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DIY Walk in Shower Enclosures

Updated on May 1, 2011

Part 3 of Budget Bathroom Revamps

Welcome back! We're in phase three, the final step to creating a blissful haven within your own home bathroom. The shower is the pinnacle of comfort. Stepping into a nice shower has a way of dissolving all the problems of the day. Stress literally slips away as the water drips over your body. So, today we're going to look at different shower options from piece together shower doors, walls etc. to full shower enclosures. We'll also visit some of the delectable items that take an ordinary shower and transform it into your own oasis of luxury. Let's get started. NOTE: While the work you'll have to put in to create your shower escape is anything but luxurious, the experience to follow is worth every ounce of effort.

Shower Enclosures
Shower Enclosures

Freestanding Shower Enclosures

The first thing you need to decide is if you like the freestanding shower enclosures or prefer the tile-based models instead. Let me explain. Freestanding shower enclosures don't come with back walls that form an enclosed area. Instead, the shower walls are your tiled bathroom walls, and the shower doors (or door extensions) attach directly to the tiles, forming a closed unit with the bathroom wall. Here is a picture for those who are more visual. You can add a base or have it sitting directly on the floor.

These types of shower doors range from about $625-$1700, depending on the size, style and accessories you want to invest in. You are basically getting shower doors and shower walls in whatever shape you prefer, and that will be your shower. These are also good options for enclosing a bathtub or tub shower. The sliding shower doors mean easy installation and a minimum amount of space being taken up in an already limited area.

These types of shower enclosures are popular because they require minimal installation headache and are more cost efficient. As far as the styles and perks are concerned, you have to decide what's your flavor, and companies like Vigo have plenty of options to choose from. Do you like the pristine look of clear glass shower doors or do frosted shower walls appeal to your artsy side? You can also choose from round, square, neo-round, neo-angle, and quad shaped shower enclosures, as well as framed or frameless. Lastly, you'll want to pick out the right finish for your shower hardware.

Shower Walls
Shower Walls

DIY Shower Enclosures

Alternatively, you can buy pieces and create your own shower enclosure. First you have to decide the approximate size and design you want your shower to be. Do you want a ceiling for your shower or an open top? How many shower walls will you need? How much you pay for shower walls will depend on how many walls you need and the size of the shower you want. If you are creating an "L" or "V" shaped shower, you'll need two walls. If you are making a more elaborate shape, you will need three shower walls in varying sizes depending on how much room you have. There are also accessories like built-in seats or built-in shelves that add convenience but can also add to the price. Some companies like Dreamline have trimmable shower walls that allow you to fit each piece to size perfectly. You'll also need a shower tray in the shape you are looking for. Finally, choose the type of shower doors you want.

Depending upon the different options, the overall price can vary by a few hundred dollars. For example, a roof kit would run you $150, shower walls are anywhere from $250 to around $400 (depending on size and accessories), shower trays are usually $150-$300 (also depending on size), and shower doors run around $550. So altogether for a shower system you are talking about approximately $1100-$1500 depending on which combination you go for. The benefit here is that you get a more complete shower enclosure and obviously a much more personalized one to suit your exact needs and style.

Shower Enclosure Kit
Shower Enclosure Kit

Shower Enclosure Kits

Of course, there is always the option to buy all-in-one shower enclosures. These kits include everything you'll need and then some. Here is an idea of what shower enclosure kits include. The Dreamline Oceana enclosures run around $2000-$3300, and you get jetted shower heads, shower walls, shower tray, shower roof, and shower doors. Perks include a built-in seat, a mini tub and a beats-all foot massager. These shower enclosures take all the work out of putting together your own unit, and is reflected so in the price.

Steam Baths
Steam Baths

Steam Showers & Baths

Now here is a completely different option. Steam showers and baths are well known for their healing and restorative properties. From back in ancient times to present day research, there is no doubt that steam baths are beneficial, even bordering on a medicinal and not a luxury buy. From your pores down to your lungs, steam baths create a wellness center for your entire body. Many people are aware that steam can open up your pores and cleanse your skin from trapped dirt. Did you know that steam showers can also help clear your breathing passages and have helped reduce and relieve discomfort from asthma, bronchitis and other breathing constrictions? The increased temperature also stimulates blood circulation and production, another beneficial side effect.

Now I know that spa resorts and Bermuda vacations are not something that most of us can afford on an anywhere near frequent occasion. What if I told you that you don't have to spend all that money on saunas? What if I said you didn't have to go by train, plain or automobile to find your steamy solace at the end of a long, hard day? What, just what would you say, if I said you could have this comfort, this healing and rejuvenating experience whenever you wanted, say every day after work or at the beginning of a jam-packed day? Well, now you can breathe better, sleep better, look better and feel better in the comfort of your own home with a home steam bath. You can't tell me I haven't peaked your interest?

