Adding a Shower to a Half Bath On A Budget: Conversion, How to, Plumbing, ½ & ¾ Bathroom Dimensions

A bathroom is not just another room in your house. If you’re going to build or remodel one, you must consider two things: function and design. Better yet, build or remodel where the function serves the design and vice versa. 

With that said, the specific needs and preferences of the homeowner must be considered when deciding on a bathroom’s layout. You don’t have the same freedoms you do when building your new home and picking the right design. 

It’s for this reason why you’d come across a half-bath, a ¾ bath, or a full bath. You could even come across a ¼ bath. You begin to wonder: What do these terms even mean? What are their differences? 

Since you’re reading this article, chances are you’re thinking of adding a shower to a half bath. 

This comprehensive guide’s got all that covered. Before we proceed, let’s talk about the differences between a half-bath and a ¾ bathroom. After all, this guide will only help you if we’re on the same page.

shower and bathtub

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What is a half bath, and can you add a shower to a half bath?

To put it simply, a half-bath is a bathroom that comprises a toilet and a sink—nothing more. It’s the definition. In other words, it’s a two-piece bathroom. It’s also called a powder room and is great if you have guests over. If it has a shower or a bathtub, you can’t call it a half-bath. Yes, you can add a shower to a half bath. You can even add features such as a bidet.

Real estate agents and home buyers alike love them for their functionality. Guests won’t have to use the master bathroom to gain access to toilets, and the accompanying sinks allow hands to be washed.

Bigger homes can have a number of them and feature fancy vanities. They commonly feature a window. Bathroom sizes dictate your options, and they’re often attached to a hallway. Designs vary, but wallpaper is a common kind of way of decorating. They can also feature a pedestal sink or an intricate rug.

What is a ¾ bath?

This is where it gets tricky. In most cases, people think they see a full bath when looking at a ¾ bath. 

Let’s demystify the difference between the two. To begin with, what sets them apart is their content. 

A full one comes with a sink, a tub, and a toilet, while a ¾ bath is one with a toilet, sink, and shower. If it doesn’t have a tub, you can’t call it a full. If it contains all four fixtures, then you have every right to call it a full. 

So, do the math. What do you get when you add a shower to a half-bath? A ¾ one, of course!

The full and the ¾ bath are often used interchangeably and erringly so. When talking to a realtor or a homebuyer, make sure to clarify the difference if you’re selling your home.

How much does it cost to add a shower to a half-bath?

The cost to add a shower to a half bath is usually between $800 and $11,000. It depends on the quality of the upgrades you’re making and how good you are at finding cheap labor. 

According to a survey by Victorian Plumbing, 57% of adults prefer showers. This suggests that most Americans don’t want to take too long getting ready for the day or washing the day away.

The major reason homeowners prefer showers over baths is that it’s way cheaper.

How cheap?

Well, that depends on the type you’re buying. There’s a wide variety to choose from. If we’re to categorize them into two, your choice is between a custom or a prefab unit.

Best showers to recoup your investment: Ideas for your Half and 3/4 Bath, That Include Standup Showers

Prefab showers are by far the better option when it comes to recouping your investment. It’s important in case you will ever want to sell your home. To increase the resale value of your home as much as possible, you must keep cost and quality in mind for as little money as possible. You don’t want to overspend, but you also don’t want to install something hideous.  We spent 10 hours researching various options to get the option that will be the best investment for you. Here are some good standup shower ideas for your half bath and 3/4 bath. Make the most out of the dimensions you have!

