 ft. x 1 ft. at the center of the area bordered by the 4 posts. Fill this with gravel to create your drainage area. 8 bags should normally be enough for this. Note this assumes you live in an area where ground drainage is allowed. If it is not, you will need to drain via a storm drain or similar using drainage pipes.
Creating the Shower Floor
From the two by fours cut two lengths of 44.5 inches. Cut 5 of the 8 ft. long two by fours in half so that you now have 10 boards which are each 4 ft. in length. Place these 10 boards across the two other lengths leaving a space of about 1/8″ between them. Secure then at each end using screws and then place the shower floor over the gravel area.
Creating The Cubicle Walls
Cut four lengths of board from the two by fours to lengths of 44.5 inches each. Using screws attach a joist hanger to the inside of each corner post. Have two joist hangers at a height of 56 inches and the other two at a height of 24 inches. Secure the four boards onto the joist hangers using screws.
Finishing Off the Cubicle
To finish off the cubicle you should secure red cedar boards to the outside using screws at the top and bottom. Start at the house wall side and continue towards the front. Space them 1/8″ apart and when you are fixing the last one it should extend 2 inches past the four by four.