The Great Showering Buying Guide
When you’re renovating your bathroom, however large or small, one of the key components that you’re probably considering purchasing is a shower. However, it isn’t as easy as just popping into a store and selecting the first one that you see!
There are so many considerations that come into play when it comes to picking the right shower for your needs that it can become quite confusing. With so many options, styles, shapes, colours, and designs to pick from, it isn’t too surprising that homeowners often struggle to make the right choice for them.
With all of that in mind, we’ve put together this comprehensive buying guide so that you’ll know what you should be bearing in mind when making your final purchasing decision.
What do you need to consider
Starting at the very beginning, let’s take a look at the basics – the things that you need to consider before you can even begin shopping for the right shower for your home:
- Shower style. One of the first things you might want to think about is the style of your shower. Will you want a round shower or a square one? This may sound like a small point, but bear in mind that you’ll probably want to coordinate with the rest of your room, so choosing a shower that works with your other fixtures and your basin and bath taps could be an issue.
- While you’re considering the style of your shower, you’ll probably also want to consider its colour too. Showers come in a range of finishes including chrome, matt black, and brushed brass. It’s likely that you’ll want to choose a shower that complements your existing taps and other fittings.
- Who will be using the shower? When you’re choosing the right shower kit for you, you may want to consider who will be using it.
For example, if small children will be using the shower, you may need to choose a lower shower handset or fit a slide rail to accommodate their needs. If you have long hair, you may want to choose a handheld shower so that you can achieve this more easily.
- Shower design. There are two shower design choices to pick from – a concealed shower or an exposed shower. An exposed shower kit has all of the components including the pipework visible on the outside of the bathroom wall, whereas a concealed shower kit hides those components and pipework within the wall for a more modern and streamlined look.
- Do you want to use the shower valve to control bath filler? This is another question to ask yourself before you start shopping for a shower.
- How many outlets do you need? There is a choice of 1, 2 or 3 outlet shower options, so you need to determine which option is right for you.
- Where will the shower be placed? There are several locations in which you may choose to place your shower. In some cases, the shower may be located over your bath, in which case you may opt for a bath shower mixer.
Bear in mind that this type of shower will use the bath waste, but it’s important to check that your bath is suitable to accommodate this. Some baths are not an ideal pairing with an overbath shower. For example, some freestanding and corner baths don’t work well with a shower due to their shape and positioning.
Often, homeowners opt to fit their shower over a shower tray or in a wetroom, but again, you will need to determine whether the wall in your chosen area is suitable for mounting a shower on and whether your not some wall panelling will be required.
- What is your water pressure like? One consideration that many homeowners fail to bear in mind is the impact that water pressure can have on their shower’s function. Unfortunately, some properties suffer from low water pressure.
This is especially common in older homes with gravity fed systems. If you have low water pressure, you will need to choose a shower that is compatible. You may need to invest in a pump or a pumped shower.
If you have a combi boiler, though, you can use any shower, so it’s extremely important to check and if you’re unsure, you should consult with a professional plumber who will be able to confirm the best type of shower to suit your home’s requirements.
What are the different types of shower?
Showers come in a range of different types, so you’ll need to be aware of their differences so that you can make a well-informed choice.
Standard mixer shower
The standard mixer shower is the first option that you may wish to consider. A bath shower mixer, or similar is very easy to operate as it just mixes the hot and cold water feeds to create the right temperature for your shower.
Thermostatic mixer shower
A thermostatic mixer shower is a more advanced version of a standard mixer. It mixes the hot and cold water automatically with an internal valve, but comes with a thermostat included that cuts off the hot water should it become too hot.
This type of shower also eliminates the all too common problem of the icy blast of water that comes out of the blue when somebody downstairs turns the kitchen tap on! As it has a thermostat inside it, this type of shower will maintain its temperature whether other taps are turned on or not. Most modern showers today are thermostatic models, with all concealed and exposed valves being thermostatic.
These are a far safer choice, especially for homes where elderly people or children will be showering as they eliminate the risk of scalds. Thermostatic mixer showers come in several types including bar showers, concealed showers, and thermostatic bar shower mixers.