Company
Best value
DreamLine
Runner-up
DreamLine
Best high-end
Aston Avalux
Best design
DreamLine
Photo
DreamLine Cornerview 34 1/2 in. D x 34 1/2 in. W x 72 in. H Framed Sliding Shower Enclosure in Chrome, SHEN-8134340-01
DreamLine 32 in. D x 32 in. W x 76 3/4 in. H Center Drain Acrylic Shower Base and QWALL-5 Backwall Kit In White, DL-6195C-01
Aston Avalux Completely Frameless Shower Enclosure, 42" x 36" x 72", Brushed Stainless Steel
DreamLine French Corner 36 in. D x 36 in. W x 74 3/4 in. H Sliding Shower Enclosure in Satin Black and Corner Drain Black Base Kit, DL-6789-09
Size
34 1/2 in. D x 34 1/2 in. W x 72
32 in. D x 32 in. W x 76 3/4 in
42" x 36" x 72"
D x 36 in. W x 74 3/4 in
Material
Aluminum
Acrylic
Brushed Stainless Steel
Acrylic capped ABS
Professional opinion
Great value shower from a reputable company.
Strong contender, good value
Beautiful, modern option
Impressive, modern design
Best value
Company
DreamLine
Photo
DreamLine Cornerview 34 1/2 in. D x 34 1/2 in. W x 72 in. H Framed Sliding Shower Enclosure in Chrome, SHEN-8134340-01
Size
34 1/2 in. D x 34 1/2 in. W x 72
Material
Aluminum
Professional opinion
Great value shower from a reputable company.
Runner-up
Company
DreamLine
Photo
DreamLine 32 in. D x 32 in. W x 76 3/4 in. H Center Drain Acrylic Shower Base and QWALL-5 Backwall Kit In White, DL-6195C-01
Size
32 in. D x 32 in. W x 76 3/4 in
Material
Acrylic
Professional opinion
Strong contender, good value
Best high-end
Company
Aston Avalux
Photo
Aston Avalux Completely Frameless Shower Enclosure, 42" x 36" x 72", Brushed Stainless Steel
Size
42" x 36" x 72"
Material
Brushed Stainless Steel
Professional opinion
Beautiful, modern option
Best design
Company
DreamLine
Photo
DreamLine French Corner 36 in. D x 36 in. W x 74 3/4 in. H Sliding Shower Enclosure in Satin Black and Corner Drain Black Base Kit, DL-6789-09
Size
D x 36 in. W x 74 3/4 in
Material
Acrylic capped ABS
Professional opinion
Impressive, modern design

Do not go overboard with your upgrades if you want to recoup as much money as possible during a potential resale. Make upgrades that you could potentially see many people being interested in. You may have developed a sincere passion for the color sunshine yellow. It is a color that belongs in the 70s. You’d be better off steering clear of it before you decide on turning your entire home that color. That is, at least if you’re hoping to be able to recoup your investment at a later time. 

Costs and considerations

Customization

When installing a custom option, expect to spend anywhere between $1,500 and $7,000. The overall price depends on numerous factors, including size and materials. 

To give you an idea of where your money is going when buying a custom shower, it bears noting that they comprise several components. It includes the surround and the plumbing accessories. 

Surround

The type of material used for the surround can significantly impact the overall cost. Ideally, you want to buy one that can prevent water from contact with the drywall and studs. Some materials also look better than others, so you may want to factor in appearances when deciding on a budget.

To give you an idea of what you’ll have to pay for the surround, here are the different materials and their related costs:

Material Cost

modern tile bathrooms

Porcelain: $10/sq. ft.

Fiberglass: $20/sq. Ft.

Stone: $120/sq.ft.

Ceramic: $7/sq.ft.

Solid surface slab: $100/sq.ft.

There are good reasons why some materials are more expensive than others. Ever wonder why a solid surface slab costs a fortune? Or why is porcelain so cheap? Let’s delve into the pros and cons.

Fiberglass

If you want a cost-effective option for your shower surround, picking fiberglass makes sense. It’s easy to install if your bathroom is the right size, even more so if your stall has a separate pan and backing. Just make sure that the seams are interlocked securely to avoid leaks. 

Fiberglass also has a smooth surface and is easy to clean. Fiberglass is the convenient, no-nonsense option for the practical homeowner.

Natural stone

Natural stone is a great option for homeowners who put a high premium on luxury. Natural stone includes marble, granite, or travertine. It has a nice luster that gives it a sophisticated appearance. As a luxury item, a stall made of natural stone can significantly increase the resale value of your home.

The downside? Stone surrounds are very expensive and hard to maintain. If you have the budget for it and don’t mind regular maintenance, a stone surround can be a good investment.

Ceramic

Ceramic surrounds are another cheaper option, but ceramic materials are wide-ranging. It’s also available in various styles and finishes and colors, not to mention that it’s easy to customize. One major drawback of ceramic is that it can easily crack if you’re not careful.

Porcelain

If you think of porcelain as a high-end version of ceramic, then you’d be correct. Porcelain hits the sweet spot in terms of a compromise between price and appearance. Porcelain has a sleek, beautiful appearance that will look great anywhere. It’s durable and has high water resistance, especially if you seal the gaps with melted glass.

