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Handheld shower head buying guide

Guide written by:
Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff

118 guides

Shower heads form an essential part of any shower or bathtub. Connected to your mixer valve by a hose, shower heads offer different spray settings (massage, mist, etc.) as well as a range of design options. From water-saving models to flow regulators, follow our guide to find the right shower head for you.

Important features

  • Material
  • Spray settings
  • Flow rate
  • Shape and design

Shower head essentials

Making the most of your shower means enjoying a decent flow rate while also saving a bit of money on your water bill. Before selecting your shower head, it's important to examine the existing installation:

  • Check the diameter of your shower hose fittings (usually a standard diameter of 1/2");
  • Pay close attention to the shower head bracket. The holder can be either straight or curved;
  • Check that your flow rate is right for the shower head. Most shower heads will deliver between 12 and 17 litres of water per minute, which is more than enough for a comfortable shower but isn't very cost-effective. In recent years, water-saving showers heads have made their appearance on the market. These heads are a great alternative and deliver just 6 to 8 litres of water per minute, thanks to a special air system. What's more, the level of user comfort is exactly the same as with a traditional shower head.

Different types of handheld shower heads

Shower heads comes in all shapes and sizes and offer a range of different features right up to light-up models! Let's just say you won't run out of choice. Before selecting your product, you should consider the following characteristics:

Hose diameter

As mentioned, the diameter of the shower hose is generally standard (i.e. with a 1/2" thread). In the majority of cases, the shower hose has a female connector while the shower head is equipped with the corresponding male connector. They are simply screwed together and can be tightened with pliers. The hose is made water tight through the use of rubber or plastic washers on the inside of the hose. You may find that some high-end showers do feature a hose with a different fitting diameter. In these cases, the user has no choice but to purchase the matching part from the same brand, as it will be difficult to fit a standard shower head.


The vast majority of shower heads are made of ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) which is a very tough polymer. It can be moulded into intricate shapes, is rust-proof and very shock-resistant. Beyond these advantages, this material comes in a range of shade options including chrome-plated, coloured and transparent. The price of this material depends on the quality of the polymer. Very occasionally, you may find wooden or metal shower heads but these are becoming increasingly rare.

Flow rate 

This is an essential factor that should never be overlooked! A standard shower head delivers between 12 and 17 litres of water per minute. This offers a very pleasant showering experience as the spray is powerful and wide.

However, it is also possible to find water-saving shower heads which deliver an average of 6 to 8 litres of water per minute. These shower heads use a special system that mixes the water with warm air in order to reduce water usage while offering the same level of comfort provided by a traditional spray.

Style and design

When it comes to shapes, design and colours, all tastes are covered. From round, square, or rectangular heads to even more modern designs to chrome-plating, clear or imitation wood, you are sure to find the perfect shower head for your bathroom! The most important element to look out for, however, is the type of shower bracket on the shower rail which will either be round or cone-shaped.

Spray settings

With different manufacturers battling it out to create the most creative product, a wide a variety of spray settings is now available. In addition to the standard or rainfall mode, look out for the following settings:

  • Aerated spray - a mix of air and water mix combine into a light and pleasant spray;
  • Massage spray - to tone the skin;
  • Pulsating spray - alternates between a massage spray and mist;
  • Mist spray - fine droplets are projected for a gentle, soothing sensation.

Additional shower head features

In terms of additional features, there are so many more options to choose from! Let's take a quick look at some of the shower head features available on the market today.

Flow regulator 

Flow regulators limit the flow rate of your water without changing the temperature – a handy option if you already have a mixer tap in the bathtub!

Water-saving shower head 

A water-saving shower head conserves water by injecting warm air into the stream and provides the same level of comfort as an ordinary shower head.

Anti-limescale shower head 

These shower heads are equipped with silicone nozzles or diffusers making it impossible for limescale to set in. Highly recommended for water networks with hard water which leads to a build up of limescale.

Light up shower head 

LEDs are fitted into the shower head to create your own personal light show. These lights may have a fixed colour or may alternate between multiple colours. They may also send out information; for example, the LED will turn red when the water starts to become too hot, or if your set shower time is up.

Smart shower head

Smart shower heads are becoming increasingly common. Using your smartphone, you can keep an eye on average water consumption, showering length and various other data.
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Guide written by:

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff 118 guides écrits

Jeremy, construction site supervisor, Cardiff

I'm a trained electrician who started off working in large-scale industrial projects. Most of my early career was spent taking on huge electrical installations. I like to think that no job is too big for me, and after all the experience I'd gained, I started managing teams of electricians.

I like to learn on the job, so around ten years ago, I moved into building and construction. As a site manager, I've overseen the building of small residences, sport facilities, and even theatres!

Working with my hands is something I love to do in my free time as well. For four years now, I've been restoring our home in the Welsh countryside. I even built a conservatory for my wife, who loves watching the sheep behind our house.

Whether it's patios, interior design, roofing, plumbing or electricity - I love giving it all a go! I've even made my family DIY converts and together we've built almost everything we have from scratch. My experience, both in the field and in my workshop, has taught me a lot and I'm happy to share what I've learned. No matter how big or small your project is, I'm here to answer your questions and help you choose the right tools and equipment.

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