Cost to Convert a Tub into a Walk-in Shower

Lack of space in the bathroom is an annoying issue in most apartments. One way to create more space is to replace the tub with a walk-in shower.

This is a major renovation project, and cost is a huge consideration; installation and material prices start at $2,500 and can go as high as $15,000 or more.

Despite the high cost, this is one of the most popular bathroom remodel projects.

Installing a walk-in shower can transform your small bathroom into a modern space with a luxury look and feel.

How Much Does It Cost to Convert a Tub Into a Walk-in Shower?

There are many factors that impact the total cost to convert a tub to a walk-in shower. These include: relocating the shower, any plumbing, concrete and underlying framing work, design, quality of materials, etc. Budget project costs start at $2,500.

Cost of Curb vs Curbless Shower Enclosure

Large Walk-in Shower with Porcelain Tile

On average, prices for basic shower enclosures with curbs start at around $2,700 (provided that this is a simple replacement, and no plumbing, concrete or tile work is required). This includes a plumber removing the old tub and fixtures, and install the new shower enclosure (receptor and wall surfaces).

If you are on a budget, you can opt for a cast iron shower pan by Kohler at a price of about $725 and install semi-frameless glass bypass doors for about $1,800. Total cost: $2,525.

Other budget pan materials include fiberglass (starts at $200+) and acrylic (starts at $580 +). The biggest downside to these materials is that they are only available in fixed sizes, which may not work for all bathrooms.

Any other improvements such new tile, shower bench, etc can add another $1,000-2,000 to the total. A simple glass door in a pre-made size can start at $600+.

Curbless shower enclosures are a lot more expensive and can start at $5,000, for a simple install, but usually end up costing between $8,000-12,000+ These high-end shower stalls typically have tile, stone or solid pan materials, in a custom made size.

Other materials can also be expensive. For example, a frameless shower door alone can cost 2,000-3,000+ If you would like to have frosted or obscured glass, expect to add on another 10% to the cost. Also, keep in mind that custom glass sizes cost more than ready-made ones. Heavier and larger glass doors are more difficult to install and therefore will cost more.

If you want to install a shower niche to hold your shampoos and other toiletries, expect to pay $250+/one. Installing a shower bench starts at $200 (materials excluded).

Round Glass Shower Enclosures

Another option for walk-in shower is round glass enclosure. These come pre-made and require minimum construction work. Round showers can be installed with tile walls, or with optional acrylic wall kits (not recommended).

Round shower costs start at around $525 for frame / glass and shower base kits, and can go as high as $1500+. Basic units are sold at Home Depot and Lowe’s stores as well as specialty bathroom supply stores as well as online.

One disadvantage of round glass enclosures is relatively limited space inside, so if you want to get one – go for the biggest base dimensions that you can find. Otherwise you may get a little claustrophobic taking a shower.

The advantage is the same, as disadvantage, but only if your bathroom is small and you need to save space – perfect for apartments. Here is an overview of the largest round glass enclosure with 38″x38″ base dimensions.

Some other considerations include location of the drain and possible enclosure leaks, while taking a shower. However it’s my firm belief that most leaks are results of a poor / improper installation.

Plumbing Costs

If you are looking to change the layout of your bathroom and move fixtures, this will significantly increase your total cost. Depending on where you live, a licensed plumber will charge $65-90/hr for labor. Inflated markets such as New York and Silicon Valley will have the highest labor rates.

To install a shower in a different place where the original tub once stood, expect to pay at least $2,000-3,500.

Tile Costs

Depending on your budget, you can get a wide range of tile materials. Beautiful tile can greatly enhance your bathroom’s design. Simple, white ceramic tile can cost as little as $1-2 / sq.ft. On the other hand, high-end tile materials can cost as much as $30-50/sq.ft.

The total cost to install ceramic tile in the shower stall will range from $1,500 – 2,600, while porcelain tile can be $1,800-3,500 (depending on the tile quality and design). Installing a tile baseboard (labor only) can cost $200-375.

Electric or Steam Shower Cost

If your budget allows, there are a number of extra features you can add, to maximize your enjoyment and comfort.

One option is to make your shower electric, which will make the water instantly hot when you turn on the shower. You will need to hire both a plumber and an electrician to complete the install. Expect to spend at least $1,000.

Another wonderful, but expensive option is to install a steam shower. Depending on the size and any added accessories, you will spend between $3,500-6,500 for materials and labor. This spa – like feature is not only luxurious, but also great for your health.

Painting Cost

To complete your bathroom remodel, you may need to repaint the walls and trims. Be sure to select quality paint that is water resistant and made specifically for use in moisture prone spaces.

Expect to pay an average of $1.50-3.50/sq.ft to paint walls only. If you want to include trim and ceilings, it will cost $3-5/sq.ft.. In another words, you should budget between $250 – 600 to have your bathroom repainted.

Project Considerations

Walk-in shower with glass door in small bathroom

Before you commit to the idea of ditching your old tub for a sleek walk-in shower, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind.

1. You need at least one bathroom with a tub to to sell your condo.

If you ever intend to put your apartment up for sale, you need to consider the fact that most buyers are looking for a tub in one of the bathrooms. People use tubs in a variety of household chores, and those with small children would likely not go for a place without a tub. If your apartment has two bathrooms, you are golden: leave the tub in one, and install a walk-in shower in the other. However, if you only have one bathroom, you need to think hard about whether this conversion will be worth it in the long run.

2. Building code requirements for a shower install.

Before you get started, you need to make sure that your bathroom space meets the minimum requirements for a walk-in shower set out by building codes. If it does not, not only will you be hard pressed to find a contractor for the job, you will also be creating a safety hazard in your home.

Here are the general requirements (we recommend contacting your local building inspector to get the exact requirements for your place)

– The floor of the shower stall should be at least 30 x 30 inches. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) recommends that it be at least 36 x 36 inches.

– Finished ceiling height should be at least 80 inches. This may become an issue in an attic or basement bathroom.

– Shower door should open and close without any obstructions. You can install sliding glass doors to avoid any issues with door swing.

15 inches is the minimum distance measured from the side of the toilet to the shower wall. (18 inches is recommended)

21 inches is the minimum distance measured from the front of the toilet to the shower wall. (30 inches is recommended).

3. Make sure you have a proper bathroom exhaust fan.

Any bathroom has a lot of moisture, but spaces with a shower typically have more water and steam collecting on the walls than those with just a tub. Consequently, its essential to install an effective exhaust fan to keep your bathroom dry. This way you will save yourself the headache of dealing with peeling paint, mold and other nasty, costly-to-fix problems that arise in bathrooms that lack proper ventilation.


Leave a Reply