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Determining which shower faucet is best for you depends on the scope of your bathroom renovation, the type of shower you prefer, and the interior design of your bathroom. Each bathroom and its respective shower are different with its own unique functionality.
Types of Shower Faucets:
Shower Only Faucets
Tub and Shower Faucets
Regardless of how you prefer your showers, the type of shower faucet you choose has a big impact on your experience.
What is a Shower Faucet?
Similar to all faucets, the shower faucet is a combination of a spout (the showerhead), trim (handles), and a mixing valve – the valve that mixes hot and cold water. Some types include the tub spout, a diverter, or a hand shower.
Expanded: Types of Shower Faucets
Understanding the types of shower faucets available is important to finding the best faucet for your shower renovation.
Shower-only faucets contain a showerhead, valve trim, and a mixing valve. However, it doesn’t have a tub spout or a diverter, which is often included with the tub spout or separately. In other words, a shower-only faucet works best in a stand-alone shower rather than a bathtub/shower combo.
Shower-only faucets cost between $40 for the very simple type of models for a quick replacement and over $500 for a stylized bronze model with multiple spray settings.
Just like other types of faucets, the showerhead is the star of the show. An excellent showerhead delivers so much more than a cleansing stream of water. It provides the texture and spray pattern that makes or breaks a good shower. The best showerheads have several spray patterns to choose from with hand showers you can remove for a more complete rinsing.
Showerheads come in a wide range of shapes, sizes, and styles. From traditional shapes to large square contemporary showerheads mimicking rain, from standard spray patterns to twirling massaging patterns, there’s a design for every type of shower.
The most affordable showerheads cost only $15 but are typically made of hard plastics with a polished chrome finish and have a water flow not much better than a sink faucet. On the opposite end of the spectrum, high-end showerheads cost around $1,000 and feature premium materials with a high-water flow around 2.5 gallons per minute. For a high-quality showerhead that won’t break the bank, expect to spend around $75-$250.
Tub and Shower Faucets
In most homes, the guest bathroom or family bathroom has a bathtub with a shower. This setup is popular because it allows you to take a bath when you want a bath and a shower when you want a shower. As such, when you want your showerhead to match your tub spout, you need a tub & shower faucets package. These contain a showerhead, valve trim, mixing valve, tub spout, and diverter valve. The showerhead, trim, and tub spout have the same style and finish. The mixing valve connects to the trim to control the flow and temperature of the water, and the diverter valve determines whether the water comes out of the tub spout or the showerhead.
With most bathroom renovations, a tub and shower faucets are your best option. While the tub spout is generally simple, you still want to consider the showerhead closely to make sure you choose one with a high water-flow rate, multiple spray patterns, and a great material quality like solid brass.
The average tub and shower trim package costs around $200, though you can find affordable options around $50 and high-end options close to $1000.
Contrary to popular belief, a hand shower is not a miniature shower for washing hands. It’s a small showerhead connected to a hose, which connects to the wall. Typically, a hand shower is complimentary to a showerhead. Sometimes, it’s even part of the showerhead. Since it’s connected to a hose, a hand shower provides exceptional functionality – you don’t move your body in the water stream to rinse, you move the stream around your body for a more precise cleansing.
Much like showerheads, you want a hand shower with multiple spray patterns. You also want a hand shower with a long hose made of metal. It’s even better if you choose one with an adjustable bar. The bar lets you move the hand shower up and own while also providing a hand hold if you slip.
A budget friendly hand shower, which typically consists of a one-spray spout and a wall mount, start at around $50. For a high-quality hand-shower, expect to pay around $150 to $300.
Ever wanted to know what a carwash feels like? Well, you can with a shower system. For an extremely customized shower experience, shower systems are usually a combination of showerheads and nozzles with the standard trim and mixing valves. There is often a large overhead showerhead with smaller jet-like nozzles, usually installed on opposing walls and at varying heights. It all depends on the size of the shower set and how much you want to customize the shower, but the result is often a shower with streams hitting you from all directions. Some shower systems include hand showers with adjustable bars.
