Easy DIY Outdoor Shower Kit: A Step-By-Step Guide

When the stores start stocking up on floats, sandals, and sunscreen, your thoughts might not immediately jump to the convenience and luxury of installing an outdoor shower kit.

But it’s sure to be at the forefront of your mind when sandy feet, salt-covered toys and bathing suits, and muddy kids come knocking at the door. Or, during those post-pool battles when you’re trying to get chlorine off of everyone’s hair and skin as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Consider this our friendly nudge to take the plunge and finally make your outdoor shower system a reality. We’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of designing and installing this life-changing fixture. The best part? You won't need a plumber or thousands of dollars – we’re talking in and out for under $100 after you’ve picked up a shower valve and outdoor shower head.

What is an outdoor shower kit?

Typical outdoor shower kits bundle together many (though not all) of the components you would need for installing an outside shower system. In general, they include a shower valve and handle, shower head, and the supply line running from the valve to the shower head.

The problem with many outdoor shower kits is that they aren’t tailored to your unique space and setup – meaning you’re left paying for things you may not need, while also spending more money to supplement the kit with the extras to make it work for your situation. Not to mention, you won’t have the flexibility to choose the shower valve and shower head you want. 

That’s why our DIY outdoor shower kit also covers the supply lines running from your water source to the valve, and all of the adapters you will need to connect your water source to the shower (we went for the easiest and most readily available option: a garden hose). 

Why install an outdoor shower kit? 

Benefits of an outdoor shower kit

As with most home projects, we know you’re already wondering if an outside shower is a worthwhile investment. Here’s just a few of the reasons why it's one of those win-win projects that ends up paying off time and again in the future:  

Outside showers increase the value of your home

Making the effort to install an outdoor shower system is a luxury that many homeowners never get around to, and it’s sure to stand out when showing your home. An outside shower can even add significant value to the market price. 

The value typically increases with how built up the outdoor shower is, so it’s a good idea to install it in a place with room to make updates and expand. After all, the appeal of showering under the open sky is one of those things that is likely to sneak up on you, even if it’s not your cup of tea at the moment.

The endless uses and convenience of an outside shower

Outside showers do far more than keep sand and mud out of your home – although those two benefits alone are reason enough to invest in one! An outside shower is also a place for: 

  • Tackling chlorine on hair and skin – Countless afternoons in the pool mean some serious chlorine exposure. With an outside shower, you don’t have to wait until bathtime at night to wash off pool chemicals. Let’s face it, kids are far more likely to spend those last few minutes racing for a diving ring than rinsing off in the showers at the pool. 
  • Bathing your furry friends – Close quarters in the bathroom and colder temperatures in the house make pets far more likely to resist their bath: an outside shower remedies both of those issues. Plus, there is NO MESS to clean up when Lucky inevitably decides to shake all of the shampoo out of his freshly lathered-up coat. 
  • Hands-free cleaning – Rinse off that gear and sports equipment (gardening tools, camping gear, balls, bikes, etc.) that otherwise get put away dirty. Set it under the running shower while you take a much deserved moment for yourself!

Traditional outdoor shower systems

It’s important to determine which outside shower system is best-suited to your unique space and needs. There are two main types:

Freestanding

This outside shower gives you the most flexibility as far as placement, but is also the most invasive. It's installed directly into the ground and not on the wall, so the water source also needs to come from the ground. This most definitely requires professional plumbing services and could result in a significant amount of newly directed plumbing pipes. This option is costly, with a final price tag likely in the thousands after parts and labor. 

The second type of freestanding outdoor shower comes with a base attached so you won’t need to permanently install it in the ground. These are much cheaper, in the $300-$500 range, and often use a garden hose as the water source. While it may be a quick fix, the quality and lasting power of this type is very hit or miss.

Wall mounted

Wall mounted outdoor shower kit

The rough-in version of this outdoor shower kit follows the same process as adding a shower to your bathroom. Unless you are an expert DIY-er, it will require a plumber…and thousands of dollars. While you will enjoy both hot and cold water and the aesthetic benefits of hidden pipes, you are definitely going to pay for it. 

The second type of wall-mounted outdoor shower kit attaches to the exterior of the wall without requiring access to the in-wall plumbing. As with our DIY shower design, you can use a garden hose as the water source for this outside shower. 

These kits come as a full package with a valve and shower head (as previously mentioned, they do not include supply lines or adapters for the water source to the valve). A big problem with these kits is the inflexibility of the design. You have very little wiggle room when it comes to the distance between the valve and shower head. And if things aren’t lining up quite right…back to square one. It also makes them rigid and susceptible to breaking in stormy or windy weather.

The price is tempting, starting as low as $60, but often this means you’re sacrificing on the quality of the shower head (more on the best outdoor shower head later).

Benefits of a DIY outdoor shower kit

A DIY outdoor shower kit that you design and install yourself is without a doubt the fastest, most cost effective way to get this project completed in time for optimal use this summer (and many more summers to come!).

