Small Tub into Walk-in Shower Conversion: What’s the Cost?

Currently, your bathtub is tiny. You’ve recently completed some other remodels on your home, and you think the tub is next. You’d love to transform your bathtub into a walk-in shower, but how much will such a conversion cost? We researched this all-important topic so you can make the decisions that you need. 

Converting your small tub into a walk-in shower may cost between $2,150 and $7,950 per the most recent stats from HomeAdvisor. The average price for this conversion is $3,000.

If you have yet more questions about remodeling a bathtub, then this is the article for you. In it, we’ll discuss whether you can convert a tub to a walk-in shower on your own (and how), if you can take a shower and make it back into a bathtub, and what the price might look like for a shower/tub combo. Keep reading, as you won’t want to miss it!

A modern bathroom with a dark gray texture on the flooring and walls, Small Tub into Walk-in Shower Conversion: What’s the Cost?

Cost of Conversion

2020 data from HomeAdvisor quotes a standard shower-to-tub conversion as costing between $1,200 to $3,000. Since you want a walk-in style shower, that’s costlier at $2,150 on the lower end and $7,950 on the higher end.

Can You Convert a Tub into a Walk-in Shower on Your Own?

You’re the DIY type, and you’re quite handy at that. If you can shave hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars off your shower conversion and installation costs, you’d be happy to. Still, is converting a tub into a walk-in shower too big of a task for you to handle on your own?

Not at all! Here are the supplies you’d need for the project:

  • 10-yard dumpster rental for holding all the old tub pieces
  • Jigsaw
  • Prybar
  • Reciprocating saw (drywall saw also works)
  • Utility knife
  • Putty knife
  • Allen wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Plywood
  • Walk-in shower kit

Before you do anything with your current tub, make sure you have room for a walk-in shower in your bathroom. The space between the shower wall and your toilet (at least the front of it) must be 21 inches or more.

From the shower wall to the toilet’s side, you need 15 inches. Also, your bathroom should be at least 80 inches tall, and the floor 30 inches by 30 inches. If your bathroom is lacking in any of these areas, then you can’t install a walk-in shower. Other shower types might work, though.

If you’re ready to proceed, here are the steps to follow.

Step 1

Take apart the drywall and tile near your tub so you can easily remove the tub when the time comes. You’ll want to put plywood on the floor for this step, so you don’t accidentally ruin your floor tile.

Oh, and make sure no water is running to the bathroom.

Step 2

Get started taking your tub out. You want to begin with the faucet knobs, then the overflow drain cover. Your Allen wrench can get all the screws loose to take the faucet and the knobs right off.

When you have those parts detached, take off the tile surrounding your bathtub, going roughly 8 inches out. Your utility knife will come in handy for separating the tiles from the grout. A putty knife should get the tiles off in one piece.

Then, use your drywall saw to cut the surrounding drywall. If you see any screws or nails connecting the tub to the wall, unscrew these now.

Step 3

Grab your prybar to raise one side of the tub. You’ll need a second person for this part of the job, as they can help you lift the other side of the tub and carry it out the door and out of your home in one piece.

If the tub can’t fit in a single piece, then a jigsaw can split the tub down the middle. Since you’re not keeping it anyway, it doesn’t matter how many parts the bathtub comes out in, just that it’s out.

Step 4

Repair damage to the subflooring if it’s needed. You might also want to consider replacing the subfloor at this time but leave the plumbing alone. Only certified plumbers should work on your bathroom pipes.

Step 5: Depending on the instructions of your walk-in shower install kit, you can follow those to completion. With curbless walk-in showers, you might need to alter the shower area floor, so it’s more level. Then, the shower pan won’t be inches above the floor.

The final result might look a little something like this.

A modern bathroom with a walk-in tub and a white countertop

 

Here’s a handy video that illustrates the concepts above.

Can I Turn My Shower into a Bathtub?

What if at some point you change your mind? You had a shower, not necessarily a walk-in one, but a shower stall. Now you think that a bathtub might be better in your bathroom. For children, especially, it’s easier to use a tub than it is a shower.

Is it possible to go back to what you had? Absolutely! By having a team of pros remove the shower and demolish all its fixtures, you now have a corner of the bathroom to get your tub installed. You will have to get any damage to the walls and floors replaced when you remove your shower.

Some homeowners opt to keep most of the shower intact and expand the tub into it. You must have room to accommodate a bathtub, which on average, is 14 inches tall by 30 inches wide by 60 inches long, as well as space for the shower, which is typically 34 inches wide by 48 inches long.

In such a scenario, you’d get a wall installed that encloses the tub wall and the shower. Matching the tile is necessary for cohesiveness. It might have a look, such as in this photo.

A modern bathroom with a dark gray texture on the flooring and walls

Now that you’ve got your tub installed don’t forget the drain stoppers and tub plugs! Read more: 10 Novelty Bath Tub Plugs And Drain Stoppers.

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Shower/Tub Combo?

Let’s say you were interested in a setup such as the above, with a shower and tub together in the same bathroom. If that’s the route you decided to take, how much should you expect to pay for installation services from a professional?

According to 2020 data from HomeAdvisor (different link than earlier), the average cost of a tub/shower combo is $2,900. That does factor in installation costs, which would be roughly $1,000. The rest of that quote includes the price of the surround ($500 to $1,000) and the tub itself ($400 to $2,000).

Buying a shower/tub combo a costly venture, but it’s about on par with shower stall prices.

Read more: How Much Does a Shower Stall Cost? [Inc. Installation Fees]

Also, HomeAdvisor notes that refinishing your bathroom tends to cost less than replacing fixtures. By having at least one tub in the house, you’re also boosting the curb appeal of your home. This means that if you ever decide to sell your property, you could earn more money for it.

Are Walk-in Showers a Good Idea?

If you can’t decide between a smaller shower stall and a walk-in shower, allow us to help you make up your mind.

Walk-in showers can be a good idea for a variety of reasons. For one, these types of showers are beautiful, which once again can lend itself well to the curb appeal of your home.

It’s easier to clean a walk-in shower than some other shower types due to the spaciousness of your shower, and the fact that it has fewer corners and crannies. You also don’t need a shower curtain for your stylish walk-in shower, so your shower is at a lower risk of developing mold.

Do you live with your older parents? If so, a walk-in shower is easily accessible to them. Even if you have young kids now, in a few years when they can bathe by themselves, they’ll be able to navigate the walk-in shower as well.

However, there are a few downsides. Walk-in showers can accommodate bathrooms of different sizes, but in a smaller bathroom, the shower feels like a space hog. Another disadvantage is that stepping into the walk-in shower after someone had already used it could result in you walking into an unsafe environment, which could be dangerous, especially for older people.

Weigh the pros and cons carefully when making your decision about whether a walk-in shower is right for your home.

Conclusion

If you’ve always dreamed of taking that small tub and making it into a walk-in shower, this goal is very much possible. What’s even better is that you can do it yourself with a shower kit and some tools. The job can be expensive if you let the pros take care of it, upwards of $8k, but that’s another option you have. Enjoy your new shower!

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