Survey: Shower improvements dominate master bathroom upgrades

Homeowners who have undertaken a remodel of their master bathroom often seek to improve the shower, according to a recent survey by the home design site Houzz.

The Houzz Bathroom Trends Study questioned 1,238 American homeowners who were planning a master bathroom renovation, were in the midst of one, or had recently completed one. Eighty-one percent said they had upgraded the shower as part of the work.

The shower work was usually combined with other upgrades in the bathroom. Ninety-one percent of respondents said they revitalized their faucets, while 86 percent changed the wall finishes, 83 percent swapped out the countertops or flooring, and 81 percent upgraded the cabinets or light fixtures.

Fifty-five percent of respondents said they increased the size of the shower as part of the remodel. Seventy-three percent of shower upgrades included at least one luxury feature, such as a rainfall showerhead (55 percent), shower capable of fitting two people (24 percent), a curbless design (21 percent), body sprays (18 percent), thermostatic mixers (14 percent), or steam showers (2 percent).

High-tech or digital features were not as common, although they were more prevalent than last year. Twelve percent of newly upgraded showers had at least one of these features, compared to 9 percent in 2016. These included 7 percent with mood lighting, 4 percent with digital controls, 2 percent with LED lighting, and 1 percent with built-in sound or showerhead speakers.

Homeowners were also more likely to splurge on a shower than any other bathroom feature. Forty-two percent said they decided to dedicate more money toward a shower upgrade, compared to 40 percent who splurged on cabinets and 35 percent who splurged on faucets or countertops. Homeowners were most likely to try to save money on a toilet upgrade, with 15 percent saying they did so.

Baby boomers, defined as homeowners ages 55 and older, were more likely to add accessibility features to the shower than younger homeowners. Seventy-three percent did so, compared to 57 percent of younger respondents. Fifty-three percent of newly upgraded showers had a seat, while one-third had grab bars and one in four were curbless.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents said they removed a bathtub from their master bathroom. The vast majority of homeowners who removed a bathtub—91 percent—did so to make way for an improved shower, compared to 20 percent who put cabinets it its place, 16 percent who added a vanity or sink, and 10 percent who added a closet.

Among those who took a bathtub out of the master bathroom, 78 percent said there was another tub elsewhere in the home. Respondents were split on whether or not they would be open to buying a home without a bathtub, with half saying they would consider it.

Thirty-seven percent of respondents said they were upgrading the bathtub. Of these renovators, 64 percent were putting in a soaking tub, 21 percent were adding a bathtub with space for two people, 12 percent were putting in a standard whirlpool, and 7 percent were adding a silent whirlpool. Eleven percent of upgraded bathtubs had high-tech features such as a heated backrest or scented mist dispenser.

Just under two-thirds of all respondents—64 percent—got a new toilet as part of their upgrade. Twenty-nine percent had at least one high-tech feature, including a self-cleaning function (12 percent), a bidet feature (8 percent), and overflow protection (8 percent).

Baby boomers accounted for most of the remodeling activity in the survey. Sixty-five percent fell into this age group, compared to 31 percent between the ages of 35 and 54 and 4 percent between the ages of 25 and 34.

Sixty-nine percent of respondents had been in their home for more than 10 years. Fifty-eight percent said they do not plan to sell their home in the next decade.

Older homeowners were also more likely to spend more on remodeling their master bathroom, shelling out an average of $22,800 for a major upgrade of a large bathroom (over 100 square feet) and $13,900 for a major upgrade of a small bathroom (under 100 square feet). The youngest age group spent an average of $12,500 on a large bathroom upgrade and $9,200 on a small bathroom upgrade, while the middle-aged group spent an average of $20,100 on the former and $11,000 on the latter.

One in four respondents said they increased the size of their bathroom. This change occurred most often among the youngest age group, with 35 percent of those respondents saying an expansion was part of their plan. Twenty-nine percent of the middle-aged group and 23 percent of baby boomers also increased the size of their bathroom.

Ninety percent of respondents changed their bathroom style. The most common style choices after a remodel were contemporary (25 percent), transitional (17 percent), and modern (15 percent).

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