Plumbing

How Much Does a Shower Remodel Cost? How To Budget for a Shower Remodel

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  • Typical Range: $2,300 to $8,600

Any remodel that involves plumbing can strike fear in the hearts of homeowners. There is an assumption that bathroom and kitchen remodels equate to debt-inducing expenses. While that’s true, there are shower remodel cost options that can fit into almost any budget. Many options allow for a beautiful, cost-conscious remodel for much less than the national average of $5,400, and there are a wide variety of choices that let a homeowner splurge on luxury elements. The shower is where you go to wake up and gather your energy or calm down and cool off at the end of the day, so it’s worth learning about how to improve this space, whatever your budget may be.

The overall shower remodel cost will depend mainly on a few things: The condition of the old shower, the size of the shower and extent of the remodel, the material and fixtures you choose, and the cost of materials and labor in your area. As with any project that involves opening walls, ceilings, and pipes, there is, of course, the potential for unforeseen complications that will drive up the cost, such as plumbing or structural problems, mold, or rot. On the other hand, discovering those problems early on may allow you to address and correct them, preventing a disaster later that will be more expensive to fix.

There are many reasons to consider improving your shower: safety, sustainability, and home value, as well as the appeal of having an oasis in your home. Exploring your options and their costs will get your bathroom remodeling project off the ground.

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Factors in Calculating Shower Remodel Cost

 Shower Remodel Cost Factors in Calculating the Cost

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Some of the elements in a shower remodel are within your control, such as type of material, quality and size of the tile, and fixtures. Other elements may not be negotiable costs, such as permits, local labor costs, and the size of the existing shower. It’s critical to understand these nonnegotiable costs as you build a budget because what’s left over will help you decide where to choose more or less expensive options to create the space you’re looking for without blowing the budget.

Shower Size and Type

How large is the existing shower? Is it a stall, walk-in, tub, or frameless? These details will affect the cost of a shower remodel for demolition and replacement: A larger shower with more structure will cost more to demolish and will require more material to fill that area, whether you replace it with a smaller shower or one the same size. A simple prefab shower kit can cost as little as $200 installed, with luxury options ranging to $8,000. In contrast, a combination tub and shower replacement will generally run around $3,000, and a walk-in shower will cost between $5,000 and $15,000 (plus plumbing and hardware). Depending on the footprint of your bathroom and existing shower, you can change between styles when remodeling or stick with a version of what you have.

Size of Remodel

The size and scope of the remodel will also significantly affect the total cost. If you’re just planning a quick refresh—new shower head and fixture, reglaze of the tub, and shower curtain—the fee can be pretty small. If you’re planning to tear out the existing shower to the studs or reroute water lines and drains, the project will come toward the higher end of the range because of the increase in materials, permits, and labor.

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Age of the Home

Newer homes are easier (and less expensive) to remodel simply because the materials used in the existing plumbing are likely to be easy to work with and up to (or close to) current code. This means you or your plumber can change out hardware without much trouble, and any changes will be easy to retrofit. Construction materials and codes change through the years, so if you’re remodeling a bathroom in a home built more than 40 years ago, a contractor will recommend opening the walls and floors to get a picture of the plumbing and electrical situation. If you’re not initially working with a contractor, you’ll come to this conclusion on your own when you can’t find any parts that fit your existing plumbing. In older homes, it’s likely that the pipes are galvanized—or worse, lead—and will need to be replaced to be brought up to code. Opening up walls and floors can lead to the discovery of other necessary repairs as well, so there’s a possibility of a sharp uptick in cost. If your home is older, it’s worth consulting a contractor or plumber before you get too deep into the planning to evaluate the bathroom’s current status.

Existing Shower Demolishing and Materials Disposal

Home improvement television shows love to show “demo day,” where homeowners and contractors just attack shower walls with a hammer and toss the debris into a dumpster. It looks like fun, but that kind of demo can do a lot more harm to your existing structure than you might think. Plus, all the debris has to get hauled away somewhere. The total cost of demolition ranges from $1,000 to $2,300. Suppose your existing tiles are vintage or antique. In that case, a good contractor can help remove them carefully for potential resale. Occasionally, even a solid cast-iron tub can be donated for reuse. Either way, you’ll need to factor in the labor cost to strip out the old shower, rent a dumpster, and pay for the disposal. If your home is old enough that there’s possibly asbestos in your ceiling or insulation, that removal and disposal can be more expensive.

