Window in Shower. What would you do?

126 Replies

@Jeff Bridges - Sorry to resurrect here...but I had never heard of a being able to re-glaze a tub until your comment. 

Will that work with vintage 70s yellow tile/tub as a possible way to inexpensively update from the original from yellow to white?  Is there any downside on the durability of a re-glaze?

I have not dealt with this situation, but if I were you i would definitely NOT use glass blocks. having a window that opens will help with venting out the moisture which helps a lot with molds.  I had 2 criteria when i was buying my primary resident and one was that the bathroom had a window.   Just my personal opinion. 

Lol, everyone likes the gloss block idea then I take it?  You definitely have a few options.  If you do decide to remove the window and go over it with glass block then code says you would need an exhaust fan to remove all the moist air that the shower will make.  Most people haven't mentioned this, so factor that into your cost.

If it was me I would purchase a retrofit window, or remove the one that is existing, make the repairs, and re-install it.  You could use the frost glass spray paint to make it a privacy window and remove the blinds.  Also, that tile you have in there shouldn't be hard to find either...

Either way it's a project. I don't recommend Homeowner's or others messing with openings (doors, windows, vents, etc) in their homes unless they are thoroughly versed in waterproofing; which most aren't.   Good luck!

Originally posted by @Jeff Bridges :

Forget the surround, what is a dehumidifier doing operating on top of the toilet:) Then they stuffed some tiny cabinet and tiled on top of it and put it directly in front of the already small space in front of the toilet? So many things wrong here:)!

I have a bathroom with same situation. Wood frames/windows in the shower area is ripe for water damage issues... It too is a rental. Ripping out a bathroom for 5-10k depending on your contractor connections or personal skills doesn't seem like a good pay off for a rental so I look for creative solutions for working with what we have...

There is prob no exhaust fan system so you either need to keep the window or install exhaust fan system. The least expensive path is to keep the window. Have your contractor rip out the rotting window trim and install PVC trim instead. its paintable and will resist future moisture. Then have him paint the trim with semigloss and then use waterproof caulk to seal the trim against the tile surround to make sure water doesnt seep into the surround. That tile is cracked because water intrusion is messing with the drywall and causing it to expand. I'd also use that tub/tile caulk to reseal that tile surround against the tub. Finally I'd pay a professional tub reglazer 200-250 to reglaze the tub white and maybe have him also reglaze the entire surround while he is at it to cover up the cracks and imperfections. most reglazing jobs by guys who know what they are doing last 3-5 years. I use a guy where reglazing tubs is all he does. Ask around in your neighborhood who is good at this. This way you have a working and clean bathroom without the thousands in gutting a bathroom. You can gut it when you are ready to sell.. that's my take... others might do it differently if this was a flip of course..

Here is what I did with my situation. This is post rehab with PVC window trim, sealed, and tub reglazed. Looks all new...:

Original state. Plenty of other stuff wrong here, but note the rotted windows and stained tub:

 I noticed those things too lol. Bearing those things in mind, maybe a gut rehab wouldn't be a bad idea. 

No pictures, but I hate windows over the tub. I remove the window completely and use tub surround to cover the hole. If it is a brick house, you can cover the exterior hole with decorative brick and no one is the wiser.

I also don't care for tile around a tub. Tenants don't take care of it very well and it can grow mold, which weakens the grout.

There is a tub and surround that I like at Home Depot, but have seen similar at Lowe's. I've had one in a unit for literally 15 years with no issues.

The drawback is that it is fiberglass. It does age yellow a little, but not really detrimental, but it can more easily be refinished than a porcelain tub.

If you want a window, you can put a small cantilever one at the top out of the spray area.

You might be surprised. Especially in bad neighborhoods. Some people enjoy the extra attention from a window in the shower. If your on Hud, Babies equal bedrooms. 

Just saying...….

