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9 Types of Shower Heads (with Pros and Cons)

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Whether you're remodeling your bathroom or simply looking to purchase a new showerhead, it's important to know you have options. There's a variety of different types of shower heads to choose between, and whichever one you select will provide you with a unique shower experience.

Although the are many types of shower faucets on the market, the two most common showerhead types are the fixed and handheld, but as you'll see, there are many variations of these available that add additional features. This article will explore the pros and cons of each type to help you determine the right showerhead for your needs.


Woman showering with a handheld showerhead

Types of Showerheads

A showerhead has the ability to impact the design, functionality, temperature, and water flow of your shower, so it's worth spending some time to make the right choice. Here are the nine of most common shower faucet styles on the market.

Speakman, Polished Chrome S-2005-HB Hotel Anystream High Pressure Shower Head-2.5 GPM Adjustable Replacement Bathroom Showerhead

Fixed Showerhead

A fixed showerhead, also known as a wall-mount shower head, is the most common style you'll find in the bathroom. These showerheads are attached to a shower arm and are permanently mounted to the wall. 

The angle of the head can be moved to allow you to change the water spray direction. Although a true fixed showerhead doesn't have additional features, many of the other types, such as low and high pressure heads can be attached to the shower arm.

The low initial cost and wide variety of spray patterns make fixed showerheads a popular choice. In addition, they're available in both round and square designs, as well as different metals. 

With so many choices, you shouldn't have a problem finding one that matches your bathroom dećor and personal preferences.

Pros

  • Even if you add premium features, a fixed shower head is typically the most affordable option
  • Because a fixed shower head is secured to the wall, they tend to be less likely to break or develop leaks
  • With so many options to choose between it's easy to find one that matches your bathroom's aesthetic
  • Easy and straightforward installation

Cons

  • Unable to adjust the height, which can be less than pleasant for taller or shorter family members
  • Not a great option for individuals with disabilities who take showers from a seated position
  • If you're looking to give your shower a "spa-like" feel, a fixed shower head typically isn't the way to go
HOPOPRO NBC News Recommended Brand 6-Mode Handheld Shower Head Set, High Pressure Shower Head With Handheld Replacement Tool-free Installation with 4.33 Inch Shower Panel

Handheld Showerhead

A handheld showerhead is attached to a long, flexible hose giving the user a lot of flexibility to change the direction of the water spray. The showerhead itself sits in a holder which allows it be used in a fixed position like wall-mounted showerheads, or, when removed from the holder it can be held in your hand.

Some models use a magnet to secure the handset when it's in the mount. Most models have a variety of spray pattern options that can be dialed in place. Some common spray patterns are rain, massage, and mist, among others.

The hose and mount of the handheld showerhead is typically connected to the shower pipe which makes it very easy to install.

Pros

  • Excellent choice for bathing kids or pets, as well as cleaning because the showerhead is freely moved by hand. If the hose is 84-inches or longer it is considered ADA compliant
  •  Wide price range. There are many budget friendly models to choose between, but you can also find higher end models
  • As a general rule, handheld models use less water than wall-mounted showerheads
  • There are several types of mounting systems. Some use a clip type of docking mount and others are magnetic. You can even purchase a suction cup mount that's excellent for lowering the shower head for seated individuals

Cons

  • It's not uncommon for the hoses of lower end models to develop leaks
  • Typically handheld models do not last as long as fixed showerheads

A good example of a handheld showerhead is this one from HOPOPRO

Rain Shower Head with 11'' Adjustable Arm, NearMoon High Pressure Stainless Steel Rainfall Showerhead, Ultra-Thin Design - Pressure Boosting (8-Inch Shower Head with Arm, Chrome)

Rainfall Shower Head

The rainfall showerhead, or sometimes called overhead shower, positions the shower head directly over your head to allow the water spray to gently fall on the user. The showerhead attaches to an arm which can be mounted either on the ceiling or the wall.

Rainfall showerheads have a low flow rate, and the larger showerhead provides a relaxing and gentle shower that closely matches standing in a warm rain shower.

In most cases, rainfall showerheads only have one spray setting, but there are a few higher-end units that offer a rinse setting with more force.

If you're not sure you want to fully commit to a rainfall shower, you can purchase a model that also offers a handheld shower head. These tend to be more expensive, but they're an excellent option if you want to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Near Moon has a nice rainfall showerhead, but there are plenty of others to choose between.

Pros

  • In most cases installation is relatively easy
  • Provides a luxurious, spa-like experience
  • Hands-free showering regardless of sitting or standing
  • Modern and stylish 

Cons

  • Not suitable for all showers due to the height requirements
  • Requires 90° installation which makes them difficult to install in some showers
  • More expensive than fixed shower heads and many handhelds
AquaDance 7" Premium High Pressure 3-Way Rainfall Combo with Stainless Steel Hose – Enjoy Luxurious 6-setting Rain Shower Head and Hand Held Shower Separately or Together – Brushed Nickel Finish

Dual Showerhead

As the name implies, a dual showerhead has 2 showerheads both running off the same pipe. In most cases, the handheld showerhead will be smaller, and the larger head is wall-mounted or mounted to the pipe itself. Either way, it's in a fixed position with limited movement.

