Van Conversion Shower: How We Built Ours

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So you’re thinking about building a van conversion shower? Cool! We absolutely love ours and think we made a really good job of it. Even if we do say so ourselves!

Read on to find out how we installed our van shower. Including all the things you should consider, what components you need and a detailed account of how we built a DIY camper van with shower.

Van Conversion Shower Black

Disclaimer: We’re not professional plumbers or builders. All the skills we employed in converting our van are completely self taught. So, basically, if you follow what we did something goes wrong, that’s on you. Just saying!

Campervan With Bathroom?

One of the first major decisions you’ll need to make when doing a van conversion is whether or not to put an inside shower in. Like, you need to be confident that the effort and the cost in building a van conversion with shower will be worth it.

For us it was a no brainer because we live in ours full time. But if you’re building a DIY campervan just for holidays or weekend use, it’s probably not worth it. Because as much as it might seem like a nice idea, the reality of it is that the novelty will wear off and you might not use it as much as you thought you would.

Sprinter Van Conversion Shower

And I say this because we don’t use ours everyday, more like twice a week. The rest of the time we just get washed in the sink because it’s so much quicker. Having said that, we love our van conversion shower and are so glad that we opted to build one into our campervan design.

We wanted to create a space to live in that was totally self sufficient, and that’s exactly what we did.

Van Shower Location

The van we have is a LWB Mercedes Sprinter. But the beauty about the type of inside van shower we built is that it can be made to fit any type of van. Well, when I say any, you do of course need to have the space. But yeah, if you have a Peugeot, Ford, Iveco etc, our Sprinter van bathroom is universal for any van make.

The next big decision you need to make about incorporating a shower into your van conversion is where in your floor plan you will put it. We have a partition wall between the cab and the living area with the shower cubicle located in the corner right behind the driver’s seat.

Van Shower Location

But you can build it into your design pretty much anywhere. Some van conversion designs have them central so as to create more of a separation between the sleeping and living areas.

One thing we suggest to bear in mind for ease of running your water pipes is to keep your plumbing system on one side if you can. So running down the driver’s side of our van we have the van shower, the sink, the water heater, the fresh water tank and the waste water tank.

The other side of our Sprinter van conversion has the electrics, the air heater and gas system.

We didn’t want to put a dedicated extractor fan in our van conversion shower. So the other factor in choosing the location of our van shower was so that it was right next to our MaxxAir kitchen extractor fan.

Van Shower Kit

Alrighty here’s all the components we used in our van conversion shower. Obviously depending on where you are reading from they may differ slightly in your country. But where possible we’ve put product links.

P.S. These are affiliate links, so if you buy through them we may earn a small commission from the seller. It’s at no extra cost to you, so is a lovely way to say thanks for the free info we’re providing here.

Van Conversion Bathroom Frame

So we built our van conversion bathroom frame out using 44x18mm wooden batons. In hindsight however we’d have probably used 34x34mm, which is what we used for other internal frames. It’s just easier to join because it’s square.

Van Conversion Bathroom Frame

One thing you will absolutely need to make your life so much easier, not just for this part of your van conversion, but for like, everything you are building with wood, is a pocket hole jig. We got ourselves a Kreg Pocket Jig a few weeks into our van build out and boy do we wish we’d had it from the start.

Because you’re not working to the dimensions of a shower tray, a huge benefit of putting in this type of van shower wetroom is that you make it as big or as small as you’d like. Just obviously bear in mind that the bigger it is, the less living space you will have.

The dimensions of our Sprinter van conversion bathroom are 900 x 550mm. Which is probably the smallest I’d say you want to go. If we were to build one again, we’d maybe make the doorway a few centimeters wider. Just so we could bring the toilet out without detaching it and tipping it on it’s side.

Camper Toilet Shower Combo

We also opted to somewhat controversially not have a door on our campervan shower and toilet cubicle. The reason for this is two fold. Firstly to cut down on weight. And secondly because we wanted the extractor fan just outside to be pulling the steam out while showering.

Campervan Shower

The compromise is obviously less privacy if there’s more than one of you. Plenty of DIY van builders do opt to put a door on.

One additional tip we have when building the frame for your van conversion shower is think about the exact placement of your shower. Because of where we’d placed our vertical wooden batons in combination with where the joins in the PVC wetroom cladding landed, it meant that we couldn’t get our shower completely central.

Although I doubt it’s something anyone else would notice except us, so don’t get too caught up on it.

Next you’re going to need to plywood line the inside of the van shower. We used 5mm ply to keep the weight down and so that we could easily curve it to the outside of the van. It took a long time making templates to get the cuts right and we still had a few gaps.

If you’re not perfect like us though, don’t worry because there’s this awesome product called Grip Fill Adhesive that will fill up any gaps like a treat.

We also countersunk all of our screws, filled and sanded them so that we had a nice even surface for the next part.

Don’t forget to build in your step too. Otherwise the water definitely isn’t going to be confined to your van conversion shower cubicle! Ours is 45mm deep which is adequate.

Waterproofing Shower Kit

This next stage of how we built our van conversion with shower is completely optional. However, we wanted the peace of mind of having an extra barrier when it comes to the potential for copious amounts of water leaking into places it shouldn’t.

So we opted to put a waterproofing membrane in between the plywood lining and the PVC bathroom cladding finish. It’s exactly the same as used in wetrooms in houses so is perfect for the job.

Waterproofing Shower Kit
Wetroom Waterproofing Kit

The Everbuild Shower Waterproofing Kit that we used came with all the ingredients you need to make what is essentially a watertight box. It comes with complete and easy to follow instructions so I won’t repeat those here. There’s additional matting that you put where your shower taps and drain will be.

