Skip to content

The Definitive Shower Niche Planning Guide (new for 2023)

Shower Niche Planning is becoming an increasingly important part of most modern bathroom remodel plans. This process involves determining the correct shower niche height, size, style and position for yourself and your family.

You must also consider whether or not to build a custom sized tiled shower niche, a standard sized tiled shower niche, or save some time and install a finished shower niche.

After choosing how big you want your niche, where to put it is the next important consideration.

Hello again, this is Steve with SKG Renovations with some essential shower niche planning tips for your next shower remodel project.

If you want more details on shower niches, see our Complete Shower Niche Guide.

Shower Niche Size & Style is Key

To get the most out of your new shower niche, you should carefully consider how large it will need to be and what style of niche you prefer.

Do you want one larger niche for bottle storage only?

Do you need a shelf for razors and bar soap?

Do you want a vertically oriented rectangular shaped niche with several shelves, or a large horizontal niche with one long ledge for all you shower items?

Or perhaps you’d prefer two smaller niches to increase your storage, while also adding some style & symmetry to your shower design.

This decision involves both practical storage concerns as well as aesthetic considerations. In your shower niche plan you must weigh the importance of each, to come up with a solution that fits your needs but doesn’t interfere with your design.

Finished Shower Niche

Redblock SS shower Niche on shop page - angled, empty, green tile - needs modification1

Instead of installing a tiled shower niche, you could instead choose the finished shower niche option.

These products come in a few different sizes but only a few are designed to bond to the shower wall waterproofing membrane.

Be sure that you purchase one that includes this feature as it is extremely important.

See our article: The Complete Shower Niche Guide

Custom Built Tiled Shower Niche

Split pic - Finished Tiled Niche and niche in progress w Kerdi membrane

If you’re not interested in a finished niche and you’ve decided that the preformed foam shower niches are too small, you could always choose a custom tiled shower niche.

If you go the custom route, you can make your shower niche any size you want.

This can be a bit daunting and there are also some structural and financial constraints that should be considered.

A custom tiled shower niche can also cost a fair bit more than a premanufactured foam niche or a finished niche, so this will likely factor into your decision.

Custom Horizontal Tiled Shower Niche

Long horizontal tiled niche - stock pic

If your shower niche plan involves a custom horizontal shower niche, this type of niche will increase your shower storage significantly, but some structural reinforcement of the wall will be required.

This can vary from a relatively small amount of work, to considerable…… and quite expensive.

Ask your contractor about this if you’re considering a horizontal niche.

Read more about this in our article: 5 BIG Shower Niche Install Mistakes to Avoid

Custom Vertical Tiled Shower Niche

Custom built tiled shower niche, glass shelves, white metal edging

If you don’t want to pay for additional structural fortifications you can still create a relatively large shower niche; you just need to extend your niche up vertically instead of horizontally.

This niche will be much more reasonably priced because it is built between the existing wall studs.

If you want to create a huge custom tiled shower niche, the amount of vertical height you could utilize is almost unrestricted from the ceiling down to the floor or tub deck.

The higher your niche becomes, the larger number of shelves you can put in as well.

Just make sure that you talk to your contractor about shelf material.

For example, if you love your bar soap, a glass or stone shelf may not be your best choice. They are both attractive but your soap can slip away quite easily.

Stainless steel shower niche shelves are getting more popular because they are attractive, thin and keep your soap from melting or sliding away.

Don’t Get Carried Away

One last thing to consider when choosing your shower niche size is what personal care products are absolutely necessary in your shower and which items you can do without.

If you don’t use certain items regularly, consider storing them outside the shower and bringing them in only when needed.

When attempting to create a storage space in your new shower for absolutely everything you may need,  you may be creating a shower niche that is too large and obtrusive.

Always be aware of the balance that you are trying to achieve between storage practicality and your shower design aesthetic.

To address this tendency, it’s also a great idea to consider using two niches to spread out the product storage in two locations.

Two niches are great for couples that prefer their own personal shower storage area. It can also provide a compelling design symmetry that is impossible to achieve with just one shower niche.

