Showerheads 101: Your ultimate guide

Key tips to remember

  • Rain showerheads add luxury to any bathroom, but have the best effect when ceiling-mounted.
  • Handheld and variable-spray showerheads offer more options to keep everyone in the home happy.
  • Consider a water-filtering showerhead if you live in an area with hard water.
  • Don’t forget to consider things like the new fixture’s location, size and water flow rate.
Appliances

A good showerhead can transport you from a garden-variety fiberglass shower enclosure to a marble-tiled luxury bathroom in a swanky five-star hotel. But how much thought do you actually give your showerhead until you’re actually in the shower? Probably not a lot.

If you’ve been thinking about remodeling your bathroom (or even just giving it a face-lift), you are likely well aware of the costs involved. A bathroom renovation will give you some of the best return on your investment in terms of resale — that initial investment, however, can be hard to swallow.

So, if shelling out a few thousand dollars for a new bathroom just isn’t in the cards right now (and know that you aren’t alone), consider a few smaller, less costly ways that you can update and add luxury to your current space.

Small changes, like updating drawer pulls, outlet covers, and lighting and plumbing fixtures, make a far bigger difference than you might think. Watch your local home store for sales on linens, and treat yourself to a set of plush towels. And don’t forget to replace that old, builder-grade showerhead!

Not sure what to look for in a new showerhead? We’ve got your ultimate showerhead guide right here. Keep reading!

4 common types of showerheads

1. Rain showerhead

If your perfect shower involves a steady, forceful deluge of warm water, a rain showerhead is the peak of luxury. This style of showerhead comes in a few different shapes and sizes to match the other finishes in your bathroom.

A rain showerhead is traditionally ceiling-mounted, but if that isn’t an option — and it likely won’t be unless your home is relatively new — you can attach your new showerhead to the wall. Another option is to look specifically for a rain showerhead with an arm that will allow you achieve the traditional ceiling-mount look and feel without doing major construction work.

2. Variable-spray showerhead

Do you share a bathroom with a roommate or a family member? If so, consider opting for a showerhead with multiple spray and pressure settings to appease everyone in the household. Your housemate might, for instance, prefer a high-pressure jet of water, whereas you might be partial to a gentler spray.

A showerhead that gives you both of those options (plus a few additional settings) will ensure that neither of you feels like you’re having to compromise too much. Some variable-spray showerheads even come in dual-head models that offer a traditional showerhead along with a handheld sprayer. If your household also includes any furry family members, having a handheld sprayer can make bath time much easier.

3. Water-filtering showerhead

Depending on where in the country you live and whether you use municipal water or well water, you might benefit from a showerhead with a built-in filter. Showerheads with filters are especially nice if your water is hard. Hard water has a high mineral content, and while this doesn’t affect the water’s safety or quality, it can be tough on your skin and hair, and cause significant (and often hard to remove) mineral and soap-scum buildup.

A water-filtering showerhead can help reduce the mineral content of the water you use to shower, but you probably won’t have as many style or design options. Also keep in mind that the filter will need to be replaced periodically — typically quarterly or semiannually, depending on use and mineral content.

4. Handheld showerhead

Handheld showerheads are, well, handy! They make quick work of rinsing shampoo from thick or curly hair, and there’s no substitute for them when the dog rolls around in something foul. If you’re in the market for a handheld showerhead, you’ll likely find yourself choosing between two style options: a handheld-only showerhead that comes with a wall mount and hose, or a combination that includes both a wall-mounted showerhead — often a variable or rain-style model — along with a second handheld one.

Ultimately, you’ll need to consider your budget and personal preference when it comes time to make a decision. It may be helpful, however, to read a few product reviews online to help you narrow down your choices.

Additional showerhead considerations

You already know to keep your budget and style preferences in mind as you shop for a new showerhead, but don’t forget to also consider things like the current fixture’s mounting location, as well as the new fixture’s size, water flow rate and ease of cleaning.

Current showerhead location

If your current showerhead is wall-mounted, that’s probably not something you’ll want to change — unless you’re OK with some demolition (and extra expense). A rain showerhead definitely feels a little more luxurious when it’s mounted from the ceiling. But moving plumbing lines is not something the average homeowner should attempt, and a good plumber will charge a hefty fee for the job. There are so many showerhead models on the market today that even if you have to search a little longer than you anticipated, you’ll be able to find something you love that won’t involve major plumbing work.

New fixture size

While the standard showerhead connection is a half-inch pipe (in the U.S., at least), it’s a good idea to measure your current fixture just for extra reassurance. If the pipe is a diameter other than a half-inch, you’ll likely need to either call a plumber or ask a lot of questions of your local hardware store’s employees.

A nonstandard pipe connection may mean that you need to install an adapter to fit the opening on your new showerhead. This isn’t necessarily difficult to do, but you’ll need to have the exact measurements of the connecting pipes as well as the right materials to attach the pieces securely to avoid leaks. Be sure to pick up some PVC primer and PVC cement to help you create a good, leakproof seal — and while you’re at it, grab a roll of Teflon tape to secure the metal connection to the showerhead.

Water flow rate

In most cases, the water flow rate of the showerhead you choose won’t really be something you have much control over. Plumbing-fixture manufacturers are required to adhere to federal regulations designed to save water and increase energy efficiency.

And this is a good thing!

We all need to be mindful of water use and do our part to conserve the resources we share. That being said, if your home is older and hasn’t been renovated recently (or ever), the first shower you take with your new showerhead might be kind of a bummer — especially if you’re a fan of high water pressure.

Modern showerheads have built-in components to save water, which can translate to a lower-pressure water flow. But technology is improving, and there are plenty of showerhead models that won’t leave you disappointed.

Ease of cleaning

Showerheads do require periodic cleaning, just like any other plumbing fixture in your home. Remember that the more parts, pieces and fancy bits your showerhead has, the more cleaning you’ll need to do. And if you have hard water, you’ll probably need to increase your cleaning frequency.

Whether you’re shopping for a showerhead, contemplating a full-scale bathroom renovation, or researching home protection plans that cover plumbing fixtures, Cinch Home Services has you covered. We are your experts for anything home-related, and we’re thrilled to be on this journey with you. Keep up with us on Facebook, and sign up for our newsletter to make sure you never miss an update!


The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.
 

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