7 Different Types of Shower Faucets

Shower faucets can be as simple or complex as you like, allowing you to create a lasting and steadfast fixture or spa-like environment in your bathroom. Finding the right shower faucet for your needs depends on personal taste and your current bathroom and shower configuration in your home.

The bathroom is a sanctuary, a quiet place to relax in a peaceful setting. For many, the shower is a place to unwind and collect your thoughts for the day. It makes sense that you should do everything in your power to make the bathroom and shower an inviting space, and that starts with shower design.

Choosing the right showerhead can make a world of difference and can impact shower controls, water temperature, shower features, and the overall look of the bathroom. There are many shower faucets to choose from, each with its pros and cons. Below, we will examine different types of shower faucets available for today’s bathroom.

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Types

Fixed Showerhead

Man taking a shower.

The standard for many bathrooms is the fixed showerhead. This shower faucet is affixed to the wall by a short pipe that allows water to flow through the head. Often, a fixed shower head is immobile, aside from small adjustments that can be made to the angle at which the water is sprayed. This feature is perfect for adjusting the shower fixture and showerhead for different heights.

Just like many other shower faucet options, the fixed shower head comes in a range of materials, metals, and color styles. You can have the option to have a shiny stainless steel variety or opt for brass, nickel, bronze, or even matte black color. Coordinate your shower faucet to match with a tub spout or sink faucet.

Although you may not have much freedom when it comes to the range of motion, many fixed showerhead options have a wide variety of spray patterns for the showerhead itself. Choose from a standard sprinkle, a massaging jet, or a shower head that allows you to select and rotate through the available spray pattern settings. Keep in mind that the effectiveness of a massaging jet showerhead may be dependent on the amount of water pressure that reaches the bathroom shower.

Several benefits come with a fixed shower head. First, these are very simple and basic installations. That means that the chance for the showerhead to leak is minimal. The showerhead installation is easy and is usually completed in just a matter of minutes with the right tools.

Further, fixed showerheads have a long lifespan and can last for years if installed correctly and regularly maintained. Of the showerhead options available, a fixed showerhead is often the least expensive. With the various color and metal options, it is possible to maintain a cohesive look in your bathroom without spending a small fortune.

Unfortunately though, because this shower head is so simple there is limited opportunity to create a spa-like, relaxing experience in your bathroom. This basic showerhead can only do so much, and often the design features are rather stark compared to other alternative shower devices. Further, because these shower heads are firmly affixed to the wall, there is a very small range of motion which may not be ideal for adjusting the height when bathing children and pets.

Handheld Showerhead

Woman holding a handheld shower while taking a bath.

If you like the idea of having a functional and multi-purpose showerhead in your bathroom, then a handheld showerhead may be a great option for you. These showerheads usually come with a docking station that is affixed to the wall. The showerhead will sit in the dock and can function like an affixed showerhead. The base of the handheld showerhead is then connected to a hose, which provides the water to the heat. This can help increase the range of the showerhead.

As with other common shower head fixtures, the handheld showerhead comes in a wide range of color and metal options. This shower faucet is most commonly found in stainless steel, but it is possible to buy a handheld showerhead in bronze, brass, nickel, or matte black finishes. This feature is a great way to coordinate all the fixtures in the bathroom to compliment your current bathroom style.

People with small children and pets will love the flexibility a handheld showerhead gives to the user. It is perfect to bring the water spray down to a lower level to help with bathing. Plus, the flexible hose is a great feature when cleaning and scrubbing the shower. The handheld shower option is perfect for men and women who want to take a shower, without washing their hair. More so, the flexible shower hose is a nice feature to have in a shower-only installment, with no tub, for filling up large buckets with water.

Convenience in the shower does come with a price. Having a flexible shower head ultimately means that there are more moving parts. Between the docking bracket and the hose, there is more potential for a handheld showerhead to leak. Plus, there is more potential for a part of the configuration to break, rendering the entire assembly useless.