Bath shower mixers:
A bath shower mixer is a bath tap that also has an integral shower outlet and you can fix the shower hose onto the tap to redirect the flow of water to the shower. You can choose from either a standard mixer or a thermostatic mixer in this type of shower.
An electric shower will obviously require connection to an electricity supply, so therefore it can be more complex to install initially, however if you’re replacing an existing model, it’s very simple to replace. There are lots of different electric shower models to pick from and they can be fitted with only a cold water feed too. Obviously require electricity so can be more complicated to fit but easy to replace Wide range of options and can be fitted with cold water only feed as the shower itself heats up the water.
Although a power shower is powered by electricity, but they are not electric showers. A power shower requires both a hot and cold water feed as well as a connection to the power supply. This type of shower is helpful in properties that have low water pressure since they come with an internal pump that boosts the water pressure for a better showering experience.
Digital showers and Smart showers
Digital showers and smart showers are the most up to date shower models on the market today. They are thermostatic showers that come with electric controls that are often able to be managed from the other side of the room or even from a smartphone!
Should you choose a concealed or exposed shower valve / kit?
There are two different options when it comes to picking a shower kit – a concealed or an exposed shower. Both come with their own pros and cons, so let’s take a look at them here.
A concealed shower kit has all of its key components and pipework hidden behind the bathroom wall. As less is showing, it creates a more streamlined, “designer” look that is visually appealing. On the downside, though, this style of shower is more difficult to fit and will take longer to install. It will also be more disruptive since it will normally require the wall to be retiled.
Concealed showers work best when they’re mounted onto a stud wall. If you have a solid bathroom wall, it is very difficult to fit a concealed shower and you may need to build out or opt for an exposed shower instead. Concealed showers are also quite difficult to replace in the future since you need to match the holes in the wall. A concealed shower can have up to three outlets which allow you to also control the bath filler valve as well as the shower head and handset.
An exposed shower has all of the components and pipework on display as they are mounted to the ceiling and wall. As there is more exposed pipework, this type of shower works very well in a traditionally themed bathroom as it’s possible to make the pipework into a feature for an industrial on-trend look.
Exposed showers are typically more affordable and are also easy to replace in the future since the pipe centres for bar valves are always 150mm, meaning that any replacement will work. You can choose from both single and double head designs to suit your needs and preferences.
Essentially, choosing between exposed and concealed showers is really a matter of personal preference (as well as a matter of how easy it would be to conceal the pipework inside your wall).
The different shower head options
Shower heads also come in different sizes and styles to suit different bathrooms, tastes, and needs.
A fixed head shower is mounted on an arm from either the ceiling or the wall. This style of shower works especially well for high water volumes and is perfect for the rain shower design. It also works best with larger heads of 200mm – 400mm in either a round or a square shape.
Riser and handheld shower heads
Riser and handheld shower heads are mounted onto a bracket that is either fixed to the wall or mounted onto a slide rail kit to allow adjustments up or down to meet the needs of the person using the shower at any one time.
The shower head is fed by a hose, and it’s possible to take off the handset to wash children, pets, or long hair in a more convenient way. Most handheld shower heads have two or three different spray options, and you can have the best of both worlds by choosing a dual outlet shower.
Showers come in a range of different styles, but in general, most homeowners are keen to match their shower to their taps and the other brassware in their bathroom. You will probably also want to match the shower colour to match your shower enclosure and glass panel profiles as well as your taps.
There are various options for thermostatic showers including round and square designs, matt black, chrome, brushed brass, and other finishes, so there’s sure to be something suitable for your home.
When it comes to flexibility of style, a thermostatic shower is the best choice, but if you’re looking for a more modern style, a digital, electric, or smart shower is the best choice. Bear in mind though that you’ll have less options when it comes to colours and shape.
As you can see, there is a lot to keep in mind when it comes to choosing a shower for your home. The best place to start is by answering the questions that are the top of this guide as that will help you make the right decision. Ultimately, you’ll need to make your decision based on who will be using it, followed by practical considerations such as whether it can be fitted with ease.
Whatever type of shower you decide to go for, it’s always recommended that you consult with a professional plumber first. They will be able to tell you whether your chosen option will work in your space and will be able to ensure that the installation is carried out correctly.