Posted on: 05.07.2023 Posted by: Редакция Comments: 0

Standing under a walk-in shower is great, but sometimes all you need after a long day is a relaxing, warm bath in a comfortable tub. If you’re considering converting one of your walk-in showers into a bathtub, you’re not alone.

Converting a walk-in shower to a bathtub is a remodeling project that requires proper planning and execution. The process starts with assessing your current bathroom space and goes on to selecting designs that match the current dimensions. The project can be completed within a week.

This guide covers everything you need to know about converting your walk-in shower to a bathtub, the benefits and costs of the project, and how to choose the right contractor for the job.

Can You Convert a Walk-in Shower to a Bathtub?

You may be wondering if it’s even possible to convert your walk-in shower to a bathtub. In simple terms, you can. However, it will depend on several factors. How much space do you have for the project? If you have ample space – as is usually the case with properties that have walk-in showers – the project will be easier to accomplish. Where space is limited, the conversion will be more challenging.

Space is an important part of this discussion because you’ll need enough room to accommodate an average-sized bathtub. Most of these are approximately 30 inches wide and 60 inches long, so you’ll need to make sure the space is sufficient for the conversion.

If you don’t have the space, you can either reconsider the project or request a custom-sized tub to make it work. However, even custom options may still not fit properly in the space. That’s why professional consultation at the start of this project is crucial. The expert will give you a recommendation for the type of bathtubs that will fit into a space – if available.

The project also requires adjusting your plumbing to ensure compatibility with the bathtub being installed. The adjustment process may require some excavation work in the shower area, especially if the bathroom is connected to your heating system. That’s why you’ll likely need a permit for this remodel, as many states consider it a bathroom remodeling project.

The technical details associated with the project and the complexity it can get into are the reasons why this is rarely a DIY project. You’ll need many technical skills to work on a remodel that affects your HVAC, electrical, and plumbing systems.

Benefits of Converting a Walk-in Shower to a Bathtub

There are many reasons why people choose to convert their walk-in shower to a bathtub. Below are some of those reasons:

  • Better Water Conservation: When you use a walk-in shower, you often need to run your shower for a long time. This increases the likelihood of water wastage. Using a bathtub means you only use the exact amount of water needed for a bath. You can also reuse the water for other purposes when you step out of the bath.
  • Improved Energy Efficiency: From limiting the time you need to keep your heating system on to reducing the overall load on the system’s infrastructure, switching to a bathtub can help you reduce waste.
  • A More Relaxing Experience: With your walk-in shower, you can only take quick rinses. In a bathtub, you can soak and relax in a warm (or cold) bath. The experience also becomes much more relaxing if you opt for a tub with extra features like massage jets.
  • Improved Safety: A significant number of household accidents happen in the bathroom – particularly during bathing. While there is no data to prove that converting your walk-in shower to a bathtub can enhance safety, the latter can often be equipped with many mobility aids that can help reduce the risk of accidents.
  • Greater Savings in Therapy: People with health issues like arthritis and circulation problems can benefit from regular sessions in a bathtub. Therapists can create programs that can be done at home, saving time and money.
  • Great for households with children: Bathing toddlers in a walk-in shower can often be a Herculean task. With a tub, the task is easier. They can relax in the water, bring their toys, and have more fun. This way, you can also instill the daily anticipation of bathtime.
  • Increased Resale Value: Homes with families tend to prefer properties with at least one tub. If you plan on selling your house at some point, converting at least one of your walk-in showers to a bathtub can allow you to ask for a bit more.

What Happens During the Conversion of a Walk-in Shower to a Bathtub?

As we briefly mentioned above, converting a walk-in shower to a bathtub is a process best done by qualified professionals. However, it’s still a good idea for you to know what happens during the process so that you know what to expect at each stage of the process.

The Assessment Phase

In this phase, the contractor focuses on understanding the specifics of your bathroom to decide how best to handle the conversion. During this phase, they pay attention to the dimensions and check if there are any special project requirements. 