Prefabricated ones

If you prefer one that’s cheaper and easier to install, go for the prefabricated units. As the term implies, it is one already ready-made. In other words, what you’re getting is a complete shower stall. As can be expected, installing it is a breeze because you don’t have to build it from scratch.

They are also mass-produced at factories and installed in a few hours. It is a big advantage considering custom-built models are installed in 2-3 days. These ready-made stalls can be made from acrylic, fiberglass, or cultured marble.

If you want to install a prefab option, expect the overall cost to fall between $500 and $2,500. A 48-inch, dual-seat prefab kit costs less than $700. If you want a luxurious prefab model, expect to spend a little over $2,000. It can be a steam model, for instance.

Door installation

Doors make up a significant portion of a custom shower’s overall costs. Of course, the price of the door will depend on the material it’s made of.

Glass doors cost anywhere between $700 and $2,000. Factors affecting the price include door size and side panels. Operational specifics and door type will affect it, too. 

Different types of doors and their costs:

Standard Door: $700-$1,000

Sliding Door: $1,500-$1,700

Corner Door: $1,500-$1,800

Curved Door: $1,600-$2,000

half bath

do you need a permit to add a shower to a half bath

Most locales require their homeowners to obtain a permit when installing a shower stall to a half bath, even if you’re adding it to the basement. It’s especially when some changes need to be made in the drain. The likelihood that you’ll need one increases even more if you’re installing a stall where a bathroom doesn’t exist. You may want to hire the services of a plumber, and drains need to be upgraded for them to accommodate the new shower. Before you proceed with the installation, contact your county officials to ask about regulations in your locality to make sure you’re following building codes.

We strongly recommend that you don’t skip the above step. Suppose you push through with an installation without obtaining the proper permits. In that case, you’re likely to face heavy penalties for project stoppages. It’s even possible that you may forfeit the right to resell your home.

To give you a feel for what to expect, here’s a list of tasks that will most definitely require a permit:

black and white bathroom

How to add a shower to a half bath or bathroom

There are many ways to add a shower to a half-bath. They vary according to the current layout and design. As a point of reference, we’re listing below the general procedures for adding a shower to a half bath or bathroom.

Time needed: 3 days.

Installing a prefabricated shower unit

  1. Prepare your space

    The right installation method will depend on the type you want. As already explained, prefabricated units are so much easier to install. They require only the most basic plumbing and carpentry skills to pull it off. 

    There are two types of prefabricated stalls: single unit and multi-panel. Installing a single-unit stall requires only a few steps: Secure and connect them to the walls and pipes, and seal the seams. You’re off to the races. Multi-panel units take longer to install because you need to connect the individual panels and seal each seam and joint. 

  2. Mark the location of the pipes

    Next, you need to determine the location of the pipes. Marking their location will give you an idea of how the shower stall will be attached to the wall and its essential elements. While getting the measurements, start from the floor and then move up to the corner of the walls.
    To mark the layout, draw a sketch showing the connections between the shower and the wall. It should include the plumbing. After recording the measurements, mark those same dimensions on the back of the shower unit. It includes the spot that will be connected to your bathroom’s plumbing fixtures.

  3. Start assembling

    Now it’s time to start assembling the tools and materials that go along with your shower kit. That said, make sure to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. Typically, you will need the following to assemble a stall:
    – Kit
    – 1.2 m level
    – Tile caulking
    – 2-inch hole saw
    – Electric drill
    – 1/8th-inch drill bit
    – Flathead screwdriver

  4. Clean the floor and the walls 

    You need to clear the work area of dust and debris before proceeding with the installation. Use a broom or a vacuum to remove all the dirt and remove any excess caulking by peeling or prying them off with a putty knife. Lastly, make sure the floors and walls are dry. This is because installing a stall on a wet subfloor may cause water damage down the line.

  5. Waterproof the surrounding walls

    The surrounding walls of a shower stall are often exposed to moisture. You’d do well installing waterproof wallboard or applying water-resistant glues on the walls to prevent water damage. Apply silicone caulking in the seams to make the installation more watertight.

Installing a single-unit shower stall

Can you add a shower to a half bath?

Adding a single-unit shower stall to a half bath is easy, at least if you’re strong enough to lift it yourself. To ensure an easy and safe installation, seek assistance from an able-bodied friend or family member.

