Showers are a necessity in a fast-paced modern life. These fixtures give you the quickest way to get clean and take up less floor space than a bathtub, but a shower requires more height than a tub for its walls. This height is dictated by code, and you must adhere to the minimum height for a shower to prevent damage to your bathroom walls.

Shower head in tiled bathroom
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Wall height is important when building a custom shower.

Shower Construction

Showers construction depends on the type of shower. Single-piece units have the walls and floor molded together, making installation just a matter of connecting the plumbing. You do not have to worry about meeting the code for minimum heights with prefabricated showers or shower kits that include all the pieces needed. Custom showers are built to your specifications. Usually, these have a tile finish. If you are building your own shower, the measurements become more important because the parts used will not be cut to the correct size to meet the code regulations.

Importance of Height

The height of a shower is linked to the location of the shower head. Tall shower walls are not to create privacy for those inside but to prevent overspray from the shower head from damaging the bathroom walls. If you build shower walls too far below the height of the shower head, water will leave the shower, creating a mess and a slip hazard outside the shower.

Wall Height

When looking at the height of the shower walls, consider two measurements. The height from the bathroom floor outside the shower must be at least 72 inches, according to the "2003 International Plumbing Codes Handbook" by R. Dodge Woodson. Inside the shower, the height from the drain to the top of the wall needs to be at least 70 inches. The difference in heights takes into account the shower pan, also called the base, on the floor of the shower. This waterproof piece holds the drain and might be built up from the bathroom floor.

Other Shower Heights

The height of the wall is linked to the where the shower head is installed. Usually, shower heads are installed at 72 inches high, but installation at 76 inches from the shower drain is done in some homes based on the owner's preference. The valves are installed at 48 inches above the drain. The retaining wall for a shower refers to the raised edges of the shower pan on all sides, including the threshold into the shower. This directs water toward the drain and keeps it from leaving the shower. The retaining wall edges must be at least 3 inches high, and the threshold at least 2 inches high.