Shower systems are ideal for a master bathroom. They require a lot of specialized plumbing, so we recommend hiring a professional for the installation.
Shower systems typically cost over $1,000. However, they provide such a luxurious showering experience, adding a shower system can improve the value of your bathroom renovation.
How to Choose a Shower Faucet Set
Choosing the best shower faucet starts by evaluating your project. Are you just replacing the trim and showerhead? Or are you doing a complete renovation, replacing all the plumbing in the process? These are the five steps to finding the right shower faucet:
Step 1: The Valve
The rough-in valve is not exciting, but it’s one of the most important parts of your shower set. The rough-in valve mixes the hot and cold water while pressure balancing the water flow. It does all the important work behind the scenes, which is why it’s called a “rough-in” – you install it when the plumbing is “rough,” and before the walls are closed, as it needs to be welded to the hot and cold plumbing.
You can access the rough-in valve by removing the trim – the lever controlling water temperature and pressure. However, you can’t remove and replace the rough-in valve without punching a hole into the wall.
Evaluating the valve is the first step – it largely determines the scope of your project.
Most manufacturers make rough-in valves to fit their shower faucets. These aren’t one-valve-fits-all type products. So, if you have plans to just replace the trim of your shower for a new look, you need to choose trim from the same brand as the rough-in valve for the best fit.
If the rough-in valve is in bad shape, you want a different brand of shower faucet, or you want to upgrade to a thermostatic valve (more on that in a second), then you’re looking at a project that will take more time than replacing the trim alone. You need to remove the trim, cut an access hole, remove the old valve, and weld the new one into place. For this type of project, we recommend hiring a professional.
Most rough-in valves are simple, but here are a few types of rough-in valves to consider:
Thermostatic Valve: Widely considered the best shower valve available, a thermostatic valve regulates water at preset temperatures, ensuring the perfect shower temperature every time, even after you turn the water off. If you have the budget, you can take it a step further and get a digital valve to control both temperature and pressure separately.
Pressure Balance Valve: This is the most common type of valve. It controls the hot and cold supply lines and is designed to provide a consistent temperature, even when someone flushes the toilet or starts a wash.
Step 2: Material
The material you choose determines the longevity of the shower faucet. The same principle goes with any faucet – brass is your best option. Because of its density, resistance to corrosion, and long lifespan, brass is better at handling the day-to-day moisture and water pressure of a shower faucet. Other durable options include copper and stainless steel. For less expensive faucets, iron and aluminum are popular, though they may not have the longevity of brass or copper.
If you choose an inferior material because it costs less, you may end up spending more replacing the faucet multiple times over the lifespan of a solid brass shower faucet. If you’re not keen on the look of brass, solid brass fixture with a chrome, nickel, or bronze finish.
Step 3: Type
Now you can turn your attention to the types of shower faucet sets we covered earlier. Here are some simple reminders when choosing a shower faucet type:
Shower-Only Faucet: Showerhead and trim
Shower and Tub Faucet: Showerhead, trim, tub spout, diverter
Showerhead: Just the showerhead
Hand Shower: hand shower, diverter, wall mount
Shower Systems: Showerhead, several wall nozzles, rough-in valve, trim, diverter
Step 4: Spray Pattern
Now you’re in it – start thinking about how you like your showers. Do you prefer the standard, even spray? What about a rain shower or waterfall? Do you want the shower spray to cover a large area? Or do you prefer a high-pressure massaging spray? There are multiple spray patterns to consider to give you total control. Here are some of the most popular:
The Standard – A regular sized showerhead between 2.5” and 4” with a spray that starts narrow and gets wider. The holes are evenly placed around the showerhead and angle slightly outwards, creating a wider wash area the further you stand from the showerhead. This is the most common pattern.
Full Body – A large showerhead over 4” and with a standard pattern. While the pattern is the same as the standard, these showerheads have a wider spray area, covering more of the showering area.
Massaging – A high-pressure pattern often with some circular, undulating, or pulsing pattern meant for massaging muscles. Good news for massage lovers, manufacturers are constantly making new and improved massaging patterns. As such, massaging sprays come in many different types of patterns.