Keep in mind, you can always decide to expand the setup at a later time. Going this route gives you the opportunity to see how much you and your family utilize the outside shower before deciding to make any further investments, like an enclosure or a drain. 

Designing your outdoor shower kit 

All Metal Outdoor Shower Kit from HammerHead Showers

After deciding where your outside shower will go, it’s time to start planning the specifics of your outdoor shower kit. 

Outdoor shower fixtures – what to look for

Even though we’re only dealing with cold water in this setup, it’s possible you will find yourself wanting to add hot water in the future. And while any shower valve will do, it’s important to select durable materials that will hold up outside.

All Metal Shower Valve and Trim Set from HammerHead Showers
Shop now for All Metal Shower Valve and Trim Set from HammerHead Showers

HammerHead Showers® shower valve and trim set is made from brass and stainless steel with 6 commercial-grade, corrosion-resistant finishes to choose from. 

Its intuitive single-handle operation and sleek, minimalist design makes it easy to incorporate into any aesthetic. The advanced ceramic disk cartridge self cleans with every turn of the handle, ensuring consistent, long-term performance no matter what the weather throws at it.

Best outdoor shower head

There’s really only one component that can make the difference between your outdoor shower being an awesome convenience vs. an all out luxury: the shower head. 

As with the valve, you should look for an outdoor shower head with all metal construction – including all of the individual components. Also consider the adjustability of the shower head for accommodating a wide range of heights. Some common complaints with outdoor shower kits are the short length of the supply line running up from the shower valve, and the fixed angle of the shower head: neither of which can be customized to your needs.  

That's why we recommend outfitting your outdoor shower kit with an all metal shower head from HammerHead Showers®. All of our shower heads and accessories are made from stainless steel and brass, including our adjustable shower holder and hose connections.

Handheld shower head

The versatility of a handheld shower head lets you wash off feet, kids, or pets with more precision: 

Shop now for All Metal 2 Inch High Pressure Shower Head from HammerHead Showers
Shop now for All Metal Shower Valve and Trim Set from HammerHead Showers

Fixed, high pressure

A compact, high pressure shower head is the most economical solution. Adjustable up to 23°, this powerhouse also has the option to change the spray pattern from high pressure to standard pressure, or a rain shower with large droplets. 

2 Inch High Pressure Shower Head from HammerHead Showers
Shop now for All Metal 2 Inch High Pressure Shower Head from HammerHead Showers

Rain shower

Is there anything better than a soothing rain shower? We’ve perfected the balance between wide coverage and pressure, and took it a step further with our proprietary nozzles that guarantee a pressurized flow:

All Metal rain shower head with adjustable shower arm extender from HammerHead Showers
Shop Now for Rain Shower Head from HammerHead Showers

Dual shower head

This is the supreme combination that will make your outdoor shower a focal point of your outside space. Extend your reach with the handheld AND enjoy a spa-like rain shower:

 

 

Shop now for All Metal Shower Valve and Trim Set from HammerHead Showers

Here comes the fun part, supply shopping: 

What you’ll need for your outside shower kit

• Y-splitter for a garden hose – Even if you are only using cold water, using a splitter to connect both the hot and cold lines means you will get full pressure regardless of how the valve is turned on. It also saves several steps if you decide to add hot water in the future.

    Bonus: Additional Y-adapter if you want to keep the garden hose functional (water the plants while showering, anyone?!)

    Hose splitter for outside shower kit
    • Supply Lines and Adapters - We prefer to use flexible supply lines so there’s some give, which makes the installation process way easier. The splitter attaches to the hose bibb, and then you will need (2) garden hose adapters –garden hose thread to ½” NPT. (Ideally, your supply lines say ½” NPT on both ends. If it doesn’t, you can always buy a secondary adapter like we did.) 
    • PEX – You’ll need a few feet for each side from the supply line to the valve, and 3-4 feet to run from the valve up to to the shower head
    • PEX cutting tool – Seriously, it’s $10 very well spent
    • Shark bite fittings – These provide a leak-free seal without any soldering. You will need:

       

       …And all of the usual suspects – 

      • Screws for wall elbow and valve
      • Pliers
      • Adjustable wrench
      • Power drill
      • Thread tape
      • Screw drivers
      • Measuring tape and pencil

      How to install your outside shower kit

      Measure and mark

      The ideal height for installing the shower valve and trim is between 38” and 48” from the shower floor. This all depends on how tall you are (or the average height in your household). Waist height is going to be the most convenient and comfortable. 

      The ideal height for the shower head is 80” from the floor. Again, as long as 6’8” accommodates the tallest person in your house, you will be good to go. Mark your holes for the shower valve and wall elbow and drill them.

      Install supply lines

      Attach the supply lines to the splitter. On the other end, attach the Shark Bite fittings to the flexible supply lines running from the hose. Apply thread seal tape to ensure a leak-free seal. The supply lines will connect to the PEX using the Shark Bite fittings.

      Install supply lines for outside shower kit

      Install the shower valve

      Attach the Shark Bite elbows to the valve (remember to cap off the tub spout port), and install the shower valve.  

