Understanding Outdoor Showers | 15 Pros & Cons

stainless steel pole, outdoor shower
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An outdoor shower can be a wonderful addition to your outside area. However, choosing the type of shower you need and figuring out all the rules and regulations required to do one means it’s time to do some research.

Read on to discover all you need to know about the how-to’s and what to-do’s when planning your outdoor shower. We’ll cover installation, expenses, and pros and cons.


Asian woman, she uses a shower and wash hair outside.

Outdoor showers are simply wonderful! They provide an extra shower area for unexpected guests or a place to wash mucky dogs and kids.

An outdoor shower is a great addition to your backyard area and becomes a lovely fixture with the correct landscaping or a secret private hideaway from the world!

Also, did you know that an outdoor shower can increase the value of your home! Outdoor features attract buyers looking for something different from the norm, so a one-of-a-kind, unique outdoor shower could be a big attraction for prospective buyers. (Source)


Outdoor shower on rocky beach near ocean

Before you install an outdoor shower, check with your local zoning office for thee rules and regulations. In the US, local building regulations differ between states.

No matter where you live, if you make any changes to your plumbing systems you’ll want to consult The International Building Codes (IBC) first and ensure that your structure complies with the code.

Also, check with your local HOA, as some HOAs might not allow you to proceed with the project or they might have stringent rules and regulations.

Installing an outdoor shower requires planning. The following items should be at the top of your agenda before your continue:

PermitsResearch which permit you need and how much each permit costs. You might need more than one. Failure to obtain the correct permits can carry heavy penalties.
DrainsCheck local residential building and environmental regulations for the permitted drains in your area. Various methods are available.
Hot waterResearch your options. The choice you make for a hot water delivery system could decide the location of your outdoor shower.
MaterialsSet a budget and decide what materials are necessary for your outdoor shower.
LaborMost contractors will charge between $500.00 and $8,000.00 to install an outdoor shower. DIY kits are available.
Hidden costsFactor in rubble removal, ground clearing, and landscaping.

Hot Water Delivery

brunette washes long loose hair under pool outdoor shower at concrete support near tropical tree at back bright summer sunlight

A basic outdoor shower generally uses cold water from a hose or other outdoor water supply as the main water delivery system. However, providing hot water to an outdoor shower is possible with some planning.

There are a few different methods to supply hot water to your outdoor shower:

MethodHow to
Plumbing– If the shower is against the wall of your house, you can access the existing plumbing inside the house and add another faucet to the outside wall
– If the shower is far away from your house, lay underground plumbing to deliver hot and cold water to the shower
Water heater– Install a portable gas water heater by the shower for instant hot water on tap
Solar heating– Solar panels, a coil of black hose, or a shower water tank are the most eco-friendly methods for hot water

You can also consider installing a small tankless hot water heater to deliver endless hot water to your new space without creating the eyesore of a traditional hot water tank.

Best Materials for Your Outdoor Shower

Outdoor rain shower in resort hotel close up photo

Materials for outdoor shower enclosures, floors, and shower heads should be able to withstand the elements and wear and tear. Choose weather and water-resistant materials which will last longer with little maintenance.

1. Floors and Enclosures

Mix and match your floor and enclosure materials. The best materials for floors and enclosures include:

MaterialWhere to use this material
Natural stoneFloors and walls
ConcreteFloors and on an existing wall backing onto the shower
WoodFloors and walls
TileFloors and the back wall of the shower
Glass bricksPrivacy walls
Stainless steelFloors
Composite decking materialsFloors and walls. Add to existing walls or frame

2. Shower Heads and Fixtures

Be careful what materials you buy for shower heads, as not all shower heads and attachments are weatherproof.

Mix and match showerheads and faucets to show off your style.

The best materials for shower heads are:

Stainless steelThis metal provides the best corrosion resistance and guarantees a longer lifespan
ChromeA cheaper option than stainless steel but is not as durable
BrassPerfect for the outdoor retro look but does require more maintenance than the other options

Outdoor Showers: Basic Expenses

An outdoor shower requires a few necessary items for it to function. Adding a few extras and a few things that you like and that make you happy will cost a bit extra, but they are definitely worth the splurge!

The basic costs involved with an outdoor shower are:

  • The enclosure or floor
  • Shower head and fittings
  • Plumbing materials – including hot water installations and drainage
  • Labor costs
  • Permits

An outdoor shower could cost around $100.00 – $8,000.00 for materials, excluding labor and additional costs like permits, ground clearing, rubble removal, plumbing, and landscaping.

