Whether you're going through a small bathroom remodel or just a shower remodel, there will come a time when you need to pick out your shower fixtures. And that deadline will sneak up on you just as you thought you couldn't be any more swamped with planning. Naturally, you start to go down fantasy lane...
...I want 3 shower heads. Can I have 3 shower heads?
An overhead rain shower head would be sweet! How would that be installed?
Oh, easy access to a hand shower for the kids is ideal. Is a slide bar all I need?...
If you're not working with an interior designer for your shower renovation, these are all questions you may ask yourself and not have the exact answers to. Honestly though, with my years of experience working for Moen, I know a thing or two about picking out the right fixtures for your shower remodel and it's really not that complicated.
What I'm going to cover are all of the components that you could possibly need to provide to your plumber for the shower of your dreams.
The good news is if you choose the right bathroom contractor, share your dream shower vision with them and provide them with the necessary fixtures, you can make pretty much anything happen.
Now, let's dive in!
There are a few different valves that you may consider. There's your main shower valve which is mandatory and then there's a transfer or diverter valve which is optional.
The one caveat here is if you are renovating your shower but you are keeping your existing valve installed in the wall to save some money. In this case, you don't need valve but you only want to update the trim.
Unless, you have a pretty new shower, I'd definitely recommend changing out the valve now while you have your wall opened up, since it will save you a bunch of money in the long run.
The trim includes all of the pieces that cover your valving, such as your handle, shower plate, tub spout, etc.
Like everything in life, building a solid foundation is the key to success. So let's start here, build that base and then move on to the fun stuff.
Your shower valve is the heart of the shower that will control the flow, temperature and pressure balancing. In certain cases, your plumber may have picked out the valve for you. Sometimes they do and just ask you for the shower trim, which we'll discuss next.
If your plumber already has a valve chosen or you're reusing your old valve, make sure you clarify the name of the manufacturer name and model of the valve. That's because you need that information to select the compatible shower trim. The shower trim is just as specific to the make and model of the valve, just like with car parts.
If you have carte blanche on the valve that you can use, I'd highly recommend the Moen Moentrol shower valve.
I'm a big fan of the Moentrol valve for a few reasons. For starters, it's made by Moen which is the leader in shower valves due to their simplicity and durability. And your plumber will probably be able to install this with their eyes closed.
But this model is my preference in particular, as it offers volume control. More and more valves today only offer standard temperature control, which means that you either have the valve fully on or off. With the Moentrol valve, you can adjust the volume to your liking, so if you have really high pressure in your household you're not blazing through water.
Now that you have the valve all set, you need to choose a trim. The trim includes the escutcheon plate, handle and possibly the tub spout if you have a tub and shower.
I can't drive this home enough, you CANNOT use any shower trim with any shower valve. They just aren't compatible. You need to match the trim exactly with the make and model of your shower valve.
If you're not sure what models are compatible with your valve, consult your manufacturer's website or reach out to them directly. For the Moen Moentrol valve, I like the following trim.
This is Moen's most popular trim that matches the Moentrol valve. It's all metal construction and has a style that goes well with many different types of decor.
Great, now you have your base! If you want more than one shower head and are doing new plumbing, I'd highly recommend a transfer valve. If you're good with only one shower head, this does not apply to you.
Also known as an internal diverter, the transfer valve allows you to divert water to more than one shower head. This gives you a cleaner design and more flexibility where you install your shower heads, as opposed to an external shower valve.
Again, we're going with the Moen theme. And I always opt for a 3-way diverter over a 2-way diverter. 3-Way diverters allow you to run two shower heads independently or both shower heads simultaneously. Whereas with a 2-way diverter you only have the option to run the two shower heads independently.
The same rules apply as the main shower valve and trim. You need the matching trim for this make and model transfer valve.
Here's the trim for this transfer valve that matches the Moen Kingsley shower trim kit.
Do you have a tub and shower set up? Then you'll need to grab a tub spout. If not, keep moving along to the next section.
Sometimes they are included with the shower trim, sometimes not. That's not a big deal, as you don't have the compatibility issues with tub spouts that you do with shower trims. That said, there are two different installation types with tub spouts so you'll want to confirm with your plumber what works with your installation.
There is the threaded IPS connection and the slip fit connection. The threaded connection literally threads onto the pipe extending from the wall so it requires a threaded male fitting extending from the wall, which usually has a thread size of 1/2" IPS. The slip fit connection slides over a smooth piece of 1/2" copper and then holds into place with a set screw.
All that said, it wouldn't be that difficult for your plumber to go from a 1/2" slip fit connection to a 1/2" threaded connection if you bought the wrong tub spout.
We've made it through some of the more boring stuff. Onto the sexy part!
While you have plenty of options for the shower head(s) you use in your remodel, I'll be covering the most popular options.
What makes this part fairly easy is that shower heads and their accessories have standard size connections. That means you can pretty much use any shower head or accessory for your shower remodel. And it presents absolutely no compatibility issues with your shower valve or trim.
The rain shower head is the top choice when it comes to luxurious showering. It offers very wide coverage to keep you immersed in warm, relaxing water.
