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The Outdoor Shower: Creative Design Ideas for A Surreal Outdoor Experience

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Washing off in an outdoor shower is a great way to connect with the beauty of the outside world.

Standing outside, washing away the stresses of a long day, while enjoying your natural surroundings creates peace of mind and a new level of relaxation.

In the summer, it feels very refreshing to shower outdoors and cool off. An outdoor shower is also important for rinsing off after swimming in the pool, cleaning up after exercising outdoors, or working in the garden.

The Outdoor Shower: Creative Design Ideas for A Surreal Outdoor Experience

Washing off sand and dirt outside in the shower also helps keep the interior of your house, including your indoor bathroom, clean.

Considering how showering outdoors also creates a sense of freedom that comes with bathing in a place set away from the pace of daily life, you may want to add an outdoor shower to your backyard.

Ready to create an outdoor shower? With these steps, your outdoor shower project is waiting to begin. While you can DIY an outdoor shower, a handyman can help you finish this easy project.

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So, Can You Build A Shower Outside?

The Outdoor Shower: Creative Design Ideas for A Surreal Outdoor Experience

Yes, you can build a shower outside.

Just like an indoor bathroom, an outdoor shower includes simple plumbing with basic components such as water supply, drainage, plumbing, and fixtures. If hot water is preferred, water heating may also be considered.

Because of its outside setting, factors including a good location, enclosures, and lighting will influence how enjoyable it will be to use your outdoor shower.

Other practical elements will also be considered while you are designing the outdoor shower to help you determine what kind of structure to build and where to locate it:

1. Will it be in use all year round or seasonally i.e. in the summer only?

If seasonally, consider if your region freezes in the winter, and if it does, then the plumbing will require drainage valves to be installed, and you’ll need to drain the pipes before winter to keep them from bursting.

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2. How much privacy should the shower offer?

Some prefer to have a complete visual barrier between themselves and potential onlookers, while others don’t want to block the view of the surrounding landscape.

But we recommend building an outdoor shower for the most modest person who prefers much privacy so that everyone to enjoy the outdoor showering experience. Thus, enclosures are key.

3. How long would you want your shower to last?

Material quality is a key factor in the longevity of your shower. The more durable the building materials are, the longer the lifespan your shower will have.

For example, using materials that thrive in various climatic conditions, such as cement, metal, or wood, will provide decades of enjoyment.

You should also consider the aesthetic features of the materials you choose; you’ll want your shower to be both appealing and durable.

Steps to Build an Outdoor Shower

The Outdoor Shower: Creative Design Ideas for A Surreal Outdoor Experience

According to a report from Realtor.com, outdoor showers tend to increase the value of your home, listing for nearly double the asking price of other homes.

Besides, it’s almost summer, and what better time to start doing everything you possibly can in the great outdoors, including showering? Here are steps for that breathtaking outdoor showers that will undoubtedly motivate you to make it happen. 

1. Find the Right Spot

You want to start by choosing the location for your outdoor shower as this will impact all the other stages of design, construction, and use.

Your outdoor shower’s placement in your outdoors will affect:

  • The amount of privacy you’ll have when you’re using it,
  • The way your shower complements the architecture and landscaping around it (and, conversely, how the surrounding architecture and landscaping affect your showering experience),
  • What degree of technology is required to operate the mechanical systems, and,
  • What materials are most suitable for satisfying the functional and aesthetic requirements of your outdoor shower.

When choosing the location for your outdoor shower, you need to predetermine the kind of shower you want to build in order to then find a location that will be suitable for your design.

40+ Outdoor Shower Ideas To Create A Spa-Worthy Oasis
Courtesy: Bacqyard.design

When building a permanent outdoor shower around your home, you must make sure that the location is suitable for your needs, as you will live with it well into the future.

However, a temporary shower in your yard gives you more choices to erect on one location the first season, and another the next year.

Here are a few points to consider in your quest to identify the ideal outdoor shower site:

  • Do you want the shower in an out-of-the-way location, offering privacy not only by design but also from remoteness?
  • Is accessibility an important factor? If so, consider locating the shower next to an exterior door or often-used pathway for the sake of convenience.
  • Do you want to make use of any pre-existing structural support such as exterior walls, decks, overhanging eaves, trellises, stairways, paths, or alcoves? If so, then envision how you can seamlessly incorporate your shower into these areas as this also conserves materials and ensure you make the most of what you already have.
The Outdoor Shower: Creative Design Ideas for A Surreal Outdoor Experience

We recommend placing your outdoor shower in a spot that is relatively unappealing but with an attractive view. That way, you can always shower while appreciating the stunning view.

If building a family outdoor shower, consider everyone’s ideal location but assess the challenges your potential shower site will offer for construction including the ease in delivering materials and if there is enough room to safely navigate the site with tools and machinery.

2. Water Supply

Water makes the shower a shower. Depending on the location where you’re building it, water can be accessed from private wells, municipal water supplies, rain catchments, and more. Just get that water to your shower.