Dual showerheads are a popular choice because they provide a wider water flow over a larger area at multiple angles. Plus, you'll have the freedom to direct the shower spray by hand.

Another advantage with dual showerheads are the choices available. Some have a rainfall showerhead as the wall-mounted unit, and a multiple setting handheld head. This one from Veken is a good example.

It's important to note that some dual shower heads allow you to use both the fixed and handheld heads at the same time, while others, require you to choose between one or the other. 

Pros

  • Provides the best of both worlds because you can enjoy a fixed mounted and a hand mounted showerhead
  • Wide range of options when purchasing
  • Gives your shower a spa-like feel
  • The handheld unit makes this an excellent choice for kids, pets, or seated users

Cons

  • More expensive
  • Because there are more parts, there are more opportunities for damage and leaks
Speakman S-2252 Signature Icon Anystream Adjustable High Pressure Shower Head-1.75 GPM Solid Brass Replacement Bathroom Showerhead, Polished Chrome, 2.5

Low-Pressure Showerhead

If you're looking for a water-saving, eco-friendly shower head, then you should consider installing a low-pressure showerhead. The water travels through a flow reducer to decrease the water pressure. Low-pressure showerheads also tend to have more holes and sometimes even use special sized holes to help lower the water pressure.

Low pressure showerheads can also be helpful if your home has high water pressure and you're looking to make your shower more enjoyable.

The typical residential showerhead delivers 2.0 GPM (gallons per minute), with a maximum flow rate of 2.5 GPM. The current standard for a low-flow shower head is 1.8 GPM, but you can find some even lower.

Generally speaking, if you take a 10-minute shower with a low-flow showerhead you'll use 18 gallons of water compared to 25 gallons. That's a savings of 7-gallons of water! Now consider how many showers you take a week, a month, a year.

Low-pressure showerheads are available as a fixed showerhead and handheld models. Even though they use less water, they're still able to deliver an excellent shower experience.

This showerhead by Speakman is an excellent example a low pressure showerhead.

Pros

  • Reduces water use which will lower your monthly water bill
  • Decreases the cost of heating water since less water will be used
  • Wide range of prices with many budget friendly options

Cons

  • Water cools faster than regular showerheads because it is mixed with air
  • Takes longer for the showerhead to deliver hot water
  • Most low-flow showerheads have a way to adjust the water pressure, but some do not which can make for a less than desirable shower experience
HO2ME High Pressure Handheld Shower Head with Powerful Shower Spray against Low Pressure Water Supply Pipeline, Multi-functions, w/ 79 inch Hose, Bracket, Flow Regulator, Chrome Finish

High-Pressure Showerhead

A high-pressure showerhead is designed to deliver a powerful spray by maximizing the flow of water through the shower head.

The maximum flow rate of a residential showerhead is 2.5 GPM, so unless you tamper with your showerhead, the flow rate should not be above this level. However, a great deal of design goes into optimizing the force of the water while minimizing the amount of flow restriction.

If you enjoy a high-pressure shower, then this is the type of showerhead you should purchase. HO2ME is a good example of a high-pressure showerhead.

Pros

  • Improved temperature control since there's less lag time when adjusting the faucet
  • Strong water flow
  • Typically there's more spray options available, such as massage, pulsating, etc.

Cons

  • Uses more water which will increase your water bill and cost of heating water
  • Not suitable for areas where water is in short supply 
  • Does not meet flow requirements in some states such as California
DELTA FAUCET 51361-SS Hand Shower 1.75 GPM w/Slide Bar 4S Handshower, Stainless

Slide Bar Showerheads

These stylish and function showerheads consist of two components: A handheld showerhead and a slide bar. The showerhead typically sits into a mount that's attached to the vertically mounted slide bar.

The beauty of using a slide bar showerhead is that it can be customized for any height. Simply turn the knob on the mount and slide the showerhead up or down until you find the perfect position, then give the knob a twist to lock it into position. And if you want a little more flexibility, the showerhead can be used as a handheld unit.

Delta Faucet makes a nice slide bar showerhead.

Pros

  • Great for showering when you don't want to get your hair wet
  • Stylish design that's extremely functional
  • Excellent for kids, seated bathers, and cleaning

Cons

  • Can be dangerous. Not all slide bar models and installations are designed to be used as grab bars. If this is what you need, it's important that your shower is ADA compliant. Be sure to purchase a unit that's rated as a grab bar and it's a good idea to have it professionally installed
Blue Ocean 52” Aluminum SPA33D Shower Panel Tower with Rainfall Shower Head, 8 Mist Nozzles, and Tub Spout

Shower Panels

Shower panels are also called body spas or body mist showers. They're a single shower system that's installed to the shower wall. Jets or misters create a soothing and massaging spray, while an overhead showerhead ensures total body coverage.