Late to the game, but I am looking at a bathroom remodel now. I am going to flip location of my tub to where shower is and a new walk-in shower where tub is. Right now, I have a 4’x4’ glass block unit over the tub. The lower 2’ of the window is about waist-high up to neck-high, remaining 2’ is neck-high and up. Glass block (or frosted, or filmed glass) in a bathroom or shower certainly makes details on a person’s body less identifiable, but outsiders can still see that a person is using/taking a shower. I currently have a Roman shade over my glass blocks now, but am dealing with what to do with the window when I put the shower there. I don’t want that large of a window in my shower, for privacy reason and aesthetics. My idea was to somehow block out the bottom 2’ of the blocks and just have the top 2’ visible so I still have natural light available in the bathroom. Contractor brought up the important point that just covering it up with cement board and trimming out remaining upper 2’ section means that condensation from cold weather outside that would naturally form on the inside of the covered up window section would just run down to the bottom ledge inside the covered up area, and even if the ledge is waterproofed, the water from condensation will just sit there for extended periods since there would be no airflow to dry it properly. Mold and mildew flashed before my eyes and immediately understood his point. I saw a post or two here while reading this thread where people suggested just covering up the window with cement drywall board and just installing tile over it. Taking into account naturally occurring condensation that forms on the inside of windows makes this option a BAD idea. Others pointed out it is a bad idea, but did not elaborate on “why”. I just learned this and wanted to share. I am planning to pop out the glass block unit and installing a 2’x4’ tempered clear glass window at 6’ above the floor level of the shower. It doesn’t have to be frosted/filmed since being located that high up “outsiders” won’t be able to see anything (taking into account the slab elevation, I guess a 6’4” person could perhaps see). Note: this window is located within my fenced and locked backyard. My only decision to be made here is whether to try matching the existing brick to close up the 2’x4’ hole that will be on my house exterior, or cover with Hardiplank. My house’s vertical exterior is all brick so a 2’x4’ piece of Hardiplank would look odd, even though it is not visible from the front view of my house. So, still thinking on that one. Some mentioned attaching shutters so it just looks like a shuttered window. Problem I have with that is there are no other shutters on my house and the green ick that sometimes appears on Hardiplank in Houston’s humid environment that has to be power washed or JoMaxed off. Anyway, point is....don’t just cover up unwanted windows on the inside of bathrooms. If you don’t want a window in a bathroom area that gets damp from steamy showers or hot baths (room ventilated or not), best to just have them removed and closed in properly.

My vote is always for including natural light as much as possible. I included a before/after example of my first major renovation (about 10 years ago). After seeing the end result of that project, I now always work to bring natural light into all interior spaces. I'm a particular proponent of Sun Tunnels and solar tubes, but that's another topic altogether. 

Typically I would install a flashing plan under the window (soldered copper would be a preference) and make sure that there is a drainage plane and flexible flashing under the window. I would also look at using a fiberglass or vinyl window (any old non-tempered windows must be replaced) and possibly raising the sill. For the actual sill material you can look at a slightly sloped tile, or a quartz/granite solid surface material if you want to avoid joints. It's a tricky detail, and should be one of the things that you keep on top of during routine maintenance.

but I am looking at a bathroom remodel now. I am going to flip location

of my tub to where shower is and a new walk-in shower where tub is.


Why is it important to change these locations and thus creating the window dilemma? Can't you leave these fixtures in their present locations?

@Bill Sargeson I had to laugh a little when I saw this post because of the 33 units I own here in Berwyn and Lyons in the Chicago area, all 33 have windows in the bathroom! This was very, very common in the "good old" days. I find that if the tile is done well you shouldn't have an issue for decades. 

This issue doesn't bother me personally. It's nice to have natural light in the bathroom. If you're unable to do the block glass like you mentioned, it shouldn't be a problem to have a brand few frosted glass window installed (which is standard practice for a privacy area like that anyway). Just make sure that it's tempered glass (greater resistance to shattering) so as to comply with code.

I think the glass block sounds like a great solution, especially after having a wood framed window in my house! Actually, when we bought it, it had a little waterproof curtain on it but no frosted glass... not super private. I think the vinyl window might be off putting to some people. Best of luck on your reno!

@Bill Sargeson if the window is already framed in just replace it with another! Get a nice bathroom/laundry room sized slider. They're not expensive. When you retile the surround tile over the new window framing so it doesn't deteriorate like that. Easy fix.

Don't do blocks. they look super cheap

If your project requires an inspection, be very sure that any new window is tempered glass. Save the paperwork if the window doesn't say tempered. A good inspector will want to see that any window in a shower or bath area is tempered and having the paperwork on hand has saved me in the past when they don't see the word tempered etched in the glass. Good luck!

I would raise it up or get rid of it. You won't need that tall of a window - go just above chest height for most women, unless you want the neighbors to have a peep show. If you keep it, use glass block with tile surround. Give yourself a nice sill slope.

I saw no reason to remove the window.  I removed the wood frame used subway tile all the way up to the ceiling and used some longer tiles to frame in the window with a tilt so the water would run off.  I bought some fog spray at THD to spray the window.  No issues at all.  I left the spray for the tenants and told them to spray more if the fog started to come off.   Simple!

Originally posted by @Bill Sargeson :

I have a foreclosure that I am seriously considering buying for a rental. My concern is the bathroom has a window in the shower.  I was planning on gutting the bathroom and doing a complete remodel.  I thought I could put in a glass block window during the remodel.  You can see from the pic that there is water damage around the window(wood frame with a vinyl replacement window) plus who knows where else. I don't have any houses with a window in the shower so I am asking for input for those who have experience with these.


 I normally use a piece of stone for the window sill.