McClurg's Home Remodeling Blog

Pros and Cons of Bathtub to Shower Conversions

Posted by Brian Ciota on Tue, Aug 28, 2012

If you’re planning to remodel a bathroom, you’re undoubtedly thinking about the type of fixtures to install. Many bathrooms are small (the average bathroom size is 9’ x 11’). One of the major decisions you will make in remodeling a bathroom is choosing whether to install a bathtub, shower or both. In making that decision it helps to consider the “pros” and “cons” of each option:



  • Many realtors will tell you that having a bathtub adds value to a home and buyers like the option of having a tub available for their use. People enjoy soaking sore muscles and the relaxing experience of a warm bath. The average amount of time people spend in a tub is 11 to 20 minutes.

  • Bathtubs now are made to fit in both large and small spaces. They come in many new shapes and designs that can fit into corners, alcoves or against the wall of a bathroom.

  • Freestanding bathtubs can be placed almost anywhere in a room and are finished on all sides to become an attractive focal point in a bathroom. They are made in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials. They can have “feet” like the classic claw-footed tubs of the past or can be mounted on platforms.

  • Built-in tubs can be fitted to optimize the space in a bathroom. They can be recessed or deck-mounted with a tiled surround. The design options seem endless.

  • Specialty bathtubs can turn a bathroom into a spa. Whirlpools, air baths and walk-in bathtubs offer many optional comfort features.


  • Most people, 53 percent, prefer a shower.

  • Unless you have a walk-in specialty bathtub, tubs can be difficult to enter and exit.

  • A bathtub can occupy a lot of space in a small bathroom The National Kitchen and Bath Association, in its “Bath Planning Guidelines”, recommends that “there should be clear floor space at least 30-inches wide extending the length of the tub”.

  • You need a water heater with adequate capacity to fill the bathtub with sufficient hot water.


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  • One of the hottest trends in bathroom remodeling today is bathtub to shower conversions. According to MSN Real Estate, bathroom upgrades add value to a home. Many homeowners are foregoing the tub when remodeling a small bathroom and adding large, luxurious showers.

  • Showers are eco-friendly and use less water than bathtubs.

  • Showers are easy to access, especially if a member of the household has impaired mobility. Low thresholds, showers without doors and shower benches are features that many people like regardless of age or health status.

  • A comfortable shower can be installed in a 30” x 30” space, which makes a shower ideal for a small bathroom. Luxury showers can be built in a 4’ x 5’ space.

  • Most people shower daily and spend 5-10 minutes in a shower.

  • Showers with spa features help to soothe aching muscles with multiple jets and handheld sprays.

  • A shower can be relaxing with dimmed lights, a rain shower head and a bench.

  • Showers can be equipped with grab bars and non-slip pans or non-slip tile on floors for safety.


  • If your bathroom space is limited and cannot accommodate door swings for shower doors, or if your objective is to renovate economically, one of your best options may be a shower with sliding glass doors. People complain about cleaning and maintenance with this type of shower door due to the overlap of the doors and the tracks. They also find that the doors can come off the tracks.

  • If you don’t have at least one bathtub in your home, it may hurt the resale value of the house.

  • Many families with young children find that having a tub is a necessity.


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Bathtub and Shower Combinations


  • Bathtub and shower combinations are the most common type of fixture used in homes.

  • There is a built-in tub and shower faucet to provide the option of soaking or taking a shower.

  • Tub and shower combinations use space efficiently when there needs to be both a bathtub and shower in a small bathroom.

  • Some combos come with whirlpool features for a very relaxing soaking bath.

  • Combos are great for bathing young children.

  • Shower curtains and rods can be used with many of these units to add color to your bathroom.


  • With a bathtub there will be a side to step over which may be a barrier for someone with compromised mobility.

  • Combos are not as easy to clean as a shower or freestanding tub. Three sides are tiled or covered by a pre-fabricated surround and you have to step into the tub or reach across it to clean wall surfaces. Curtains also require regular cleaning especially the curtain liner, which is susceptible to mildew stains.

  • Tub and shower combinations are more difficult to install and more expensive when a custom fit or configuration is required for the space.

Bathtub and Shower Combo

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How to Start Your Bathroom Remodeling Project


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Topics: Bathrooms