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A Complete Shower Remodel Guide for Homeowners

Shower Remodels

Remodeling a shower is always an exciting opportunity for a homeowner to level-up their bathroom experience and raise a home’s return on investment. 

With the mere switch of a showerhead, a homeowner can transport from their bathroom to a tropical oasis or a luxe spa. Modernize is here to walk you through all the ins-and-outs of remodeling your bathroom’s shower situation. From the steps you need to consider, to the timing of it all — here’s what you need to know about shower remodels. 

Showerhead Types

Bathroom and shower remodeling typically involves two big components: the fixture and the enclosure. Based on the bathroom’s purpose and who it’s serving, these answers can vary. A family bathroom with a shower-tub combo will look a lot different than a couple’s suite bathroom with a walk-in jet shower. 

There are a few different types of showerheads you can consider depending on your needs. Popular showerhead types to consider include: 

1. Fixed Showerheads

fixed showerhead renovation

This showerhead fixture is the most basic option, optimal for small bathrooms. Like the name, fixed showerheads stay in one place and are great for smaller shower types and bathrooms. Even the most budget-friendly versions have variants with two or more spray settings, but it’s all coming from the same showerhead.

2. Handheld Showerheads

handheld shower head

Handheld showers are ideal for situations including family and pet-use. Seen in master bathrooms, handheld options come with an attached hose and a wall attachment, where it can be used as a fixed showerhead.

3. Rain Showerheads

rain shower heads

Perfect for that spa-like master, rain showerheads are larger, fixed showerheads usually installed higher than a typical showerhead or from the ceiling to mimic rainfall. It’s worth noting that rainfall showerheads can require special plumbing and larger drains. Consult with a vetted contractor about what it would take to upgrade your space.

4. Massage Showerheads

massage shower head

Massage showerheads are lauded for their versatility. Usually, a fixed showerhead with an abundance of settings, spray patterns include jet and aeration settings. These are higher pressure than a rain showerhead and can be used to relieve muscle soreness.

Cost of New Showerheads

Different showerhead fixtures can range in price anywhere from $25 to $2,000 depending on their attributes.

A simple fixed showerhead will typically be on the cheaper end, while a more robust showerhead, such as a combination rain and massaging jet showerhead with multiple water pressure options, could cost an upwards of $2,000.

Modernize recommends discussing your shower upgrade budget and specific needs with your bathroom remodel contractor ahead of time. Ask specific questions about short and long-term savings opportunities and return on investment, so you can be sure you are making the a confident decision on your new bathroom shower. 

Different Types of Showers

There are a few different types of shower enclosures and frameworks to consider depending on your space and desires when upgrading your bathroom. 

A lot of your upgrade options can be dictated by a bathroom’s size in a remodel. For instance, a smaller bathroom may lend itself better to a simple, framed shower, while a medium-sized bathroom may work well with a shower-tub combo, which are lauded in kid-friendly neighborhoods for their resale value and versatility. 

Here are the basic options to consider for different shower frames and enclosures: 

1. Frameless Showers

frameless-shower

Frameless shower enclosures are sleek, strong, glass enclosures that do not need metal framework to support the edges. They are popular for their clean, metal-free look that can allow a homeowner showcase the tile or stone flooring featured inside.

2. Semi-Frameless Showers

semi framed shower upgrade

Semi-frameless showers come with the same sleek, refined look as frameless showers, but can often better accommodate more layout options and smaller budgets. Semi-frameless showers have sturdy metal window structures, but keep the door portion frame-free.

3. Framed Shower Enclosures

framed shower renovation

The framed shower enclosure is a more traditional option that utilizes a strong framework to add clean lines and support. The shower framing outlines the whole enclosure, including the doorways. Homeowners can tie the whole look together by matching hardware to the finish of the framework.

4. Double Showers

double-shower

Double showers are becoming popular choices for master bathrooms and larger bathrooms. They feature two separate shower heads, often on opposite walls, allowing partners to shower at the same time. Double showers also allow for better water pressure, spaciousness, and can be great for added accessibility for seniors, or homeowners with disabilities or mobility limitations.

5. Walk-in Showers

walk-in-shower

Walk-in showers, sometimes known as open showers or roll-in showers, are great choices both from a design perspective and home accessibility perspective. Many homeowners prefer the look and added convenience of being able to walk into their shower without using a shower door. Walk-in showers are also great home accessibility modifications, as they can allow homeowners who use wheelchairs or have mobility limitations to shower safely and comfortably.

Of course, once you choose a type of shower, the customization options are nearly endless. From door styles, frosted or unfrosted glass and designs, to built-in benches, matching hardware and varieties of stone and tile work to consider, the cosmetic element alone is enough to completely overhaul a bathroom’s look and feel. 

Shower Materials: Walls and Floors

When making decisions about your shower remodel, you should also think about which materials you want to use for your shower walls and floors. There are multiple options to choose from for both walls and floors. To determine the best choice for your bathroom, the best place to start is to weigh the pros and cons to each.