Shower Niche Placement

Shower niche planning - Moberly shower with RB niche inserted

The decision of your shower niche size & style must always be accompanied by a shower niche height and horizontal placement decision when planning your shower remodel.

These decisions also involve practical and aesthetic considerations.

A homeowner that wants to create a shower niche that is a design showpiece will be more inclined to focus on the symmetry and finish of their niche.

A more practical bias would lead a homeowner to position their shower niche where products can be easily accessed, and focus less on aesthetic concerns.

Practicality Over Aesthetics

Most homeowners will normally consider at least a few of the practical issues associated with proper placement.

For example, a tub shower combination demands that the shower niche height be slightly lower to allow access to someone in the bath.

As well, there are some very practical benefits to placing the niche outside of the “splash zone”, especially if you are a bar soap user.

The splash zone is simply the area near the shower head where you stand & rinse yourself. A fair bit of water deflects onto the shower walls in this area, so a bar of soap can become a sloppy mess and dissolve down the drain, if stored within this zone.

For this reason, the wall opposite the shower head is the most popular place for shower niches.

Regarding shower niche height – if it’s a regular stand up shower, a placement height above the waist (approximately 3 feet from the shower pan/base) would be most convenient for reach.

If it’s a tub/ shower, waist height or lower is more common to achieve a compromise for bathers.

Some people obsessed with easy access, will place their niche between the shower valve control and the shower head.

Although it may seem like an intuitive location, the valve wall has the disadvantage of being directly in the splash zone as well as being directly behind the water stream, which may obscure your items from view.

In addition, niche installation in the valve wall requires that the water supply lines be redirected, which also adds to your plumbing labour expense.

Aesthetics a Priority?

Those concerned about symmetry often horizontally center their shower niche on the back wall (wall adjacent to the shower head).

Another option is to install two niches side by side, or above and below each other on this wall. This can also look super cool yet less dominant because each of the niches can be smaller in size.

This style of installation may also allow your niche layout to be more compatible with your shower tile design.

With two or four niches, you can achieve a design symmetry impossible with a single niche.

As well as being a very attractive option,  multiple niches can also meet, or exceed the storage capacity of one single larger shower niche.

Wrap Up

Choosing the right size, style, and placement of a shower niche in your new shower remodel may seem trivial, but it requires some important practical and aesthetic considerations.

The last thing you need is to experience any regret about your shower storage after your shower remodel is finished.

Hopefully this article can provide you with some clarity about this seemingly unimportant, (but actually crucial!) decision.

Please feel free to leave a comment for me if you have any specific shower niche planning questions.

This post is for information purposes only and should NOT be interpreted as professional advice. You should always consult a licensed local contractor before undertaking any remodeling work in your home. Click here for my full Personal / Professional Disclosure.

There are 34 comments on this post:

  1. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Nicole,

    Thank you for your comment!
    As I mentioned in my post, I think that the niche position should be more about practicality than aesthetics, but that is only my opinion.
    In other words, I believe that the best place for the niche is always where it will be most easily accessed during showering, and this may not be in the center of your shower.
    However, if you are intent on centering the niche for aesthetic reasons, I would always center it on the wall it’s being installed into. Centering the niche on the tiled section of this wall makes the most sense to me, since it’s usually the most dominant visual element in the shower.
    Asymmetry with the curb or shower pan won’t be noticed as easily because people tend to focus on things directly in front of them, not as much downwards.

    I hope that helps!
    Good luck with your project!


  2. Avatar photo

    We’re in the middle of a remodel and having the hardest time finding where center of the niche is. We have a 36×58 shower that will have a glass surround. Do we center off the inside of the pan, the curb, the glass wall or where the tile ends?

    Right now we have it planned rom the curb but it looks a little bit too far away from the wall.

    Thank you!

  3. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Nancy,

    Thank you for your comment!

    A pony wall like what you’re describing, would be one of the safest places to install a shower niche because it’s an inside wall. The outside wall installations the ones that are the most complicated in terms of insulation, waterproofing etc.

    Aesthetically speaking, I think this would be a great place to install your shower niche but I am no designer so I’m not really qualified to comment. But I could say quite confidently that it certainly won’t look “awful”.

