How To Build An Outdoor Shower Floor

small outdoor shower floor made of gray rock with green ivy nearby

If you’ve created your dream of an outdoor shower, you’ve probably already figured out the hard part.  In most cases, getting the water to the shower location is the most difficult aspect of outdoor shower design.  However, once you’ve figured out the shower head, the mixing valve and all the plumbing, there’s one very important piece left. What do you do for the outdoor shower floor?  In this article we’ll go over some solutions and ways you can have the outdoor shower of your dreams.

Outdoor Shower Floor Compliance

First, it’s important to consider code compliance issues.  Will your shower be hooked up to the sewer or septic system, or will it be running off into a dry well or just onto the ground?  Code typically will dictate your outdoor shower be hooked into the sewer or septic system.  This will influence the type of base you want to build for your outdoor shower floor.  A licensed plumber should help you navigate the best way to stay in compliance and build a safe and fun outdoor shower.

If you are planning to just let the water drain into the ground, you most likely will want to dig out the earth under where the shower will be installed and backfill with crushed stone to make a dry well.  This way your shower water can quickly get into the ground, and then slowly percolate into the surrounding earth.  

Make certain with any outdoor shower you only use natural shampoos and body washes like Dr. Bronners.  We always recommend hooking your shower up to the house septic or sewer system. However, we also understand that’s not always practical in every application.  The use of an outdoor shower can greatly impact the surrounding vegetation negatively if you use the wrong shower products.

What Material Makes The Best Outdoor Shower Floor?

One of the most common outdoor shower bases is a eucalyptus, ipe, or teak shower base.  These natural wood slat shower bases allow water to drain between the boards, while providing a comfortable surface to stand on.  

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There are some great kits out there if you don’t have a shower head figured out yet, and you also need a base. The vidaXL Furniture Rain Shower has a beautiful Uruguayan eucalyptus base with a rain style shower head.  All you need to do is connect the water hose and this is ready to go. 

This is perfect for a pre or post-swim rinse or for coming back from the beach to clean off the salt.  This shower is intended  as a non-plumbed unit, but could be permanently installed.  You would need to add a mixing valve and provide hot / cold water if you wanted the full shower experience.  

Stone paving for outdoor shower

Outdoor Wood Shower Floor Alternatives

There are other options other than wood for an outdoor shower floor. You can use large stone paving also.  This is a nice way to do a shower base. Essentially, as the water drains between the stone paving into the aggregate. However, the stone pavers provide an easy to grip surface that won’t be permanently damaged by the constant wetting and drying of a shower.  

Traditional shower style with some outdoor flair

outdoor shower floor with green jade rock and bamboo privacy blinds nearby

Another method for building an outdoor shower floor is to create on virtually the same as you would indoors. You can use traditional shower bases, and tile them. Or you can use a fiberglass shower base just like you’d use indoors.  However, we’d always suggest taking advantage of the fact that you’re outside and have the ability to get a little creative with the textures and materials.  

Outdoor Shower Floor Summary

Ultimately, you’re showering outdoors after all, and it should be an exciting and fun experience.  So what will you do for your outdoor shower floor?  There’s a litany of options out there, but we think starting by considering wood and stone is a great place to start.  You can let your project naturally evolve from there. Additionally, you may choose to build an outdoor kitchen or an inground pool.