Brian Vanden Brink

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

By Michael Haigley

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).

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