Tub to Shower Conversions: The Side Outlet Drain
It’s no surprise that for the last decade, hotels have been converting old tubs into showers. Showers are not only more popular with guests but are much safer and more efficient than tubs. However, this kind of renovation can lead to surprises – like removing the old tub to find the existing drain connection is above the floor. The new shower pans are onsite and ready to install. What do you do? And why is the plumbing above the floor?
Above the floor drains
When a tub drain is connected above the floor, the drain pipe is often sitting on top of the floor, preventing you from installing a new shower pan. This could have been originally installed this way for a number of reasons - the most common being to avoid cutting into the concrete floor.
Once the plumbing has been installed this way, altering can be expensive and sometimes impossible.
What worked well in the past now poses a problem for your new shower pan installation. With an above-the-floor drain connection, you won’t be able to install the shower base the way you would in a more standard scenario. Luckily, there's an easy solution that doesn't involve redesigning the bathroom or moving the plumbing.
The side outlet drain
Years ago, we kept hearing about this scenario from customers. Tub-to-shower conversions aren’t going away, so we offered a solution - the side outlet drain. This 90-degree, low profile drain allows you to keep the existing drain location and reduce pan curb height as much as possible for safety. This solution with work with any of our pans and any drain location.
Made from cast brass with a stainless-steel grate, the drains are available with 2” and 1 ½” outlets. Note that most US plumbing codes require the 2” outlet.
This solution requires that the pan be built up slightly with wood support; however, the drain’s design keeps the pan at the lowest possible height. Here’s what it looks like installed with a trench drain shower pan.
The wood support under the pan should be constructed to be flush with the front of the pan. Once the pans are installed, there are a number of ways to conceal the wood frame. We can make a matching piece of marble to cover the frame, or you can continue the tile baseboard across the front of the pan, as pictured below.
When installation is completed, there will be a small step down out of the shower. However, this is still much safer than stepping over the edges of a 13” tall tub.
A bird's eye view of what the wood support could look like:
An example of tiling the bathroom flooring up the shower base:
As hotels ramp up remodels after a long pause due to COVID, tub-to-shower conversions are sure to be one of the most common projects of 2023. Specifiers should look for products tailored to the unique requirements of these renovations.
Consider Mincey’s renovation shower pans for an easy switch. They fit the footprint of a standard tub with the drain in the same location. Learn more about these types of pans and others in our shower pans guide. And if you uncover a surprise drain above the floor, we've got you covered with side outlet drains.