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

Posted on February 01 2017

types of shower heads



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 what the different types of shower heads are, their pros and cons and hopefully be able to gauge which shower head is best for you.


To be even more clear, I'll be highlighting only 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 difference, especially what manufacturer's and other distributors don't want you to know. Let's Go!


Fixed Shower Heads


A Fixed Shower Head, aka Wallmount Shower Head, is what most people have in their home. It's no frills and is typically smaller in size, with diameters from 5 inches or less. For those of you who just want a Shower Head that doesn't have a ton of bells and whistles, and just gives you solid pressure, 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 option allows you to change the spray patterns, usually ranging from a very concentrated Massage setting to a more gentle Wide Spray setting. 


Shop Fixed Shower Heads


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 really increase the coverage in your shower. Coverage referring to how much water hits your skin, leaving you with a warmer feeling in the shower.  


Mounting From The Wall Or The Ceiling

Rain Shower Heads can be mounted from the Wall or from the Ceiling. For Wallmounts, you can easily install this in minutes like most all Shower Heads. 

However, if you are going to have the true Rainfall Shower Head, you'll need to consult with a Plumber and/or Contractor to run the pipes up through your Ceiling.

Pretty much every Shower Head has the same connection in the United States, 1/2" IPS. This is the standard! As long as you have the Shower Arm plumbing coming from your Ceiling or your Wall, you can choose whichever Shower Head you want and mount your Shower Head wherever you want.

Sounding like too much work for you? I cover how to get the Rainfall experience without having a Ceiling Mount or hiring a plumber in this article.


Single Function Versus Multi Function

One thing to keep in mind is whether you should go with a Single Function or Multi Function. Very easily put, if you are going to mount your Rainshower from your Ceiling, go for a Single Function. That's because 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, the choice is yours. Do you just want one full flow, or prefer to adjust to a more concentrated spray?


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 real Eco Performance Shower Heads. That means whether you choose a 6 Inch Rain Shower Head or a 10 Inch Rain Shower Head, you'll get the same amount of water output. 

Not saying that larger Rain Showers aren't great, but it's something you need to keep in mind if you are more into sharp pressure. But don't fret, there are innovations that do help increase pressure even on large Rainshowers. 

For example, Moen offers their Immersion Rainshower Technology on select Rain Shower Heads which effectively squeezes the water down small channels to increase the pressure. This does turn the water into more of a needle-like flow, but it provides a nice balance between wide coverage and high pressure.

Additionally, you can 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 your pressure is less in your house, you aren't even getting the full flow rate which is already being restricted.


Shop Rain Shower Heads


Hand Held Shower Heads


No doubt, Hand Held Shower Heads are the most popular Shower Head type on the market. Whether you are building out a new shower or just need to replace your existing Shower Head, this is such a versatile option.

Hand Held Shower Heads are usually sold in packages which include a detachable hose and holder to mount the showerhead. 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 are 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 Your Are Getting

While most Hand Held Shower Heads are sold in sets with all the needed pieces, there are still many options to just buy the Shower Head, which may not include the hose and holder. Just double check with the manufacturer or distributer. At The Shower Head Store, we tell you exactly what you are getting on each product page and at the time of writing the vast majority include all three components.


Upgrading Your Hand Held Shower Hose

Most Handheld Showerheads come with a 60 Inch (5 Feet) long hose. However, there are times where the length of the hose is too short, not flexible enough or you need a different color. 

Again, like most things relating to Shower Heads, you can easily upgrade this part with most all Shower Hoses on the market in just a matter of minutes. The connection size, again, is 1/2" IPS if you are buying your Shower Heads and Accessories 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. As for the length of the hose, that's up to you and anything over 72 Inches would be considered an upgrade from the standard.


Shop HandHeld ShowerHeads


Dual Shower Head


What happens when a Hand Held Shower Head meets a Fixed Shower Head? A Combination Shower Head. In fact, companies are getting so creative these days that there are even Fixed Shower Heads paired with Rain Shower Heads too!

We offer a variety of Combination or Dual Shower Heads at The Shower Head Store. By far, the most popular is the Delta In2ition Shower Head and the Moen Magnetix Shower Head.

For those truly looking for a great way to upgrade their shower experience on their own, this is the way to go. Good news too, these Combination kits typically come with all the components to install. You'll get the Fixed/Rain Shower Head, Hand Held Shower Head, Hose and Diverter Mount. 


Drawbacks Of Dual Shower Head

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?" The answer is YES!

Maybe a decade ago that wasn't the case, but all the Combination Shower Heads we know of on the market can have the Fixed Shower Head or the Hand Held Shower Head OR both running at the same time. 

Now, to the drawback. 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 in the Diverter Holder, not on 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.



Filtered Shower Heads


Sick of dry skin or frizzy hair? You need to consider a Filtered Shower Head. These Shower Heads greatly reduce the amount of Chlorine, Scale and Hard Water that comes through your Shower Head. 

Depending on where you live, you may have more of a need for this than others. In places like Southern California, the water is exceptionally hard.

Not sure how your water stacks up in your area? Check out this map from the USGS.


What To Watch Out For With Filter Shower Heads


The most recognized brands when it comes to Filtered Shower Heads are Culligan and Sprite. 

If you are looking at other brands, make sure that they have the NSF Certification. The National Sanitation Foundation (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. Companies like Sprite and Culligan have been around for a while, making it easier and more likely for you to find Filter Replacements in the future when you need them.

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 Sprite.

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


Shop Filtered Shower Heads



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 have any questions, please email us at 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!