Planning on putting in a new shower or renovating an existing one? Then it’s important to have a good idea of the basics regarding standard shower sizes and types, as well as some guidance on how to choose the best shower for your space.
Your shower is a space of zen. And to help make sure that you get it right, we’ve broken down the essentials below that will allow you to make it as peaceful, functional, and practical as possible.
Standard Shower Sizes
If you’re designing a walk-in shower, then you have a lot of flexibility in terms of size. Basically, if you can fit it, you can build it.
But if you’re opting for a pre-fabricated shower unit, you’ll be limited by the standard sizes that are available. The smallest size is typically 32 inches wide x 32 inches deep (although the International Residential Code allows for showers as small as 30 inches x 30 inches), and they go up incrementally from there, usually to about 36 inches x 60 inches.
If you’re considering a standard shower size to align with ADA accessibility standards, aim for at least 36 inches x 36 inches.
Note that in all cases these measurements refer to the interior size of the shower, and you’ll need to have some wiggle room for framing.
How to measure for a shower unit
Unless you’re building a bathroom from scratch, you’re going to be limited by the existing amount of space available for a shower. To get an accurate measurement, start by measuring the height—from the base of the floor to the top of your existing shower unit. Measure in two places for accuracy, and go with the higher measurement if there’s a discrepancy. Then measure the width and depth of the space.
What If You Want a Shower-Bathtub Combo?
If you want a shower space that does double duty as a bathtub, you’ll need to account for that in your measurements. The standard sizes for a shower-bathtub combo is 60 inches x 30 inches x 72 inches and 60 inches x 36 inches x 72 inches.
Be sure not to just look at standalone bathtub dimensions when trying to figure out the right size, since shower-bathtub combo units tend to run a little bit larger than standard bathtub units.
Types of Showers
Aside from shower size, you’ll also have some decisions to make when it comes to the type of shower that you prefer. There are four major types of categories to choose from, though you may be somewhat limited depending on the age and configuration of your home’s plumbing system.
- Mixer showers – The most common option, and connects directly to your pipes (meaning they’re reliant on your home’s own system for water pressure and heat).
- Electric showers – The most affordable option, and can usually be installed in any home. Come with a built-in element for heating water and are thus pretty energy efficient, though they often leave a little bit to be desired when it comes to water pressure.
- Power showers – Also known as pumped showers, power showers have a built-in pump that can make up for a low-pressure system. Heating and pressure are usually both ideal, but energy efficiency is low and these types of showers come with a high price tag.
- Digital showers – For the latest in shower technology look to digital showers, which are eco-friendly showers complete with a digital panel for controlling pressure and heat. As you might expect though, they run on the pricey side.
Beyond shower type, there’s plenty of different shower styles to consider, too. As for materials, fiberglass and acrylic are the most common ones used in pre-fabricated shower units, since they’re easy to install and maintain—even for a DIYer. Both fiberglass and acrylic have a similar look, though fiberglass is cheaper (and a touch more prone to scratching).
If you’re building your shower from scratch, you’ll have quite a few more material options, including:
All shower materials have their advantages and disadvantages. We recommend doing your research before deciding on a final choice so that you know exactly what you’re getting into (and can make sure it’s worth the price).
How to Choose the Best Shower for Your Space
Choosing a shower is a big decision. Size is almost always going to be your starting factor, but beyond that, you’ll have some flexibility—especially if you’re designing a custom shower vs. going with a pre-fab shower unit.
Some of the other major factors you’ll want to keep in mind as you make your decision include price, eco-friendliness, style, and durability. Also make sure to account for whether you want a shower with doors or a curtain, too, since that will have an impact on the overall style that you choose.
If you're building your bathroom from scratch, hiring a certified bathroom designer is worth the added cost.