Most people are too shy to bathe outdoors. However, if you live near the beach, it becomes an essential part of your house design. After all, you don’t want to drag salt and sand into the house. It’s much better to have a quick shower on the deck or patio, dry off, then come inside all fresh and clean.
Similarly, if you have a pool that you frequently use, you might prefer to wash off the chlorine before you come indoors. And as much as you can build an external changing room, you could set up a shower faucet much more efficiently. It’s cheaper too.
Kids will love the idea of showering outside. And since they’re the most notorious culprits of bringing dirt and debris into the house, it can be a good option for everyone. Outdoor showers can also be helpful in tropical climates. When you’re all hot and sweaty, you can cool off with a quick jet of clean, refreshing water and some soap.
Outdoor showers have various designs. It could be a standalone fixture in the open, a stall protected by reeds and a privacy screen, or a complete bathroom that is only considered to be ‘outdoors’ because it’s physically detached from the main house.
The walls can be half-sized, shoulder height, or taller, depending on how much privacy you desire. Most people don’t fully undress when they shower outdoors, so partial wall coverings are often adequate. See-through reeds circulate air, which will help you stay cool in hot and humid weather. It will also reduce accumulation of moisture, which can cause mould.
As you consider the construction materials for your outdoor shower, drainage is a key factor. You need a convenient way to get rid of the runoff from the shower. It could drain into the municipal system, be redirected into a recycling tank for reclamation, or be guided into your yard and flower beds to water your greenery.
In this latter case, be careful about the type of soap you use in the shower. Make sure it’s mild, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly so that it doesn’t kill off all your plants. For the floor itself, you can use wood, concrete, pebbles, bricks, or pavers. Pebbles work better than gravel, because they are smooth and rounded, while gravel might hurt your feet.
Wood is a low-cost organic option, but the constant water might make it get warped and mouldy. And while concrete is cheap and quick, it can be rough on your feet, and it gets hot in tropical climates. Consider using natural stone pavers, which prevent all the above problems and are also stylish, organic, and easily available.
Natural stone options for shower include travertine floor tile, limestone, sandstone, basalt, and even marble. Make sure you get a stone that has a tumbled or honed finish because the polished stone can get slippery. You can have the stone sealed if necessary, to minimise porosity. This isn’t essential for outdoor showers since the water will leach into the ground.
For your shower faucets and fixtures, make sure the taps are made from a solid rust-proof material that is also resistant to salt and corrosion. If you choose not to have an enclosure, you can install a railing around the top of the shower. This way, anyone that is privacy-conscious can run a removable shower curtain whenever they need it.
In case you’d prefer a more permanent enclosure, there are multiple options. Bamboo reeds are a popular choice, and many areas have indigenous reed options that work just as well. Following the natural theme, you could strategically plant some foliage to protect your privacy. Vines, palm fronds, or shrubs with broad leaves will turn the shower into a stylish tropical space that will add to your eternal holiday feel.
You can install your shower fixture in an area of the house that has a subtle corner. This lets you increase privacy without any additional construction. If you do want to build a wall, you can make a half or full wall using natural stone, concrete, brick, or trellis.
Some people like wood walls, but these don’t always do well with shower water. A better option is corrugated iron sheeting. It offers full privacy and is resistant to rust. You don’t have to roof the shower, but even if you do, the gaps between the wooden roof frame and the walls will ensure the shower has adequate circulation and ventilation.
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