Make Your Own Shower for the Backyard
When my friend mentioned that she wanted to make her own shower for the backyard I immediately thought it was a super idea! We followed the basic design of an image we found online (sorry, but I can’t find the image – if you recognize your design, please let me know so I can link to your blog!) The original design had the shower pipe strapped directly to the siding on her house.
I wanted to create a version that could be moved and that could be stored for winter if necessary (it isn’t here, but I remember growing up in the snow!) We use the shower primarily for muddy kid/dog clean-up and a quick rinse after being in the pool. This is not a heated shower so it gets used mostly in spring/summer/fall when we’re outside in the yard. Our summers are so hot that the water actually starts out so hot it could burn you…so no solar heating system needed for us.
This is one of my favorite projects I’ve built lately. It’s also a great example of a “learning experience”. I originally put this shower together using steel pipe (the black stuff usually used for applications involving gas) because I loved the look of it. Unfortunately, the practical side of it was that it rusted into a crazy mess within a month or two and we were taking “rust showers” and actually getting dirty in a different way instead of getting clean. Yuck. I’m just not a fan of rust.
So – I broke the thing down and rebuilt it using the type of PVC meant for outdoor applications (it’s sturdier stuff) and voila! It’s like a brand new shower…including clean water! I’ll walk you through what I originally did and then show you what it looked like and then what I replaced in order to create the final product.
The Big Picture
I’m a visual learner so I like to see where we’re going before we begin. Here’s my attempt to show you on the bigger scale what each piece looks like together before we start assembling it.
What You’ll Need
All pipe sizes should be 1/2″. PVC should be at least schedule 40, but schedule 80 works great too. I went with the gray outdoor only PVC pipe since I’m using this shower outside. I do NOT recommend using anything other than PVC…unless you enjoy rusty showers.
This list looks long, but it’s really quick to gather all the components in one trip to the hardware/big box home improvement center.
- 1 piece of pressure treated lumber – I chose an 8′ length of 2″ by 6″ (it MUST be pressure treated since it will be exposed to water constantly!)
- 2 – threaded PVC pipes 36″ long (also called a riser)
- 1 – threaded PVC pipe 8″ long (also called a riser)
- 1 – threaded PVC pipe 4″ long (also called a riser)
- 2 – threaded PVC 90-degree elbows
- 1 – threaded PVC coupling
- 1 – shower head (your choosing – I went with a rain head type)
- 1 roll of Teflon tape
- 1 threaded brass ball valve
- 1 brass hose adapter (the piece that allows you to attach a garden hose to the piping)
- 3 or 4 – metal straps to hold your 1/2″ pipe to the board
- 6 or 8 – exterior screws to use with your straps
- 2 – nylon straps to attach your board/shower combo to something (we used the posts on my back deck)
- 1 brass Y adapter (optional – I used this at the water faucet at the house so I could have my shower going without my hose, my hose going without my shower, or both running at the same time)
- 1 garden hose (optional – this is a dedicated hose so I don’t have to switch my regular hose back and forth between the shower and watering plants)
You’ll notice in this picture that some of the components are black steel instead of PVC – just trust me on this – use the PVC. I’ll explain more in a minute.
Step 1 – Attach Your Hose Adapter
Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up! Tape some Teflon tape and your first 36″ length of PVC pipe and wrap a little around one of the threaded ends (like in the picture below). Then you simply screw on your hose adapter. It should be seated firmly, but don’t kill yourself trying to get it too tight…we’ll check for leaks at the end.
Step 2 – Attach the Ball Valve
Next up is to attach the ball valve to the top of the 36″ pipe we just put the hose adapter on. Apply some Teflon tape to the threads, then screw together. Then attach the other 36″ pipe to the other side of the ball valve.
Don’t forget the Teflon tape – I took this picture before I applied it!
Step 3 – Construct the Shower Curve
Next up is to assemble the top of the shower – or as I like to think of it – the shower curve. Make sure to apply Teflon tape to each thread before you screw on the next piece. Teflon tape helps to lubricate the threads so you get a tight enough seal to make it leak-free.
Now screw on your shower head!
Step 4 – Test for Leaks
Okay – your shower is assembled. But before you strap it down to the board – you’ll want to connect it to the hose and turn that baby on! See if you’ve got any crazy leaks. If you do, simply turn off the water, tighten up the connection (with your hands), and then retest. I had no problem at all getting a nice leak-free seal with only hand tightening the connections.
Step 5 – Screw the Shower to the Board
You’re ready to screw your shower down to your board. I used four straps – one at the top and bottom and one on each side of the ball valve. This creates a nice sturdy way of moving the shower around your yard or into the garage/storage shed for winter. Once this is done, I just used the nylon straps to cinch it down to a post we have on our back patio. You might need to be creative and see what to attach it to or you might not use the pressure treated board at all – but I really like the portability it adds!
Step 6 – Attach the Y Adapter
I installed a Y adapter to my backyard faucet in order to simplify my life. I can have the shower and hose on at the same time or one or the other this way. It’s a small price to pay for the convenience!
The “Learning Experience”
Remember I mentioned using black steel originally (and you can see in some of the pictures)? Yeah…don’t do what I did. After about two months, this is what it looked like. So I ended up breaking down the whole shower and replacing the two 36″ lengths of pipe, the one 8″ length of pipe, the 4″ length of pipe, the two elbows, and the one coupling with schedule 40 outdoor PVC pipe. Now our water isn’t rusty….I had read somewhere on the interwebs that the black pipe could be used for water applications. Nope. It’s normally used for gas. Stick with something designed for water.
Plus, you’ll save yourself some money. The black steel isn’t cheap…and it’s just going to have be tossed.
The Finished Product
It’s built! Happy showering!