They will ask many questions to understand your needs and create the perfect design for the project, so be prepared with everything you need from the conversion in advance. Once the assessment is complete, you should receive some drafts and a quote for the project. If you agree, your project starts.

The Construction Phase

This phase varies from one project to another as everything is influenced by the homeowner’s desires. The construction phase for a simple partial conversion where the shower isn’t completely eliminated is often easier than a complete conversion where the shower is completely removed.

In general, construction starts by shutting off your water lines (and potentially your air conditioning or power supply) to ensure safe work. All fixtures in the shower area are also removed before the actual construction starts.

Depending on the specifics of your project, contractors may start with installing the bathtub directly or start by working on walls and adjacent areas first. The shower drain will be kept in mind during this process as it can be either replaced or adjusted to fit the position of your bathtub. 

The construction process can be completed within a week, provided there are no difficulties associated with your project.

Conversion Ideas for a Walk-in Shower to Bathtub Project

There are many ways a contractor can convert your walk-in shower to a bathtub. Below are some of them:

Walk-In Shower and Bathtub Mix

As mentioned above, your walk-in shower doesn’t need to be completely removed in this conversion. The tub can sit next to the shower. Here’s a rough guide on how the contractor will achieve this process:

  1. The first step is to assemble a rectangular frame made of 2 to 4 pieces of wood that will be installed in front of or next to the existing shower. The interior of the frame is lined with studs, and support boards are attached 10 inches apart.
  2. Once the frame is ready, it is attached to the shower wall and held in place by screws drilled into the wall and floor.
  3. After the frame is in place, a cement backer board is installed over it. The board serves as the base for your tub surround and wall tiles. The board is cut in sections to make space for the shower fixtures.
  4. If you have chosen wall tiles, the next step is to apply tile mortar and grout once the mortar is dry. If you choose this conversion method, you may need to wait a few days for the mortar and grout to cure.
  5. Once the mortar is applied, the next step is to install the tiles row by row, with bullnose pieces installed in the top row. The last tiles in a row that are too big for their spot on the board are trimmed to ensure a clean fit. The tiling process continues until each section is covered.
  6. The next step is to apply mortar and grout when the mortar is dry. If you opt for this conversion method, you may need to wait several days for the mortar and grout to cure.
  7. The next step is to install bathtub surrounds over your existing bathroom wall – if you opted for it at all. During installation, the surrounds are bonded with a specialty adhesive.
  8. The final step is the installation of the tub. The exact installation method will depend on the type of tub you have. The fixtures are then installed on the tub, with caulk applied to complete the process.

Complete Replacement of the Walk-in Shower

If you opt for a design where your walk-in shower is completely removed during the remodel, the bulk of the project involves tearing out the shower area (as well as any fixtures that could get in the way of installation). Some of the things your contractor will do before the tub installation include:

Checking for Lead and Asbestos

Before any demolition starts, the walls around the area need to be tested for lead and asbestos – particularly if your house was built before 1978. This test is crucial as both materials are hazardous. They can cause health issues when mishandled, and you can also be fined by the government.

Based on the test results, the contractor will know if they need to take additional precautions to ensure the safety of your household and work safety during and after the remodel project.

Tile Removal

As the next project step, the tiles around the installation area are removed using a hammer and chisel combination. The area where the tub surround will be installed is usually the focal point, but other walls will be affected if you’re remodeling the entire bathroom.

Laying Pipes

The pipes currently connected to the walk-in shower are rerouted to allow for a new connection to your bathtub. The likelihood of drain pipes being changed is high as the drainage pipes used for walk-in showers are usually smaller than those used for bathtubs. This stage of the process will require opening up the subfloor of your bathroom.

Tub Installation

Once the demolition is complete and the debris has been cleared away, the contractor starts with the installation of the bathtub. The installation process is similar to the one described above, with minor variations. Once you’re done, you’ll need to wait a while for the installation to cure before you can use the tub.