When it comes to installing a handheld showerhead the installation is rather simple. Just like a fixed showerhead, the water source goes straight into an immobile pipe that extends from the wall. The water then travels through the hose and to the handheld showerhead. Some models of a handheld showerhead will allow you to slide the docking bracket to the desired height, with some models giving you a great deal of range. Typically this portion of the assembly is pre-assembled, requiring you to only install a single large bracket assembly in place.

Overhead Shower

Closeup of shower head with water stream.

The overhead shower is a great way to create a decadent and relaxing environment in your private home. The main difference with an overhead shower is the fact that the water is dispersed from overhead near the ceiling, compared to at an angle from the wall. This can sometimes be called a “rainwater” shower because the water trickles overhead and evenly falls around your body.

There are two main types of overhead shower options. The first option is to have the showerhead come directly out of the ceiling. This is usually a much larger shower head that can have any shape or configuration. This type of showerhead usually requires special plumbing installation that allows for the piping to go upward through the ceiling. While bathrooms can be renovated to accommodate this type of plumbing, it is usually easier to install an overhead shower of this type while you are still building the bathroom.

The second type of overhead shower system extends from the wall. Just like a fixed showerhead, the overhead shower will connect to a pipe that is connected to the wall. The difference is that the pipe and shower arm will come out of the wall and bend at a 90-degree angle, creating an overhead showerhead. While this type of showerhead does not give you the same feel and coverage as a traditional “rainwater” showerhead, it requires very minimal modification to your existing plumbing and can be installed in just a matter of minutes by a professional plumber.

Similar to other shower faucet options, the overhead showerhead comes in several different finishes and metals. This feature makes it a versatile fixture in your bathroom that can easily coordinate with other themes and styles. Available finish options often include stainless steel, nickel, brass, bronze, or matte black.

Full Shower System

Modern bathroom interior with chrome showerhead.

If you are looking to make your space truly relaxing and flexible consider installing a full shower system. This assembly often includes several fixtures and gives you the best of both worlds. A full shower system will most likely contain a fixed showerhead as well as a flexible handheld showerhead. The shower system will also come with the necessary knobs, handles, and temperature set. Some bigger shower system sets will also come with an overhead shower faucet or a tub faucet.

The biggest advantage of installing a full shower system is that you get the simplicity of a fixed shower head with the flexibility of a handheld showerhead. This will allow you to use the fixed shower head for everyday needs, and use the handheld showerhead for special applications. A hand shower is ideal for bathing small children or pets.

Many of the shower systems will come with the necessary diverter valve that will allow you to toggle between fixtures. By purchasing the entire shower system in one set you will be able to expertly match all of the finishes so that you create a simple, yet cohesive look in your shower.

Although the shower set will give you the most amount of options, installation can be tricky. Depending on the included pieces in your shower set you may require extra plumbing and piping through your shower to be able to accommodate the full set.

Before purchasing a shower set, make sure you talk to a licensed plumber to ensure the set will work with your existing setup. If you are undergoing a renovation, make sure that you have the correct plumbing in place ahead of time to accommodate the shower faucet set.

Thermostatic Shower Valve

hansgrohe Ecostat Square Modern Premium Volume and Auto Temperature Control 2-Handle 6-inch Wide Thermostatic Shower Trim for Rough-in Valve with Diverter in Chrome, 15714001
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If you have ever jumped into a shower that is not at the right temperature you know the subsequent anguish of waiting until the water temperature is adjusted correctly. To create the ultimate shower experience many people choose to install a thermostatic shower valve. Sometimes referred to as a thermostatic mixing valve, this valve allows you to preset the temperature of the shower. By mixing hot and cold water, the thermostatic shower valve can instantly create the right temperature for you within 1 degree.

This special feature is often built into the pressure valve. When shopping for a shower faucet, be sure to look for a shower fixture that has a thermostatic feature. Usually, the temperature can be set on the pressure adjustment. Once the temperature is accurately set you will not have to adjust it in the future.

The thermostatic shower valve can also work with a diverter valve. This configuration will allow you to maintain a steady temperature as you toggle between the shower and the tub. A thermostatic shower valve is also a nice safety feature to have. By pre-setting a temperature you can avoid dangerous shower water burns for the elderly or small children.