Shower Walls

When choosing a material for your shower walls, think about both functionality and style. You want the walls to be sturdy and easy to clean. At the same time, shower walls are often a focal point in the bathroom, so many homeowners also prefer to choose a material that stands out. Consider some of your options:

  • Acrylic: Acrylic is an inexpensive and highly functional material for showers. It is easy to maintain, lasts 10 years or more, and can even be installed DIY. However, it is not as sturdy as other materials and can be very hard to fix if damaged.
  • Tile: Many homeowners choose tile for their shower walls because they come in a variety of unique choices – including ceramic, porcelain, stone, and even glass – and add a nice aesthetic to the bathroom. You can match the tile in your shower walls with tile in other areas of the bathroom, or add an accent wall. Tile can last 10 years or more and depending on the type you choose, can be very affordable. However, because tile is installed using grout, it can be tricky to clean and can build up mold if not maintained properly.
  • Fiberglass: One of the biggest benefits to using fiberglass for shower walls is that it does not use grout. This can help to prevent mold build-up and makes your life so much easier when it comes time to clean the shower! Fiberglass is also very cheap, however, there are not many styling options as it usually comes only in solid white.
  • Aluminum: Some homeowners are surprised to learn that aluminum can be used for shower walls! They are often used as accents rather than for the entire shower. However, aluminum is a great material for showers because it is rust-resistant, lightweight, and easy to clean.

Shower Floors

Many homeowners choose to match their shower floors with their walls, but know that you have additional options.

  • Glass: Glass mosaics appear glossy and translucent, and can add a fresh aesthetic to your bathroom remodel. This material is also easy to clean (think: Windex!). But keep in mind that glass is not the most slip-resistant material out there, and it can be costly depending on the type you choose.
  • Marble: This type of stone can add a beautiful, sleek, and timeless look to your bathroom. You can match the marble shower floors with your bathroom counters for an elegant design. Marble can also be installed in various shapes and designs – for instance, subway tiles, hexagons, or classic four by fours. The potential downsides to marble? It can scratch and stain over time, and can be very pricy depending on the type you choose.
  • Porcelain: This textured shower floor material is slip-resistant, water-proof, and durable. It can last longer than most shower floor materials, and unlike marble, it does not scratch or stain easily. However, remember that porcelain uses grout which can be tricky to clean.
  • Travertine: Travertine is a natural stone that homeowners love to use in their bathrooms. It comes in beautiful shades – including appealing earth tones and grays – and features earthy textures, giving it great visual appeal. Travertine is also slip-resistant, however, it can be a high-maintenance material if you do not finish it properly after installation.

Shower Remodel Costs

Depending on the options a homeowner chooses, a shower remodel can average in price anywhere from $1,400 to $10,000 depending on a range of factors including materials used, the necessary plumbing work, the styles chosen and more. A bathroom’s size and the type of enclosure you opt for also play a role in a project’s cost. For example: 

1. Small bathrooms

A small bathroom’s shower remodel, with just a shower and potentially other upgrades such as toilet and fixture replacements, flooring, and paint or wallpaper on average can start at $1,400. 

Small Shower Remodel

A small bathroom shower remodel may include:

  • Small walk in shower upgrade

  • Updated fixtures

  • Installing new tile in or around shower

2. Mid-sized bathrooms

A medium-sized bathroom’s shower remodel, with a walk-in shower and some extra spruces, including paint or wallpaper and maybe a new vanity and fixtures can start at around $5,000. 

Medium Shower Remodel

A medium size bathroom shower remodel may include:

  • Medium sized walk-in shower

  • Updated light fixtures

  • New vanity upgrades

  • Fresh paint

3. Large bathrooms

The cost of a large shower remodel, such as a shower in a master bathroom featuring a walk-in shower, can start at $10,000 and increase from there. The overall cost can be impacted by added features and plumbing requirements, as well as any other additional upgrades you would like for your large bathroom.

Large Shower Remodel

A large primary bathroom shower remodel may include:

  • Large space walk-in shower

  • New lighting

  • New vanity and sink

  • New bathroom flooring

Finding a Shower Remodel Contractor

A bathroom remodel will give you enough tricky decisions — finding a reliable shower remodel contractor doesn’t have to be one of them. Modernize can help you find and compare contractors with ease. We recommend comparing three to four full bathroom shower quotes from different contractors to find the best option for your needs and budget.

It is important to consider and talk to potential shower contractors about the following topics:

  1. Your ideal timeframe. Your ideal project timeline may limit some of your bathroom renovation options. On the other hand, some bathroom remodel projects can be completed in as quickly as one day! Bathroom and shower remodel projects are not one-size-fits-all – it is important to account for a chunk of time without a bathroom or plumbing access. 
  2. Your ideal start date. Timing is not just about the length of a project — the start date of your shower remodel project can impact the competitiveness of contractor bids and  your final cost.
  3. The off-season. Winter is the off-season for bathroom renovation, and it can mean an opportunity for discounts. This is because winter is a slower time for home improvement projects. Quotes should be more competitive than during the summer or spring when contractors are sometimes booked weeks in advance.  Additionally, fixture manufacturers may run discounts to align with the off-season, which can lead to more affordable upgrades on showerheads and enclosures.
  4. Planning ahead. Planning ahead for your bathroom project is important. Multi-day or longer-term bathroom projects typically call for water being turned off while work is being done. Much like any fixture replacement or room remodel, noise or dust can also be factors. Modernize recommends working through a plan for these issues ahead of time and discussing options with a contractor.

However you decide to proceed, a shower remodel is an exciting chance to upgrade your bathroom, and Modernize is ready to help you with it!  

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