If you are handy and love the idea of a DIY shower, the costs are reduced considerably. DIY kits in various designs range from around $100.00 – $8,000.00, depending on your requirements.

Installing a hot water tank could add to the cost, but a solar water tank could reduce the bill.

If you are not very handy, find a reputable contractor in your area. Most contractors will charge between $500.00 and $8,000.00 to install an outdoor shower.

These costs will be determined by the job’s difficulty and the time it takes to install the shower, plumbing, water delivery, and drainage system requirements. Get a detailed breakdown of outdoor shower costs. 

15 Pros and Cons of an Outdoor Shower

woman shower is outdoor shower

I love outdoor showers, but they’re not always great for everyone. Here is my list of reasons why you should have an outdoor shower and a few reasons why it might not be for you.

The Pros of an Outdoor Shower

These are the reasons why I love an outdoor shower:

1. The Tranquil Feeling

Your outdoor shower will be practical, but it can also bring a sense of wonder and mystery to your garden or pool.

Add stylish enclosures, furniture, secret pathways, pebbles, and wooden decking to create the atmosphere.

Instead of an enclosure, add beach sand and rocks on the floor around the shower to create a mini-vacay. Or enclose the shower completely and add candles for a romantic ambiance.

2. A Lovely Garden Feature

Surround your freestanding outdoor shower with plants that make your heart happy. Or add stunning backing tiles to your wall-mounted showerhead, especially if your shower area is visible and not too secluded.

Accessorize according to what you are going to use the shower for. You might have a garden bench looking for a new home that might look super next to your outside shower.

3. A Range of Styles

Shower heads and accessories are available in a variety of materials and styles. Simply choose what you like and what suits your budget.

4. The Space in an Outdoor Shower

An outdoor shower can be large and extravagant, big enough for 2, or small and simple, your choice. Either way, the space will look and feel bigger without a roof.

5. An Extra Shower for Guests

If you do need an extra shower for guests, but a remodel is not in the budget, what about an outdoor shower just off the guest bedroom?

Add a cedar wood wall for privacy, a simple stainless steel showerhead and faucet, and a portable water heater for hot water.

6. Useful For a Quick Rinse-Off

We all need a quick rinse-off after swimming in the pool or the sea; an outdoor shower is the best.

Bonus tip: move your outdoor potted plants underneath the showerhead while you rinse off and water your plants at the same time!

7. The Kids will Love it

We all know kids love splashing n the water! Not only can you use an outdoor shower to cool down hot and sticky kids, but you can use it to clean muddy shoes, bikes, and even muddy dogs.

Add a second showerhead to the wall or even a handheld shower for extra fun.

8. Easy to Clean

Outdoor showers are so easy to clean. Spray some detergent onto the fixtures, tiles, enclosures, and floors, scrub them down with a mop or broom, and spray off the suds. 

9. Adds Value to Your Home

New homeowners often look for something unique and different. Showering under the stars is a great attraction and could attract a certain type of person, but as home improvements go, an outdoor shower is considered a home improvement and will increase your home’s retail value. (Source)

The Cons of an Outdoor Shower

copper outdoor shower

As with anything that involves working parts and the great outdoors, showers can sometimes be problematic.

These are some of the reasons why an outdoor shower might not be the best fit for you:

1. An Outside Shower is Messy

Your outdoor shower might attract mud, leaves, grass, and insects. Water flowing over the floor could seep into your flower beds or paved area, creating even more mud.

2. It Can Get Cold

An outdoor shower might be perfect for sunny days but not on cold, windy, or rainy days. You might use your outdoor shower only during certain seasons, depending on the climate that you live in.

3. The Cost 

An outdoor shower could cost around $100.00 – $8,000.00 for materials, hot water, and drainage, excluding labor and additional costs like permits. Gardening and landscaping, and outdoor designs should be included in your budget, as should monthly maintenance costs. Plus, a dripping faucet might go unnoticed hiking up your water bill, so regularly check for leaks.

4. Lack of Privacy

If you use your outdoor shower as a proper bathing area, ensure that it is private and that the enclosure cannot be opened from the outside. (This will avoid unpleasant moments with delivery people walking in while you shower outdoors!)

5. Critters

Animals, domestic and wild, could decide to use the shower enclosure as a bathroom or a handy living space, blocking drains and damaging plumbing.

6. Cleaning

Some outdoor shower enclosures are easy to hose down, but showers with enclosures are much harder to keep clean.

Tags: cost, installation, materials, outdoor showers, pros and cons


Shana Burg is a bath enthusiast, content strategist, and award-winning writer. She is the founder of bathtubber.com.

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