If you’re thinking about trying your hand at shower plumbing installation for your bathroom, then this article is for you.

Showers are an essential part to any home, and when their plumbing is installed and maintained properly, they’ll remain a haven for years to come. However, plumbing can be tricky, and there are a number of things that can go wrong.

That doesn’t mean you should feel discouraged. All you need are the proper tools and materials, the right guidance, and a lot of patience. While we can’t supply you with the tools and patience, we can guide you through the process step by step.

Consider this your quick and simple DIY guide for how to install plumbing for a shower.

Shower Plumbing Installation 101

how to install plumbing for shower installing showers 101

The first thing you need to understand about the modern shower is that it has two water supply lines — a cold water pipe and a hot water pipe. These two supply lines deliver the water to what is called a central mixing valve under pressure. From there, a unified water stream is created and travels up the shower arm to the shower head.

The used-up water (or wastewater) is collected at the bottom of the shower or tub where it flows through the drain pipe and back into your home’s general drain network.

Put simply, Your shower system can be broken down into three categories:

  • The shower faucet
  • The shower head
  • Drainage

Your entire plumbing installation process will revolve around these three categories, which we’ll outline below.

The Tools and Materials You’ll Need

Before you can start, you’ll need to gather the necessary plumbing tools and materials. If you’re handy, you likely have most of them already. If not, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with them before you begin.

The tools you’ll need include:

  • Wrench
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Pipe cutter
  • Screwdriver
  • Measuring Tape
  • Level
  • Screws
  • Allen Key
  • Hammer
  • Crimping tool
  • Electric screwdriver
  • Hole saw
  • Pencil

The materials and supplies you’ll need are:

  • Showerhead
  • Faucet
  • Four threaded pipe adapters
  • Crop-ear elbow
  • Caulking gun
  • PEX shower tubing
  • Sealant tape
  • Silicon sealant

Once you have everything you need, you can begin your DIY plumbing installation.

Installing the Faucet

how to install plumbing for shower installing faucet trim

You want to install your faucet first, following these steps:

Shut Off Your Bathroom’s Water Source

You can’t install plumbing with water running through the pipes. Turn off the water supply to your bathroom first and then you can begin.

Mark the Place Where You Want to Install the Faucet

You’ll need to take some measurements here to determine the best spot for your faucet. It’s important to work out the height and center it since the faucet houses the handle, which is important when considering the other people that live in your home.

Ideally, you want to mark your faucet’s place 45-48 inches from the shower or tub floor. Use your pencil to make the initial mark. Once you’ve made the mark, use your electric screwdriver to insert a horizontal stud between the two existing vertical studs in your bathroom wall.

Now Install the Mixing Valve

Keep in mind that installing the mixing valve is a delicate process. Gently position the valve at the center of the horizontal stud and check its level to ensure both supply pipes are set at the same height and angle. Then, screw the valve into the stud.

From there, you’ll want to insert the pipe adapters onto all four ends of the mixing valve. Be sure to wrap some sealant around the ends of each adapter to prevent any leakage. Now you can go ahead and connect the supply pipes to the mixing valve.

Connect the Vertical Column and the Mixing Valve

Now it’s time to connect the vertical column to the mixing valve — which is what attaches the valve to the shower arm.

Some mixing valves are designed for shower heads only, however, many of them have enough room where you can connect the shower spout to the lower exit. If your valve has enough space for the spout, you can go ahead and connect it through the lower adapter.

Don’t forget to wrap sealant tape around the connection point to prevent leaks!

Install the Shower Handle

To install the handle, remove the valve covering and replace it with the decorative disk. Once you’ve done this, you can screw the valve directly into the shower wall using your regular screwdriver. Make sure the valve holes are positioned directly under the holes in the plat for a flush finish.

Next, use your allen key to finish installing the handle. While doing this, make sure the lever is pointing downward while the water is turned off.

Installing the Shower Head

how to install plumbing for shower installing shower head

Installing your shower head is a much easier process compared to the faucet. Here’s how it’s done:

  • Start by using your electric screwdriver to install a cross-stud where you want your shower head to go. This is where you’ll be inserting the drop-ear elbow.
  • Now screw the shower arm into the drop-ear elbow, ensuring that it’s flush and airtight by wrapping the sealant tape around the shower arm prior to screwing it in.
  • Next, connect the shower arm to the shower head and tighten it a quarter of a turn. You don’t want it too tight since you’ll need to remove it when it comes time to clean.

Keep in mind that the ideal height for a shower head is 72-78 inches. Be sure to measure and consider the whole family.

Installing the Shower Drain

You’ll want to save your shower drain installation for last, as it involves connecting the drain to the drain pipes using nuts. You may also want to ask for help if you want to ensure that the shower drain is aligned perfectly over the drain pipe.

The installation process will depend on the type of shower drain you choose. For example, compression-style drains, solvent-glued drains, and tiled drains all have their own drain assemblies and installation requirements.

The one thing they all have in common, however, is that you’ll need to adjust the drain pipe using your hole saw to get the pipe down to the proper height. From there, you’ll need to trim it down to the exact level of the subfloor.

Other things you’ll need to do include:

  • Cutting through the ceiling (below the shower) to get access to the drain pipes
  • Making sure the drain pipe has an adequate slope so waste water doesn’t get stuck or end up pooling
  • Assembling the drain pipe assembly as directed
  • Sealing any holes left behind with silicon sealant using your caulking gun

Pro Tip: To avoid leakage, use a shower drain and drain pipes that are the same size. You want to ensure that the water drains quickly to minimize flooding.

Don’t Forget to Test

Once you’ve finished installing your shower plumbing, it’s time to put your work to the test. All you need to do is turn your water back on and let it run for a few minutes. During this time, check for any leaks.

If you’re not up to the shower plumbing installation challenge, that’s okay. You can call our team at Paladin Plumbing, and we’ll make sure the job is done to perfection.