Different Types Of Shower Heads: What To Know Before You Buy

Are you looking to upgrade your shower head but don't know where to start? Discover what our plumbing professionals want you to know about the different types of shower heads.

Here, you'll learn: the different types of shower heads, their pros and cons, and how to gauge which shower head is best for you. I'll be highlighting the main shower head types, specifically covering replacement shower heads that you can literally upgrade on your own in a matter of minutes.

*Heads Up* You'll be getting real insight into the differences, especially what manufacturers and other distributors don't want you to know. Let's Go! 

Top 5 Types of Shower Heads for Your Bathroom

When you’re ready for a bathroom upgrade, changing out your shower head is one of the easiest things you can do. Updating your shower head will not only give your shower a fresh look, but can significantly improve the functionality of your shower, too.

Of course, the impact a shower head has on your bathroom depends on the type of shower head you choose for a replacement. From different materials and colors to different functions and features, you’ll have many options to choose from when picking the best shower head for your space.

In today’s post, we’ll be taking a closer look at 5 different kinds of shower heads:

  1. Fixed Shower Heads
  2. Rain Shower Heads
  3. Handheld Shower Heads
  4. Dual Shower Heads
  5. Filtered Shower Heads

1. Fixed Shower Heads

A fixed shower head (or wall mount shower head) is one of the most common types of shower heads, and what most people have in their home. It's no-frills and typically smaller in size, with diameters from 5 inches or less. For those of you who just want solid pressure from a shower head without all the bells and whistles, this is the way to go.

If you want to get a little bit fancier, you can look for a multi-function fixed shower head. The multi-function type of shower head allows you to change the spray patterns, usually ranging from a very concentrated massage setting to a more gentle wide spray setting. 

Here is our Best Selling Fixed Shower Head:

All Metal 2 Inch High Pressure Fixed Shower Head from HammerHead Showers
Shop now for All Metal 2 Inch High Pressure Fixed Shower Head from HammerHead Showers

2. Rain Shower Heads (Rainfall and Waterfall Shower heads)

While rain shower heads are essentially fixed shower heads, they are much larger in size. Ranging from 6 inches and up, you can significantly increase the coverage in your shower. The wide water spray from the extra coverage is sure to leave you feeling warmer in the shower.  

Rain shower heads are one of the more luxurious types of shower heads available, and can transform your shower into a spa-like experience.

A. Mounting From The Wall Or The Ceiling

Rain shower heads can be mounted from the wall or from the ceiling. You can easily install wall mounts in a matter of minutes, like most shower heads.

That said, if you are going to have the full effect of the ceiling mount rainfall shower head, you'll need to consult with a plumber and/or contractor to run the pipes through your ceiling in the shower.

Don't worry though, if you really want that rainfall shower head experience coming from your ceiling but don't have the time or money to have the plumbing done, there is still a solid compromise – using an overhead shower arm. 

These shower arms extend between 12 and 16 Inches from your wall and sometimes even raise the height of the actual shower head. That makes it possible for you to stand underneath the rainfall shower as if it were coming from the ceiling.

In the United States, the standard connection for shower heads is 1/2" NPT. Pretty much every shower head will use this size. As long as you have the shower arm plumbing coming from your ceiling or your wall, you can choose any shower head you want and mount it wherever you want.

B. Single Function Versus Multi-Function

The next step is deciding between a single function or multi-function rain shower head. To make it simple, if you are going to mount your rain shower from your ceiling, go for a single function. It will likely be hard to change the settings if your shower head is mounted 3-4 feet above your head.

If, on the other hand, you are mounting your rain shower head from your wall or have a fairly low ceiling, deciding which is the best rain shower head is up to you. Do you just want one full flow, or prefer to adjust to a more concentrated spray? At The Shower Head Store, we're all about the single function spray, focusing in on the one spray that's actually giving you the most satisfaction – the rainfall spray! 

C. Larger The Diameter, Weaker The Pressure

With new water flow regulations, manufacturers restrict the output of water to a maximum of 2.5 Gallons Per Minute (GPM), going as low as 1.5 GPM for some of the more serious eco performance shower heads.

