How to Build a Rainwater-Based Outdoor Shower

What You'll Need
Plastic rainwater barrel
Hand-held shower attachment
4 x 4 inch treated lumber
Granite slab
Tarpaulin, 8 x 6 feet
Concrete stands

In order to build an outdoor shower that’s rainwater based you need to have the barrel for the rainwater at a higher level than the shower. The construction itself is quite simple and the entire structure can be put together within a day.

Step 1 - Layout

You need to select two areas for where you will put your shower and your barrel. The first one should be lower than the second and relatively flat. This will be for the shower. The second, higher area should stand 8 feet higher than the first. This will be for the rain barrel. They need to be relatively close together.

Level both areas so they will readily accommodate both shower and barrel. The barrel itself should be made of black plastic. This will help heat the rainwater that gathers inside it. Cover the top with very fine mesh to prevent insects and debris falling in. You’ll need to clean the mesh regularly.

Step 2 - Shower Frame

Have 4 pieces of 4 x 4 inch treated lumber, each piece 8 feet long. These will be the uprights for the shower. The connecting pieces should each be 30 inches long. You will need 11 of these.

The frame will make a square. On three sides of the frame the connections should join the uprights at heights of 24 inches, 60 inches and at the top. On the remaining side, which will be used to get in and out of the shower, the connectors should be at 12 inches off the ground and at the top of the frame. Nail the connectors in place. Stand the frame in the concrete stands, which should hold 4 x 4 inch lumber and stand in the clearer shower area. Lace a granite slab to stand on in the middle of the shower.

Step 3 - Covering

You will cover the frame of the outdoor shower with the tarpaulin. Starting at an outside corner next to the shower entry, wind the tarpaulin around the frame. The 8 foot length should stretch adequately around the sides, and the 6 foot length will hang from the top to offer protection. Use nails through the grommets of the tarpaulin to secure in place.

Step 4 - Hose

Run rubber hosepipes from the outlet of the water barrel to the shower. The water will warm even more if you use black hoses, although you’ll need to have the hose going directly to the top of the shower. Attach the end of the hose to a hand held shower head (you might need a special attachment) and hang this over the top of the shower. Once there is enough rainwater in the barrel you’ll be able to use this rainwater-based out door shower very comfortably. If you’re in a dry season use a hose to fill the barrel.