Material Quality

Basic shower materials can cost less without looking shoddy; a prefab shower unit can keep your budget low while still refreshing the space and adding a modern look. Simple white subway tile looks classic without breaking the bank, while custom tile work and luxury fixtures can top the budget. This is one area with a vast range of options, and the homeowner is really in control. Choosing basic tiles with a narrow row of handmade tile can add a unique look but at a lower cost than a completely custom job, or you can balance splurging on the tile work with simple fixtures or DIY-ing some of the labor. Materials are a flexible budget item, but it’s easy to get carried away once you start looking, so give yourself time to decide what you want.

Shower Doors

The days when the only shower door options were heavily frosted and aluminum-framed are gone. Modern shower doors are a design element, not just a tool to keep water off your floor, and what you select will affect both the look of the shower and your cost. Framed doors are still an option, but contemporary frames are much narrower and more elegant than those of the past. Those doors cost around $200 and are a great budget option. Sliding doors, which are usually also framed, can close off a wider space for about $300, but also mean one side of the shower is always closed off. For those who also want to use the bathtub, this may not be the best option, but these doors can provide a simple and clean look. Right now, the trendiest shower doors are frameless, as they offer a clean look and open shower experience. These doors all used to be custom made, but their popularity has led to the production of standardized kits available at home stores in the range of $900 (with luxury custom doors still available at higher costs).

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Tiling

Tiling is another variable cost in a shower remodel. This figure ties into the scope of the remodel because homeowners can choose to tile only the shower or carry the tile around the room. The average cost of retiling a shower is about $12.50 per square foot, so for a shower that requires tile on the walls and floor, the average price will be between $1,000 and $3,000. However, the choice of tile makes a huge difference in this total. Shower tile is available in large 36-inch by 36-inch tiles, basic 4-inch squares, 4-inch by 18-inch planks, subway tile, and small mosaic tile mounted on mesh. In addition, the sizes can be mass-produced tiles or hand-finished, varying the price range dramatically. Working with a professional will help narrow down the options by style and budget.

Fixtures

If you’re going to the trouble and expense of replacing the whole shower, you should plan on replacing the shower pan. It’s the base of a shower that waterproofs underneath the tile and provides the proper slope for good drainage, so it’s not an item to skip replacing. Standard pans cost between $200 and $500, but if your shower is a custom shape or size, a new pan can be built on-site for $650 and up. Once the pan and tiles are in place, you’ll need to consider the options for a new tub and faucet (if you have a tub/shower combination) and the handles and mixer valves (the device that controls the mix of hot and cold water), plus any extras. Basic fixtures can be quite inexpensive, where luxury fittings can range into the thousands of dollars.

Shower Head

A basic shower head can cost as little as $20. Looking for a gentle, spa-like shower? Consider a rainfall shower head for about $70. If you’re looking for an authentic rainfall experience, a ceiling-mount rainfall shower head will run about $195, plus additional plumbing costs. Maybe you’d like a refreshing body spray system or a dual-head system (around $629). This is another area where you can balance your budget: If handmade tiles are vital to you, a less-costly shower head could stretch the tile budget, but if the physical experience of the shower itself is your most important consideration, this can be a place to splurge.

Labor and Permits

Labor is a significant portion of any bathroom remodel. In a contractor’s estimate, the labor costs usually make up between 40 and 65 percent of the total—and this makes sense because tearing out the old shower, replacing wallboard and shower pans, tiling, grouting, sealing, and doing plumbing and electrical work is significant. While the cost varies regionally, bathroom remodel labor is generally $50 to $75 per hour, with plumbers and electricians ranging higher depending on the project. Some of those costs may be negotiable if you can do some of the work yourself, but don’t be surprised by the labor costs—just make sure they’re itemized. Permits are nonnegotiable. Your municipality will decide which permits are necessary, and there’s no way around them. Many contractors can tell horror stories about ripping out tile work because a homeowner tried to skip pulling permits, so the contractor had to undo hours of labor to open walls for inspections. You or your contractor should contact your local permitting agency to determine which permits you’ll need and acquire them, usually for $350 to $1,800.