Steam Showers
Steam Showers

Decisions, Decisions

Steam generators alone cost around a thousand dollars, though depending on the size, you can spend up to $3500 (there is really no reason why a residential bathroom should need such large steam generators, though.) Sizes range from 5kw all the way up to 30kw. Accessories such as a steam kit and essential oils bank can cost several hundred dollars as well. Oh, and you'll need an auto flush for about $235, but you better talk to the more technically inclined for an explanation on this one.

Those who are interested in this experience but don't have the headspace to put all the pieces together should stick with the pre-made packages by Mr. Steam. They include steam generators, steam heads, drain pans, and a few accessories. Speaking of accessories, let's look at those for a minute. Depending on which sense you enjoy stimulating the most, you can tailor-make your home steam bath or shower to fit your needs and desires. For example, if you are a music lover, try installing music therapy speakers for a symphony of relaxation and healing. If you enjoy color stimulation, then a set of color changing light therapy heads will be your indulgence. Home spa packages can be combined and mixed and matched, so find the recipe for your success.

Towel Warmers
Towel Warmers

Towel Warmers

Now this is a little bit of an indulgence, even beyond the steam shower. A steam bath can be justified. It's good for stress relief, clears sinuses, opens up pores, generally a great health boost. Towel warmers are pure luxury, but you'll soon be saying who cares? Once you've had the feeling of being engulfed in the soft warmth of a lightly heated towel, you'll never go back to ordinary towels again. Towel warmers are available in two models, the electric powered towel warmers and the "hydronic" towel warmer. The latter model has heated water running through the hollow tubes. You can choose between fully mounted wall units or pivoting mounted towel warmers. There are also freestanding towel warmers, but this idea makes me slightly nervous. I guess in a house without children or in one where you know when you lock the bathroom door it will actually stay locked for the duration of your shower, freestanding towel warmers can work. Not in my house, that's for sure.

From what I've seen, the Mr. Steam towel warmers are the best on the market. They offer the most reliability (all brass construction, UL/CUL listed, closed circuit heating etc.), and that's important when you're mixing electricity with water! Ready for the bite? Towel warmers, even Mr. Steam ones, run from $550 to a whopping $1600. Now the lower end of this price range is not so bad for a real luxury item. Make sure this is something that you want, and then order it before you can think twice!

Massage Columns
Massage Columns

Shower Columns & Massage Panels

Massage columns, on the other hand, run far less and pose a much greater benefit than mere comfort. Massage columns offer a stress relief unlike any other, a much needed reprieve in today's high stress society. Just close your eyes for a minute and feel, actually feel the massaging water beating down on your shoulders, your back, your neck. Just feel the knots being undone, feel the pressure in your head relaxing and dissipating. Feel the new you being reborn. (Here's where I take a break for a quick shower in the middle of the day!) How can you put a price tag on that experience? The best part is that the tag on this item really is reasonable. Vigo Industries, for example, has some amazing deals. From $350-$650, you are getting a bargain, especially when you consider how much a masseuse will cost. Different models will include varying combinations of jets and shower sprays that can be maneuvered and manipulated to create your own unique showering experience.

Both towel warmers and steam showers are available with the addition of essential oils. Now I'm not a tree hugging crunchy, but I do believe in the wonderful powers of the right essential oils. Even if they don't do anything restorative, they smell so nice, it's worth it just for the aroma.


Before you walk away from this three part series all in a huff, remember two things.

1. You don't need all the fixin's. You can get a great new bathroom look on a really small budget. If these last installments are too much for your purse, then check out my first bathroom revamp, in which we talk about bathroom renovations for under $100.


2. Remember that this is not just an indulgence. What you have to come to terms with is that everybody has their thing. For some it's eating out at a nice restaurant a few times a month. For others, it's a hobby that they take VERY seriously, while a third will indulge thousands of dollars a year on their favorite four-legged friend. If a luxurious shower experience is your thing, you are entitled to it, just as much as someone else is to spending loads of cash on vintage stamps!

Home Steam Bath
Home Steam Bath

Experience the Luxury Now

From faucets to shower enclosures, you've decked out your bathroom to the max. Or have you? Maybe your budget is spent, maybe your patience is too. Another day when your head can handle another thought, consider the smaller details that will really help give your bathroom revamp a truly finished look. Things like shower curtains, shower caddies, and ever-important towel racks will help to complete this monumental masterpiece. Once done, take a step back and admire an exquisite job well done. It took a lot of time, money, and effort, but at last, you have your stunning success. Look around. This is more than just a bathroom. This is a haven, a sanctuary, a place where you can retreat from all the pressures and stresses of the world, a place where you can just relax and indulge in the soothing, calming comfort you've created. Sit back, and enjoy your tranquility.

Share your wisdom, opinions and humorous anecdotes about bathroom revamps right here...

What's your favorite bathroom touch up?

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    • IlanaMoore LM profile imageAUTHOR

      IlanaMoore LM 

      7 years ago

      @mamamitzvah: Yeah those showers are something else right? Towel warmers are some slice of heaven alright, let me know how yours works out :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      OK, I could get used to that shower really fast :o) Thanks for the great ideas, as usual. I love the towel warmer. They are not expensive and can be a real treat on cold mornings.


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