Most shower panels have either a standard or a rain showerhead as the primary showerhead. Although each system is configured differently, many utilize a handheld showerhead and several other jets or mist nozzles. 

Because there's more going on with shower panels, they're more expensive than most showerheads. However, a shower panel is a budget friendly alternative to installing a ceramic tile shower. In addition, they give your shower a stylish look and superb user experience.

Blue Ocean makes a sharp looking and functional shower panel. But if you're considering installing a shower panel, you may want to talk with a plumber to see if you'll need to make any plumbing modifications.

Pros

  • Many units connect to existing plumbing which makes them relatively easy to install
  • Typically suitable for seated bathers, especially if you have one with a handheld showerhead
  • Wide range of materials and showerhead configurations 

Cons

  • More expensive than a standard high-end showerhead
  • May not be suitable for low pressure plumbing
  • May require plumbing modifications
 

Consult with a Local Plumber

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Filtered Shower Head, 3 Modes High Pressure Shower Head with 15 Stage Hard Water Shower Filter Cartridge for Remove Chlorine and Harmful Substances

Filtered Showerheads

If you live in an area with hard water and find you're struggling with clogged nozzles on your showerhead, you may want to consider purchasing a filtered showerhead to help reduce limescale build-up. 

Filtered showerheads have a built-in filter which removes the minerals and chlorine from the hard water before the water passes through the nozzles. Most have a cartridge that can be swapped out periodically. These types of showerheads are available in nearly every style. 

However, if you'd prefer, you can purchase a filter unit that attaches between the pipe and a non-filtered showerhead. These are a popular choice because you can choose any showerhead and still filter your shower water. 

An example of a filtered showerhead is this one from MXBOLD.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Helps prevent dry skin and hair damage
  • Budget friendly solution to hard water and chlorine issues

Cons

  • Cartridge replacement can get expensive
  • Not all filters remove hard water minerals
  • Whole house systems are typically a better solution for areas with very hard water
Woman taking a shower using a handheld showerhead

Shower Head Buyers Guide

As you can see, there are a lot of options when it comes to choosing the right showerhead. Here are a few things to consider to help you make the right choice.

Water Pressure and Flow

Some states, such as California, have maximum showerhead flow rates that are lower than the federal regulations. It's a good idea to know your states' regulations before purchasing, especially if you buy from an online retailer.

Showerheads measure their flow rate in Gallons Per Minute (GPM), which is how many gallons of water flows through the head each minute. A 2.0 GPM showerhead will deliver 2 gallons of water every minute, which means if you take a 10-minute shower, you'll use 20 gallons of water.

If your home has low water pressure, you'll want to find a showerhead that's designed to maximize the flow rate. There's a variety of ways manufacturers use to do this, but a common method is for the spray holes to be smaller. This increases the pressure of the water coming through the showerhead. 

There's also showerheads designed for homes with high water pressure to help lower the flow rate which makes the shower experience more enjoyable.

Finishes and Head Design

In most cases, you'll want your new showerhead to match the other fixtures in your bathroom. The majority of showerheads come in a variety of finishes which makes matching much easier. 

Here are the most common finishes: Chrome, nickel, brass, stainless steel, bronze, and there's also a variety of colors, such as black or rose, and metallic tones to choose between.

Choose a head design (as covered above) that best meets your shower preferences and bathroom design.

Spray Pattern

Whether you want a simple shower spray, or you're looking for a variety of spray patterns to choose between on a daily basis, there's plenty of options. Here's a few of the more common spray patterns available:

  • Full body spray - This is typically the default spray setting. Each nozzle delivers the water at the same speed and consistency to deliver a wide spray pattern
  • Power spray - This is a more targeted spray since water is delivered from a fewer nozzles. The water will have more force
  • Massage or pulsating spray - Water is delivered from the nozzles in alternating patterns which provides a massage-like experience
  • Rain - Even if you don't purchase a rainfall showerhead, most multiple setting handhelds offer a rain feature that delivers a spray with less force and is excellent for soaking
  • Combination spray - Some handhelds offer settings that use a combination of several different patterns. Such as rain and power spray

Some showerheads even offer a pause option that allows you to stop the water flow.

Flow Rate

Did you know that the average showerhead uses 2.1 gallons of water per minute (GPM)? This makes showers among the highest water guzzlers in your home!

Purchasing a showerhead that's earned the WaterSense label is not only an eco-friendly choice, it'll also save you money in utilities, and, chances are, you won't even notice the difference in your shower experience!

Last update on 2024-06-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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