Rain Can – A pattern mimicking a heavy downpour by creating large droplets. Rain can showerheads are often very large squares or circles and installed overhead, either from the ceiling or high on the wall.
Waterfall – A sheet of water diving over an edge like a waterfall. It has a similarly luxurious effect as a rain can showerhead.
Water Saving Trickle – A low-pressure spray for the environmentally conscious homeowner. This pattern tries to make the most of the spray without using a lot of water.
Mist – A pattern that breaks the water stream to create a misting affect when you stand several feet away.
Jet Spray – A direct, high-pressure spray like a massaging pattern but with more precise coverage.
Combination – A spray pattern in-between two patterns. Often, this is a setting on a showerhead with multiple patterns.
If you can’t decide on a pattern, look for a showerhead with the option to switch between various patterns.
Keep in mind – the larger the showerhead, the weaker the water pressure. As such, larger showerheads have the best performance when installed high on the wall or from the ceiling, especially rain can showerheads. The gravity helps with better coverage.
Step 5: Style
The final piece to this puzzle is evaluating shower faucet designs and choosing one to match the style of your bathroom. These are the most common styles and how to identify the style in a showerhead and trim:
Traditional: The trim and lever pieces have a decoratively beveled profile. The plumbing leading to the showerhead is often swooping, with big curves. Traditional style shower fixtures have a classic and vintage look with lots of decorative details. Often the diverter trim and hot water and colder water trim feature cross handles. A cross handle has an antique look and often comes in a double-handle design or made of ceramic. Oil-rubbed bronze and brass finishes are common with traditional styles.
Modern: The showerhead, trim, and shower controls have a minimalist design based on straight lines and minimal curves, if any at all. Often, a modern showerhead is square – the showerhead is square, the trim is square, the lever is square. The finish is equally minimalist, featuring a polished chrome or brushed nickel surface.
Contemporary: Also minimalist in nature, a contemporary shower faucet set is often lumped into modern designs, but there are differences. A contemporary style has more curves than a modern design. The showerhead and trim are often circular or square with slightly curved edges. It doesn’t have the decorative beveling of a traditional style and doesn’t look vintage. Rather, a contemporary style looks new and unique. Metallic finishes like polished chrome and brushed nickel are most common, but matte black and oil-rubbed bronze are also popular finishes.
Eclectic: Gaining in popularity, the eclectic style has more to do with the overall look in your bathroom than the design of the shower faucet set. Rather than looking for a consistent style in your bathroom, you mix the styles as you wish. In other words, you choose a traditional vanity sink faucet in a matte black finish, polished chrome modern towel bars, and contemporary brass shower fixtures. An eclectic style is all about expressing your own aesthetics in the room.
If you’re not sure about how to identify a style or you want help designing your new bathroom, contact our expert interior design room planners for FREE! They can help you see how the faucet looks in your bathroom and make sure you’re happy with your design.
FAQs about Shower Faucets
What are the best quality shower faucets?
The best quality shower faucets are made of solid brass. There are many good reasons for this:
Brass is more malleable than most metals while having a very dense grain structure. As a result, solid-brass shower hardware and plumbing don’t crack or wear down like other metals when exposed to water on a day-to-day basis.
Brass handles high temperatures very well.
It’s more resistant to corrosion, as it doesn’t rust or corrode when the water quality’s pH levels are poor.
What is a shower valve?
A shower valve is what controls the flow and temperature of the water to the showerhead. The handle or lever on the shower trim connects to the shower valve, giving you control. Shower valves typically have 1, 2, or 3 outlets, depending on the type of shower you have. A single outlet is standard while 2 outlets would be for an overhead showerhead and a handshower. Additional outlets allow you to divert water to different nozzles.
How to fix or replace a shower valve?
If you’re replacing shower hardware, such as the shower valve, you want to make sure it’s the same brand of the current shower valve so the part fits. If you’re place the entire rough-in valve, you should consult with a professional plumber.
