8 Tips for Building a Luxurious Outdoor Shower

Dina Cheney
Written by Dina Cheney
Updated January 4, 2022
A luxurious outdoor shower in a lush garden
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Whether you have a dog, garden a lot, or live near the beach, it’s easy to fantasize about an outdoor shower. Not only could you keep your floors cleaner; you could also freshen up surrounded by birdsong, aromatic plants, and blue or starry skies. To make this dream a reality, read on for tips on how to build an amazing outdoor shower space. 

1. Pick Your Spot

Ideally, situate your shower by the back or side entrance to your house. That way, you won’t track sand or dirt on your floors. In a dream world, this area would also be private, not visible to neighbors. To save money on plumbing costs, choose a space near existing faucets.

2. Decide on Fixtures

If you have a smaller budget, opt for the most basic cold-water-only setup. Just use a showerhead and tubing and connect tubing to a garden hose hooked up to an outside faucet. You can purchase a portable shower kit, which might include a small platform for drainage.  

 You can also hire a plumber to install an outdoor hot water faucet next to your cold-water faucet. Then choose between a standalone or wall mount fixture. Standalone outdoor showers are portable, while wall mount models tend to be permanent. At the highest end, opt for a plumbed-in outdoor shower with a built-in drain and enclosed plumbing. Whatever you decide, check your local building codes, as you might need a building permit.

3. Winterize

A design outdoor shower
Photo: siraphol / Adobe Stock

Be sure to choose stainless steel or brass showerheads, which can handle the outdoors. If you live in an area with cold winters, you’ll want frost-proof fixtures with winter shutoff valves. Otherwise, winterize your plumbing to make sure your pipes don’t burst. Hook up your pipes to an air compressor; then blow them out and drain them before cold weather sets in. Don’t forget to remove handles and shower heads.

4. Build a Base

You’ll need a shower base, where water doesn’t puddle. Create a raised wooden box with slats between the boards, placed on a bed of gravel or stone. Or opt for a poured concrete pad with a traditional drainage system. If you’d prefer a tiled base, make sure to hire a professional tile installer, since tiles in outdoor showers can easily buckle. 

5. Figure Out Drainage

You’ll need to devise a way for the used water to drain away from your home’s foundation. If the shower is far from your home and your soil is porous, you can probably just let the water drain into your yard. Otherwise, you’ll want to attach your shower plumbing to your drainage pipes or put in a French drain, which will channel water to a drainage area. 

6. Plan for Privacy

For privacy, you’ll need a shower enclosure. For a very basic solution, you can use a folding screen or shape a shower frame from corrugated metal or plywood. Even easier, purchase a ready-made shower enclosure kit. These kits range from basic and unstained to stained and full of features, like benches, towel racks, soap dishes, and a changing area.

7. Add Plantings

For pleasing, invigorating aromas and greenery, surround your shower with rosemary, mint, or other fragrant varieties. Also consider evergreen plants to help with privacy screening. Either way, make sure beds are large enough to allow the roots to grow. Remember to place the plants far enough away from the shower so the roots don’t get over-logged with water and rot.

8. Lay on the Luxuries

To approximate an indoor shower, consider a slate floor or tiled walls. Go for a rainfall showerhead and solar-powered lighting. Throw in features, like a bar for towels and bathing suits, a chair, and a niche for soaps and shampoos.

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