A tub to shower conversion is a popular DIY project these days. It could be you’re thinking about retiring in place and making that place retirement friendly is a clever idea. It might be that you have a tub that never gets used where a shower makes better sense.
There are two basic ways to do a tub to shower conversion. You can choose modular systems designed to work with your existing fixtures, or traditional tile and grout tub to shower conversion.
Depending on the path you choose the typical costs come in between $1,000.00 and $7,000.00. Of course, with any project the sky’s the limit with money. And, like any home improvement project, the final cost isn’t in what you see, it’s what you don’t see.
The Reality Of Any Tub To Shower Conversion
Any time you gut and replace bathrooms you’re rolling the dice about what’s lying under tile, tub, and drywall.
First, the condition of the existing plumbing and subflooring needs to be suitable for new installation. That means no rot, no leaks, and clear drains. Second, ventilation and the general layout of the existing tub location need to be considered. Vapor, moisture, and ventilation are important factors in tub to shower conversions.
Specifically, a shower makes lots of mist and steam, AKA moisture. Moisture in any home creates trouble if it isn’t handled correctly. Case in point, moisture behind walls makes mold. Moisture in subfloors makes wood rot.
The bottom line is this, tub to shower conversions can be simple, but they are also a chance to fix things needing to be fixed.
Modular Tub To Shower Conversion Systems
These systems are made of fiberglass and installed with little modification to existing plumbing. That can be a real money and time saver.
Now, the thing to look for with modular systems is barrier to entry into the stall. Not all modular systems will leave you with a low barrier to entry. Some will cut the existing tub and put a fiberglass shell over it leaving you with a walk-in shower, but still leaving a high step to get in.
Other modular tub to shower conversion systems completely replace the existing tub with a fiberglass shower pan. Typically, these pans use the existing bathtub drain and fixtures making them quick and easy installs.
Along the same lines, modular tub to shower conversion systems use fiberglass walls to cover over the tub area’s existing walls and coverings. Because of this fiberglass modular design, these systems are time and money efficient.
Traditional Tile And Grout Tub To Shower Conversion
Before modular fiberglass tub to shower conversion kits, tile and grout was the only option. Compared to modular systems, tile and grout tub to shower conversions take more time and typically more money. Look to spend upwards of $2,000.00.
A tile and grout tub to shower conversion needs different prep work than a modular system. For example, tile and grout by itself is not waterproof. To control moisture and water, tile and grout tub to shower conversions need a significant barrier between the tile at mounting surfaces.
For example, moisture barriers such as reinforced fabric or sheet membrane, foam backer board, or bonded waterproof membranes should be used and are available at your local big box home improvement store.
Besides the difference in prep work there’s also the difference in labor and materials with tile and grout showers. To begin with, you have the option to use a fiberglass floor pan or fabricate a mud bed. Obviously, the mud bed needs more skill than the fiberglass pan. Along with the pan, you’ll need to do the tilework.
If you’re up for all this, then a traditional tile and grout tub to shower conversion could be for you. Clearly, a traditional tile and grout conversion gives you maximum design flexibility. But it also gives you maximum cost in material and labor.
Final Thoughts On Tub To Shower Conversions
Realtors will tell you not to remove your homes only tub. Tub-less homes have a hard time finding buyers. Keep this in mind.
Furthermore, neither a modular or tile and grout system works if your underlying structure is not up to standards. Putting expensive components over poor construction is self-defeating. You’ll be back to fix these things soon, anyway, do it right the first time.
If you find you’re over your head with this or any of your DIY plumbing projects, give us a call. Fountain Plumbing is Tyler’s leader in tub to shower conversions and we would love to help.