Here’s a basic breakdown of how to replace a shower valve (not the rough-in valve):
Remove the shower trim: Usually, this involves little more than removing screws. If there is caulk around the trim, you may need to use a knife or scraper to remove the caulk. Once the trim is removed, you can see the valve through a hole in the wall.
Shut off the water: Shut the water off so you can remove and fix or replace the valve without causing a flood.
Open the wall to access the valve: In many cases, you may need to cut a larger hole to access the valve. If you’re unsure about making a larger hole, we recommend consulting with a professional plumber.
Remove valve clip: Using needle-nose pliers, remove the valve clip. The clip holds the valve in place.
Pull valve from the wall: Remove the old valve. Without the clip, it should slide from the valve cartridge. Spray with a lubricant like WD-40 if it’s struggling to come out.
Insert the new valve: The new valve (which should be identical to the old one) should slide into the valve cartridge.
Put it all back together: Insert the clip, turn on the water, and add the trim again.
How do you stop your shower faucet from dripping?
First, you need to identify where the leak is coming from – if the leak is coming from the connection between the showerhead and the wall pipe, the fix may be as simple as applying plumber’s tape to the screw threads to create a watertight seal.
If the showerhead or shower trim is leaking, you have a bigger problem – the shower faucet valve is worn out. Typically, it comes down to a worn-out O-ring. To stop the leak, you need to remove the trim to access the shower valve, remove the valve and examine the seals. Once you identify the worn-out seal, it needs to be replaced. This should prevent further leaking.
How do you replace a shower diverter?
Removing a shower diverter is like removing a shower valve.
First, shut off the water and remove the shower trim around the diverter to access the valve.
Remove the diverter stem with a socket wrench.
Replace the valve
Turn on the water and add the trim.
If the diverter is on the tub spout, you need to replace the spigot:
Remove the tub spigot by unscrewing the set screw. You may need to use a knife to cut away caulking.
Unscrew the spigot from the plumbing supply pipe.
Clean supply pipe and add plumber’s tape to seal make sure the threads are watertight.
Screw on the new faucet spout.
Screw in the set screw.
Should I caulk around shower faucet?
Caulking is used to ensure moisture from a shower doesn’t seep into the wall where it can cause rot and mold. As such, caulking around seams where splashing occurs is the most important – the bathtub spout and trim are the most important areas to caulk. The seam between the showerhead supply pipe and the wall is less important. Typically, you don’t need to caulk this seam unless the supply pipe moves up from the wall – if there’s a leak from the showerhead connection, it travels down the pipe to the wall.
What are the parts of a shower faucet?
A basic shower faucet consists of the showerhead, the trim, and the shower valve. If it’s a tub shower faucet, there can also be a tub spout, diverter valve, a hand shower, and additional jet nozzles.
What is the best brand of shower faucet?
After reading reviews from six faucet review sites and evaluating the highest rated (products with at least 1,000 reviews) on various sites like Amazon, Delta was the most consistent brand to appear on lists of the top shower faucet reviews while also being among the bestselling and highest rated.
How much does replacing a shower valve cost?
If you replace the shower valve yourself, expect to pay between $100 and $150 for the new valve. If you hire a professional, you can expect to pay for about two hours of time, which can run between $300 and $500, depending on the area.
What is a thermostatic shower?
A thermostatic shower refers to the shower valve that mixes the hot and cold supply lines. A thermostatic valve is a high-end shower valve, and it’s designed to maintain the same temperature and pressure balancing the water flow regardless of what happens to plumbing elsewhere. If you’ve ever felt a shower get cold or scalding after someone flushed a toilet, a thermostatic shower valve protects you from these situations.
Now You’re Ready to Choose a Shower Faucet
Whether you’re a bathroom diva looking for a new showerhead to sing into or you’re renovating your entire bathroom and need a replacement, choosing the right shower faucet is about balancing durability with functionality. From shower-only faucets to shower systems, from traditional to contemporary, let us help you find the best showering experience. We have the best shower faucets for your home.
Need help deciding? Have a question? Contact our designers at 855.483.2629 or email us at email@example.com.