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Thread: Drain and faucet position for walk-in shower

  1. #1
    DIY Member skoby's Avatar
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    Default Drain and faucet position for walk-in shower

    I am in the process of rehabbing a small, full bath. The existing tub enclosure has the faucet and drain on the left side as you are facing it.

    I thought about pulling out the tub, pouring a shower pan, tiling it, and making it a walk-in shower but I would have to enter from the left. This made me think I needed to move the controls and drain to the right.

    Now here's the interesting part. The person who designed this house put in two shower heads, one on each side.

    I was going to abandon the idea because moving the drain and water supply was more than I wanted to do but now I'm thinking it would make more sense having the controls on the opposite side of the shower as you walk in. This way I can turn on the water to let it warm without having to step inside and "dodge" the water. It seems to make more sense.

    The question is:
    Is there a reason why I couldn't/shouldn't keep the drain and controls on the opposite side to where the shower head is?

    I know the temp adjustment would be on the opposite end which may some may not like but would it be too unusual for when it's time to sell?

    I suppose a compromise could be to move the controls to back/center of the shower. I don't want to move the drain, would it be ok to keep at the opposite end?



  2. #2
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    1. You don't want the shower hitting you on the back of the head while you are adjusting it
    2. The water will be spraying out of the opening if the water is spraying that way.
    3. Keep the shower head where it is
    4. There is NO good position for the shower head with that design, unless you add a door to contain splashing and spraying.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  3. #3
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    There are lots of options, and no one right one.

    Let's take the drain position. There are tub conversion pans you can buy that might work out for you, but while maybe fast, they are not inexpensive (many of them are designed to take tile). Having a drain at one end may end up working best if you incorporate a linear drain, but neither the drain nor the grate/cover for them is inexpensive ($400-600 isn't unusual or more). Those are nice, if it works out for you.

    Why it's better to have the drain in the middle - when you install the slope of the shower, you need to keep at least 1/4" per foot slope to that drain. Most people find the aesthetics best if the bottom edge of the wall is level. So, let's take a 5' tub space where the drain is 6" from one end. From the furthest point to the drain, it's nearly that 5' (to the corner). Without getting picky and doing the exact math, let's say that means 1.25" of drop from the corner to the drain to maintain that 1/4" per foot slope you need. Now, since you want the bottom edge of the wall level, that means that in the less than a foot from the drain end to the drain, you need to drop that same 1-1/4". That's pretty steep! The alternatives are, let the bottom edge of the wall slope to keep up, or use a linear drain, then all the walls except the two end ones would be a constant slope. Many of the manufactured pans may fudge a bit, and you could too, but you might end up with pooling. The good thing, is since it's so close to the edge, you probably wouldn't be standing on it. Keep in mind, on the long sides, it still needs that 1-1/4", and it's much shorter than from the corner, so it would be steeper. It often works best if you move the drain to the middle.

    A couple of things about the shower head on one end, and the valve on the other...if the pipe goes overhead, and that's in the attic, keep in mind that it may not all drain out...things could freeze. Probably wouldn't, but you might have a big spurt of really cold water. THen, because that line is so long (relative to the head near the valve), any adjustments you might want to make means they can take a couple of seconds. If I were going to do this, I think I'd consider a thermostatically controlled valve, and once you found your perfect temp, you'd only need to turn the water on and off for the next time.

    What some people do is treat it like a tub, and use a tub spout with diverter in it...adjust the water to your preferred temp testing with your toes, then activate the diverter to get it to the head. This also can be handy if you want to say fill a pail to mop the floor. From personal experience, especially if it is a long pipe, and how tall you are and the room temp, I like it hotter than what's comfortable with the toe tester, but you'd quickly learn, especially if you used a thermostatic valve.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Member skoby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post

    4. There is NO good position for the shower head with that design, unless you add a door to contain splashing and spraying.
    I would put in a rain shower head but I'm not sure if that eliminate water from getting outside

    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    There are lots of options, and no one right one.


    Why it's better to have the drain in the middle - when you install the slope of the shower, you need to keep at least 1/4" per foot slope to that drain. .................................It often works best if you move the drain to the middle.
    I see what you're saying. If I can't relocate the drain easily then I'm not going to waste my time/effort with this approach.


    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    line is so long (relative to the head near the valve), any adjustments you might want to make means they can take a couple of seconds. If I were going to do this, I think I'd consider a thermostatically controlled valve, and once you found your perfect temp, you'd only need to turn the water on and off for the next time.
    Good point


    I'll have to think about this, thanks
    Last edited by skoby; 10-23-2013 at 04:24 PM.

  5. #5
    DIY Member skoby's Avatar
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    Moving the controls would be easy. The drain would be a little trickier. I'm concerned about water escaping but in the pic below there's even less area for water to be contained. Is the design below out of code or realistically functional?


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    DIY Member skoby's Avatar
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    This is similar to what I was thinking except using glass


  7. #7
    ACO Shower Drain Sales johnfrwhipple's Avatar
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    Default Where to place the shower head in a shower

    Quote Originally Posted by skoby View Post
    .... Is there a reason why I couldn't keep the drain and controls on the opposite side to where the shower head is?....
    I like your idea - Run with it.


    Plumbing Layout Design - Where to place Controls for a Walk in Shower

    We will use little bits of paper cut to the size of the shower's trim to help a client visualize the shower layout with tile grout joints drawn in. We do this before the plumber shows up to discuss planning and work out any framing changes to facilitated a perfect install.

    If the pockets are deep we move anything in the way and reframe. If the pockets are not so deep we work with what we have.

    Most times we find a middle ground and work with that.

    ---------------------------------------

    I have talked a lot about tile layout and lighting layout and much of my planning here in Vancouver is over fine details like this. I prefer to start a shower up before getting wet so your design addresses that point. Once warm you would be able to adjust the water and face the other way. Have you consider keeping both shower heads?

    You will be reworking the drain most likely for this conversion I would guess with a tub to shower conversion. There are lot of points to consider. I wrote last year a five part series on tub to shower conversions - all design ideas.

    You can view the first one of the five at this link below. Once you remove that tub lets see what your up against - post some pictures here on Terry's site so we can keep eyes on your job. Remember to flood test your new shower. Before selecting a building approach make sure you decide on your tile.

    Last edited by johnfrwhipple; 10-24-2013 at 07:08 AM.


    jfrwhipple@gmail.com - www-no-curb.com - 604 506 6792

    Always get construction advice double checked by your local city hall. Flood Test Every Shower - Every Time.

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