When you’re purchasing a shower for your newly renovated bathroom or ensuite, choosing the right shower valve may not be your first thought, but it also should never be overlooked. Getting the right shower valve to suit your needs and also your bathroom as a whole is key. So here is our ultimate buying guide to make sure you get the decision right first time.
What Is A Shower Valve?
In this guide, when we refer to a shower valve, we mean the full valve and body as a complete unit. Essentially, a shower valve controls the temperature of the water that you shower in. It takes both the hot and cold water from the separate water feeds, mixes them both together, and then sends the resulting water at the desired temperature to the relevant head.
Shower valves don’t just control the water temperature, they also control the water flow, so you can enjoy a more powerful or less powerful shower as suits your needs.
Does every shower need one?
If you’re choosing a non-electric shower, you will need to choose a shower valve that suits your chosen shower. If you are opting for an electric shower including power showers and pumped showers, you won’t need to buy a separate shower valve as they come already built into your shower unit.
The different types
There are two main types of shower valve on the market for you to pick from – thermostatic valves and manual valves. These days, most valves are of the thermostatic type.
Thermostatic shower valves control the temperature of the water for you. That means that if somebody switches on the hot water tap downstairs or in another bathroom, the thermostatic valve will compensate to ensure that the water temperature in your shower is maintained throughout.
That eliminates the all-too-familiar problem of a jet of icy cold water falling on your head in the middle of your toasty warm shower because somebody filled the kettle from the kitchen tap!
Another benefit of the thermostatic shower valve is that it comes with a maximum temperature control built in, which shuts the water supply off if the water becomes too hot for any reason. Although this occurrence is extremely rare, it is an excellent safety feature, especially for any homes where young children or elderly people will be using the shower as it prevents any scalding accidents from occurring.
A manual shower valve will typically have one lever that allows you to manually select the water temperature and flow yourself to suit your needs without the automatic convenience of a thermostatic valve. If you’re looking for a shower valve on a budget, a manual valve could be the right choice for you, but thanks to the convenience and additional safety features that thermostatic shower valves provide, they are certainly a better choice overall.
Other than that, what are the different options?
As well as considering the types of shower valve on the market today, there is a few other considerations to keep in mind when making your final purchasing decision.
Exposed or Concealed
There are two different types of shower valves: a concealed shower valve and an exposed shower valve.
A concealed shower valve has all of its components hidden inside the bathroom wall, whilst the shower’s other components are mounted onto the wall or ceiling on arms. Conversely, an exposed shower valve has all of its components mounted physically onto the outside of the wall where they are visible.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both types of shower valve:
Exposed - Pros:
- This type of shower valve is simple to install as it doesn’t involve hiding any of the components inside the bathroom wall.
- This type of shower valve is an especially good choice for traditional style showers.
- Often, an exposed shower valve will be more affordable than a concealed one.
- An exposed shower valve is also easy to maintain when compared with a concealed one as its components are visible and easy to access.
Exposed - Cons:
- The main downside to exposed shower valves is that the look is less minimalistic than concealed shower valves since the components are on display. This type of shower valve is therefore less suited to a contemporary-style bathroom.
Concealed - Pros:
- A concealed shower valve has a modern and minimalist design that works particularly well in a contemporary bathroom.
Concealed - Cons:
- The primary downside of concealed shower valves is that they are normally more expensive to purchase.
- It’s also more complex to install this type of shower valve as it has to be installed behind the bathroom wall.
- Concealed shower valves aren’t always compatible with all bathrooms. You have to check out your wall material before choosing one.
Number of outlets
There is a choice of 1, 2 or 3 outlets to choose from. Concealed valve options work in the following configurations:
A twin valve option has two outlets, one of which is the temperature control handle and the other is the flow control handle.
A variation on this is the twin valve with a diverter, which also has two outlets with a temperature control handle and flow control handle, but the flow control is able to be diverted between two heads.
A triple valve option has a temperature control handle and two flow control handles, while a triple valve with a diverter has a temperature control handle and two flow control handles, with one of the flow controls being able to divert between two different outlets.
When you’re choosing shower valves, shape may also be a consideration, especially if you’re coordinating them with the other fittings in your bathroom. The most common are square or round valves, but there are other options to choose from too.
Choosing the right finish for your shower valve is also important. There are lots of options to pick from again, including chrome, matt black, brushed brass, gun metal and more, so you can find the right valve to complement or contrast with your bathroom décor, style, and existing fixtures and fittings.
As shower valves come in a range of styles, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Whether you prefer the look of something more traditional to go with your period-style bathroom, or whether you’re keen to adopt the latest modern bar valves to add a touch of contemporary elegance to your space, you shouldn’t have any difficulties in selecting one to match your chosen fixtures and décor.
What else do I need to complete a shower kit?
To complete your shower kit, you’ll need to add a few more items to your shower valves from our range. Here are some of the other components you may need to invest in:
What to consider when choosing your shower valve
Now that you’re armed with the buying information that you need to choose the right shower valve for you, here is a run down of the key considerations to keep in mind while making your final selection:
- How many outlets do you want or need? Remember that there are 1, 2 and 3 outlet options, so take care to choose the right one to suit your needs.
- What is your water pressure? Not all properties have the same water pressure. Often, older homes that have a gravity fed water system have a low water pressure problem. You will need to ensure that you’ve chosen a shower valve and other shower components that can accommodate this lower pressure.
- What is the wall made of? If you’re thinking about choosing a concealed shower valve, you’ll need to determine what your bathroom wall is made of, and if so, whether you’ll be able to install a concealed valve at all. If you have a solid wall, you will either need to opt for an exposed shower valve, or alternatively, build out from the solid wall to accommodate the concealed valve and other components.
- Will it match the style of the rest of the room? In most cases, homeowners are keen to achieve a cohesive and coordinated look across their bathroom fixtures, fittings, and décor. It can be jarring to have a traditional bath tub with a very modern shower valve. You will almost certainly want to select a round or square valve that complements the taps and other fittings that you have selected for your space as well as a traditional or modern shower valve that is in keeping with the rest of your aesthetic.
- What is your budget? Knowing how much you have available to spend is always going to be a consideration, particularly if your budget is tight.
- Above all, you may want to consult with your plumber about installing your shower valve and other components. It is always recommended to have a professional fit your bathroom so you can be confident that the job will be done properly and to a high standard.