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There was a time when a shower faucet was nothing more than a functional piece of bathroom hardware, but no more!
Today you will find a shower faucet to fit any bathroom décor from modern to Tuscan, in finishes from shiny stainless steel to brushed nickel, handheld faucets to showerheads with fluting and other decorative design cues.
Even the function of a showerhead has changed dramatically over the last 20 years; with multiple sprays and mists, thermostatic and scald controls available in the latest high tech shower faucet innovations.
From style to function, major brands and installation tips, Rafter Tales is pleased to offer you our shower faucet buyer’s guide to help you select shower hardware that meets your budget, functional and design needs!
Luxury Showers More Popular than Bathtubs
Many people have eschewed the bathtub in favor of larger and more convenient shower installations that provide the relaxing feel of a spa in their home.
Others, who once thought an outdoor hot tub or Jacuzzi would be nice have opted for the convenience of a large jetted tub in the master bath or combined their tub and shower to convert their master bath to a home spa!
Either way, the emphasis on design and function has taken shower and bathtub fixtures a whole new level in the home.
But they’re Only Plumbing Fixtures!
True, shower and bathtub controls and faucets are only plumbing fixtures, but they can make or break your bathroom décor; updating older faucets can save water and money while also adding style and completing the look of your master bath, kid’s or guest bathroom.
While chrome can look great in a contemporary style bathroom, you may want to step up to a nickel finish to complete the look of your traditional bath with a softer, more upscale look.
Showers are possibly the most popular ways to bathe and one of the most relaxing areas of the home. The water temperature can be varied, the soap is washed away, and you feel refreshed and rejuvenated from the water as it sprays over you.
Like most things in life, we all have different preferences when it comes to water speed, temperature, and pressure. So it makes sense to carefully consider the fittings that control your shower experience. If you design the perfect soothing shower for the morning, you’ll be improving your mood for the day.
There are two main aspects to consider when choosing your shower faucet; the type of shower head you prefer (which determines how your shower feels) and the faucet fitting (which must be considered in terms of how your shower has been designed).
Shower heads, Body Sprays and Mists
These days you can choose the standard shower head or surround yourself with mists and sprays galore. Some of the types of shower heads available include:
- Wall-mount shower heads are affordable. The shower head adjusts via a ball joint where it joins the neck. Models that offer varying spray types fit the needs of most users.
- Ceiling-mount shower heads work well in areas where the ceiling is too low to accommodate a wall-mount head. Some are also quite large and produce a waterfall-like feel. Because the spray comes from overhead, it is difficult to avoid getting your hair wet when washing in this type of shower.
- Handheld showerheads clip on to a 3- to 6-foot-long hose that lets you spray the water where you want it. It’s a versatile choice that makes it easy to wash your hair, rinse off, or scrub down the shower itself.
- Sliding bar showerheads slide up and down on a bar mounted on the wall. Because the spray height is extremely easy to adjust, it’s a good option when the users vary in height.
- Body spray and body mist shower sprays are installed in vertical rows on opposite or adjacent walls, creating a crisscross water massage between knee and shoulder levels that lets you wash up quickly without getting your hair wet.
- Body spa shower panels are installed against one or more walls of the shower stall. The panels are equipped with water jets arranged vertically from knee to neck level. Similar to the jets in a whirlpool tub, the water jets pump out and circulate large quantities of water for a powerful massage.
- The fittings for the faucet you choose will depend on the space you are working within. In the shower there are four main types to choose from. A main determinant of what you can use depends on whether you have a bath/shower or simple shower because single showers tend to simply have wall-mounted fittings.
Shower Faucet Types
- Single-handle faucets have one spout and one handle that control the flow of both hot and cold water. They are generally safer and more convenient to use than their two-handled counterparts. With practice you can find the temperature you want on the first try. You can also turn the water on with your elbow or wrist when your hands are full or dirty.
- Center-set faucets combine a spout and handle(s) in one unit. These faucets have either single-handle or double-handle controls. Most are designed for a three-hole basin, with the outside holes spaced 4 inches from center to center. However, some have a single-post design that requires only one hole.
- Spread-fit faucets separate spout and handles. The connection between them is concealed below the sink deck. Installers can adapt them to fit holes spaced from 4 to 10 inches apart. You can individualize them even more if they are mounted on a countertop next to the sink. For example you can place the spout on a rear corner and the handles off to one side. These faucets are handy for tight installations that lack the room. They also are ideal for whirlpool tubs, so that the handles are accessible from outside the tub for filling. This type of faucet offers a more traditional look than single-handle faucets and you can combine different style handles and spouts for a custom look.
- Wall-mount faucets are attached to the wall as opposed to the sink or the counter. These faucets are the most common for showers that don’t double as baths.
Shower Fixture Finishes
Most faucets are manufactured of brass, plated with one of four materials; chrome, nickel, stainless steel or brass. Chrome is typically the least costly finish and you’ll find plenty to choose from, including many with an enamel finish in white or other colors.
Nickel is quite popular, with a brushed finish that gives a more muted metal finish that will not show fingerprints and water spots as much as polished chrome.
For even higher quality and a bit different look, you can go with stainless steel. Stainless fixtures may be polished smooth for a highly reflective finish or brushed for a softer look that is easier to keep looking clean.
For the ultimate in luxury and longevity, a brass finished shower faucet and showerhead will give your bathroom a true designer look; many fixtures may feature brass and stainless steel or nickel to give them an even more unique design pattern.
Dedicated shower valve bodies are commonly used today; these may have a rubber disc that closes against a metal seat or a more expensive cartridge-style system with a plastic or brass cartridge instead for added longevity. The best units feature a hard ceramic disc that is almost indestructible.
If you’re looking for something really cool, try one of the shower faucet units that incorporate temperature control; these models allow you to set a temperature ring, enabling the faucet to automatically adjust to that preset temperature. Of course, you and your partner may not always agree on where to leave the temperature set for your ideal showering comfort!
If young kids will be using the shower, you might want to consider a unit that provides scald control; in this case you set the maximum temperature to a safe setting, above which the shower faucet will never rise.
Shower Faucet Brands
While there are literally hundreds of makes of bath and shower faucets, a few of the leading brands include:
Danze – Danze has quickly become a leading US manufacturer of bath and shower faucets, with over 1800 products available in many styles and finishes manufactured with a vertically integrated supply chain, all backed by strong customer service and a drip-free warranty.
Delta Faucet – With several brands including Delta, Brizo and Peerless, Delta Faucet Company is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of faucets, valves and hundreds of other home improvement products. Brizo is their premium brand.
Grohe – Offering a complete product line of kitchen and bathroom faucets, Grohe offers an extensive range of products including faucets, showers and faucets for every style of interior, from classic period contours to sculptural modern designs.
Kohler – Long known as a premium brand, Kohler offers a wide range of kitchen and bathroom faucets through a network of over 31,000 associates worldwide. Introducing new and innovative products with superior function and form has been a tradition at Kohler for over 100 years.
Moen – Since introducing the world to the single-handle faucet, Moen has become known throughout the industry for many innovations including a washer-less cartridge system to replaces seals and washers to ease faucet maintenance, pressure-balanced shower valves to reduce the risk of shower shock, lifetime warranties and toll-free consumer help to assist with installation and replacement questions.
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