    I think the best criteria for choosing where to place your niche is simply accessibility. If it’s in relatively easy reach, and outside the “splash zone” (close to the shower head), then you’re good to go!

    Good luck with your remodel project!


  4. Avatar photo

    Steve, your contents are from haven!
    I have spent so much time watching all sorts of Youtube videos. The Youtube videos give you a little of this and that from time to time but so hard to get a complete view of all the aspects involved in a shower remodel project.
    Not I am planning on details. One thing is where to place the shower niche. the shower is an alcove installation but one of the wall is a pony wall between Jacozi and the shower. My question is is it practical to place the niche on the pony wall which is just above the Jacozzi at the top. Is this awkward? Does it look awful?
    Thanks a lot!
    Nancy Li

  5. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Catherine,

    Thank you for your comment and the compliment. I really happy that my post was useful to you.

    Sounds like you guys are very particular when it comes to niche placement. It’s great that gave yourself the time to consider this issue beforehand so there are no regrets later. Good for you!!

    Good luck with your shower remodel.


  6. Avatar photo

    One other consideration is whether or not you shower facing the shower head. My husband does, but I don’t. We both need the soap in front of us, so we’re not twisting for it. Therefore, we are putting one niche one the left of the back wall and one on the right.
    Great article, no wonder it moved to the top of search.

  7. Avatar photo

    Wow! When I started to Google search for recommendations on quantity/placements of shower niches I honestly didn’t expect to find anything helpful. But this was the first thing that showed up in the search and was incredibly informative! Thank you!

  8. Avatar photo

    Thank you Steve;

    I didn’t want to do an adjacent wall, but we will do that just in case the sheer forces start acting.

  9. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Harjit,

    Thank you for your comment!

    If the wall you want to install your shower niche into is a 2×6 wall, there’s a very good chance that it’s load bearing (otherwise it would be a 2×4 wall). If it’s right next to the stairway, it could be a shear wall. You should not cut into this wall!

    Instead, why don’t your just build a 2×4 stud wall directly adjacent to it. If you attach this new wall (at various points) to the 2×6 wall, you will have an exceptionally rigid and sturdy wall to install your horizontal niche into. I would still install a structural header above your niche so the wall section above it is well supported.

    It sounds like you have plenty of room in your proposed shower area for this plan, and you’ll only be losing 3-1/2″ of space in your shower. It’s a no brainer.

    Good luck with your project!


  10. Avatar photo

    Hi Steve;
    I’ve removed the tub and going to redo into a 4’x6′ custom Schluter shower. I have a window wall, plumbing wall on the left and a 2″x6″ non weight bearing wall on right, 6′ away from plumbing wall. Like to do a 14″x40″ horizontal custom niche on this 2″x6″ wall. Can I just double two of the 2″x6″ and do a 3″ deep by 14″ high cutout do get the room for a niche? Again this is not a weight bearing wall, and I’m quite confident I should be safe. Its between a bathroom and the stair case.
    Many Thanks.

  11. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Melissa,

    Thank you for your comment!

    That’s a strange coincidence because I just published a new a shower shelf post on my blog! I did so because my clients often ask my opinion on the subject. I usually recommend stainless steel shower niche shelves because they’re thin, attractive, and keep your soap from sliding away. The link above will take you to the stainless steel shower niche shelf section of my post.

    Good luck!


  12. Avatar photo

    We are renovating 2 bathrooms. Both have tub/shower combos. I want a custom vertical niches opposite the showerhead wall. Both surrounds will be subway tile. One niche will have a pattern marble tile inset and the other will have a matte ceramic 13″x13″ tile inset. I really don’t care for glass shelving. When I asked if it was possible to use marble thresh hold as a shelf material my contractor indicated it may not be strong enough and may chip. That coloring wouldn’t work with my matte ceramic anyway. What are the other options for shelf material?

  13. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Joe,

    Thanks for your comment!

    I think your shower niche plan is safe in the splash zone as long as you make sure that the interior of the niches are waterproofed properly and the bottom piece of Durock is slightly sloped outwards. It is best to slope the backerboard rather than just sloping the bottom tile.

