Guide written by:
Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester
Gone are the days of the single jet shower and its too-short hose, replaced now by showers with a set of hydromassage nozzles. Multi-jet showers can have water savers and anti-lime features. Whether rainfall or jet massage, we’ll help you wrap your head around these shower heads.
- Built-in mixer
What you should look for in a shower set
A shower set is no doubt necessary bathroom equipment, so for use in a shower or bathtub, you're going to need:
- A showerheador handset
- A flexible hose
- A shower bar
You can also install optional accessories with certain types of a bath or a shower. These accessories can be anything from a soap dishto storage shelves.
The shower handset is of variable quality with many models available on the market. Depending on the model you select, they may be a multi-jet and include watersaver, anti-lime, and other features. The hose attached to these handsets is of paramount importance.
You want to make sure that it has sufficient length to accommodate your use but not so long as to become cumbersome or tangled.
Additionally, you want to avoid materials that are prone to wear or breakage as these will limit the lifespan.
The shower column is a more elaborate arrangement that offers built-in hydromassage nozzles. It is sometimes called a hydromassage shower column.
Hand shower, shower hose, shower bar: which should I choose?
The shower head or handset is the flagship product of the shower set. They can be found at all prices and in all forms. Let’s look at the selection criteria:
- Round, square, or rectangular – depending on its shape and the type or arrangement of the nozzles, each shower head does not provide the same water diffusion. Based on their wide availability, round nozzles seem to be the most popular shape.
- Single jet – this is the classic set-up, and with good reason. This simple setup offers steady pressure and good diffusion of water.
- Multi-jet – a range of options help you to select the most comfortable setting. Classic stream, pulsing massage, or jet bubbles, there is a setting for all tastes. Depending on how important this is to you, it may be worth installing one of these models.
- Manufacturing material – predominantly ABS, their quality is very often priced dependent.
- Water saving and anti-lime – options that are found on the most sophisticated shower heads.
- The flow rate – generally between 12 and 16 litres/minute, it is rarely specified.
The shower hose is also of great importance. Whichever model you choose, the basic design is always the same. The shower hose is made of flexible plastic that connects the mixer to the shower head.
This hose may then be sheathed in an outer hose which differs from model to model in material, quality, and design. To choose your shower hose, there are several criteria to consider:
- The dimensions are variable – adapted to different configurations, they are generally between 1.25 m and 2 m. To make the right choice, the length should exceed the height of the tallest person in the family by about 10 cm.
- The materials – there is usually a choice between plastic, brass, and stainless steel. The brass and steel hoses are spiral-shaped, while those in plastic can be smooth. Steel models are intrinsically more resilient than the other materials.
- The shower bar – this must also be the right size. Why? For the comfort of all, young and old alike. Installed at about 110 cm from the ground, it must be accessible and comfortable. If you're installing this as part of a renovation, know that you can find models with adjustable fasteners into any existing holes.
- The handset or shower head – they can be round, square,rectangular, and even star-shaped. They are available in different sizes, up to 50 cm for square models while classic models usually run about 20 cm in diameter. Chrome-plated brass shower heads offer increased strength.
- Lighting or colour therapy – colour affects emotions and well-being, so whether you’re looking for something to give you a little pep in your step in the mornings, a soothing sanctuary, or to indulge your disco fever, installing an LED lighting system will help you set the right mood.
Hydromassage shower columns
The top trend of the moment is the hydromassage columns.
Consisting of the same accessories as the classic column, it offers a panoply of jets fixed to a central column.
Between 4 and 8nozzles direct multiple water jets along your body and, depending on the model, these may be fixed or adjustable.
Hydromassage shower columns offer relaxing or invigorating jets.
The installation of a hydromassageshower column does require a few specifics. It should be a shower cubicle, not a bath, and there should be a shower wall facing opposite the jets to avoid spraying water all over the room.
Shower tap: mixer, mechanical mixer or thermostatic mixer?
When choosing your shower set, on the water supply side, you have a choice between three models of shower taps:
- The manual mixer – this is the classic version where you have a handle for cold water and a handle for hot water. It’s up to you to get the mix right, and this shower mixer is neither economical nor practical.
- The mechanical mixer – allows you to regulate the mix of hot and cold water with a single nozzle. You move the lever from left to right to adjust the temperature and raise it from bottom to top to adjust the flow. The mechanical mixer fits all types of shower set-ups.
- The thermostatic mixer– you pre-set the water temperature precisely (some come set to 38°) via a handle graduated in degrees and flow through another handle. Temperature and flow are controlled independently. Be careful, make sure that your shower can accommodate the thermostatic mixer before you begin to install it as these are not compatible with all models of shower faucets.
What materials make up a shower set?
Shower units are available in a variety of materials, but the specifics depend on the model.
While the choice is usually between metal or synthetic materials, here are a few of the most commonly found options:
- Plastic – usually represented by chrome-plated ABS, it's the most economical and comprises most of the lower-end kits. It's also considered easy to maintain.
- Syntheticresin – these models are very resilient if you can find them.
- Metal – the main material of high-end models. A range of metals can be found, including brushed stainless, stainless steel, chromium plating, aluminium, brass, etc.
Should I use different configurations?
Yes, depending on your needs or desires, you can find a shower set that offers a multitude of features. The high-end models offer a combination of features.
If you’re willing to look, you should be able to find exactly what you want:
- Hydro-massage nozzles
- Color therapy
- Multi-jet shower head
- Thermostatic mixer
- Water saver
And all in premium materials.
One last tip for choosing your shower set
For ease of use, do not forget to check that your pressure and flow systems are compatible.
It's necessary to have a flow of about 15L/minute with a pressure of 3 bars. Pressure below 2 bars is too low to be functional and pressure above 5 bars is too high and require a pressure reducer to be installed.
What is the risk if the pressure is too low? You will not be able to use more than one water point at a time. While this seems like a small concern it becomes extremely inconvenient and problematic very quickly.
Our bathroom guides
For do-it-yourselfers in the middle of a full bathroom renovation or for the curious, follow the advice of our expert editors and discover their Guides:
- How to arrange your bathroom
- How to choose your bathroom furniture
- How to choose a spa bath
- How to choose your spa
- How to choose your sauna
- How to choose your bathtub
- How to choose a shower cabin
- How to choose a shower tray
- How to choose a shower door and wall
- How to choose a bathroom sink
- How to choose your bathroom faucet
- How to choose your electric towel warmer
- How to choose your bathroom accessories
- How to choose your bidet
Guide written by:
Julie, Interior Designer, Manchester, 22 guides
After years of DIY, renovation, designing, I decided to turn my passion into my career. Starting in 2006, in the South-West, I helped people with renovation or contruction projects. My expertise and my curiosity led me to look further into innovative ideas for myself and my clients. Indeed, to live your passion is also to transform the space you live in and the objects you use daily. My family love my creations and ideas that I bring into their lives! My favourite thing to do: use colour to brighten up interior space. But also tips to hide away clutter. Your home is just never big enough, is it? It is thus a great pleasure to share my tips with you, so that you also can take as much pleasure as I do when starting up your next project!