Shower Yourself with Love (and Hot Water)

Printer-friendly version

Change your Showerhead and Upgrade your Bathroom

It can be a ritual like no other: a warm, pulsing stream of water coursing over tired, aching muscles. For a few glorious moments, we're focused only on ourselves, luxuriating in a perfect, purifying act. When it all comes together, a shower is a trip to a steamy sanctuary, a place to get clean, but also a place to relax, renew, and be alone.

Now if your shower feels like it's a long way off from a sanctuary, it's time to do something about it. We all need a bit of luxury in our lives and a new showerhead can be one of the easiest ways to get it. In particular, the right showerhead can make the difference between a shower you look forward to versus a shower taken as a means to get clean. Better yet, most new showerheads are relatively inexpensive and easy to install yourself.

Whether you want something practical, stylish, or over-the-top luxurious, your choices have never been broader. Because there are many different makes and models on the market, we've put together a brief guide to help you decide which showerhead would be best for you, from functional and inexpensive to luxurious and pricey.

Single function showerheads, like this Moen model, come with a water flow system that is engineered to distribute water across the spray face. They are available in many different finishes and range in price from around $30 to $60.

Some designs, like the Moen and the Oxygenics Resort Spa Self-Pressurized showerhead from Sharper Image, are especially effective if you have a low-pressure water system, as it modifies it into an invigorating full-spray shower. Now you can be "green"—reducing the volume and cost of water for your showers by up to 70%—yet still enjoy an invigorating, refreshing, full-spray bathing experience. Click here for more information.

Self-cleaning showerheads prevent the build-up of clogging particles. The Sloan brass bodied showerhead is a highly recommended, moderately priced showerhead that is used in many hotels. Universal ball joints allow the spray to go where needed and delivers a "cone-within-a-cone" spray that covers the entire body. The showerhead creates a high-pressure shower and, at the same time, meets the 2.5 gallons per minute maximum flow requirement as set by the U.S. Federal Energy Policy Act. While going green, this model maintains a consistent, powerful spray that makes it very popular with energy-conscious consumers. Depending on your choice of finish, the Sloan self-cleaning showerhead will cost between $80 and $160. Click here for more information.

Multifunction showerheads feature different spray settings that can include jet massages, mists, full body sprays, muscle relaxing massages and aerated bubbling action. Some shower massage units are wall mounted and others are removable so they can be hand held. Some have flexible mounts for different angles and height settings. Cheaper models start at $30 and, depending on various amenities such as different kinds of finishes and multiple jets, can cost 10 times that amount.

Rain or Downpour models are among the latest trends in showerhead design. Like this one from Moen, an oversized showerhead gives you the sensation of standing under a gentle spring rainfall. Some of these styles have more than 100 spray channels for a complete drenching, full-body experience. Downpour showerheads are available both as a fixed-mount (from an adjustable arm or stationary pipe) or hand held and some are mounted from the ceiling. These popular new showerheads are available in sizes starting from about 3 inches in diameter. Prices vary widely; some less expensive models are around $40, but the larger ones can cost a lot more, up to $500 for the most deluxe versions.

Giant showerheads, also know as Elephant showerheads, are the same basic design as the rain or downpour models only the diameter of the showerhead is much larger, between eight to 12 inches. These models really make you feel like you are standing in a downpour, a feeling that will cost you between $200 and $500.

Ceiling mounted showerheads, like this one from Bostonian, come in different styles from antique copper Victorian to gleaming modern chrome. These are attached to the ceiling and may require some custom plumbing. If you want to add a ceiling showerhead to your bathroom, keep in mind that you will need some additional ceiling height. If you don't, these models probably won't work for you. But if you are renovating your bathroom and can make allowances for ceiling height, you might want to look into these unique designs. Prices start at around $250. At the very high end of showerheads are the ceiling-mounted spa rain canopies that measure 167quot; in diameter and have 360 jets for the full rain effect. They come with ceiling mount kits and can cost as much as $2,000.

Dual showerheads basically provide two showerheads on one arm or pipe. Some models like this one from Frontgate, incorporate two showerheads side by side, some are stacked one above the other and others feature two full-massage heads; most of them are designed to fit onto a standard half-inch shower arm. Dual showerheads are increasingly popular, especially for people who like to shower with a companion. Prices start at around $40.

Slidebars are mounted on the shower wall. Like this Kohler model, the showerhead slides along a vertical bar so that the height can be easily adjusted, a handy feature if more than one family member uses the shower. These shower mounts come with various settings, flow control for water pressure, a soap dish and sometimes the showerhead can be removed to be hand held. Though slightly more complicated than just changing the showerhead, slidebars install in about 30 minutes or less and the kit usually includes all necessary hardware, mounting instructions, and template. Prices start at about $150 and can go up to $300.

Shower panels are a practical upgrade to any bathroom because they instantly create a luxury shower while being affordable and easy to install. These panels, such as this modern style from Veneto, are about four feet high and 20 inches wide, though the more expensive models run larger. They attach to the wall of your shower and have features such as ceiling rain, up to six jets, adjustable showerheads, and removable hand-held heads. They come with wood trim options, in a variety of colors, and can be installed in most showers in less than 30 minutes without any major physical modifications to the shower.

The average price runs from $300 to $600 depending on the number of jets and design. More expensive models (up to $2,000) include such extras as eight massage jets, a stereo sound system with speakers and a radio, a hands free telephone, a steam generator, and a seat, enabling you to turn your shower into a mini steam room.

All of these designs (and more) are available online at http://www.plumbingsupply.com. This site sells hundreds of different models, along with various shower mounting accessories such as hoses, wall brackets and supply elbows so that you can create your own design. Another site, http://www.neatitems.com/showers.htm, offers great prices on a wide range of styles, free shipping in the U.S., as well as consumer opinions and ratings. The tagline for the site is "Life is too short for lousy showers!" Who can argue with that?

A new showerhead may not, at first glance, seem like a major renovation but, once you are standing under that jet spray with that glorious hot water relaxing every muscle, you will be thrilled with your new upgrade! Showers are more than just a way to clean your body. A great shower can rejuvenate your mind and spirit. And every great shower starts with a powerful showerhead. So treat yourself and your family to a whole new bathing experience.

Related links:
How to Change a Showerhead
Bring the spa Experience Home in 30 minutes
How to Replace a Bathroom Faucet

Share this