Shower Remodel Cost Additional Costs

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Additional Costs and Considerations

Once you have the basic material and labor costs planned, you may think your budget is set, but there are still a few more items to prepare for. Any time you’re taking down existing structures, there’s the possibility that you’ll find surprises, and it’s essential to budget for those. Or perhaps looking at tiles and fixtures has made you look at the rest of the bathroom with a critical eye, and you’ve decided that the shower would be perfect if you just turned it sideways—but then you’d have to move the toilet, and your project just got bigger. These potentials need to be part of your cost estimate.

Repairs

You may find trouble behind your existing shower walls. Termite damage or dry rot require repair work before you install your updated shower. If there’s lighting in the shower, moist conditions over the years can make wire repair or replacement necessary. The most expensive repairs will be plumbing problems: If there is damage to the supporting plumbing from years of rejiggering the fixtures or snaking out clogs, the plumbing will require repair before the project can get off the ground. And if the water heater is old and corroded, this may be the time to replace it.

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Water Damage

Showers are wet spaces fed by yards and yards of pipes. Over time, every shower has its share of leaks, small and large. Most leaks escape notice until a wet spot appears on a ceiling or a mold patch draws the eye. Water damage can weaken beams or cause rot, which must be corrected before a new shower can be installed to maintain structural support. This can cost as little as $250, but the price can climb higher if the damage is significant. Mold and mildew can be addressed for $500 and up before it’s covered over with new wallboard and trapped.

Moving Plumbing Fixtures

This is when the cost of a shower remodel can start to rise. Moving plumbing fixtures is a high cost, as it usually means you’re tearing out the floor of the entire bathroom and replumbing it—moving supply lines, drain connections, and framework. Staying in your current layout will save dramatically, but if the shower really needs to be moved to fit your plans, expect to pay between $2,500 and $3,500 per fixture that you choose to move, plus the cost of redoing the whole floor.

Changes in Layout or Moving Walls

If a planned change in layout doesn’t require moving plumbing, such as turning the shower 90 degrees and keeping the plumbing in place, it can be achieved for a reasonable price. Adding a wall or panel for privacy will add material and labor costs and won’t be an astronomical addition in terms of cost. Removing a wall or moving electricity can add between $2,000 and $8,500 to your budget, including materials, labor, and repairs to or replacement of flooring.

Luxury Additions and Modifications

Looking at a few luxury items for a new shower? The sky’s the limit on luxury bathroom fixture costs. Bear in mind that the cost of luxury fixtures doesn’t end with the purchase. Luxury items tend to be more delicate and often require precise installation and careful handling, which will drive up labor costs. Steam showers and other modifications will require precise calibration.

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Professional Input Beyond Installation

There are several situations where a homeowner may hire consultants to assist with shower remodel plans. First, suppose the number of options is overwhelming, or you have walk-in shower ideas and can’t quite figure out how to accomplish them. In that case, an interior designer who specializes in bathroom remodel ideas can help. These specialists cost between $150 and $500 for an average remodel plan and can save you time and money by doing some of the shopping and comparison to help you avoid costly plan changes later. In addition, if the shower remodel needs to be ADA compliant or is intended to make an elderly family member safer and more comfortable, choose a designer or specialist who is familiar with those requirements and can streamline design choices to make the shower both beautiful and accessible.

Shower Remodel Cost Types of Showers

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Shower Remodel Cost: Types of Showers

The type of shower you choose to install is a matter of style, budget, and practicality. Does your family need a bathtub? Is a shower with a low curb or step-free entry necessary? How much space is available in your bathroom? Sometimes it boils down to the geometry of the bathroom space—you may long for a soaking tub with a ceiling-mount shower, but if the bathroom isn’t wide enough, that may not be an option.

Prefabricated Shower

Prefabricated showers are reliable and budget-friendly. Because they are already assembled, they can reduce leaks and maintenance (no grout to discolor!). A contractor can quickly and inexpensively fit them into the space where a previous shower existed. The shape of the unit will determine the cost, but these average about as little as $200 or as much as $8,000 installed and are less likely to incur extra material or luxury costs outside of the initial pricing. They are available in several different styles to fit any space.

