Taking a shower might be an everyday (or every other day) occurrence, but that doesn’t mean your shower has to be ordinary! Figuring out how to choose a shower head that’s right for you can take your shower from ho-hum to something you actually look forward to!
With so many different types of shower heads on the market, there are so many things to consider when choosing a shower head. Ask 5 different people about the best type of shower head and you’re likely to get 5 different answers.
The truth is, it’s a deeply personal choice! What’s right for your plumber or interior designer might not be right for you or your home. That’s why we developed our shower head quiz - because we wanted to make the shower head-buying process easier.
Take the quiz now or keep reading to learn more about how to choose a shower head.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Shower Head
Choosing a shower head may not seem like the most interesting part of updating your bathroom, but it is one of the most important. And it’s not as easy as heading to your local hardware store or big box retailer and grabbing the first one you see.
We recommend paying close attention to the following features when choosing a shower head for your bathroom.
Do you live in an area with water restrictions? If so, you’re going to need to pay close attention to the flow rate of the shower head you purchase. If you’re living in California, for example, flow rate regulations require that shower heads not exceed 1.8 gallons per minute.
Look for a shower head with a low flow rate, such as 1.75 or 1.8 GPM. The best low-flow shower heads are also equipped with state-of-the-art Neoperl® flow regulators with regulating valves. This ensures that a consistent flow rate is delivered no matter what your household water pressure is.
Even if you don’t have specific regulations around water usage, choosing a low-flow shower head can reduce the environmental impact of those long, hot showers you love so much.
If you don’t have any water flow regulations in your area, then you get to decide whether or not you want a shower head specifically designed for high-pressure showers. There are all kinds of water pressure options available on the market, from variable pressure shower heads to high-pressure shower heads with a 2.5 GPM flow rate.
Do you like a soft, misting spray or a concentrated, massaging spray? Maybe you want a wide spray shower head to cover as much surface area as possible with water. Make sure to consider your preferred spray pattern when exploring how to choose a shower head.
No matter what your spray pattern preferences are, there’s a shower head out there for you. You can find single-spray shower heads, which typically offer a wide, high-pressure spray. Or you can try a multifunction shower head with variable spray patterns.
Shower Head Mount
It’s also important to think about where you’ll mount the shower head in your shower. Will you be using a wall-mount shower arm? An overhead shower arm? Do you need any kind of shower bar or extender? Keep this in mind when choosing a shower head and be sure to choose a shower head that works with the type of mount you have.
If you want a rain shower but only have a wall mount, for example, then you’ll want to choose a wall-mounted rain shower head with an adjustable arm instead of a traditional ceiling mount.
Shower Head Filters
Many cities and towns add chlorine to their water supply during the disinfection process. And while this chlorine plays a key role in the overall health of drinking water, it can wreak havoc on your hair and skin. Chlorine can remove the protective oils that keep your hair and skin healthy and can cause dry, itchy scalps and dull hair.
If you’ve noticed these issues, then you might want to consider a filtered shower head or a universal shower head filter that can work with any shower head.
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The material your shower head is made from is almost as important as the overall function. Many shower heads today are made from lightweight, inexpensive plastic with metallic coatings. They look like metal, but they don’t have the same longevity as metal parts and they can break down over time.
All-metal shower heads on the other hand tend to be more durable and less likely to experience the same levels of wear and tear.
Be sure to check that every piece of the shower head is made from metal if durability is your goal, including the shower head itself, the shower house and all connectors.
Finish & Style
It used to be that everyone had a basic chrome shower head. And while many homes still have that look today (and why not? It’s completely timeless!), there are many more options for shower head finishes and styles out there.
Consider the rest of your bathroom fixtures and accessories when choosing the right shower head for your home and be sure to find a shower head finish that matches or complements the look.
