If you loved running through the sprinkler as a kid, the kid in you is likely to find the same pleasure in an outdoor shower. Or if you longingly associate showering outdoors with watching the sun set over the sound and savoring a book during an afternoon storm from the cocoon of a screened porch—in other words, vacation—we can help extend that off-duty relaxed feeling long after the sunburn fades.
Don’t have a pool or live at the beach? No worries? The chlorine-saturated and sand-coated no longer have exclusive rights. If you exercise outdoors, do lawn work, have dogs to bathe, or simply want to feel a little freer and more in touch with the natural world, alfresco showering may be perfect for you. And there is an outdoor shower for every budget and every style.
An outdoor shower can be as simple as a garden hose run between a spigot and a showerhead fixture. And there are plenty of DIY models on the market. But if your sights are set a bit higher, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- First, find out if your city or town or homeowners association allows outdoor showers; then hire a licensed contractor who should obtain proper permitting—or walk you through the process—to avoid headaches down the line.
- When choosing a location, find one that gets the most direct sunlight to reduce mold, mildew, and the need for a light source, as well as to provide warmth. However, if you plan to shower at night, you will need a light source and an electrical source safe to use around water.
- Using the side of one’s house as a wall for the shower would seem to make sense, but insure that the material can withstand a soaking on a regular basis.
- As you design the shower of your dreams, plan for privacy commensurate with your location to prevent a neighborhood nightmare. If needed, available exterior shower “walls” ran the gamut of styles from the whimsical to architectural: shower curtains, trellises, plant material and, of course, full or partial walls.
- Drainage, including directing water away from your house, is critically important. An expert should assess the grade and design accordingly. Be sure to reclaim or direct runoff for use in your yard and garden.
- A level, slip-resistant surface for the floor of your shower is key but, beyond that, there are a number of choices: concrete; wood, bamboo, and wood-look vinyl; bricks; stone; tile, pebbles, river rock, and paving stones; and even corrugated metal.
- Rust resistant fixtures—maybe even a handheld showerhead—and other weather resistant materials should definitely be on your shopping list.
- If freezing is a danger, make sure to insulate pipes.
- Then comes the fun part—besides showering, that is—namely, amenities. Some to consider include hooks or towel bars, a shelf for shower supplies, and maybe even a chair or bench plus. And don’t forget the decorative items to complement your décor and the vibe of your outdoor space.
Once you stock your outdoor shower with earth-friendly soap and shampoo, you may never want to shower indoors again. Well, at least not until January.
Chris Ettel is founding partner of VB Homes. He serves on the Tidewater Builders Association board of directors, serves as past chairman of the TBA Remodelers Council and is a longtime board member of the Virginia Beach Public Schools Education Foundation. For more information, contact Chris@vbhomesliving.com or go to www.vbhomesliving.com.