Walk-In Shower

Walk-in showers have a lot of appeal. The absence of barriers such as doors, curtains, or step edges creates an illusion of wide-open space and feels luxurious. These showers involve a slightly sloped floor and may include a small edge to keep water where it belongs. They’re ideal for those with mobility issues as well. They do offer less privacy, which is something to consider when multiple family members use the bathroom at once. A walk-in shower will cost between $525 (for a small prefabricated unit) and $15,000.

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Tub-and-Shower Combo

In many houses, the tub-and-shower combination is standard for the main bathroom. The combination offers many design options in terms of tile and fixtures to create a look that suits the home’s style, and there are far more opportunities to choose a comfortable and attractive tub than there were in the past. A tub-and-shower combination costs between $625 and $10,000.

Bathtub to Shower

Excavating a bathtub, especially if it’s an old cast-iron beast, may add to demolition charges but can really open up the options for a walk-in or frameless shower option. If there is only one full bathroom in your home, be careful about removing a tub, as real estate agents note that not having at least one bathtub can reduce a home’s resale value—most families with young children (or those who enjoy baths) will hesitate to purchase a house without a tub. Removing a tub and adding a shower will cost between $1,200 and $3,600 and potentially more, depending on the chosen elements.

Do I Need a Shower Remodel?

Why remodel the shower? You could certainly choose to regrout and recaulk your existing shower, reglaze, or possibly even paint what you have to refresh it. But there are some excellent reasons to go the step further and remodel.

Increase Home Value

When you were shopping for your home, what did you look for? An old bathroom with patched-over age markers will drag down the value of any home, as most buyers see a bathroom that needs complete rehab as a potential money pit. Bathroom remodels have some of the highest returns on investment in the real estate market because a fresh, new bathroom can make buyers feel like a higher price is worthwhile—even if the remodel was completed economically.

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Safety

Slippery tiles, cracked grout, and out-of-date fixtures are all safety hazards, and you’re dealing with them daily in a space that also includes electrical features. If it’s been a while since the shower was updated, there may be valid safety concerns that can be addressed with a remodel.

Efficiency and Sustainability

New showers include fixtures that save water without reducing the pressure, so you can feel good about the environmental impact of your shower without losing the personal impact of a strong, hot shower. Older bathroom materials may consist of elements that aren’t as environmentally friendly, and older pipes may have chemicals leaching into the water. While a shower remodel will add some materials to a landfill (less if you recycle some of the debris), the sustainable materials and water-saving devices in the new one will protect the environment for years to come.

Aging in Place

A high tub wall may be too much for older people or those with knee, hip, or balance concerns to overcome. Something that seems so minor can be an obstacle that prevents people from remaining in their homes as they age. Low- or zero-entry tubs and showers make it easier and safer to access the shower. Slip-resistant coatings or flooring choices make falls less likely. Modern safety grab bars, especially those installed as part of a remodel instead of added on later, can be aesthetically pleasing as well as sturdy. In some communities, this will absolutely add value to the home. In other cases, if the remodel allows a family member to stay comfortably in their own home instead of being uprooted, it’s worthwhile whether it adds value or not.

Shower Remodel Cost DIY vs. Hiring a Professional

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Shower Remodel Cost: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional

There are certainly many elements of a shower remodel that a handy homeowner can take on. Doing a remodel on your own can save significantly on the labor costs, and you’re also able to do it on your own timeline without having to wait for a contractor’s schedule to open up. A DIY remodel will likely take more time than a professional remodel, however. And while your time is your own, shower renovations are full of potential pitfalls, so if you choose to remodel your only shower and run into a problem you don’t know how to fix, the inconvenience (and cost) will be significant.

And the biggest downside to doing this particular project yourself is water. It’s sneaky and committed to leaking through the slightest opening. Unless you have significant experience with installing waterproofing and shower pans, a shower remodel is an expensive project to get wrong because it won’t be cost savings if water starts dripping through the ceiling.