Common shower head finishes include:
- Brushed nickel
- Polished brass
- Antique brass
- Oil-rubbed bronze
- Matte black
The cost of a shower head typically goes hand-in-hand with the materials used. A plastic shower head will usually cost significantly less than an all-metal shower head, with costs ranging between $15 and $65 on average.
All-metal shower heads generally cost more - ranging between about $79 to $160. However, all-metal shower heads will last longer and won’t need to be replaced as often as plastic ones.
What Type of Shower Head Is Best?
In addition to the various features of a shower head to consider, it’s also important to think about what style shower head will work best for your needs: fixed, handheld, dual or rain.
Fixed Shower Heads
Fixed shower heads are the most traditional type of shower heads. If you have a builder-grade home, then it probably came with a fixed shower head. They are fixed to the wall or ceiling and typically cannot be adjusted. A fixed shower head works great for a small shower or if you just want a basic way to get yourself clean. They are also usually some of the most budget-friendly shower head options.
Handheld Shower Heads
These shower heads come with a long hose that allows the user to direct the water flow wherever they need it. Handheld shower heads are perfect for those who need the flexibility to adjust the pattern or direction of water spray, such as when washing pets or children. They also make it easier for people with mobility issues to use the shower and make cleaning your shower a cinch.
Handheld shower heads offer lots of flexibility in how you use your shower, especially if you pair a shower head with an extra-long shower hose.
Rain Shower Heads
If luxury is what you’re after, then a rain shower is what you need. These shower heads are designed to mimic the feeling of standing under a gentle rain shower. They have a large, flat surface that covers a wide area and provide a soft, even flow of water. A rain shower can quickly turn your daily showers into a total spa experience, and can be mounted on the wall or on the ceiling.
Dual Shower Heads
Dual shower heads are the best type of shower head for anyone who wants the best of both worlds. Dual shower heads typically come with one fixed shower head and one hand-held shower head. The fixed shower head might be a traditional fixed or could be a rain shower head. Dual shower heads are great for anyone who needs the flexibility of a handheld shower head but doesn’t want a handheld option all the time.
With a dual shower head system, the shower heads can be used one at a time or at the same time for a more intense shower experience.
Your Top Questions About How to Choose a Shower Head
Still wondering how to choose a shower head? You’re not alone! Here are some of the top questions we get from customers, answered with our expert insight.
Do all shower heads fit any shower?
Thankfully, in the United States virtually every shower head has the same connection threading size: ½” NPT. This means that just about any shower head should fit into your shower head connector.
Still, it’s important to read the installation instructions (and reviews!) for any shower head you choose. If your shower head does not have a universal connection, you may need the help of a plumber (or may end up returning your shower head).
Do you need a plumber to install a shower head?
It depends. A shower head can typically be installed by a homeowner without professional help. However, if the plumbing work involves making changes to pipes, it may require a licensed plumber to ensure it is done safely and up to code.
Do different shower heads affect water pressure?
Yes, they can. The water pressure in a shower is first determined by the amount of water flow supplied to the shower head. So if your home has lower water pressure overall, then your shower will have lower water pressure, too.
However, some shower heads are designed to maximize water pressure. The HammerHead Showers high-pressure shower head, for example, features proprietary silicone nozzles that actually pressurize the water coming out of the shower head. This means you can get powerful flow even with low household water pressure.
Other shower heads work to reduce water pressure and conserve water.
How to Choose a Shower Head The Easy Way
With so many features and styles to consider, figuring out how to choose a shower head can feel downright impossible.
You could spend hours analyzing the material, features, cost and pressure options of the countless shower heads on the market. Or, you could simplify your shower head buying process with our shower head quiz.
Take the quiz to quickly and easily identify what’s important to you in a shower head and get our expert picks for the shower head that’s right for you. We also have an article that outlines The Best Shower Heads of 2023 where we share our top picks of each type of shower head and all of the features each has to offer.
And if you still have questions about the different types of shower heads, contact The Shower Head Store to learn more.