Tips on how to build a sturdy outdoor shower

Codes and Regulations

Most likely, your municipality's building code regulates the plumbing-related aspects of the outdoor shower installation. Any new plumbing installation usually requires a permit.

Shower drainage may also be regulated. Some communities may allow your outdoor shower to drain through wood deck boards and into a gravel drain bed. In other areas, outdoor showers are not approved to drain into the ground or into storm drainage systems and must be connected to the home’s waste system. Not only that, but a sloped shower pan with built-up lips similar to those found in interior applications must be used, for the drainage to properly flow into the waste system.

Outdoor Shower Cost and Installation

The cost of purchasing and installing an outdoor shower can range from about $250 to several thousand dollars. Expect to pay between $100 and $500 for a wall-mounted outdoor shower, between $500 and $2,000 for a standalone and $50 to $300 for portable showers.

Installation cost also differs considerably and can range from $500 and $8,000. Naturally, outdoor showers that require more complicated plumbing and incorporate added features (like an enclosure and drainage) will be more expensive to install. Fortunately, experienced DIYers can do most, if not all of the installation.

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11. Simple Solar Shower

If you can get your hands on all-in-one outdoor sh

If you can get your hands on all-in-one outdoor shower units, that’s the quickest DIY option.

These free-standing solar showers stand on their own, hold 5.5 gallons of water, and are self-heating. You can choose hot or cold water, and you can easily connect it to your garden hose.

No plumbing required! If you don’t want to leave it outside, you can dismantle it in minutes.

16. Build a Wall

You may be worried about DIY outdoor shower ideas

You may be worried about DIY outdoor shower ideas that mess with your existing structure. Attaching it to house walls or fences may seem iffy, especially on a rental home.

So why not erect a separate wall entirely? In this case, the shower wall is a few inches from your home’s perimeter wall, and you can easily connect it to your outdoor water mains.

4. Designs inspired by Solar Camping Showers

Outdoor camping showers offer lots of simple and practical design ideas we can use to build super easy outdoor showers in our backyard.

kids would love this playful and whimsical garden

kids would love this playful and whimsical garden shower made from a watering can or a bucket with tiny holes drilled through the bottom. They can be mounted on a wall or fence using a large L-shaped shelf bracket . ( Source:  4 and DIY solar shower video tutorial above.)

7. Wood Shower Enclosure Ideas

A garden shower next to a house should have good d

A garden shower next to a house should have good drainage. Here‘s a tutorial on how to build a wood platform for a garden shower.

Pros and Cons of an Outdoor Shower

Pros:

Cons:

  • Requires regular cleaning;
  • May not be usable year-round;
  • Some can be expensive to purchase and install;
  • Possible lack of privacy.

Step 4

Install the plumbing. Use a 5/8″ spade bit to drill a hole all the way through the 4″ × 4″ about 6″ above the ground and 2-1/2″ above the base. Connect the plumbing in the following order: Shower head – shower arm – 90° elbow – 48″ length – faucet – 24″ length – 90° elbow – 6″ length. Use nylon plumbing tape at each joint. Then, stick the 6″ horizontal pipe length through the hole in the base of the 4″× 4″upright, and set the plumbing flush to the face. Use 2-1/2″ screws to secure the plumbing to the 4″ × 4″ with the pipe straps.

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Protect your shower in the winter

Not many people remember this, but your outdoor shower will be exposed to the winter months when not in use. This means you will need to protect it from cold temperatures, depending on your location. The most important thing to do is make sure your shower is completely drained of water to prevent freezing and cracking to the supply hoses and shower fixtures. If you bought a freestanding shower, things are easy for you. Simply remove the garden hose and put away the shower for the winter.

If your shower valve is installed on the wall and connected to a heater, turn off the water supply, put away the hose, and open the shower valves and leave them open. Also, make sure to remove the showerhead and valve from the faucet so that any residual moisture can escape.

The actual shower enclosure will also need to be protected during the winter. When you are ready to close the shower for the season, thoroughly dry the inside and cover the enclosure with a tarp, making sure the tarp is tied securely. If you did not build an enclosure, then cover the shower pipes.

Plumbing

The simplest and most inexpensive plumbing option, and one that many people choose, is a shower connected to a garden hose, which is then hooked up to an outside faucet. This cold-water fixture is perfect for an outdoor shower that’s used only in the heat of summer and mostly for cleaning off dirt and sand.

Next up is the hot-and-cold hose option. First, you’ll need a plumber to install an outdoor hot-water faucet next to the cold one. From there, it basically works in a similar fashion to the cold-water hose shower.

The most elaborate — and most expensive — is the plumbed-in outdoor shower. This is worth investing in if you anticipate consistent outdoor showers and not just cleaning up after a hot day in the sun. The only downside to this option: If you live in an area with freezing winters, you have to make sure you can fully drain and insulate the plumbing so it doesn’t burst.

Tips

  • Most outdoor shower plans need to be adapted to your specific location and geography, so feel free to play with the plans listed here to find what works for you.

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Tips for Building an Outdoor Shower

  • Leave the cedar boards unsealed for a silvery, natural-wood look or stain and seal them for a more finished look that adds to the durability of the wood.
  • Composite wood deck boards are ideal for outdoor shower floors because they are smooth, splinter-free, and never rot.
  • As with other outdoor faucets, an outdoor shower is subject to freezing, which can cause the pipes to burst and flood your home. Adding a shut-off valve indoors will allow you to turn off the water to the shower during freezing winter months.

Accessories

Incorporate affordable accessories that add to the fun and pleasure of showering outdoors. A large rainfall showerhead enhances that outdoor feeling, and plants or flowers in the shower area or peeping through the enclosure add a whimsical touch.

Add some soft solar-powered lights for showering at dusk, install hooks for hanging towels and wet bathing suits, and maybe even add a chair to sit in. Most importantly, design your shower to take advantage of nature’s views, whether that’s the sky overhead or the splendor of your backyard garden.

With just a little planning and effort, you can install your own outdoor shower and stay cool during the sunnier months.

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Originally published June 26, 2017.

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