1. Perform measurements

Take stock of the space where the unit is to be installed and then perform some measurements. If the stall has a swinging door, don’t forget to include that in the measurements. If the area hasn’t been set up for plumbing before, you should contact a professional plumber who will do it for you. You will need to create templates for the drain and faucet areas to prevent potential plumbing issues down the road. If the bathroom in question is in the basement, you will need to install an up-flush system. However, adding a shower to a half bath in a basement is possible.

2. Install a waterproof interior wallboard

The walls surrounding the stall are always vulnerable to water moisture. To prevent water from damaging them, install a waterproof all-board behind the unit. Coat it with latex primer for good measure.

3. Drill holes in the unit

Once you’ve marked the locations of your pipes and fixtures on the back of your shower unit, carefully drill pilot holes at the back. Make sure to do it slowly to avoid cracking the interior. 

4. Level the stall

With the help of an assistant, place the stall into the designated area. Put a level on it and make sure it’s lined up correctly relative to the holes.

5. Install the shower unit

Make sure to read and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer before proceeding. Here’s some advice: go easy on the adhesive, or it will lead to swelling and buckling. Position the unit to its designated area and double-check if it’s on the level. If the kit didn’t come with nails, attach the flanges to the studs yourself by driving galvanized nails into them. 

6. Caulk it up

Calk around the drain’s lip and between the wall coverings. Make sure to get around the fixtures with silicone caulk. Once the catch screen is in the proper position, tighten the faucets for good measure.

Mistakes to avoid

Mistakes happen. Then again, mistakes cost money, time. They can even take a toll on our sanity. If you’re going to install a shower in your bathroom, you’ll be better off avoiding costly mistakes if you can help it.

Here are common mistakes you’d do well to avoid.

bathtub and shower side by side

1. Not planning the space properly

The stall will take up a lot of space. If you space it poorly, the whole room will be compromised in more ways than one. As such, you want to make sure that the unit is positioned properly relative to the plumbing fixtures and the wall studs. To boost the room’s functionality, position the shower unit accordingly relative to the positions of other fixtures. It includes benches and added storage.

2. Forgetting about the drain

It does seem more intuitive to put the drain in the middle of the floor. In truth, it is better to place it along with one of the walls. By installing a floor that slopes gently toward the drain, the water won’t be filling around your feet while you’re getting cleaned up. 

3. Not adding grab bars

No doubt about it —it is one of the most dangerous places in the home, especially for the elderly. When you combine water with slick surfaces, the more likely it is that slips and falls will occur. Avoid this by installing grab bars on one side of the shower wall. 

4. Using the wrong tools

These installations require precision. Suppose you want to be precise. You better use the right tools throughout the entire process. It’s better to use a fine-toothed saw, or a tenon saw when cutting wall panels to make the cut precise and smooth. Using a circular saw or chop saw is not recommended because you’re likely to end up with coarse, rough edges.

5. Choosing not to place wall studs

The various components can be heavy. If you want to secure them firmly to the surrounding walls, they must be attached via heavy-duty screws. Consider the location of the wall studs when you’re putting the stall in position. It makes sure that the glass enclosure is firmly attached to the wall studs via screws.

6. Not making your pipes central to the shower plan

It goes without saying, but the shower is probably the water fixture that spikes your water bill the most. It’ll be wise to ensure a sufficient amount of piping before carrying out an installation project. Better yet, you need to make the pipes central to the entire plan. Things can get tricky if you want to add a shower to a mobile home, so you’d do well to hire a mobile home contractor for that. 

7. Not setting aside reserve funds

Micromanaging your budget might make you feel that you’re in control financially. Still, unexpected expenditures are bound to come up almost every time. If you want to survive the financial onslaught, you better be prepared. Nothing prepares you better than setting aside reserve funds. As a general rule of thumb, you need to set aside an extra 10% of the overall budget. Besides, it’s always nice to have some extra money if it turns out that you don’t need a reserve fund after all.

8. Hiring cheap labor

It’s tempting to hire contractors with the lowest costs if you want to save money. Don’t do it. Contractors who charge such cheap prices do so because they don’t have much to offer through expertise. They might also hire illegal workers or use dirt-cheap materials to cut costs, compromising the entire project.

