Shower Head Buying & Information Guide

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A Guide to Understanding Shower Heads

In your daily grind, there is one small feature that makes everything OK. If only for five minutes, your shower provides you warmth, relaxation and a unique sense of calm. As a result, its structure and function can make or break your personal time. The best way to ensure a positive shower experience is to find an efficient shower head, one that matches your personal needs and desires.

With a range of designs and function options, shower heads are the rare household fixture that is typically easy to install. The rare models that do require professional assistance are custom designs, but for the most part, with a few tools, you can put in your new shower head on your lunch break. However, quality can be a feature difficult to find in shower heads. As a result, buyers should consider all models and functions before making their final purchase.

Types of Shower Heads

  • Single-setting shower heads: The most basic models, single-setting shower heads have no additional adjustment settings for water flow and pressure. As a result, they tend to cost less than other shower head models.
  • Multi-setting shower heads: With a range of options, multi-setting shower heads vary by manufacturer. They can have as many as 12 different settings, from mist and massage to water-saving pulse. These settings are typically selected through rotating the shower head nozzle.
  • Tower shower heads: The most complicated models, tower shower heads offer additional body jets along its vertical mount. They promise a "spa-like" experience and tend to use a lot of water, so they are the most expensive shower heads currently on the market.

Important Shower Head Features

  • Aerating shower heads offer benefits for the cost-minded buyer. The aerating feature forms mist alongside the regular water flow to create a heavier stream, in addition to cooling the water 5 to 15 degrees to save energy. This also prevents excess steam and moisture in the bathroom.
  • Handheld shower heads are extremely helpful. They allow the user to remove the shower head from its holder to focus the stream more directly on any part of the body, making rinsing more effective. Most come with rubber hoses to make the shower head easier to move.
  • Rain showers have larger heads, widening the spray pattern and reducing water pressure. This makes the water flow more soothing, creating a "rain-like" effect.

Shower Head Design

Shower heads today come in a range of unique styles, so there is always something available to match your bathroom aesthetic. For a rustic look, lamp-like arc models with a brass finish add simplicity and warmth to the shower. Retro shower heads are also a good choice, as they are easy to install and have an aged roundedness to them.

More urban homes can flaunt industrial-style shower heads, which come in basic pipe shapes and are often made of pure stainless steel for durability and style. The simple design combines with a clean look to offer something refreshing and unique. Rain showers are becoming more popular in urban settings, as well, and they add a touch of luxury to the shower.

For a sleek, modern look, there are several innovative shower head designs on the market. European designs are often the most elaborate, with looks that range from wily hoses to futuristic shapes. Waterfall shower heads are also available, and they create a natural look while offering a relaxing flow of water.

Shower Head To-Do List

  1. Decide what your overall bathroom style will be. A shower head, though small, sets the tone for the rest of your shower. If, for example, your shower head were to have a futuristic roundedness to it and the rest of your shower station was made of plaster, then there would be an obvious disorientation every time you use it. Consider that you will have to stare at this item every day, and act accordingly. Of course, you don't want to choose a style that you aren't particularly fond of for the sole purpose of maintaining style. In the end, realize that the overall aesthetic should be something you can live with and appreciate.
  2. Shop around for the right shower head. Prices for shower heads vary -- from $25 to $2,500 -- so examine your options. While a store may promise you that their 12-setting hand-held shower head is worth the $1,000 price tag, another store may have a similar model for less than half the cost. Unlike most market appliances, the shower head can be trickier to shop for. It will take patience and savvy shopping to get the right fit for you.
  3. Check installation requirements. While most shower heads do not require the help of a professional, it is always better to double check. If in doubt, crack for the service fee. You'd rather pay $50 now to have it installed correctly than a few hundred dollars down the line to fix leaks or other piping problems, especially because this is a product you will no doubt use every day.
Last Updated: July 21, 2011
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About Emelie Battaglia Emelie Battagila is a contributing writer for

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