Selecting a shower can be a fun and creative process. The shower was once the bathroom’s most unassuming area, solely offering functionality. Times have changed, however, and this once modest necessity has emerged as one of today’s most sought-after bathroom luxuries. There are a variety of reasons for the popularity of showers. Lifestyle changes, combined with time constraints for many teens, adults and seniors. Showering saves time. For seniors or those with mobility issues, walk-in showers can be a safer option.
Shower systems are versatile due to new technologies and innovative shower fixtures that provide users with more control over the flow, mix, and the temperature of water. Most digital showers can be programmed from a wall pad or remote control creating personalized shower experiences based on each user’s individual preferences.
Showers are fairly easy to upgrade, either by replacing an old shower head or by tapping into existing plumbing to add a second shower head or body sprays. A shower can also serve multiple purposes. In the morning, it’s a way to refresh and energize, but at night, it can be a great way to relax after a long day.
Many bathroom plans are eliminating a tub altogether and are including larger shower spaces. In fact, more than four in ten homeowners deciding to forgo a bathtub, including in the master bath.
This project was a prime example of this consideration. The clients removed a tub to create 1 large shower. The clients also had us enlarge the entrance to the bathroom to provide space for her elderly father’s wheelchair access. This was another reason for removing the tub to have a large shower. While she opted to keep a small curb on her shower, walk-in showers are becoming more popular especially with the focus on universal design.
Homeowners have been exposed to beautifully designed bathrooms and luxurious showers from the internet, hotel travel and simply shopping. As a result, many homeowners are motivated to create an oasis in their own homes, one that combines stylish design and high performance components. Manufacturers have responded to these desires and through innovation, technology, and creativity, have changed the way showers are designed and function for today’s consumers.
– Single-function showerheads
– Multi-function showerheads
– Rain showerheads
– Shower arms
– Body sprays
Custom shower design presents a range of shower head options, as well as opportunities for water savings. Homeowners can choose from single or multi-function showerheads to customize their shower experience. Showerheads can be wall-mounted or ceiling mounted depending on the model selected.
Advancements in technology have led to the development of water efficient showerheads that provide water savings of 20 percent or better. Other technologies include showerheads that utilize air injection for a more powerful jet that delivers a high performance shower even when water flow is low.
Single function showerheads offer one type of spray pattern and for some clients that is all they require. Although simple and basic in functionality; these showerheads are available in a variety of styles and designs to satisfy a range of tastes. Multi-function showerhead provides a variety of spray patterns from pulsating flows to light mists. Multi-function showerheads are available in a range of sizes, styles and finishes as well. Rain showerheads are designed to provide the experience of showering in the rain, offer a stylish focal point. I typically recommend that a client incorporate another showerhead available especially if there is a woman using it. It is quite difficult to hold your head back and shower if you say don’t want to wash your hair every time you shower.
In this featured project, the wife wanted to have a spa like experience with multiple functions such as regular shower head, a hand shower and a rain head positioned from the ceiling which was for her husband. We had to get creative with the plumbing to keep the cost down to accommodate all of these functions toggling between each other.
This brings me to another aspect, shower arms. While often overlooked, shower arms play an important role of a custom shower configuration. It is important to select the right shower arm for the preferred showerhead to optimize performance. Consider a ceiling mounted shower arm when installing a rain showerhead. You can also use a really long straight arm for the same effect to either save on plumbing or if there are restrictions for placing one in the ceiling. For a regular wall-mounted showerhead, a shower arm that is angled out of the wall is ideal. Angled shower arms have an added arm and hinges between the base of the showerhead so the angle and height of the showerhead can be easily adjusted when needed. This is great when there are various people with different heights using the same shower.
Another popular component is the hand shower. It provides the convenience of controlling exactly where the water flows. They are often added as a second component to the shower configuration. Hand showers are connected by a hose and can be installed on a bracket off the main showerhead or wall or installed on a slide bar. A slide bar installation allows the user to adjust the height of the hand shower which is a beneficial feature for families with kids and dogs. I recommend it for virtually every shower for ease of cleaning the shower or even tub. As with the other showerheads, manufacturers offer a wide range of decorative styles and finishes.
Body sprays are another element that has long been considered the luxury component in high end custom showers. They provide targeted water flow for a spa-like treatment for tired muscles. Body sprays are installed on one or multiple walls at shoulder level or below. They may be arranged in groups of one, two or more. They even have flush mounted models available that blend discreetly into the wall.
Understanding the basic plumbing configuration of the shower system will be important in determining how many sprays can be included in a custom shower design. Typically, a diverter valve needs to be installed that can direct the water.
- To the fixed showerhead only
- To the body sprays only or
- To both the showerhead and body sprays
The valve to a shower system is like the engine to a car: it’s hidden from sight, but essential to the shower working properly. The valve controls the most important part of your shower- water. They control the volume, the temperature and where the water is going. The type of valve you choose depends on the configuration and the number of components that comprise the shower system. As mentioned earlier, I have been quite creative in these selections to save on the most expensive aspect of multiple functions, the plumbing work behind the wall.
The most basic valve usually sold in the kits at home depot and lowe’s is the pressure balance valve. This type of valve controls the water temperature by adjusting the fluctuations to incoming water pressure. It was created to provide anti-scalding protection keeping the water temperature at a more consistent level even when there is a sudden change in water pressure, such as a toilet flushing.
The thermostatic valve is needed for a more elaborate custom shower. This type of valve can support a shower configuration with up to six components. While providing the larger flow rate, the thermostatic valve also allows the user to set the water at a specific temperature because the hot and cold are mixed before it is released. The thermostatic valve needs to be paired with at least one volume control to turn on and off the water. You can also use a diverter valve which as the name suggests diverts the water flow between different water outlets such as a handshower or body sprays. A fast growing trend are the shower panels. They allow a homeowner to save money on both product and plumbing contracting while staying very stylish. It is important to determine the client’s needs, preferences and expectations before finalizing a custom shower plan.