by Blake Herzog
With the momentous-sounding year of 2020 here, some homeowners are looking to the future by planning to update their bathroom(s) with one eye on their own preference and the other on future resale value.
Which brings us to the shower-versus-bathtub question.
While the debate about their respective benefits rages online, it’s generally accepted more showers are taken than baths every day, given the time constraints of drawing a bath.
And today’s trendy walk-in showers, with no barriers on the floor to entry, could have real staying power, feeling at least as indulgent as a bath with multitasking showerheads and comfortable seating. These also make them more accessible than a tub or conventional shower to those with mobility challenges.
Homeowners who rarely or never use their bathtubs might wonder why they would even want any at home. But then they run up against the axiom that bathtubs increase resale values by expanding the market to include buyers with young children or pets who might be easier to wash in a tub, along with those who value taking a good soak as often as they can.
Many in the remodeling industry do believe the market for a home without at least one bathtub is limited, even as they’re flooded with clients wanting to ditch one in favor of a roomy, easy-to-enter shower.
Turc Hartman, owner of Able & Ready, LLC Construction in Prescott Valley, says “about 60% of what we do is removing bathtubs from a master bathroom.” Yet he advises everyone to keep a tub in their second bathroom.
“You’ve got to consider seniors, but also kids and women. There’s still a considerable number of women who take baths,” he said.
He says clients who want to upgrade their bathtub, even if they don’t use it, can do a lot by updating the tile in the surrounding niche: “We can make a tub new just by doing it with what’s in your house.”
The designers of Dreamstyle Remodeling, which has an office in Prescott Valley, agree homeowners shouldn’t go tubless, Marketing Manager Kirsten Bowie says, though showering can be the main bathing option.
“We help customers transform their two-bathtub homes into more functional areas for their needs by converting the bathtubs into a new shower. Determining which bathroom to keep a bathtub in and which to convert to a shower depends on available space (showers take up less space) and who uses the bathroom (young adults and the elderly prefer showers while parents prefer bathtubs for their kids’ bathrooms),” she says via email.
Hartman says water conservation, along with accessibility, is driving his clientele away from having a master bathroom tub: “Even though most of our clients are coming in from California or other parts of the country, they identify water as being a valuable commodity here, and they see the water in the tub as a waste.”
The consensus of most studies is showers can save water over taking a bath as long as they’re kept under 10 minutes or so, and a low-flow showerhead can buy you more time.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, older showerheads generate about 5 gallons of water per minute versus 2 gallons per minute with low-flow models. Filling a bathtub requires about 36 gallons on average.
However, there isn’t much hard data to be found online to prove or disprove the importance of bathtubs to resale values.
Remodeling Magazine has estimated that adding a walk-in shower to a bathroom has a return on investment of 70.6% versus 70.1% for a porcelain bathtub, finding any advantage to either negligible.
A 2017 Houzz survey found 38% of survey respondents chose to upgrade their bathtub while renovating their master bathroom, versus 27% who got rid of it altogether. But of those who did, 78% had a bathtub or shower/bathtub combination elsewhere in the home.
Fifty percent of all respondents said they would consider purchasing a home without a bathtub, again making it a toss-up for homeowners considering going that direction.