Shower Bath on a Budget
If you've moved into a home with only a bath and are pining for the days when you could jump in the shower in the morning and be fresh, clean and invigorated for the day ahead five minutes later, then you're probably dreaming of the day when you've finally scratched together enough cash to tear out your existing bathroom and remodel it as a wet room. Until that day comes, here's the short to medium term solution to your woes: our guide to creating a shower bath on a budget.
The simplest thing you can do is fit a riser rail to your bathroom wall to hold your shower head in place at the right height (variable for different users), sliding a shower mixer onto your bath taps. This system will require good existing water pressure, plus you'll need a degree of patience each time you shower, as it can be tricky getting the temperature balance just right. It is, however, cheap and easy.
Next up – and a longer term solution – is replacing your existing bath taps for a bath shower mixer tap. There are plenty of these available, so you should be able to find something that will fit your existing tap holes without too much difficulty. This operates the same way as the rubber hose you can buy from Argos, but strong water pressure will not be able to force the hose off the taps, as it's an integrated system, and it'll be a lot less fiddly getting the water to the temperature you require. It's more expensive and requires a degree of plumbing expertise – but you'll be happier with the results for longer.
Alternately, you could have an electric shower fitted. This is a costly option as not only are you buying a piece of electrical equipment, you'll also need to pay for professional fitting. Never try to fit an electric shower yourself (unless you happen to be a qualified electrician). The pipes can be fitted over your existing wall covering for simplicity (and to save money): your electrician can simply box them in. For a more attractive finish, though, you may prefer to have the pipes reflected in the bathroom wall and plastered then painted or tiled over to match the rest of your bathroom. This option would work best if you were planning to repaint or re-tile the room anyway.
The big advantage of a shower that uses a different source of power to your boiler, as an electric shower does, is that you'll still be able to have a hot shower if your boiler breaks down. And if you keep that Argos shower mixer hose stashed in one of your bathroom cabinets, you'll have a fall-back option if, on the other hand, your electricity supply fails.
Once you've installed your shower, you'll need a shower screen to prevent your bathroom getting a soaking every time the shower is used.
The cheapest option is to fix a pole from the wall or ceiling and hang a shower curtain. There are a range of patterns and colors to choose from, and they're rarely very expensive. If you start to get a build up of mildew or mold, you can simply pop the shower curtain in the washing machine.
A shower curtain will work absolutely fine for containing the spray from a light or medium flow of water, but if the spray from your shower is heavy you'll need a more heavy-duty solution.
A solid shower screen which fits to the wall and forms a watertight barrier over the side of your bath is a better solution, longer term. No matter whether your bath is straight or curved, there's a screen for you. They're not too expensive, they'll save you having to dry out your bathroom floor every day, and they're fairly straight to fit. If you prefer a screen that will not be permanently protruding into the room, concertina screens are an option: a shower screen in a few parts, they fold back against the wall when out of use.
If you're in this for the long term and you've fitted a powerful shower, sometimes powered by a pump to boost your existing water power, then you might like to consider fitting full size screen which encloses the whole bath area. This will ensure your bathroom remains dry no matter what; it is, however, the most expensive solution and could seem a little overpowing in a small bathroom.