Today’s showerheads deliver more innovative options for cleaning, comfort, and water conservation than ever before. While traditional showerheads with a wide range of sprays are still available, you can reinvigorate your shower experience with a variety of sprays and features like detachable heads and body spa systems. Installing a new showerhead is one of the most economical ways to make your bath experience more pleasant and eco-friendly. This buying guide will help you understand the features and options available to you, so you can feel confident you’re selecting the showerhead that delivers the best results for your lifestyle. To learn how you can install a showerhead yourself, refer to the Replacing a Showerhead project guide in the list of Related Projects.
Head Design and Spray Patterns
The two basic types of showerheads are fixed and hand showers.
Fixed, Adjustable Showerhead (top) and Hand Shower (bottom)Fixed showerheads are attached to a shower arm and mounted permanently to the wall.
Hand Showers are attached to the wall with flexible tubing, which makes it easier to maneuver water where you want it. The head can be placed in a cradle to serve as a conventional wall-mounted shower. Hand showers are ideal for washing children and pets and make cleaning the shower easier. Hoses 84? or longer meet ADA compliance for individuals with special needs.
Showerheads are available in a wide variety of configurations, many with anywhere from 1 to 8 or more adjustable settings.
Traditional ShowerheadTraditional heads are one of the most affordable options available. They offer a wide range of spray patterns and streams that vary from strong to fine mist. More expensive models tend to have a greater selection of spray patterns and materials. Look for side-located adjusters for easier spray alterations.
Dual Showerhead Dual Showerhead sprays consist of two showerheads running off of a single pipe, providing wider water flow over a larger area at multiple angles. Available features include independent adjustable pressure and massaging heads. Configurations include two sprays on one unit, an overhead with a side spray, or a traditional head and a hand shower.
Body Spas and Body MistBody Spas and Body Mist showers use strips of jets or misters to create a soothing, massaging spray with body coverage from head to toe. Used primarily in custom showers, they may require a larger up-front investment. Body spas may have special installation and plumbing requirements.
Overhead showerheads, also called rain or rose showerheads, cascade water directly from above for light, even distribution. While they provide a relaxing cascade of water, because they are oversized, their low flow rate isn’t for everyone. While they often only have one setting, some feature a more high-powered rinse setting.
Slide-Bar feature a movable mount on a vertical bar that can be moved up and down to the ideal height for various members of the family. They also make it easier to shower without getting your hair wet.
Selecting a spray pattern determines the direction, range and volume of water coming from a showerhead. Many spray head designs allow you to customize your shower experience by offering a range of spray patterns.
Concentrated pulse sprays massage your entire body to provide a relaxing shower.
Patterns that mix strong jets with pulsating streams soothe and revitalize.
Wide, pulsating sprays may be soft to provide a gentle mist or strong to provide a deep penetrating massage.
Strong, concentrated sprays are ideal for hair washing and heavy-duty cleaning.
Spray Patterns: Full Body Spray, Massaging Pulse Spray, Power Sprays, Mist Sprays, Drenching Rain Spray, Combo Spray
Materials and Finishes
When selecting your showerhead, consider the material it is made of and select a color and finish that matches the finish of the other fixtures in the bathroom.
Chrome may have a polished, brushed or matte finish. Durable, economical and easy to clean, it resists oxidation but does show water marks more than some other finishes.
Nickel may have a brushed or satin look and is stylish, durable and easy to clean. Look for units with a titanium finish to better resist scratching and tarnish.
Solid Color finishes may be composed of epoxy or baked-on enamel and clean easily. While the most common colors are black and white, they are also available in a wide selection of deep, rich colors. The finish may chip or fade more easily than other finishes.
Brass may have a high gloss, satin or antique finish and is ideal for traditional décor. Showerheads with lifetime finishes resist damage and wear.
Bronze complements neutral color palettes and is a popular choice for a rustic look. It may have a polished, brushed or darker oil-rubbed look with highlights and resists scratches, tarnishing and corrosion.
Mixed Colors and metallic tones can be matched to your bathroom’s color scheme. Striking combinations include satin nickel and polished brass, brushed nickel and polished chrome, satin nickel and white, and more.
Stainless Steel is attractive and doesn’t show water spots.
Water Pressure and Flow
A showerhead produces a pattern of water in a comfortable spray over a wide surface area. The volume of water delivered by a showerhead is measured in gallons per minute (gpm) and is affected by the water pressure in your home. Since 1992, government regulations have mandated that all new showerheads have a maximum flow rate of 2.5 gpm at a standardized pressure of 80 pounds per square inch (psi). Not every home has water pressure this high, and lower levels of water pressure can make a difference in the effectiveness of your shower. If you have low water pressure, look for a showerhead specifically designed for low water pressure use. While they use less water, they still provide a full shower experience without sacrificing water pressure. Some showerheads also allow you to adjust the nozzle for stronger flow when needed.
Complete Shower Systems
Complete shower systems provide a more full and relaxing shower experience using a combination of showerheads, configuration designs and features. These systems may range from an economical new, multi-function showerhead to easy-to-install tower showers and panels that connect to existing plumbing. For a total personalized shower experience, custom shower designs offer feature-rich, higher-end systems with multiple valves, sprays and patterns in virtually limitless combinations. These systems are designed to your specifications and are a popular option in new construction due to the often unique requirements for plumbing, water pressure, drainage, hot water and ventilation.
Features to Consider
Electronic Control Panel
Deluxe heads may feature electronic control panels that put you in complete control of spray intensity, frequency and pattern.
Heads with bendable nozzles help prevent lime scale buildup. Simply swivel the nozzle from time to time to shake bits and particles of lime scale loose.
A rubber grip will make a handheld head easier to hold, particularly when it’s wet, and an arm extender will allow taller people to raise the head to make showering easier.
Diverters allow handheld and traditional showerheads to be used together in the same shower, providing you with multiple configuration options.
Shower Arm Extenders
A shower arm extender attaches to a standard arm allowing the showerhead to be positioned higher.
Cut-off valves allow you to stop the flow of water while shampooing, reducing the amount of water used every time you shower.
Showerhead filters remove chlorine and other contaminants and skin irritants to help reduce damage to skin and hair.
If you need a convenient place to store all of your shower accessories, look for a head that provides a soap dish, shower basket and shelves. Some even include no-fog mirrors to make shaving or brushing your teeth easier.