Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How To Add A Shower To An In-Wall Tub Faucet

As bathroom design trends shifted from freestanding clawfoot tubs to built-in tubs, the plumbing morphed from exposed to in-wall. Valves and pipes were no longer open to view but now concealed behind a finished bathroom wall leaving only the handles and tub spout exposed. If the bath included a shower, the shower arm projected from the wall above the handles. Early in the transition, however, built-in bathtubs were often plumbed without a shower. Adding a shower today might not only involve replacing the tub faucet but might require a significant remodel because access behind a finished wall is required.

There is an alternative to extensive renovations however. If we borrow from the exposed plumbing of the clawfoot tub era, it is possible to add a shower to a tub faucet without tearing out bathroom walls. A diverter spout allows us to adapt a tub faucet with an exposed shower riser creating a hybrid in-wall tub faucet with an exposed shower riser and showerhead.

Replacing a standard tub spout with a diverter spout is a relatively easy project that normally does not require access to plumbing behind the finished wall. A standard tub spout has a 3/4" IPS female threaded connection. The spout unscrews from a 3/4" IPS nipple that projects through the wall. Once the original spout is removed, the diverter spout then threads onto the nipple to complete installation of the diverter spout. The diverter spout has an outlet on the top where a 2-piece shower riser can be connected with a riser nut. A knob next to the outlet diverts water from the spout to the shower riser or vice versa. To complete installation of the exposed shower riser, support must be provided by either a shower enclosure or a wall mounted riser holder. Finally, install a standard 1/2" IPS showerhead on the riser to finish the new shower. Or, to further enhance the shower, add a handshower conversion kit to provide the convenience of a handheld shower.

The diverter spout provides a budget-friendly option to upgrading a tub faucet with a shower and the exposed riser makes it all possible without a major remodel. Visit Shop 4 Classics to purchase the diverter spout and shower riser described in this tutorial or for help with your home remodeling project.

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