Most rainfall showers range from 8-12 inches in diameter. They are usually fairly simple in design and focus in on that amazing rainfall spray pattern. While you can find rain shower heads with multi functions, I'm big on keeping it all about the shower heads that create large, rain droplets.
This rainfall shower head by HammerHead Showers is constructed with all metal and delivers a true, rainfall shower flow. Once you step under it, you'll find it very hard to want to get out of the shower.
If you want to keep it simple, or have a very small space to work with, you could use a standard shower arm to mount your rain shower head. A standard arm is about 6"-8" long and has that traditional j-bend.
The drawback of using a standard arm is the flow can come out a little limp, as rain shower heads usually have less spray force due to their large spray faces. Also, depending on the height of your water inlet, you might not be able to stand directly underneath the rainfall.
To clarify the terminology, the pipe is called the shower arm and the decorative plate behind it is called the flange. Make sure you get both when ordering, as some shower arms don't always come with the flange and you wouldn't want the big nasty hole in your wall exposed as a result of forgetting this part.
To go all out and make a true rainfall, you'll want an overhead or ceiling mount shower arm.
An overhead shower arm comes directly out of your wall like a standard shower arm, but they are much longer and have a more extreme bend in the angle of the shower arm. That makes it ideal if you want to keep your plumbing simple while still getting the water flow directly overhead.
A ceiling mount shower arm, on the other hand, comes straight down from your ceiling. This is the most jet set way to install a rain shower head and gives you the most spa-like shower effect.
While it's not that difficult for your plumber to install, you definitely need to consult with your bathroom contractor before going with this option. That's because this option will require your plumber to run the water line up the wall and into the ceiling of your shower. Depending on the size of your shower and how far along the plumber is in the rough plumbing installation, you may or may not be able to do this.
Ceiling mount shower arms come in differing lengths and designs. The most common options are 6 and 12 inches. The length will depend on how high your ceiling is. Obviously, the higher your ceiling the longer the shower arm you'll want so you get the rainfall shower head within a couple of feet from your head.
A hand held shower head is always a crowd pleaser, especially in larger households. That's because the detachable shower head with hose offers so much flexibility.
Don't worry, you don't have to choose between the rain and handheld. Remember, you can always use the transfer valve for two shower shower heads if you so desire.
Hand held shower heads often come with the hand shower, shower hose and holder mount. For the hose, we prefer to have at least 70 inches in length so we can reach most areas of the shower without having to put too much tension on the hose. It helps especially if you have kids, disabled or elderly folks in your household. That way they can sit down while showering and have the shower head reach them.
Aside from the shower hose, you may want to consider if you'd prefer a single function or a multi function handshower with different spray modes like a massage or mist.
Both options above are truly unique, as they are all metal hand held shower heads. That means all of the components are extremely durable and can withstand the wear and tear that a typical hand shower takes. They both include 70 inch long hoses. The only difference between the two is that the second option offers 3 spray settings, including wide, mist and massage.
Just like the rain shower head, you can totally install a hand held shower head on a standard shower arm. It will look exactly like the photos above of the hand held shower heads when it's installed.
If you want to skip the standard shower arm and get more versatility out of your hand held shower head, you'll want a slide bar.
Slide bars mount to your wall and allow you to adjust the height of the handshower by sliding the holder mount up and down the pole. It really adds another layer of flexibility to a product that is already super versatile Slide bars are great for households that have a varying range in height or with special needs like elderly or disabled.
Without a doubt, this is our preferred slide bar. It comes in at just over 25 inches long and is all metal from top to bottom which is pretty rare.
If a slide bar is too much for your shower but you want a more clean way of mounting your handshower without a shower arm, you'll want a wall mount option.
You can put wall mount shower holders pretty much anywhere on the wall, just as long as it's close enough to the water inlet connection. The water inlet itself doesn't always run through this type of shower holder, so we'll discuss how to supply the water in the next section.
This is a very simple fixture and offers a very clean design touch. It's all metal and has an adjustable holder so you can angle the hand shower to your needs.
If you want to go with a slide bar or wall mount holder instead of a standard shower arm, you'll need to get a drop ell, also known as a wall elbow. The drop ell is the decorative part where you attach your shower hose to the water inlet.
While you could use a shower arm to get the same result, that would present a couple of issues. For one, it does not really look that good from a design perspective. The other issue is that attaching your shower hose to the end of the shower arm causes extra tension on the joint of the shower hose as it does not hang down freely. That means you might make your shower hose more prone to leaking.
With a wall elbow, you get a nice clean look and the hose hangs straight down to reduce this tension on the hose.
If you didn't know we were going to take it here, I just don't know what to say. Obviously the best shower set up would be to have both a rain shower head and hand held shower head.
For this shower system, you would need both a main valve and the transfer valve, like we went over in the first section. Here are all the parts you would need for a dreamy shower like this.
There ya have it! You've got all of the parts you could possibly want for a beautiful shower remodel.
Just remember, go through the process of finding your parts in the order we discussed and you'll be fine. And always consult your plumber! Do your homework and find the products you like while making sure that your plumber approves it for the installation.