      Install shower valve for outdoor shower kit

      Cut and install PEX

      Cut the PEX to the appropriate size to run between the supply line and the valve. You want it to sit comfortably without too much tension. Push the PEX into the Shark Bite fittings as far as it will go. Check that the connection took by pulling on the PEX to see if it comes out or moves at all.

      Install pex for outdoor shower kit

      Installing Shark Bite PEX push fit connections for outside shower kit

      Installing Shark Bite Pex push fit connection for outside shower kit

      Next, trim the PEX that will run from the valve to the wall elbow to the appropriate length. Push in to the valve first and check that the PEX lines up with the holes you drilled for the wall elbow. Then push the PEX into the wall elbow and bolt the elbow to the wall.

      Re-Install the valve guard, trim plate, and handle

      All metal shower valve and trim set for outdoor shower kit

      Install Shower Arm

      Put fresh thread seal tape on both ends of the shower arm and hand tighten onto the wall elbow. You can use a screwdriver for leverage while tightening.

      Install shower arm for outdoor shower kit

      Attach shower filter

      This is totally optional, but absolutely recommended. The presence of harmful contaminants in municipal water is a problem that’s finally starting to gain the attention it deserves, but there’s a long way to go before it improves. 

      All metal shower head filter for removing chlorine and heavy metals from HammerHead Showers

      Shop Now for All Metal Shower Head Filter for Removing Chlorine and Heavy Metals from HammerHead Showers

      Our shower filter is packed with 450 grams of KDF 55 and Calcium Sulfite, the most effective filtration media for removing chlorine, heavy metals, and sediment. The durable brass housing not only looks great, but will last for years to come (meaning the only upkeep you’ll need to worry about is changing out the filter cartridge every 6 months).

      Install Shower head of choice

      Attach the shower head to the filter or shower arm and hand tighten. 

      Install shower head for outdoor shower kit

      All Metal Dual Shower Head from HammerHead Showers

      Check for leaks 

      Turn the shower on and run your fingers along each of the connections while visually checking. If you do notice any drips, here’s how to troubleshoot –

      • Inspect washers, making sure they are situated correctly and not pushed down or inside of anything  
      • Check that the PEX tube is seated far enough into the connection
      • Add thread seal tape if you didn’t do it the first time around
      • If the leaking persists, further tighten down the connection with the adjustable wrench (being mindful not to OVER tighten)

      If you opted for the additional splitter, you can also test out running the hose at the same time as the shower. The decrease in pressure will be noticeable, but both will be functional.

      We've covered the process from start to finish in this video:

      And don't worry, we're confident this project is for you even if you have little to no prior plumbing experience!

      Winterizing and maintaining your outside shower 

      If you live in a cold weather climate that sees temperatures get below freezing, you already know the drill with winterizing pipes. Because the pipes are exposed, your outdoor shower will need to be winterized fairly early when the weather starts turning colder. Make sure you turn off the water at the source and completely empty the pipes.

      Since the shower head will be exposed to the outside elements, it’s important to include it in your regular cleaning rotation. You should aim to give the whole shower area a good wipe down once a week (spritzing with a homemade natural cleaner like vinegar, tea tree oil, lemon juice, or hydrogen peroxide mixed with water is a plus!) and a monthly deep clean. You can head over to this guide for more tips on keeping your bathroom clean without using toxic chemicals.

      Whether it’s inside or outside, deep cleaning your shower head (and deep cleaning the shower hose if you have a handheld shower head) is crucial in preventing the buildup of harmful biofilms.  

      Get summer ready with an outdoor shower kit 

      Don’t miss out on your chance to bring some order and tranquility to the summertime madness: less mess means more time for fun in the sun. Grab a shower head that’s fit for the outdoors (not sure which one you need? This quiz will help), decide on a shower valve (you can’t go wrong with “The Plumber’s Choice”), and get ready to start enjoying your outdoor shower kit!

      HammerHead Showers All Metal Shower Heads and accessories

      Frequently Asked Questions

      How to design an outdoor shower?

      Our easy DIY outdoor shower kit makes designing your outside shower as simple as finding a place near a garden hose bibb for installation, and then using push fit fittings to connect supply lines to the shower valve and then up to the shower head – no soldering required!  

      How much does it cost to build an outdoor shower?

      For an outdoor shower system with rough-in plumbing, you’re looking at anywhere from $1,000-$3,000+. Or, you can opt for a fully functional DIY outdoor shower kit – no plumber required! – for under $100 when paired with your choice of shower valve and shower head.

      Do you need a drain for an outdoor shower?

      If you choose to use a garden hose bibb as the water source for your outside shower system, you will not need to install a drain as using the hose has already indicated the area is able to absorb or discharge enough water for showering.

      Do you have to winterize an outdoor shower?

      Yes, outside showers need to be winterized. Whether the pipes of your outside shower system are installed inside of the wall or mounted on the exterior, you will need to fully drain the pipes and shut off the water supply when the weather starts turning colder.

       

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