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Planning Retirement Online

50plus handyman

                                             December 2005

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The handyman column 
By Roger Runswick


Thinking of installing a shower?

50plus Handyman director Roger Runswick discusses the options

Showers can be fitted in many locations, not only in existing bathrooms.  Even a corner of the bedroom is a possibility.   Here are the two main options:


Over an existing bath.



This is the traditional location, but it means either installing a shower screen or curtain in order to prevent a flooded floor. If you are seeking a shower that pushes out plenty of water, then both of these solutions have a tendency to allow water to escape and damp problems can result. Care must be taken with screens to ensure that base and sides are sealed.

A screen that expands is useful for saving space,  but this needs even more care in installation toprevent leakage. With curtains, there is risk of water escaping at the sides as well as the base, so length of curtain is important and also the curve and length of the curtain track.



In a separate cubicle.


Shower enclosures come in large variety of sizes ranging from those it’s just possible to squeeze into, to the luxuriously enormous. Enclosures are available pre-assembled, very useful for fitting into bedrooms and virtually guaranteed not to leak.   Typically glazed assemblies are available, ready to erect against one or more existing walls, or a unit can be constructed. The somewhat flexible plastic trays once used (which had a habit of developing leaks after a few years) have been replaced by stone-cast trays which provide a far more stable base. Water-resistant panels (to tile over) have also become available and these greatly assist longevity.


Types of shower

  • A simple integrated shower and mixer taps for installing on an existing bath

  • Electric, with or without water heater and pump and thermostatic control - for installing either over a bath or in a separate shower cubicle

  • A separate mixer valve fed with hot and cold water. Mixer valves are available with either a manual or thermostatic temperature control and can be installed over a bath or in a separate shower cubicle. With this type of shower, a separate pump to provide a high rate of flow is also an option.

Your home – what to consider

In terms of cost, the cheapest solution is the bath mixer tap with a hose mounted on the wall. How effective this is will depend on how good your water pressure is. If you have a modern boiler, which provides hot water at mains pressure, then a good rate of flow is likely. If you have a traditional heating system with a header tank in the loft, then the rate of flow will depend on how far the tank is above the shower head, further being better.

You can judge how good the shower will be by how fast the water flows out of the taps, remembering the shower head will be a metre or so higher.  Bath mixer showers start at around ?30, but changing bath taps can cost ?60 or more, particularly if access is difficult.

A simple electric shower over the bath is a common purchase. In recent months catalogues and DIY stores have been promoting electric showers, and prices range from ?70. Remember, however, that water and power need to be fed to the shower, probably tiling undertaken and a screen fitted.  Depending on the status of the existing plumbing and electrical systems, an installation cost of ?400 or more is not untypical, something the supplying stores all too frequently fail to mention.

If you have space available for a separate cubicle, you can choose from a wide variety of enclosures and shower fittings. A separate pump to boost the flow rate is definitely worth considering. The mixer valve, pump, tray, enclosure and accessories will cost upwards of ?600, and installation needs to be added on top.  The cost will be heavily dependant on what is existing.

For the less mobile, it is possible to install a ready-built cubicle in a bedroom or other room. Drainage needs to be looked at carefully and some changes to electrical systems to meet safety regulations may be necessary, but if you have such a need then a solution can usually be found.

Roger Runswick is a director of 50plus Handyman and a member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers. He can be contacted at .


Previous articles in this series:


Fixing drips and changing your taps

Can I still change my light switch?

Fitting an outside light

Pre-winter maintenance

Thinking of installing a shower?



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