The only problem we encountered was getting the stuff to set because the weather was pretty cold. We ended up running a small heater out from the house to ensure the corners were fully dry in between layers.

Camper Wet Bath Flooring

As already mentioned, the reason this van bathroom design is more versatile is because without a shower tray you can build it to any size you want.

There’s also downsides to putting in a shower tray. First up, they are expensive. Especially if you opt to go to the lengths of getting a custom size one made. Secondly, even when installed 100% correctly they are prone to cracking. Ain’t nobody want that!

So it’s for those reasons we choose the van conversion shower design that we did.

Camper Wet Bath Flooring

The flooring we used is just standard 2mm rubber wetroom flooring. We bought ours from here.

As we’d already laid our main flooring before we built our Sprinter van conversion shower we simply cut out the lino from the shower frame and used that as a template for the van shower flooring.

To stick it down we just used standard flooring adhesive like this.

We also put it on the top of the step. Then after we’d after we’d installed the walls, finished off with some metal angle so that it was more durable to step on.

Camper Van Shower Walls

The finished walls in our campervan shower and toilet cubicle are made from PVC. We chose a white gloss colour, but you can get the stuff in all different designs to suit your taste. There’s also the option of cladding strips of full sheets.

We went for the PVC bathroom cladding over PVC sheets because we felt it would be easier to work with in such a small space. Word of warning though, while it’s strong when joined together and fixed in place, the individual pieces are super fragile. We broke so many we ended up having to order more.

Definitely a case for ordering more than what you think you need.

And also a case for investing in a proper metal ruler if you don’t already have one. And by proper I mean one with a guard. We were being cheap and thought using the metal ruler we already had would be sufficient. It wasn’t. And James nearly lost a thumb – learn from our mistake.

PVC Bathroom Cladding
Camper Van Shower Walls

Other than that you’ll want a decent stanley knife and plenty of blades to change on the regular.

Camper Wet Bath Waterproofing

To stick it on we used a highly flexible silicone adhesive. We used this one and used the same stuff to do all the corner seals too. The exact type you use isn’t important. But do make sure that it’s a good quality flexible one so that it’s less prone to cracking with the movement.

We put external corner strips on, but didn’t bother with the internal corner strips. This was because we wanted to put a thick silicone seal on and be able to visibly check them. We read that as a rule of thumb your silicone seals in this type of environment want to cover 10mm each side of the gap. So that’s what we did and haven’t had any problems thus far.

Van Conversion Shower
Silicone Seal Van Bathroom

You’ll need one of these silicone finishing tools if you don’t already have one and plenty of patience. Seriously, if you’re at a stage in your DIY van build where you could really do with a day off, do that first before attempting this job. You can thank me later.

Where you have silicone smears left over, and trust me no matter how careful you are it will happen, we found the best way to get it off was with some warm water and white vinegar.

Conversion Van Shower Drain

It took us an absolute age to find a fit for purpose drain for our van shower. Every one we looked at seemed to be either massive in diameter or too short to go through the whole of the van floor. Anyway we finally found this one. It attaches to this 32mm flexi pipe which creates a trap and feeds straight into our underslung grey water tank.

Conversion Van Shower Drain

There’s different schools of thought on whether to put a trap on your van shower. A pro being that it prevents smells from your waste water tank coming into your van. But a con being that if you live or plan on travelling in cold climates, it could freeze and cause your pipework to split.

We put the drain in after putting the flooring in so that we could just cut through all the layers of flooring together. And used a hole cutter slightly bigger than the drain so that we could silicone seal it to protect the flooring layers from a leak.

If there’s not too much pipe between your drain and waste water tank like ours, we recommend getting a drain with a plug to prevent any water sloshing back up when moving if your tank is on the fuller end. Also helps with smells if you do decide not to put a trap in.

Best Shower For Van

Ultimately the best showers for vans are going to be ones that have reduced water flow. So that you know, you are conserving your limited water supply.

But it’s surprisingly difficult to find out the water flow of showers. And we tried so far as possible to stay away from campervan or caravan specific products where we could because they are just so damn expensive.

The shower for van life we went with in the end was this one.

Thermostatic Mixer Van Shower

We absolutely love how it looks and it has two pressure settings so can somewhat control the water flow. What we tend to do anyway though, is get wet, then turn the shower off while we lather up, then turn it back on to rinse off.

There are also the hand press option ones that some prefer. The only issue with those though is you have to have to then have a one handed shower. In the end it also comes down to personal preference.

If you do choose to get the same (or similar) shower as us, just be aware that it is designed to be attached to rigid water pipes. So you’ll need to grab yourself one of these shower plates to secure it in place.

Van Shower Back
Van Conversion Shower Plate

The required S connectors came with it. So the only other thing we had to buy for the shower connection to our hot and cold water supply was the JG 12mm Female tap adaptor fittings.

Then similar to the hole through the van floor for the drain, we also silicone sealed the holes through the shower wall which the pipes went through, so any leaks didn’t just run straight into the layers of the wall.

Sprinter Van Bathroom Additions

And that’s pretty much it! If you’re planning a van conversion with shower the same as ours, it may be helpful to know what other additions we have in our van bathroom.

When we shower we take our toilet completely out (usually coinciding our showers with when we empty the toilet). And then we dry the space completely with the squeegee and cloth before we put the toilet back in to prevent any condensation issues.

Sprinter Van Bathroom

Just don’t forget to take your toilet roll out too! We’ve done that before.

Hit us up in the comments section if you have any questions and we’ll do our best to help.

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