By Jeffrey Ballard, GC –
We have many names for our exterior washrooms, and there are many different kinds of outdoor showers here on the Outer Banks, from cheap to extravagant. Some folks take their “caged sprinkler” very seriously, and some use it as a shed to help hide all the crap in the yard. Some “shower chalets” have more tile work than most indoor master baths, and some consist of a garden hose strapped to a wall with what appears to be a few used wooden pallets as walls, spewing nothing but cold water.
However they’re constructed, for some of us there’s nothing like washing off under the stars. The convenience of coming home from the beach and not only washing away the salt and sand but rinsing your surf, boogie or skim board off is hard to deny. Life just wouldn’t be the same without your outdoor “rinse and go”, and even a good old foot wash station will save piles of sand in your bed at night.
Location of your outdoor “water palace” is just as important to its convenience. Placement close to the driveway makes beach life easier; just around the back of the house, or right by the entry door is always a favorite. Of course, we need to protect the rest of our home from the excess water.
For instance, a lot of “rinse racks” are quickly installed off an existing hose bib or exposed water lines that supply a downstairs bath. If that means a spigot attached to the back wall of your home, then all that water is either splashing on or through the siding, or running under the floor of your home unless you create a drain to move the water away from your house.
Whether you’re installing a shower in an existing home or a new one, you need to use a little common sense but you can still be creative. Facing your showerhead away from the house is a good start. Setting pervious material (stuff that drains well) on a good bed of sand will help drain the excess water. An actual plumbed drain is a smart way to go, depending on your budget and the shape of your property.
Planning ahead when you build a “rain wizard” is important and with proper placement, you’ll be amazed how long it will last. With a little imagination, everyone will be fighting for their turn in the “shower shack.” From soap shelves to towel racks you can have all the conveniences of an indoor shower, but without all the clean up! I have even seen high-end interior shower faucets with all the bells and whistles plumbed into an exterior wall.
An important feature of your “salt wash” is the faucet or shower head. The least expensive and easiest to install is a store bought all-in-one shower head shut off system, which includes a basic shower head, some pipe, and a couple of handles. This system typically gets replaced every couple of years; either from the salt air eating at it or someone forgetting to drain it for the winter. For most, $30 every few years is well worth the pleasure of an outdoor “water cabana”.
I’ve seen outdoor showers of all shapes and sizes, roof, no roof, tile, marble, teak and concrete. Some folks get carried away with their outdoor “water wonderland”, and some are happy with the basics. For me simple is best: three walls, a bench, and a place to hang a towel.
You’re on the Outer Banks—you should do everything outside! Enjoy the sun, sea and salt air, and when you’re done, climb into your outdoor “sand eradicator” and enjoy!
Jeffrey Ballard is a local licensed building contractor and the owner of Ballard Custom Designs, a division of B&B Contractors. Contact him at 252-489-9551 for questions, quotes or consulting. Check him out online at www.ballardcustomdesigns.com.