An outdoor shower can also be supplied with water from a rooftop storage tank or cistern.

If your outdoor shower is going to be located near your home, your home’s plumbing system is the best source of water for it.

The plumbing can simply be extended to the exterior of the building at the location where it passes closest to your shower’s intended location.

In this case, water enters the system in the basement, from a well pump or municipal supply line. The line then splits in two: one line feeds into a hot water heater (and then supplies the house and outdoor shower with hot water if you care about washing in hot water) and the other line delivers cold water.

In colder regions, however, the exterior extension of the plumbing will need to be winterized.

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3. Plumb Your Outdoor Shower

How to Winterize an Outdoor Shower

Household plumbing includes a series of interconnected pipes, valves, faucets, heaters, pumps, and reservoir tanks that deliver both hot and cold water to the various outlets in a home.

When installing an outdoor shower, water needs to be supplied water for exterior usage by adding an additional section of plumbing to the pre-existing system.

To do so, a section of the main household plumbing system will have to be shut down, depressurized, and drained so that a licensed plumber can have empty plumbing to work with when splicing in the new pipes.

Once the shower is installed, the zone is repressurized and turned back on.

While you can DIY your own plumbing with a small collection of specialized tools, we recommended a licensed plumber depending on the complexity of the plumbing system of the main structure.

If you go the DIY route, always check with your local building codes and make sure a licensed plumber inspects your work.

Note…

If you’re looking to have hot water in your outdoor shower, you want to carefully consider how far hot water will have to travel from its source.

Ideally, a shower should not be more than 100 to 125 feet (30 to 38 m) from the heating unit, so that the water will not have cooled off by the time it arrives at the showerhead.

Therefore, if a shower is going to be 125 feet (38 m) or more from the hot water supply, it should have its own hot water heater.

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Next, choose the material for your plumbing fixtures. Copper or chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) are two of the most common options.

Copper fittings are the industry standard for permanence, quality, and long-lasting reliable use. Rigid copper is great for water-supply pipes because of its smooth interior, which provides a friction-free water flow, and its inherent ability to resist corrosion.

Copper fittings can also be connected to create angled turns. When all joints are soldered, they create a strong bond that will provide decades of trouble-free operation.

CPVC, on the other hand, is a less expensive plastic option and is best used for temporary, portable, or transient shower applications as they can damage easily. It is also easy to connect and detach.

The Outdoor Shower: Creative Design Ideas for A Surreal Outdoor Experience

4. Drain Your Outdoor Shower

Graywater, that is, wastewater from showers, must be directed to a safe location where it can be trapped, cleansed, and eventually returned to its active role in maintaining a healthy water table.

You may be able to develop a simple graywater percolation system based on your local building requirements and the frequency with which your shower will be utilized.

If you’re constructing an outdoor shower in a city or region with little or no soil to filter the graywater, you’ll almost certainly want it to drain into a municipal sewage system.

The following are the basic options for your outdoor shower drainage:

a) Let it drain into the ground

Allowing the graywater to fall onto the ground, where it will become absorbed and filtered back into the earth is a common approach.

It is often employed where the soil is very sandy or percolates well; so long as the water has nowhere to build up and collect as that may cause stagnation issues and create an environment in which insects will breed.

In such areas, no additional construction may be needed for water drainage.

However, you should check on local building codes to make sure that your shower drainage complies with them, as this surface runoff option is not legal in some areas.

b) Dig a Dry Well

If you want to drain the graywater from your shower into the ground but the soil isn’t sandy enough to absorb the water straight, you will need to dig a dry well.

This is essentially a layer of gravel beneath the shower that allows graywater to trickle down into the earth and eventually soak into the soil, where it is cleaned as it filters through the layers of dirt, sand, and stone.

Therefore, the water has little chance to pool or collect, resulting in a cleaner, safer, and more pleasant bathing experience.

You’ll want to dig the dry well before you begin construction of the shower enclosure.

So, start by marking out the intended perimeter of the shower, adding a few extra inches all around to mark the edges of the hole you will dig. Once the hole is dug to a depth of 3 to 4 feet, fill it with an inch of crushed gravel.

A dry well is a simple way to deal with wastewater in sites that have heavy soil.

Tip…

If your outdoor shower is in an area with much sand, like a beach location, and you have connected the shower drain to your septic or municipal line, consider rinsing off your feet before showering.

Keep a tray of freshwater by the entrance to the shower and ask bathers to rinse their feet in it before entering the shower.

This will prevent excess sand from being tracked in and rinsed down the drain, potentially clogging up the septic tank or plumbing.

c) Install a Shower Pan

Another option is to install a shower pan underneath the shower stall area. Just like in an indoor shower, a plastic, fiberglass, metal, or rubber-lined shower pan beneath an outdoor shower contains the graywater and directs it to a drain.

The pan could connect to the system that manages the rest of your household wastewater, whether that is a municipal line or a private septic tank with an attached leach field.