That means whether you choose an 8-inch rain shower head or a 12-inch rain shower head, you'll get the same amount of water output. Larger rain showers are great, but you need to keep the decreased pressure in mind if you are into more of a strong flow. The rainfall is all about relaxing under large water droplets, not getting blasted by a concentrated spray.

You can always consult with a plumber or contractor to see if your house pressure can be adjusted. These flow rates are typically based off 60 PSI, meaning if the pressure is less in your house, the flow rate has already being restricted.

Here's our Best Selling Ceiling Mount Shower Arm and Rainfall Shower:

12 Inch Ceiling Mount Shower Arm 8" Rain Shower Head
Moen 12 Inch Ceiling Mount Shower Arm
All Metal 8 Inch Rain Showerhead Rainfall Shower Head by HammerHead Showers


Here's our 2 Best Selling Overhead Shower Arm Mounts:

16" Overhead Shower Arm 14" Overhead Curved Shower Arm 
Moen 16 Inch Overhead Shower Arm Moen S113 Waterhill 14-Inch Replacement Extension Curved Shower Arm, Chrome

Here's our Best Selling Wall Mount Rainfall Shower Head:

Adjustable Shower Arm 8" Rainfall Shower Head
All Metal 17" Adjustable Height Shower Arm Universal Shower Head Part All Metal 8 Inch Rain Showerhead Rainfall Shower Head by HammerHead Showers


Want To Learn More About Selecting The Best Rain Shower Head?

-> Check out our in-depth article here <-  

3. Hand Held Shower Heads

No doubt, hand held shower heads are the most popular type of shower head on the market. Whether you are building out a new shower or just need to replace your existing shower head, this is the most versatile option.

Hand held shower heads are usually sold in packages which include a detachable hose and holder to mount the shower head. You get all of the freedom to leave the shower head in place like a fixed shower head or take it off the wall to rinse soap off your body, clean the shower walls, fill up a bucket outside the shower, or whatever purposes you may find. 

These shower heads with detachable hoses are also great for bathing kids or dogs, and for those who are recovering from an injury or are elderly and need to sit on a shower bench. Simply pull the shower head off the wall and control where the water goes. 

Know What You Are Getting

While most hand held shower heads are sold in sets with all the needed pieces, there are still many options to buy only the shower head, which may not include the hose and holder. Be sure to double-check with the manufacturer or distributor.

All of our HammerHead Showers® all metal handheld shower heads come with a 72" shower hose (a full foot longer than the industry standard!) and a durable, brass shower holder that will not wear out over time. 

Upgrading Your Hand Held Shower Hose

While a 60" hose is what most shower heads come with, we are all too aware that it doesn't always cut it. But not only can the hose be too short, you may find it's not flexible enough, or you want a different color. 

Again, like most things relating to shower heads, you can easily upgrade this part in just a matter of minutes (with most shower heads on the market). An extended length shower head hose could be exactly what your shower needs. The connection size is 1/2" NPT to fit shower heads and accessories sold in the USA.

Hands down, the most important feature to look for is the material. I strongly recommend a metal hose as it provides the flexibility and durability that you'd hope for in a hand held shower head. 

Here's 2 of our Best Selling Hand Held Shower Heads:

All Metal Handheld Shower Head from HammerHead Showers
Shop now for All Metal Handheld Shower Head from HammerHead Showers

 This was our very first shower head, and it continues to stand the test of time. Available in the industry max 2.5 GPM or in California Compliant 1.75 GPM. 

All Metal Multi Spray 3-Spray Handheld Shower Head from HammerHead Showers
Shop now for All Metal 3-Spray Handheld Shower Head from HammerHead Showers
This is for the ones that crave options – enjoy 3 dynamic spray options: wide spray, concentrated massage, and gentle mist. Available in both 1.75 GPM and 2.5 GPM. 

4. Dual Shower Head

What happens when a hand held shower head meets a fixed shower head? A dual shower head is born! In fact, companies are getting so creative these days that there are even fixed shower heads paired with rain shower heads too!

For those truly looking for a great way to upgrade their shower experience on their own, this is the way to go. Even more good news – these combination shower head kits typically come with all the components for installation. You'll get the fixed/rain shower head, hand held shower head, hose and diverter mount. 