Unfortunately, a thermostatic valve can be more expensive to install, although the cost of this feature has been dropping in recent years. The thermostatic shower valve works by increasing or decreasing the flow of water to allow for hotter or cooler temperatures.

If there is a change in the household temperature or water pressure, the thermostatic shower valve instantly reacts and adjusts the water temperature for you. In some cases, having a thermostatic valve can reduce the amount of water pressure in your shower.

Tub Faucet

Closeup of bathtub with chrome fixtures fitted on tiled walls.

Many showers are combined with a tub in a shower surround. This setup allows a person to use the space to shower or to take a bath. When considering shower faucets it is also key to think about a tub faucet as well. Many tub faucets are designed to match the shower faucet and will be sold together in a package.

As part of the package, expect to receive a shower head, tub faucet, and diverter. The diverter is sometimes packed with a thermostatic valve. Other times, the diverter is positioned on top of the tub faucet and is a toggle that can be pulled upward to divert the water to the showerhead. The diverter is a special piece of the fixture that will channel the water from the shower to the tub faucet, and back to the shower faucet again. The diverter is a key piece of the shower assembly that is required for a tub and shower combination.

Just like with shower faucet pieces, a tub faucet comes in several different styles and metals. Choose from steel, brass, nickel, bronze, or matt black finishes. Many different styles range from a modern style to a traditional and classic style.

Deluxe Shower System

Deluxe hydro-massage shower cabin with overhead shower, shower handset, thermostatic control and mirror.

A deluxe shower system can be as big and as advanced as you can dream of. While most shower systems contain the fixed shower head, handheld showerhead, and possibly a tub faucet, deluxe systems will include additional body spray options. These body sprays will be placed around the shower in the walls. The body spray intends to hit the body with water from different angles, giving you a full spa experience in your shower.

Of course, installation for a deluxe shower system complete with a body spray option is quite advanced. Accommodations for additional plumbing and piping must be made ahead of time. Before attempting to install a deluxe shower system be sure to consult a licensed plumber. Have a plan in mind with the position and number of body spray assemblies you would like to install. Similar to other shower systems, the deluxe systems for a shower will come in a range of color and metal options.

Also, consider that these complex and deluxe shower systems require a great deal of water and water pressure. Make sure that you have the right water valves and pressure valves in place. If you are going through with installing a deluxe shower system you want to make sure that it will work as intended, providing enough power and pressure throughout the shower.

FAQs

It feels like the options are endless when it comes time to choose a shower faucet and shower configuration that will work best for you. It can be difficult weighing the pros and cons of each shower faucet type, and tricky to understand if each configuration will work with your current bathroom set up.

To help get you pointed in the right direction we have put together a list of frequently asked questions about the various types of shower faucets.

What are the parts of a shower faucet?

A shower faucet can be very simple, or complex, depending on the type of faucet you choose. At its most basic core, a shower faucet will consist of the showerhead and the flow/temperature adjustment. Sometimes the pipe the shower head connects to will be included, but often a showerhead will be sold alone to attach to your current pipe configuration.

Depending on the type and style of shower faucet you choose you may have a single knob or lever to control both flow and temperature, or this assembly may be split into two separate controls. Additionally, temperature knobs can be individual for hot and cold or combined.

If you choose a handheld shower faucet or a shower system, expect there to be additional parts of the shower faucet configuration. A handheld shower will often include the showerhead, docking bracket, and shower hose in addition to the temperature and flow controls. Before completing an installation for a new shower faucet be sure that you are receiving all of the necessary parts. Included pieces of a shower faucet assembly will vary between manufacturers.

What is a shower faucet trim kit?

If you are shopping for a new shower faucet you will most likely see it described as a shower faucet trim kit. Generally speaking, a trim kit includes any decorated part of the shower assembly that is visible. This trim kit can contain the showerhead itself, the fixtures, and the tub spout. The trim kit determines the metal and color of your assembly which can be chrome, brass, bronze, nickel, or matte black.

How do you replace your shower head or faucet?