    You should not use the sheetrock as the backer for your niche. The niche should be a solid independent structural assembly (walls and back connected to each other).You should also keep in mind that you’re not actually “losing” the 1/2″ because what is lost at the back of the niche, is gained at the front because the backerboard is attached to the face of the studs. In other words, you still maintain a 3-1/2″ deep niche. You can attach the bottom, sides and top pieces of Durock first, then the back. Gluing it to the sheetrock is a fine idea, but just make sure you tape and waterproof the inside of the niche thoroughly. It won’t really help to mortar over the tape in the corners unless you are trying to fill voids, but make sure the corner tape is thoroughly coated with 3 coats of Aquadefense.

    I will have to leave the tile placement challenge up to you. It’s always nice to plan out your tile layout before you position your niches because you don’t want to leave a thin sliver of tile right next to the niche opening. But at the end of the day, I believe that installing a shower niche is always going to be more about utility than aesthetics so you have be OK with a bit of wall tile asymmetry if you want some storage in your shower.

    Good luck with your project!


  14. Avatar photo

    Hi Steve. Thank you for all of this helpful information! Question- I’m tiling a 42″ shower on an acrylic square pan. Two walls tiles. Heavy glass doors getting installed to enclose the other two sides of the pan. I’m limited on where to install the niche due to shower valve, stud placement (high point of a vaulted ceiling on wall without shower valve). There is also an electrical box in the wall without the shower valve for the master bedroom light switch and ceiling fan. So it looks like my only option would be in the stud bay starting off the inside corner of the shower. I could build 2 niches – each coming off the inside corner bays right next to each other. I was going to mount them high beings its in the “spray zone”. I was thing installing 2×4’s for the top and bottom, wrapping the in Durarock, mesh tape and mortar all seams, then a few coats of Aqua Defense. I also planned on just using the back of the sheetrock on the adjoining walls so I wont lose that 1/2’…was going to coat it good with the Aquadefense. What is your expert opinion on this? Is it a bad idea to just use the back of the sheetrock on that wall? Should I set the Durarock on the bottom ledge first, then set another piece of Durarock on the back of the existing sheetrock with some mortar or construction adhesive, sacrificing that 1/2″, then Durarock the sides and top? Also, what are your thoughts on these niches starting off the inside corner in regards to taking on water by the inside corner, and tile placement for aesthetics? Thanks in advance! Joe

  15. Steves User Profile Image


    Thank you for your comment!

    For me it’s all about practicality. In a 30″ shower you can’t really afford to store your shampoo bottles, etc on the floor. It’s not so bad that you did not install it on the valve wall either. It would also be off-center there because you need to avoid the water lines. Sometimes you just have to work with what you’ve got. I would suggest you just leave it where it is and be happy with the asymmetry! Just make sure that it’s waterproofed well because it will be getting very wet.

    Good Luck!


  16. Avatar photo

    Thank you for this article. I’m wondering if you have a moment to weigh in on a small 57×75” bathroom reno underway. We’re trying to include a recessed shelf in a 30×30” corner shower. The wall stud ends @12.5” from corner so we can’t center the niche. We’re thinking of placing the niche @13” from the corner, out to 25.5” from the corner – making a w 12” h 24”after tiling. Unfortunately I didnt’ get your advice in time to put the niche on the same wall as the shower head. The cement board is up & the shelf look odd. Is it just me or do you think this will always look a bit “off”? What would you do – keep, get rid of, change its size, or something else…? Thank you very much for your advice.

  17. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi LK,

    Thank you for your comment.

    Most jurisdictions in the US and Canada will allow LED shower niche lighting to be installed into your tiled shower niche, but you should check with your local authority to be sure. I should also stress that you should always hire a qualified electrician to install your shower niche lighting. This is NOT a DIY job!

    If installed correctly, most LED lighting circuits are generally considered to be safe in a wet environment like the shower. LED lighting is very low voltage (12-24 VDC) and low current because of a “LED driver” module that serves to convert, reduce and manage your household line voltage. This module (located outside the shower in an electrical box) also protects against unsafe surges in the circuit in the case of an electrical short. As well, most jurisdictions require this type of lighting circuit to be supplied by a GFI protected circuit.