9. Not having a cabinet for spare towels

If you want to add a shower, it’s always a good idea to include cabinets. You can store a spare bathmat, cleaning supplies, & toilet paper there. It’s also great for soap containers.

10. Not installing a towel rack

A toilet brush, shower curtain, and mirror are things people usually think about. However, a towel rack is often overlooked.

11. Getting a pool of water with improper tile installation.

Improperly installed tile can cause a pool of water. If you’re installing tile, do it right.

12. Not thinking about the overall design.

You can go for gray decorating or light blue paint. Maybe you want a shiplap or a farmhouse interior. Accent walls or floating shelves can create a contemporary feel. The important thing is to note that it matches the rest of your home. People often choose components that complement the laundry room, whether it’s wainscoting or beadboard.

Look on Pinterest, and you’ll find great examples of these spaces.

Increasing the home value when you’re remodeling

A smart homeowner wants to make sure that his home has a lot to offer in terms of value. Buying a home is an investment. You want to maintain or increase its market value in case you’d need to resale it down the line.

There are plenty of ways to add value to a home, foremost of which is to give it a remodel or makeover.

In terms of house remodeling projects, one place you shouldn’t ignore is the bathroom. A Remodeling Impact Report by the National Association of Realtors gave these remodels a Joy Score of 9.6.

With that said, remodeling or renovating your bathroom costs money. You need to be smart about spending it to receive more value for your renovation projects. Is a full ‘renovation necessary? Or do you only need to update a few fixtures? Are there aspects of the remodeling project you can DIY instead?

More to the point, will adding a stall to your half-bath increase the value of your home?

Most definitely! Whether the return on your investment will be worth it is another matter.

According to a National Association of Home Builders study,  a half bathroom adds approximately 10.5% to a home’s value. In contrast, a full one adds around 20%.

Will that 10% increase be worth it because of the amount you’re going to spend on the half-bath remodeling project? 

It can be difficult to arrive at a correct estimate on account of several factors, the foremost of which is the bedroom-to-bathroom ratio. 

The increase in value will be much more significant if your home has more bedrooms than bathrooms.

If there’s already a separate one that already has a shower in it, then that value might decrease as well.

Overall, the conversion must make sense to the overall layout of your house.

Whatever your circumstances, following the tips and suggestions in this guide should ensure that your renovation is worth it. It includes everything from a practical standpoint and also in terms of your home’s overall value.

FAQ

How difficult is it to add?


It doesn’t have to be difficult to add a shower to a half bath. It depends on the circumstances, including plumbing already installed and the amount of space you have available. The current layout of the space you are working with will also influence your decisions.

Bathroom Suggestions on Dimensions & Size

Living in a place with a limited amount of space may be acceptable for some time. However, we’ll promise you this much: It gets tiring after a while. Whether you’re adding or remodeling, you will want to make sure you’re getting a layout that won’t drive you crazy every single day. It is why there are some good rules of thumb when it comes to dimensions. 

Our recommendation for half baths is to have minimum dimensions of 4 by 8 feet or 32 square feet for size. You may create something smaller by going down to 3 by 6 feet. It would effectively shave off roughly 43% of the square footage. You will more likely find yourself crammed in there by doing so.

For a 3/4 bathroom, you will want a minimum size of 35 square feet. A popular option is dimensions of 6 by 6 feet, being a more common dimension. You will soon come to appreciate every single additional square foot you put in there.



How much does it cost to add a shower to a half bath?


This depends on many factors, like the types of fixtures you want and the labor you acquire. There’s a safe range we can tell you where your final bill will lie. You can expect the cost to be between $800 to $12000. Since you’re adding a shower, you’ll need at least three fixtures and their points to be accommodated in the wall. You’ll also require an additional space of 5×7 feet in your bathroom. If this is difficult to obtain, the cost will increase and requires you to change your plumbing and tiles.



Can a half bath be converted into a full bath?


Maybe. This is tricky, as half baths are usually made up in a smaller space. To convert this into a full bath, you may require pushing back walls and removing and re-fitting fixtures. The cost of doing this will be high as it requires more work than simply adding a shower. If you think you can find the space and budget for it, it’s possible.Bathtub seen in a bathroom

Before proceeding with your home improvement project, make sure to use an online tool that can illustrate the layout. It ensures you have enough space for your plans. You won’t get a separate shower and tub in such a small space. You will get something functional your family can appreciate.