In some instances replacing a shower head is quite simple. Depending on your existing assembly you may be able to simply unscrew the old showerhead and replace it with the new one. Always use plumber’s tape wrapped in the direction of the threads to ensure a watertight seal that will not start to leak over time.

It may not be possible to replace the shower arm as well. In some cases, the shower arm is simply unscrewed, with a new arm screwed in place with the plumber’s tape. In other cases, the shower arm is soldered in place. If solder is used, the old shower arm must be cut, and a new arm soldered in place. This is best left to a professional plumber to complete.

Changing the shower knob and trim kit is equally as easy. Often, the plate that covers the knob control is simply screwed into place. To change the knob, look for a small set screw that is placed on the underside of the knob. Unscrewing this small screw should allow you to change out the old knobs with new pressure and temperature controls.

If you are changing the type of shower faucet or plumbing arrangement you will most likely require the help of a professional and licensed plumber. Moving pipes and plumbing can be difficult, and depending on the state you live in, can require permitting.

Always talk to a professional ahead of time to understand the cost and time commitment needed for changing a shower faucet configuration. A plumber will also be able to tell you if you have the available space in your bathroom and shower to make the wanted changes and upgrades to your shower fixtures.

What is the difference between a mixer shower and a thermostatic shower?

Most showers are a traditional mixer shower. This configuration means that for a person to set the temperature they must do so manually. A mixer shower can apply to a single temperature knob that twists between hot and cold, or it can apply to individual hot and cold temperature knobs. Manual mixer showers can often take some time for the person to set the ideal temperature.

Alternatively, a thermostatic shower has the temperature pre-set. These work by allowing the pipes to expand or contract to increase or decrease the flow of cold water to the system. A thermostatic shower can have the temperature instantly set to within 1 degree of the pre-determined temperature. As the water temperature changes or pressure changes in the house, the thermostatic shower valve will automatically compensate to keep a consistent temperature in the shower.

With a manual mixer shower, the overall water pressure in the shower typically remains unchanged. With a thermostatic shower, the pressure can decrease because of the way the temperature mechanism works. Thermostatic shower valves are a nice feature to have, but often require an added expense and additional plumbing to work with an existing shower surround.

Which shower faucet is best for you?

When trying to determine which shower faucet is best for you it can be difficult. There are so many styles and features available that it can almost be overwhelming. To determine which shower is best, think about your current needs and how you will most likely use the shower.

If having a basic shower and simple installation is important to you, with minimal risk of leaks, then a fixed showerhead might be the best option. There are several styles and models available, and many showerheads come with an elaborate spray pattern that can mimic even the best shower experience.

For others, having a flexible and accessible shower head faucet is most important. For this, a handheld shower might be the best option. Able to function as a fixed shower, the handheld shower also gives the option to extend from the wall and project water elsewhere. This option is perfect for people with young children or pets.

If you like the best of both worlds, a shower system might be ideal. Pending you have the right plumbing and set up in your shower or bathroom, a shower system may be able to provide a fixed shower head, plus the option to use a handheld shower. This option gives you flexibility and simplicity in your shower.

For those eager to have a luxury experience in a spa-like setting, choosing an overhead shower, or a thermostatic shower might be a great choice. These both feature time-saving luxury elements that give you the chance to relax and enjoy a hot shower. Of course, be sure that you have a licensed plumber to help move and install the necessary plumbing to have an overhead shower faucet or a thermostatic valve. These often require a tricky installation that may be too time-consuming for a simple bathroom makeover.

Should tub and sink faucets match?

The answer to this question comes down to personal preference and the overall style you want in your bathroom. In many cases, people choose one color or finish for their bathroom fixtures. This will ensure that the shower faucet, tub spout, and sink faucets match. By choosing the same color you can keep a cohesive look inside your bathroom.

In some bathrooms, the tub spout and faucet are a real design feature and the highlight of the bathroom. For this reason, they want the faucet to stand out. It can look beautiful to make the tub faucet a different metal, color, or finish than the sink faucet. When it comes to designing your bathroom, remember that it is up to you to decide what you like and what you want the finished product to look like.

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