    Here is a product designed specifically for shower niche installations from Schluter Systems called LIPROTEC that hides a LED strip light in a Schluter tile trim profile. It’s a bit expensive but it super safe and super easy to install and also makes your install look very professional.

    Good Luck!


  18. Avatar photo

    I saw the picture of a lighted shower niche. I love that look. How can you install waterproof LED lighting in the niche and have it comply with the NEC and pass electrical inspection?

  19. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Arnold,

    Thank you for your comment!

    I would NOT recommend installing any niche into your existing shower because it will cause a serious breach of the shower wall waterproofing envelope. See my waterproofing post for more info.

    This installation could also cause tile cracking, de-lamination and damage to the backer board just by cutting the hole, even if you were very experienced and extremely careful.

    And if you want to install a tilable niche like Redi niche, you will definitely have to install two horizontal cross braces in order to attach your niche to the framing. You will also be faced with tiling over the 1″ mounting flange (in addition to the niche interior). It will be very difficult to make this look good and even if you do accomplish this, the transition between the niche flange and backer board will still be vulnerable to leaks.

    Sorry for the let down, but I think the easiest and safest way to get extra storage in your existing shower would be to buy a shower caddy .

    Good Luck!


  20. Avatar photo

    Thanks for this article. Very helpful. I am thinking of putting a niche on an existing shower.
    a) Is it safe (i.e., issue with water leak) to install niche on a tiled shower?
    b) I am planning to buy rediniche- any thoughts on it? I read that tiles don’t bond well on it.
    c) The space between studs vertically is 16 inches. Is it absolutely necessary to put a horizontal wood between the stud? It maybe a challenging in a finished tile.

  21. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Donna,

    Thank you for your comment.

    Firstly, you should make sure that there is indeed adequate structural support for the window. As long as the framing is exposed in this wall, it’s pretty easy to verify.

    You should see a couple of stacked 2×10’s laminated together, running parallel to the face of the wall right above the window. This framing should fill up the stud cavity up to around 12″ above the top of the window frame. If you see this, there’s a good chance that the structure is OK. You can send me a pic at [email protected] if you want me to check if it’s done right.

    As for your niche install plan……. Yes, I would say that it’s a bad idea. But it may still be done fairly safely, with some modifications to the stud wall and insulation.

    The only way I would be OK with this install, is if your contractor attached 2″x2″ framing pieces to the surface of every stud (on the outside wall) to effectively bring out the wall surface by 1-1/2″. The niche and tile backer board would be mounted on the new framing, providing a full 2″ of insulation space behind the niche box. Also, I would only install a tilable foam niche (not custom framed). I would insulate the entire wall (or at least the space behind and surrounding the niche with spray foam only. I would not insulate this space with any loose fill insulation because of their low R value and high moisture permeability. I would also install only a sheet style waterproofing membrane (on the shower wall and inside the niche) with a high perm rating (see my waterproofing membrane post).

    Assumptions: You are installing a tiled niche (not a solid surface shower niche), you’re exterior wall is 3-1/2″ deep, and you’re not lying about how extreme your local weather is… 🙂

    Good luck!


  22. Avatar photo

    Ok, so what if the outside wall has a 30″ wide window and you want the niche to be placed under the window same width as window? I am assuming my 50 year old home was built with the correct structural support for the window. While structural support and water proofing is most important to me, the location of the niche is where it will be most convenient to the soaker tub I am installing. Also, we live in a climate that rarely ever receives snow.

    So is this a really bad idea?
    Thank you

  23. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Robert,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I always recommend attaching your niche box securely to the wall framing and ensuring that there’s adequate support framing behind the mounting flange on all sides, especially if you’re installing a foam or plastic tilable shower niche. This is an important step to prevent distortion of the niche box, grout line cracking, leaks etc……

    If you have the ability to easily install an additional framing stud into your shower wall to fit your niche snugly between two studs, this would always be great because the more studs there are in this wall, the more rigid the entire assembly becomes. But this is usually not a practical option nor is it really necessary, unless the shower wall has other structural issues.

