Cooling down outside is the hottest thing in coastal home design. Consider these ideas when planning your outdoor shower.

By Michael Haigley
April 27, 2006
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Brian Vanden Brink

Examine the conditions.
Natural elements can do a number on an outdoor shower, solook for fixtures that will stand up to salt, sand, and sun. Usemildew- and rot-resistant materials, such as pressure-treatedlumber or synthetic decking, and carefully seal the area where theshower joins house walls. If temperatures in your area drop belowfreezing, prepare for the off-season by closing supply lines to theshower and draining water in the pipes.

Evaluate the function.
Is your outdoor shower for bathing sandy kids or forfull-fledged relaxation? If all you want is a quick rinse, you canget away with the barest of plumbing, but if you want to bring theconveniences of the indoors out, you'll have a bigger project onyour hands. Consider upgrading your hot-water system if guestslinger under the spray. And get serious about privacy: If you'replanning romantic showers under the stars, build a door.

Design the drain.
When you build over sandy soil, you may need only an openingin the pressure-treated flooring, but soils that drain slowly willrequire more elaborate systems, such as a French drain, whichdirects water underground into drain fields or dry wells. Soap andshampoo residue can clog drainage systems, in addition tothreatening the natural vegetation, so use eco-friendlyproducts.

Remember the plumbing.
If you're constructing a new home, run plumbing in the wallthat the outdoor shower shares with the house. But if you have toretrofit a shower, consider hiding exposed pipes behind a wallbuilt for this purpose.

Get the Outside Scoop.
Pick up a copy of Ethan Fierro's The Outdoor Shower: Creative Design Ideas for Backyard Living,from the Functional to the Fantastic (Storey, 2006).