If you’re looking for bathtub inspiration for this remodel, there are countless options to choose from. Here’s a collection of ideas on Pinterest to work with. Don’t forget to check out your contractor’s ideas as well.

How Much Does it Cost to Convert a Walk-in Shower to a Bathtub?

On average, you should expect to spend around $125 per square foot when converting your walk-in shower to a bathtub. This will bring your total expenses to an average of around $3,000 to $5,000, covering everything including labor and materials.

The average costs are what you should expect if you’re only doing a simple conversion without any additional upgrades or special additions. If you’re thinking of a complete bathroom remodel during this conversion, your costs can increase by 100% or more. 

The majority of expenses for this project go into labor payments. You should expect it to consume about 60% of the budget. Professionals will charge you around $40 to $80 per hour for this project, while some general contractors may charge around $250 to $450 per workday. However, if you opt for a mobile home provider, you may get different rates.

You should bear in mind that this project involves plumbing work, material testing, and in some cases, electrical configurations. The total costs can be factored into the quote you receive from a general contractor, but if you choose to hire the professionals yourself, you should expect the following:

Plumbing Costs

Licensed plumbers will charge you about $35 to $80 per hour for processes like rerouting your pipelines. When they have to work on other complicated tasks like dealing with the drainage system, the price range per hour increases to around $60 to $80. You should expect to pay between $400 and $2,000 for the installation during the project.

Up to a quarter of this sum can be spent on materials, especially if additional piping needs to be installed to connect the new bathtub to the larger bathroom connection. You may also need to replace some fixtures to ensure compatibility between the tub and your plumbing system.

Electrical Costs

If you want to replace your walk-in shower with a whirlpool bathtub, you’ll need the services of an electrician to ensure it works. Electricians charge an hourly rate of around $40 to $95. Whirlpools typically require a lot of power to function, so the electrician will need to upgrade the electrical panel in your house. This is especially true for bathtubs that require a dedicated circuit. The upgrade can cost you between $550 and $1,800.

General Building Costs

The demolition of the shower area can cost between $500 and $1,500, depending on its size. If your home is among those where there is a risk of exposure to asbestos or lead, you should budget around $600 to get samples tested for the tiles or walls. Disposal of the debris generated during the project can cost around $300 to $600.

In general, you should expect lower material costs compared to labor costs during construction, but this depends on your choice of materials. Your new bathtub will be the most significant expense. You can expect to spend about $450 to $7,500 on it. The installation of the tub will cost between $800 and $15,000. As we mentioned earlier, whirlpools are generally the most expensive, so the tub and installation costs will always be closer to the higher range.

You’ll also need to budget for new tiles for the floor and wall to replace the removed ones. Most contractors recommend using ceramic tiles, which cost on average about $10 to $20. You can opt to use wood for the floor as it costs only $5 to $8 per square foot. However, you must consider the potential long-term drawbacks of using wood instead of tiles before making a decision.

One cost factor you should consider is the cost of a potential water heater replacement. Sometimes the one you have for your walk-in shower may not be strong enough to work with the bathtub. This is because the water tank for tubs should be about 70% of its size. 

If your tank is smaller, you’ll need to either install a new heater of the appropriate size or buy a smaller one to complement the existing system. A water heater compatible with bathtubs can cost between $600 and $1,200.

External Factors That Can Affect Conversion Costs

Some external factors can influence the total costs you pay for converting a walk-in shower to a bathtub. First, you’ll need a permit for this project, and the fee you need to pay varies from place to place.

Second, your location also impacts the estimates you’ll receive from contractors in your area. Higher cost of living often leads to higher prices. You should also expect slightly higher material costs for the same reasons.

You should also consider that you may need to pay money to reinforce your bathroom floor if it’s not strong enough to support the weight of a bathtub. Tubs generally weigh more than walk-in showers, so they exert more pressure on the floor – especially if the installation isn’t on the ground level.

Choosing the Right Contractor for a Walk

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