    Instead, you can install horizontal 2×4 framing braces between two adjacent studs, above and below your niche, to create an extremely rigid wall assembly that’s several times more rigid than any of the adjacent (non-braced) stud bays. All you need to do is install your niche snugly against one of the two vertical studs within your selected stud bay, install the above mentioned braces, and finish it off with another framing piece to support the other vertical mounting flange of your shower niche. That’s it!

    Good luck with your niche installation!


  24. Avatar photo

    One practical issue absent from this discussion is the position of the studs. Is there an advantage to — or requirement for — fitting the niche snugly between two studs?

  25. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Jim,

    Thank you for your comment.

    I am not really familiar with the type that fit under the cement board but it doesn’t really sound like a good idea even if it is possible. Because these niches are made out of foam, they require a solid mounting. That means that you should install framing behind the entire perimeter of the hole, to support the backer board AND the entire perimeter of the niche. That way you can screw the niche to the framing on all four sides.
    Because the niche mounting flange is usually also made of foam, the backer board usually needs to be cut large enough to fit this flange so it can mount flush with the backer board.

    You must also make sure that your shower wall waterproofing membrane covers the margin between the backer board and the niche. Installing these niches creates a breach around their perimeter that MUST be covered by a membrane for your shower to remain watertight.

    Good luck with your project!


  26. Avatar photo

    Do you recommend block foam niches that fit flush with cement board or is it okay to mount the type that fit under cement board?

  27. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Virginia,

    Thank you for your comments.

    It’s seems like these are more design questions rather than the nuts and bolts contractor questions that I’m accustomed to. That said…. I would say that a recessed soap dish may not cost you a lot less to install that an entire shower niche because a waterproof recess must be created in the shower wall in both cases. I also think that it’s not too likely that you will regret installing a shower niche since storage in the shower is an issue for almost everyone. As far as the size? ……. you can install any size shower niche you like depending on your storage needs. The limitations in a standard tub area are really just the distance between the tub and ceiling (with a little space for framing on each side). I have installed custom vertical shower niches as tall as 32″ in this space.
    That’s my two bits. I hope it helps.

    PS: It wouldn’t hurt to talk to a bathroom designer if you would like more qualified advice about aesthetic or design issues in your shower.


  28. Avatar photo

    Ginny6319@ have 18×24 window on one wall looking straight into tub/ shower area.. should I have a niche or recessed soap dish?

  29. Steves User Profile Image

    Hi Kevin,
    Thanks so much for your comment. I’m happy that you’re getting some useful info from my post.

    If you are tackling a complete shower remodel for the first time, I would recommend using a polystyrene foam shower base from Wedi or Hydro-Blok. These two brands have a cement layer bonded to their front and back surfaces designed for tile mortar adhesion and additional stiffness. For a DIY’r I would also recommend using their 1/2″ foam wall panels for the walls because they have a low enough moisture permeability rating and you won’t need to install a sheet or liquid waterproofing membrane product.

    I would strongly recommend that you DO NOT install a shower niche in the outside wall. You would be removing almost all the insulation behind it to make room for it, and this is definitely not a good idea, especially in Montana. The only way you could do this safely is to construct another stud wall directly adjacent to this outside wall. I also believe it would be safer and easier to use a preformed foam niche instead of constructing one out of plywood as long as it’s well supported.

    I’m happy to answer any more questions you might have. Good luck with your project!

  30. Avatar photo

    Steve, I am fascinated by the amount of good information that you have provided here in these articles. Nowhere else have I learned so much at one site. I am getting ready to build my own master bath walk in shower in our new house. I have tiled several projects before for myself, however I have never attempted a shower, and it scares me somewhat. One forgotten step could have disastrous results. I would like to install a niche and I think I would like to build my own. Would I be able to construct it out of exterior plywood and build in a shelf, then tile it? I was thinking about a vertical one in my 16″oc studs. I would like to install it in a wall to the right of my shower head wall but that is an exterior wall and in Montana that wall is foamed and has blown in insulation.
    Any additional information you can give me I would be grateful for it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *