General Question

2davidc8's avatar

Bathtub or shower, which is better for resale?

Asked by 2davidc8 (3836 points ) May 7th, 2012

So, we’re thinking of remodeling our downstairs bathroom. It is really outdated and awful. We don’t use the tub or shower at all, so this question is not about how we will use it. But we are wondering about what would be a better value when we sell the house, a simple shower, or a shower over bathtub. We are especially interested in hearing from real estate or interior design people, if there are any such jellies out there.

A bit more background seems to be in order. The house is two-story, built in 1987, in the San Francisco bay area. There is a small bedroom on the ground floor, and the bathroom we want to remodel is across a small narrow hall from it. This bedroom is appropriate for guests, for an older person like a MIL or grandmother, for an office, or for an exercise room. All the other bedrooms are upstairs, and there is already a bathtub upstairs.

So, what do you think people would prefer, a shower or a tub?

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48 Answers

augustlan's avatar

I’ve always heard that bathtubs are more important in resale. Especially in your situation, where the bedroom might host older people or young kids, a bathtub may be important.

chyna's avatar

Bathtub with a shower as a shower will only count as a ¾ bath instead of a full bath. I had this conversation with a real estate person. Personally, I would rather have just a shower.

jca's avatar

Since a bathtub can be both a bath and a shower, but a shower can be only a shower, then a bathtub is more versatile.

I have heard that bathtubs are a better resale value, rather than a shower only.

2davidc8's avatar

@augustlan I’ve heard that, too. But I’ve always wondered, wouldn’t an older person have more difficulty getting into and out of a bathtub?

augustlan's avatar

@2davidc8 Possibly, but sitting down while bathing is safer than standing, if you’re unsteady on your feet.

2davidc8's avatar

@augustlan Oh, I see. Thanks for that.

gailcalled's avatar

As an older person, I no longer even think of taking a bath. I installed grab bars in my shower after I took a bad fall outside 8 years ago. Bathtubs would not interest me.

My mother, who was really old, used a sturdy metal shower seat and sat on that while she had her showers.

jca's avatar

Some elderly people use a hand-held shower head, which could be installed in either a shower or a tub.

chyna's avatar

@jca I had one installed when I had my bathroom remodeled in addition to the stationary shower head. My reason for this was ease in washing my dog and ease in cleaning my tub and shower. I’ve had friends add this to their own baths now.

jca's avatar

@chyna: Yes, it’s common and if you have Medicaid, it’s paid for (a lot of people don’t know that).

The last time I stayed in a Courtyard by Marriott, the tub had a seat built into the end of it, which was practical and clever, as the population is aging.

AshlynM's avatar

Bathtubs are better all around.

Most people want a bathtub for their children or pets. Younger children may not be comfortable with the idea of standing for a shower. Some might prefer baths. Also, some adults would prefer to soak in a hot bath to relax. It’s better to have a bathtub in all bathrooms of the house rather than one for convenience.

Sunny2's avatar

Showers take less space. With hand bars installed and a shower seat available. It’s actually safer for older people, who may not be able to climb the steps to the tub upstairs. You can still use the downstairs bathroom as a powder room. The upstairs tub could be used for kids. Pets can be washed in the garage or outdoors. I vote for the shower.

Bellatrix's avatar

Since there is already a bath upstairs, I don’t think a bath is essential. If there is room in the bathroom to put in a bath without it being cramped, do it, otherwise put in a shower. It seems to me this is a secondary bathroom that won’t be used much apart from for guests. If your mother-in-law is moving in, and she has difficulty bathing, then think about what will work for her.

From a resale perspective, you already have a bath in the house. Be guided by the space in the room.

2davidc8's avatar

Oh, yes, pets. Since I’ve never had a dog, I didn’t think of that. Folks who have dogs, where do you wash them? Outside with a garden hose, or in the bathtub? (Or shower?)

Bellatrix's avatar

I bath my dogs outside. Their claws will scratch the bathtub.

JLeslie's avatar

If it is a bathroom used by children then bath. If it is likely to be a guest bathroom I would go shower. Elderly people have an easier time getting in and out of showers. They don’t bathe in bathtubs if they have difficulties standing, they have shower chairs put into their baths or showers. Stepping over the bath side is precarious. It is true the old standard was to put a bath in, but showers are much more practical as people are taking in their parents to care for them. I would say this is slowly catching on, so it is a toss up which is better for resale (and I am a licensed real estate agent, but haven’t worked in the field in about 7 years). Maybe just go with what is less expensive it’s such a close call.

jca's avatar

I say the opposite of what @JLeslie said. If it’s a guest room, I say put in a tub, because if there are kids staying, especially babies or toddlers that don’t like showers, unless you want them upstairs in your bathroom, go for the tub in the guest bath.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca Thing is, since it is downstairs it is perfect for elderly guests. But, I see your point. If it has a shower head that you can take down and move around, can’t your rinse the kids off with that? Not a young baby, but 2+ years.

jca's avatar

@JLeslie: yes, but some kids might get freaked out at being in an enclosed space with this water shooting at them. When we go on vacation, the vacation rental house has a shower stall only. My daughter has to be coaxed into the shower because she usually has a bath at home. It kind of scares her (and she’s a good kid) with the water shooting out and all. I could imagine if a kid is more active or anxiety prone, it wouldn’t be a good thing.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca That’s why I asked, I wasn’t sure. I remember getting in the shower was a big deal when I was very little. But, if the shower head is portable, a parent can bring it down to the childs level and it is like playing with a garden hose practically. I personally would not worry about young children if I had another bath somewhere else in the house. They can get up the stairs, the elderly not as easily. But, again, I am 50/50 on bath or stall shower, either way probably will not affect the value. If I were going to live in the house I would put in a shower.

2davidc8's avatar

Thank you all for your input. OK, judging by your comments, how about this for a best-of-all-worlds solution? A shower with a built-in seat on one end, with grab bars for safety. This would seem to address most concerns. The only things it doesn’t address is that this would still be considered a ¾ bath instead of a full bath, as @chyna said, and there would be no tub to soak in and relax, as @AshlynM might like. What do you think of my solution?

chyna's avatar

You could ask a real estate agent in your area what seems to sell a house better, what their customers look for.

2davidc8's avatar

Oh, I forgot to mention. The shower would have one of those detachable shower heads so small children would not be so afraid, and it would make scrubbing and cleaning the shower easier.

@chyna I did ask a real estate agent, and she said shower. But the funny thing is, a friend of mine who watches a lot of HGTV says that she has observed that most people still look for a tub!

jca's avatar

I think many people DO still look for a tub, because as I said earlier, a tub can be a shower, too, but a shower can’t be a tub. So a tub is more versatile.

chyna's avatar

^Agreed.

JLeslie's avatar

If you go shower, I love the “seat” at the end which is great for shaving legs and putting shampoos down. I have one in my shower tiled over like the rest of the shower. I would actually not do the bars to hold onto, as practical as I think it is. I have a friend who was freaked one time when she wound up in a handicap room in a hotel. She was incredibly uncomfortable. I don’t understand it myself, but if other people are like that it might be a risk. Just keep extra tiles from the wall you do, and if someone wants to put up bars they will have tiles available for any aterations.

2davidc8's avatar

@jca and @chyna Yes, I agree that a tub is more versatile in that you can put shower over the tub, but an additional consideration in my case is that the bedroom across from the bathroom is very good for an older person, and the bathrooms upstairs already have tubs. But I can see your point, and I very much appreciate your input.

@JLeslie Thank you for your comment. I will not install grab bars.

chyna's avatar

Maybe you could put in a larger door too, to accommodate a wheelchair or walker.

gailcalled's avatar

Because one friend of @JLeslie‘s “freaked out” over seeing grab bars in a shower is a very bad reason not to consider them.

They are cosmetically unobtrusive and if and when needed, very important. If a young and spry person breaks an arm or a leg, for example, they are useful.