A contractor knows the best order in which to proceed, problems to look for, and which tools they need to bring (which they probably already own). They have plumbers and electricians on speed dial to call in for help and sheets of subfloor in their truck if it turns out yours is damaged and needs replacing. Their experience means the results will be more polished and reliable. And if water does start to leak through the ceiling, you’ve got someone to call to fix it—at their expense.

If you’re handy with tile, hire a contractor to install the shower pan and wallboard and check the plumbing, then install the tile yourself. Know how to demo safely? Ask the contractor if you can do that yourself and defray the cost. But know your own limits.

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How to Save Money on Shower Remodel Cost

If you’re looking at the cost of remodeling your shower and hesitating a bit, you’re not alone. The potential for the budget to increase without warning is a concern for many remodelers. There are several ways to keep costs under control without sacrificing a clean, new look.

  • Keep the walls in place and the size and layout the same. Keeping plumbing and electrical as-is will significantly reduce the total cost (and the potential for surprises).
  • If the drywall behind the existing shower is relatively new or in excellent condition, see if it can be saved. Individual sections that have failed or been damaged can often be replaced with new pieces without tearing out the whole wall.
  • If your tub is in satisfactory condition, consider reinstalling it with the new tile and shower fixtures or having it reglazed to match.
  • Consider a prefab unit. These are less expensive across the board and have come a long way from the shiny, plastic-looking models of the past. Many have a much more luxurious appearance than expected, and they offer significant cost savings.

Questions to Ask About Shower Remodel Cost

Experience, insurance, and references: These are three things you should ask any potential contractor about before you even consider hiring them. While sometimes it’s OK to take a chance on a new or less experienced contractor, you’ll still want to see examples of their work and ask questions about how they would deal with unexpected situations. Remember to check references, because just having a contractor provide them doesn’t guarantee they’re positive. Ask the references what problems they had and what they would have managed differently. Beyond those basic questions, there are a few other things you should ask a shower remodeler.

  • What does your remodeling schedule look like? You’ll want to know roughly when the contractor expects to start and finish each day and what the timeline for the whole project is—specifically how long you’ll be without the shower, especially if it’s your only one.
  • Do you have in-house subcontractors, or do you contract out? How do you manage schedule conflicts with the subcontractors?
  • What challenges do you expect in a house this age? How do you plan to handle them?
  • Will you itemize the contract so I can see the breakdown of expenses?
  • What is the payment structure for the remodel?
  • Are there parts of the remodel that I can tackle myself to keep costs down?
  • What kind of warranty or guarantee do you offer on your work? What happens if there’s a problem after you’re finished?

FAQs

You’ll have to make a lot of decisions as you plan your shower remodel, which can be overwhelming. However, working with a qualified professional and planning carefully will result in a new space that raises the value of your home and increases your own enjoyment of your home. These are a few of the questions we’re asked most often about shower remodels and their answers to help get you started.

Q. How much does it cost to remodel a shower?

The average cost for a shower remodel is $5,400. However, the average range runs between $2,300 and $8,600, depending on the decisions you make and the cost of labor and materials in your area, and it can go much higher if you’re focused on making the space luxurious.

Q. How much does it cost to build a tile shower?

Installing a tile shower will normally run between $794 and $4,890, including the disposal of old tile, installation of tile base, installation of tiles, grouting, and setting, along with the extra tiles. It’s important to order enough to compensate for breakage or pattern matching. This wide range reflects the cost difference between ceramic or porcelain tiles, glass tiles, and natural stone or other luxury materials. Labor may be slightly higher for complicated patterns, and the total cost will be lower for tub-and-shower combinations because those don’t require the floor or lower part of the wall to be tiled.

Q. Can I remodel my bathroom for $2,000?

A cost of $2,000 is a little lower than the average range, but as long as you’re planning to leave the fixtures and walls in place and make careful choices about your materials, it can be done. You may be able to get a little more for your money by offering to do some of the demolition yourself to reduce the labor costs and have that extra cash to spend elsewhere. Depending on the size and shape of your bathroom, you may have to choose a prefabricated shower insert. Even with a lower budget, though, you should be able to refresh the space and enjoy a clean, modern bathroom without spending more than you’re comfortable with.

Installing a shower?

Leave it to the pros. Compare multiple quotes from licensed contractors in your local area today.

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