Drawbacks Of Dual Shower Heads

Similar to very large rain shower heads, these 2-in-1 shower heads lose pressure the larger they are. Something many people ask us at The Shower Head Store is, "Can I run both shower heads at the same time?". And the answer is...sometimes. If that's a feature that you want, you'll have to check the specs to make sure.

But there is one drawback of dual shower heads. As of 2017, the highest flow rate you'll find on the market is 2.5 GPM. That means if you run both the fixed and hand held shower head at the same time you will get 1.25 GPM flow out of each shower head. That's because the flow restrictor is often in the diverter holder, not the individual shower heads. Nevertheless, they are still super fun and will give you the full 2.5 GPM flow when you are running one shower head at a time.

If you can’t find the dual shower head you want in a pre-built kit, don’t be afraid to build your own! There are lots of ways you can design a DIY dual shower head to update your shower with your favorite handheld and rain shower heads.

 Here's our Best Selling Dual Shower Head Combo:

All Metal Dual Shower Head Combo

All Metal Dual Shower Head - Handheld, Rain Shower, Diverter, 2.5 GPM

5. Filtered Shower Heads

Sick of dry skin or frizzy hair? You need to consider a filtered shower head. These shower heads can greatly reduce the amount of chlorine, heavy metals, and scale that come through your shower head.

The filtration media used inside of the filter is by far the most important factor to consider. Many companies advertise impeccable coverage thanks to loads of stages, but most of the materials they use won't do a thing to improve the quality of your water. 

A. What To Watch Out For With Filter Shower Heads

The most recognized brands when it comes to filtered shower heads are HammerHead Showers, Sprite Showers, Culligan and Crystal Quest. 

If you are looking at other brands, make sure that they have the NSF Certification. The NSF is one of the most respected independent product testing organizations to ensure that manufacturers meet strict standards imposed by NSF for the safety and health of consumers.

Another thing to consider is buying filter replacements. It's recommended that you change your shower filter every 6 months at maximum. If your water is worse or you have a larger household using the shower head, you'll want to change it more frequently. Replacing the filter cartridge is a breeze and can be done without needing a plumber.

B. Adding A Filter Without Changing Your Shower Head

While there are a variety of shower heads that have a filter built-in, you may want to keep your existing shower head or upgrade to a different one. That's no problem. You'll just need to look for an inline filter like this model by HammerHead Showers.

You simply attach this filter onto your shower arm pipe and then you can attach whichever shower head you'd like onto the threading at the end of it. Very easy!  

Here's our Best Selling Filtered Shower Head:

HammerHead Showers All Metal Shower Head Filter
All Metal Shower Head Filter to Remove Chlorine and Heavy Metals

 Want To Learn More About Filtered Shower Heads?

-> Check out this article here <-

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Choosing Between Different Types of Shower Heads

With so many options for shower head types, it can be hard to know which is right for you and your bathroom. If you’re feeling stuck, it’s important to focus on a few key factors when comparing models.

Shower Head Function

What do you want or need your shower head to do? Are you after a luxurious experience? Then a rain shower head might be right for you. Do you need to clean kids or pets? Then a hand held shower head is likely your best bet.

Shower Head Style

While functionality is key, style is pretty important too. What do you want your shower head to look like? Some types of shower heads may only be available in a traditional chrome. Others may come in finishes like gold, matte black or antique brass.

Shower Head Material

What a shower head is made of – and the company that makes it – should also be considered when trying to choose between different types of shower heads. Here at The Shower Head Store, we recommend all-metal shower heads because of their long-lasting quality and durability.

Shower Head Compatibility

If you’re doing the work of updating a shower head yourself, then you’ll want to make sure you’re armed with the information you need to get the job done. For example, are shower heads universal? Thankfully, yes. In the U.S. virtually every shower head has the same connection threading size, at ½” NPT.

Be sure to read the installation instructions for the shower head you choose, too, and confirm whether you’ll be able to do the upgrade yourself or if you’ll need the help of a plumber.

Upgrade Your Shower Today

Now that you're armed with some solid information on the different types of shower heads, it's time to decide which one is best for you.

If you happen to be  in the market for a bathtub as well check out this article that presents the best bathtubs on the market.

If you have any questions, please email us at [email protected] or contact our customer service team at (854) 888-9231. 

We're here to help you with any questions you have about one of the easiest and most impactful upgrades in your house: your shower head!

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