Outdoor shower ideas abound these days—this is a backyard trend that's enjoying a big moment in the sun. If you're looking for a way to upgrade your home and your life, consider building or buying an outdoor shower. As far as summer-friendly outdoor amenities go, you can't go wrong with an extra place to rinse off sand or mud with ease.
Deciding that you want to install an outdoor shower is the first step, but now comes the fun part: dreaming up exactly how you want it to look and what you want to put in it.
Check out these ideas and suggestions to help you dream up the ideal outdoor shower.
1. Size it right
Photo by Bill Fry Construction - Wm. H. Fry Const. Co.
Your first consideration for an outdoor shower is sizing.
"If you just want a place to wash dirty feet or scrub a small dog, a 4-foot square should work nicely," says Craig Jenkins-Sutton, president of Topiarius, a gardening and landscaping company in Chicago.
But if you envision a more relaxing and private retreat with a bench or room for shelves and hooks, you'll want to plan for a full-length shower about the size of yours at home. Don't forget to leave extra space for towels and clothes so they won't be in the path of the water spray.
2. Choose a shower style similar to your home's aesthetic
Photo by Carlos Delgado Architect
Pick a look that'll blend well with the overall feel of your home and yard, suggests Tyler Riddell, director of marketing for eSUB Construction Software.
"A rustic approach might include corrugated metal and industrial accents (like the outdoor shower in the photo above), while a beach theme could mean enclosing the shower with a natural-grain wood fence," he explains.
3. Consider the plumbing
The ideal plumbing solution is to attach your shower stall to one side of the house so you can use existing hot and cold water from the inside pipes, says Jenkins-Sutton. If that's not a viable option because of your home's layout, you can also install a solar tank that will heat up a cold-water line when the sun hits it. Or install an instantaneous electric water heater.
"Just a cold-water line is required," says Jenkins-Sutton. "When hot water is needed, the heater warms the water as it flows through."
And don't forget drainage: "The shower's plumbing might need to connect to a sewage line or a greywater reuse drain that flows out to the lawn," points out Matt Michaels, spokesperson for Lowe's Home Improvement.
If you're on a budget, you can go the DIY route and use a garden hose.
"Of course, hose water will be cold, but that's not always a bad thing on a hot summer day," says Adam Glovan, field manager for Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Buncombe and Henderson counties in North Carolina.
4. Choose the right materials
Photo by Robert Young Architects
All materials should be appropriate for outdoor use, and you should have ample space to accommodate for a water source and drainage.
"High-quality wood products such as ipe and cumaru are known for their stability and are prized for outdoor construction," states John Leggett, CEO and founder of On Point Custom Homes of Houston.
Jenkins-Sutton says cedar is another weather-resistant choice.
Wood or lattice can be used to create some privacy on the upper and lower portions of the shower. Millstones or limestone are a nice choice for the floor as they heat up in the sun and can provide warmth while you wash.
If you plan on mounting the shower head on the wall, Glovan recommends adding a tile or stone wall backsplash.
Just be wary of cheap outdoor shower kits, warns Jenkins-Sutton: "Poorly made ones can crack or fall apart, so it's better to pay more for heavier, quality materials."
5. Add handy accents
A simple shelf or more elaborate medicine cabinet can hold toiletries like shampoo, a loofah, razor, or no-fog mirror.
Hooks for towels are smart, but if there's nowhere to drill in hooks, you can easily toss your robe over the side of the stall.
"A large rain shower is so luxurious, but handheld versions are also popular because you can use them to wash off pets, kids—even golf clubs," says Leggett.