Water from a shower pan can also be used to irrigate ornamental gardens. However, it is not safe to drain unfiltered graywater from the shower into areas near food-producing plants.

Simply run a hose from the drain in the pan, and use that water to irrigate trees, shrubs, and flower gardens within your backyard.

5. Build Your Shower Floor

The Outdoor Shower: Creative Design Ideas for A Surreal Outdoor Experience

You definitely want a place to stand while showering outdoors.

Build a shower floor that is non-slippery and able to direct the used water to the drainage system, whether that is a sand-based soil surrounding the shower, the dry well, or a direct connection with the household wastewater system.

If the shower is installed on a deck, the decking itself can be used for the floor of the shower as long as it’s made from non-splintering wood, and the deck is suspended above the ground, with space below for air to circulate and dry the decking boards after the shower.

The shower pan is usually installed under the shower floor to collect wastewater and channel it into the household septic system. Alternatively, water collected in the pan can be redirected and used to irrigate landscape plants.

Other options for flooring include:

  • Pour a concrete slab with a center drain that evacuates the graywater.
  • Install a dry well and seat stones on top of the well’s gravel to ensure comfortable footing for bathers.
  • A combination of a dry well for drainage and an elevated wooden platform for comfortable footing. Just make sure the gravel is compacted well to prevent future settling of the gravel and also serve as the base for concrete footings and foundation posts to support the platform

6. Build Your Shower Wall or Enclosure

The Outdoor Shower: Creative Design Ideas for A Surreal Outdoor Experience

Enclosures create privacy and there are so many different options to choose from:

  • You can build a wooden wall with slats, either horizontal or vertical, which can be affixed to a structural framework at spaced intervals to ensure complete privacy and a calibrated amount of light and air can pass through.
  • Stone can also create a visual barrier as long as spaces are left between the stones to allow light and air to pass through.
  • Bamboo poles or culms, rattan or similar grasslike stalks, glass blocks, wire mesh with stucco applied to the surface, corrugated metal panels, thick grapevines woven together, and beaded curtains are other options for vegetative screening.
  • Vegetative screening can also be used in the form of a wire mesh frame that has flowering vines growing over it. Of course, where vegetation dies back on a seasonal basis, such a screen is more visually open at certain times of the year.
  • Ornamental grasses, especially those that thrive on moisture, can also be planted side by side to form an enclosure around the shower, creating a wonderfully soft and bushy environment in which to bathe.
  • A screen of fast-growing white pine trees or bamboo is another prime choice for providing a delightful showering enclosure.

Lastly, you can choose to have no enclosure at all. This type of outdoor shower offers the wide-open feeling of purely being in nature on nature’s terms … no separation.

Though not for everyone, this approach finds its home where people are comfortable being physically exposed and sharing in the beauty of the natural world.

7. Add Shower Fixtures

40+ Outdoor Shower Ideas To Create A Spa-Worthy Oasis
Courtesy: Villa Styling

Your shower is not complete without the right fixtures and fittings so start with temperature-control handles and showerheads.

Next, add your “fittings” including floor grills, drain covers, mirrors, soap dishes, towel racks, shelving, clothing hooks, and any other accouterment that makes your outdoor shower more user-friendly.

These elements are both functional and decorative, setting the tone for your personal aesthetic.

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The height of the shower should allow for comfortable headroom, adjusting for the height of the tallest user.

The plumbing industry standard is to install the showerhead at a height of 6½ feet (1.98 m). This height allows bathers of almost any height to use the shower comfortably.

8. Light Your Outdoor Shower

40+ Outdoor Shower Ideas To Create A Spa-Worthy Oasis
Courtesy: Cottages Gardens

Lighting is important in your outdoor shower, both visually and functionally, and bathing outside at night is one of the most enjoyable experiences.

With proper lighting, your shower can take on an entirely new personality.

This added element can dramatically enhance the beauty of your shower depending on the type of lighting unit you choose, where you install it, and how you direct its light.

  • Marine-grade deck lights can be installed on the floor of your shower, illuminating the entire shower from the ground level. These lights are designed to withstand the highest level of corrosion hence the optimal choice for lights in the “wet zone.”
  • Down-wash lamps, floodlights, and spotlights are other options for lighting.

NOTE: Lights that will be mounted outdoors to help illuminate your shower have to be of exterior-grade quality, offering a waterproof gasket to weather the normal degree of moisture associated with being in the rain.

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Along with lighting in the shower, lighting along the walkway will benefit the nighttime bather greatly. A set of low-key down-wash lights following the course of the path is perfect for this purpose.

Another option for lighting the path is delicately placing fixed or hanging copper lamps among various plants and shrubs lining your walkway.

The Outdoor Shower: Creative Design Ideas for A Surreal Outdoor Experience

Follow these steps alongside your contractor to build an outdoor shower that turns an everyday routine into an exhilarating experience.

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