DIY Dream Shower!

Master bathtub from 1980

The first time we ever looked at this house, we got a really good laugh out of this bathtub/master bath situation. I mean, I still LOL every time I see this before picture. There are so many things happening here that I have to talk about before I can move on to the renovation details. I'll start with the column-shaped elephant(s) in the room- these pillars. I really wasn't sure exactly what we were working with until I demo'd them, but I discovered that these were straight up cardboard tubes with wood moulding at the bottom and plaster pillar "caps" at the top. The "marbling" detail is a painted on faux finish with a polyurethane seal. O_o Also they're hilarious.

Moving on to the full-wall mirror... Just. What? I'm not going near the reason someone would want a giant mirror wall next to their tub, so I'll leave that alone and talk about the tub itself. This tub was a big ol' ceramic (or porcelain? not sure) 16" deep circle tub with no jets, no frills. Literally just a shallow circle tub. Everything about this thing was just... puzzling. The 80s brought about a lot of weird stuff and this bath situation was a whole lotta weird.

Sooooo enough about the BEFORE photo, let's talk about the renovation! When we first looked at this bathroom I realized two things, (1) this space could provide for a huge walk-in shower and (2) the drain and water supply lines from the existing tub were already there, making a shower install on this end of the bathroom much less complicated. I pretty much knew I wanted to put a shower there the minute we saw this space. I also knew that I wanted a double shower because the added cost of a 2nd shower unit is minimal and with only one shower on this floor, it would be way more convenient to not have to wait and take turns in the mornings.

The existing shower in this bathroom is across the room, you can see the green tiled shower stall in mirror reflection in the above BEFORE photo. (There was shower door on it that we took off) Honestly, we would have waited a while to tackle this project if the existing shower was still functional but it had a leak, wouldn't turn off all the way and we had to open it up to fix the leak, exposing all kinds of mold and even more issues. Point being- only having one functioning shower in the house on the bottom floor (master bedroom is on the 3rd floor) prompted us to build our master shower sooner than later. And so, demo began...

(Oh heyyy, there I am in the photo, can't escape that giant mirror. Also, there's Marco the boxer, who is never far away when I'm working on any project.) So I started by removing the columns, stairs and tub surround to understand what we were working with regarding the tub itself. This thing was a heavy beast. I couldn't even scoot it myself. After I disconnected the plumbing, I legit got out a car jack and put it against the wall to see what it would take to make this thing move. (Car jacks work every time, just FYI) What I realized was that I wouldn't be able to manhandle this thing alone, so I moved on to tearing out walls until Bill got home from work that day.

Master bath demo 2

I don't have photos of this next part of the demo process (in hindsight I wish I had taken video of it), but what we decided to do was demo the tub by breaking it into pieces. Even if we'd had multiple people help carry it, we're talking about moving it 4 flights of stairs, so busting it up and throwing the pieces over the back balcony was our best bet. Bill went to town on this thing with an axe and a sledgehammer. (And protective eyewear, of course) The other part I don't have photo or video of was when we took out the mirror by throwing a sledgehammer at it. Yeah, that part wasn't well thought out, but it was pretty fun to watch (from way across the room with protective gear on). Once we were left with giant shards of glass and sheet rock all over the floor we cleaned up by loading old rubbermaid containers full of debris and carrying them down to the garage (our demo pile location in between dumpster rentals) After clean-up, we were left with this blank slate...

Now before I move on to the next part of this post, (which will mostly be pictures) I want to explain that I did a TON of research about each step in this process. I watched hours of youtube videos and read a bunch of how-to articles before I tackled each step, and you should do the same if you're considering undertaking a project like this on your own. There are tons of resources out there, just look around!

The next photo I have (I'm bad about taking progress photos... and before photos for that matter) was after I re-routed the drainage plumbing, extended and stubbed out water supplies for both showers systems, repaired and reinforced the subfloor and started framing out the shower curb and base framing. Also, you see one of the spa shower systems we got from Amazon for $170 each! (I was dry-fitting the supply line distance) See link in the Shop This Post section below.

Next, I framed out a niche on the back wall to put shower stuff and added supports for the shower systems, then prepped the floor for the shower pan liner (ordered from Amazon because the standard sizes sold at home improvement stores weren't big enough for this shower).

Shower Pan liner installed!

Shower bed installed, pitched and fully cured. (As if that were a simple process. O_o) Laying this shower bed was a lot of work, done very carefully with sand topping mix, a screed, a level and lots of TLC. As you can see, I started installing the cement board on the walls here too AND there's a sneak peak at the penny tiles I used on the floor...

Cement board is up!

Now time for floor and niche tiles!

On to the wall tiles... These are 12" x 24" ceramic tiles from Floor & Decor (check out the Shop This Post section), so I had to use a special thinset for large format tiles. It took me a couple of days to get these installed.

Apparently, I stopped taking progress photos at this point, because I have nothing documenting the grouting process, nor hanging the the shower systems. But here it is, friends... the whole reason you read this really long post...

THE FINISHED PRODUCT! Our master walk-in double shower.

This is the only project we've tackled in our master bathroom so far, but OMGee we love it so much! Over a year later, I still tell Bill how much I love our shower! Our original plan was to install a glass enclosure, but after we got a quote for it and showered in it without a door for so long, we have decided to go without glass altogether. (I know some of you are thinking, "but the water probably gets everywhere!" Surprisingly, it doesn't!) We will install wood-look tile planks on the floor when the time comes and the amount of overspray that occurs is so minimal that it evaporates pretty quickly. WE LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS SHOWER!!!


*This post contains some affiliate links for which I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking the link.

  • Penny Tiles on floor and Niche - Gray Penny Porcelain Mosaic - Floor & Decor $3.96/per sheet

  • Wall Tiles - Ceramic Tile - Concrete Gray - Floor and Decor - $1.19/sq. ft.

Gray Shower Tile

  • MaiPei pre-sealed Grout - Warm Gray - Floor and Decor $47.94/gallon

  • Thinset - Maipei Ultraflex LFT for Large Format Tile - gray - Floor & Decor - $25.99/50 lb. bag

  • Shower Drain - Home Depot - $7.60

  • Shower Light - Lowe's - $14.98


  • Sand Topping Concrete Mix - Home Depot

  • Pressure Treated Lumber - Home Depot

  • 1/2 inch Pex pipe - Home Depot

  • Sharkbite Plumbing Fittings - Home Depot

  • Durock Cement Board - Home Depot

  • Plumbing supplies, schedule 40 pipe, p-trap, pipe cement, etc. - Home Depot

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