One of the most exciting phases of a bathroom remodel is picking out the perfect bathtub or shower. Choosing the right wet features for a bathroom warrants a hard look at all your options. After all, this is how you can turn a necessary room into a spalike retreat.
But you probably already know that you have a lot of options to consider—and that it risks getting just a tad overwhelming in addition to figuring out your budget. That’s why, in this latest installment of our “Dream Bathroom Remodeling Guide,” we take you through the best ways to choose a bath, shower, and other wet features for your new bathroom.
Main wet feature considerations
Budget: Before you get your heart set on that Japanese wooden soaking tub, confirm how much cash you have on hand. Generally, you should expect to allocate between 10% and 15% of your total bathroom renovation budget to wet features. Just remember, you can’t take wet features with you when you move, so proceed with caution.
Space: How much space do you have, and what’s your ability to manipulate that space via plumbing? “If you currently only have a walk-in shower but you want a tub, square one is figuring out if you have room to add it,” says Krystle Pickens, principal designer of DBK Home in Jersey City, NJ.
Bathing habits: Some people like the look of a walk-in shower, but really love a good soak in the tub. “Alternately, some people haven’t used the tub since their kids were little,” says Pickens.
Consider keeping at least one tub
There’s an old real estate adage that every home should have one tub. Even if you don’t like to relax in Epsom salts, the next owner might, making a tub an important resale “it” factor. After all, tubs are usually essential to families that have young children to bathe. “The elderly also often need a tub, so the value of one should not be discounted,” says Jennifer Harder, founder and CEO of Jennifer Harder Real Estate Lending.
To figure out how to proceed, research neighborhood expectations. “If you have a two-bedroom, one-bathroom home, a bathtub would be expected in most parts of the country,” says Pickens. “But if you have a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo in a city, it would likely be OK to remove the tub without harming your resale ability. In many cities, a large shower would be preferred to many buyers.”
Best bathtub: What to consider
Cost: Bathtubs range from $200 to $700, though luxury soaking tubs can cost thousands of dollars. And the average cost of installation is about $740 to $1,400—without moving or adding plumbing, according to HomeAdvisor’s home expert, Dan DiClerico.
Size matters: You’ll need the height, depth, and width of the allotted physical space in your bathroom to ensure that a tub will fit. “Men typically report needing a 6-foot tub to be comfortable, whereas many women are fine with a 5-foot tub,” says Paul Foresman, director of business Development at DesignBasics.com.
Style: Aside from size, consider the tub’s style. You’ll find everything from revamped cast-iron tubs to oversize soaking tubs on the market.
Cons: If you don’t have a shower in your home, a lone tub can be a disadvantage. “Most adults prefer showers, since they are faster and use much less water,” says Harder. (It takes 40 to 50 gallons of water to fill a standard 5-foot tub, and larger tubs take as much as 80 to over 100 gallons!) And while oversize soaking tubs are trendy, “These take up a lot of space and can be very expensive to install or remove,” says Harder.
Best shower: What to consider
Prefabricated shower stall
Cost: The average cost of a shower stall is $400 to $600 for the basin and walls (the model below is $495 at The Home Depot), with installation averaging about $1,200 to $2,000.
Pros: You can easily buy a prefabricated shower, which is usually made out of molded fiberglass, plastic, or laminate. A prefab shower enclosure is best for small budgets.
Cons: These types of showers are a bit dated. “Gone are the days of the three-walled fiberglass shower with a glass door,” says Jodi Moody, a real estate agent at Smoky Mountain Realty in Lenoir City, TN.
Cost: “A walk-in shower tends to be on the higher end—around the $5,000 to $10,000 range—installed,” says DiClerico.
Pros: Curbless showers have no lip at their entry, making them safe and easy to get in and out of. “Though accessibility is the biggest benefit, homeowners of all ages and abilities like the clean look,” says DiClerico. So a walk-in shower is a luxe addition, particularly if you have an extra bathroom.
Cons: These showers usually cost more to install, since they require a linear drain, usually at the front or back of the shower, as opposed to the typical center drain.
Types of walk-in showers
Doorless shower: One of the most popular walk-in shower designs over recent years is the open shower design. “This design option provides easy maintenance—no need to clean glass—and accessibility. “Because the bathroom has to be accommodated to effectively contain water, most doorless showers are custom-made and installed,” says Brad Roberson, president of Glass Doctor, a Neighborly company.
Walk-in shower with enclosure: If you’re looking for an option with more privacy, consider an enclosed walk-in shower. These can have as much or as little glass as you desire.
Tub and shower combo
When designing a tub/shower combo, consider whether you will need access to the person inside. Leaning into a bath through glass doors is not ideal for bathing toddlers. So consider which type of shower doors would be the best fit for your bathroom and your budget. “You could also consider swinging doors, a shower without doors, or sliding doors,” says Roberson. (Alternatively, you could go with a shower curtain.)
Cost: “The average cost is $400 to $600 for the tub and walls,” says DiClerico. “The installation costs another $1,000 or more, depending on complications such as running new plumbing or installing a unit on an upper floor.”
Pros: “A shower and tub combo is a must-have for any home, and I strongly recommend every house have at least one,” says Harder. Why? Because this is the workhorse of wet features, great for children, adults, and for bathing the occasional pet if need be.
Cons: “Unfortunately, since it’s a compromise, you won’t get quite as much space in a shower or bathtub combo as you would when they are stand-alone features,” says Harder.
Should you get a Jacuzzi tub?
Think carefully before adding a Jacuzzi tub to your bathroom remodel. “I see many buyers voice concerns over spa tubs,” says Moody. “We see Jacuzzi tubs that don’t pass home inspections due to small leaks or motor issues, and savvy buyers are aware that they can inherit future problems as well.”
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