Build An Open-Air Shower

  • Build an open-air shower

Standing under an alfresco shower is the ideal way to rinse off salt, sand or chlorine after a dip on a hot summer’s day.

Made from merbau decking with screens on three sides, this simple, attractive design is a desirable addition to any pool or garden area.

Position the shower either on the lawn or a hard surface, preferably with a drain nearby.

Merbau is durable, readily available and finishes well after a light sand. It’s also heavy enough to make the structure stable.

Finish the timber with decking oil to seal it from moisture.

TIP Merbau, like most hardwoods, can stain light-coloured paving or concrete as tannins leach out in the first few months.

Connect the plumbing

The shower plumbing consists of two lengths of half-inch copper water pipe joined with brass compression fittings that feature an outer nut and inner ring of copper or nylon called an olive.

Measure and mark the finished timber frame to calculate the lengths of pipe required.

Cut the pipe to size with a hacksaw and smooth the cut edges with a file. 

Attach an elbow to one end of each length of pipe with the olive and the nut, taking care not to over-tighten.

Connect the tap between the two pipes using straight joiners. Add the showerhead by securing it to the top elbow using an adjustable wrench.

Secure the shower assembly to the centre of the framework using copper pipe brackets and 15mm x 8g stainless steel screws. Connect the shower to a snap-on garden hose.

TIP When showering, take care if the hose has been in the sun as the initial flow of water may be very hot.  

Preparing the timber 

The base platform and posts are cut from 90 x 19mm timber.

The back and side slats are the same merbau decking boards used for the rest of the framing cut along the grain on a tablesaw. A circular saw can also be used.

Adjust the width of the tablesaw fence to cut exactly on the centre of the boards, using a push stick to guide the boards through the blade and protect fingers.

Use a router and a 6mm roundover bit to finish the square cut edges so that they all look the same, then sand them with 180 grit paper.

Preparing timber for a build

Step 1. Prepare the base frame

Use a mitresaw to cut the base front, base back and joists to length. Lightly sand the cut edges to remove any splintering. Drill a pair of 2mm countersunk pilot holes, 10mm in from each end and in the centre of the base front and back.

Step 2. Build the base

Apply exterior adhesive to the end of the joists then position the base front and secure with stainless steel screws. Attach the back, keeping the edges flush and checking the 900 x 900mm base frame for square by measuring the diagonals.

Step 3. Secure the decking

Lay out the decking boards with equal gaps to determine spacing. Position each board, drill countersunk pilot holes at the ends and secure with screws. Mark a centreline across the boards, drill pilot holes and secure to the centre joist.

Step 4. Make the corner posts

Arrange the long back and short front posts into pairs. Position each pair at right angles over a length of 90 x 90mm post. Drill 2mm countersunk pilot holes 50mm from each end and at 300mm centres then join each of the four corners together.

Step 5. Assemble the back frame

Lay the back corner posts together on a level surface. Mark 500, 800, 950, 1100, 1250, 1400, 1735 and 2075mm up from the base, squaring lines across. Space the posts 900mm apart and secure the slats in position, keeping the marked line at the top of each one.

Step 6. Attach the sides

Stand the back, check for plumb and secure it to the base back and sides. Attach slats to the front posts in the same spacings as the back frame and position each side, aligning the slats. Attach side slats to the back posts and the front corner posts to the base.

Click on the diagram

Click on the diagram to see each component of this project. Measurements are in mm. 

Click on the cutting list

Click on the cutting list for a breakdown of what materials you will need to build this outdoor shower.

Click on the fasteners list

Click on the fasteners list for a breakdown of what you will need for this project.

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