Do a survey here. See how many of us would be “incredibly uncomfortable” with grab bars.

jca's avatar

(raises hand for liking grab bars)

Bellatrix's avatar

I have often been put in rooms in top hotels with grab bars in the shower (Not because I need them at all. Just luck of the draw). Never bothers me at all.

chyna's avatar

My aunt just had her bathroom remodeled with a bathtub/shower and grab bars. They are so attractive and blend in so well with the decor, you don’t really notice them.
I like grab bars. Even for younger people. Anyone can slip in the shower.

gailcalled's avatar

I slipped and broke 2 ribs eight years ago. Luckily I had a first floor bedroom and a friend who rushed over and installed the grab bars in the bathroom next door. They enabled me to stay clean while the ribs healed, slowly, over six weeks. Without them I probably would have had to go into a rehab facility for several weeks.

jca's avatar

I had Guillain Barre Syndrome a few years ago, and grab bars would have helped a lot. I think they can add to the resale value of your house, because the population is aging, and grab bars are something a lot of people would appreciate.

gailcalled's avatar

They’re useful for a healthy young population also. Plenty of people of all ages slip in the bathtub or shower.

wilma's avatar

I am planning on redoing a bath and installing grab bars. There have been many times over the years when I really could have used them in the tub/shower and by the toilet. Some examples are; when you are pregnant, when you have a bad or even just an achy back. When you are tired, when you have small children that need an extra bit of security. For the elderly, when you break your ankle or leg, and on and on.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m actually glad @gailcalled thought to do this poll. As stated above, I didn’t understand why my friend freaked out, and I am glad to know others wouldn’t. I actually would like grab bars for the many reasons people cited. I just recently had an accident, and bars would have made me feel much safer getting in and out of the shower. My husband had to help me the first couple of weeks. I still wouldn’t put them for resale, but I would consider it if I was building for myself. Maybe ask your realtor who works in the area.

In FL, I was a realtor in FL, I almost never saw grab bars in a house. Many houses were made as a standard with wide doors and thresholds, so wheelchairs could fit through, and light switches at a lower height, especially in 55+ communities, but bars were almost never installed.

2davidc8's avatar

The reason I changed my thinking to “no grab bars” was that I thought that any home buyer who wanted grab bars could easily put one in. Maybe I’m wrong about this, but I’m thinking that putting one in would be easier than taking one out if you don’t like it.

augustlan's avatar

Since you do already have at least one tub in the house, I doubt going with a shower with a seat will deter resale. As long as there is a tub available, people won’t mind not having one in the downstairs bathroom. The seat is an excellent idea, for young and old alike.

gailcalled's avatar

@2davidc8: I can’t imagine why anyone would want to remove grab bars. They are unobtrusive and look exactly like a vertical or angled towel bar. Bathroom walls have stuff hanging off them.

If you have an emergency fall or broken bone, you do not want to be bothering with trying to find a skilled handyman to rush over and do the work.

jca's avatar

When I first got Guillain Barre, I didn’t know what was wrong, just that I was crawling on the floor, was weak and was in big trouble. I had to call a good friend to come get me on the bed (and I was 42 years old,not like I was elderly or frail or anything) and I told him first, before he came over (since I was not hurt, just stuck on the floor) to stop at Home Depot and pick up some type of bars for me.

I think if anything, while the remodeling is taking place, it’s better to just put the bars in, rather than not put them in and have someone later have to risk screwing up the tile job by drilling in holes.

JLeslie's avatar

@jca Are the bars installed before the tile?

wilma's avatar

@JLeslie sometimes the support and blocking for the bars need to be put in the wall before it is finished.

gailcalled's avatar

The guy who did my grab bars said I was lucky because the bathroom I was using had real ceramic tiles; thus he was able to install in a completely fitted bathtub.

The upstairs bath had a pre-fab fiberglass molded shower/ tub; my guy said that the walls would be too weak to support the grab bars and the grabber.

2davidc8's avatar

@gailcalled, @wilma, and @jca OK, good to know. Thanks! I’ll see what our contractor says.

gailcalled's avatar

Erratum; the bath with the pre-fab molded shower had one wall that abutted on a hallway so that there was no purchase for long screws.

AshlynM's avatar

@2davidc8 I have noticed this too, as I watch House Hunters all the time and the majority of people on there want a bathtub, and they’re always disappointed when there isn’t one, mostly because they have children or are planning on having them. I also do like the seat in the shower idea, cause if I have to shave, standing to shave my legs isn’t ideal. I’d prefer to sit down in the shower so I can get a nice, even shave.

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