Installing an outdoor shower? Here’s 5 things you need to consider
We already grow our food outside, cook outside, eat outside, play outside and even sleep outside. So why not shower outside?
There’s something ultra-refreshing and romantic about showering under the hot summer sun or the starry night sky. Similarly, there’s something incredibly practical about rinsing off after a sweaty run or a dirty dig in the garden.
If you think your home’s next addition could have you getting naked in the yard, here are a few things worth noting:
1. Utility or Oasis?
If you just need to rinse off chlorine after a swim, your outdoor shower can be quite basic. For a do-it-yourself permanent project (well, mostly, aside from plumbing), expect to pay about $580, says Ron Ruthenbeck, project specialist at Lowe’s Home Improvement. This estimate includes generic supplies like privacy vinyl fence panels ($40) and a spray hand shower ($418).
“Then there’s the extreme outdoor enthusiast whose outdoor shower is not a part of the home,” says Leigh Spicher, the national director of design studios for Ashton Woods, a luxury home builder. Spicher is referring to outdoor showers designed to be getaways — experiences with extravagant landscaping and standalone architecture separate from the home. In those cases, expect to shell out thousands, if not tens of thousands, for these sanitary sanctuaries.
2. Plumbing Priorities
Erica Broberg Architect/Dalton Portella
Much like it did for your Slip ‘N Slide back in the day, your garden hose is the easiest way to supply your outdoor shower with water. “The only downfall is it will be cold — which isn’t too bad on a hot summer day,” says Adam Gloven, field manager of Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Buncombe and Henderson Counties.
If you need the heat, Gloven recommends installing a hot water faucet by tapping into the home’s hot water supply or adding new underground water lines specifically for your shower. Both options are best done after consulting a plumbing professional. East Hampton-based architect Erica Broberg added a solar roof heating system to her clients’ double outdoor shower after their teenage son expressed an interest in reducing energy consumption.
Water quality is also important. “I’d say it’s the number one thing people need to remember if they’re going to install an outdoor shower themselves,” says Spicher. “Make sure the water you use is safe!”
3. Draining Details
Where water goes is just as important as where water comes from. Most homeowners drain their outdoor showers into a separate manhole, a storm ditch or a gutter system linking to the home’s graywater tank. Locating your shower in a place that receives a lot of sunlight is another way to eliminate water buildup.
“Be sure to check your local building codes about the disposal of gray water,” says Gloven.
Chris Marchese, CEO of Marquis Gardens, suggests using Permeable Pavers or artificial turf for drainage and flooring because they blend into the environment. He also notes that it’s critical to only use biodegradable soap and shampoo when your drainage line is being naturally discharged.
If you’re concerned with slipping or mildew, composite boards make great flooring for outdoor showers. “They dry quickly and feel fantastic underfoot,” says Thomas O’Rourke, owner of Decking Hero. “Plus, they last between 25-30 years, so it’s a good value for your money, about $70 per square foot.”