Showerhead Buying Guide

Today, with hundreds of models of showerheads available, a homeowner has many choices. Here are some considerations to contemplate as you think about a showerhead purchase.

If you’re simply replacing an aging, boring, or malfunctioning showerhead, you may approach your purchase differently than if you’re redecorating the bathroom and planning to use coordinated fixtures. Standalone showerheads are available for as little as 20 US Dollars (USD) or more than 500 USD, while showerheads can also be part of a tub set that sells for over 1000 USD.

The less expensive showerheads often have less style and finish choices, with the main focus being the variety of spray types offered. Showerheads that are a bit more costly are often available in a variety of styles and finishes, often including choices such as chrome, stainless, aged pewter, brass, bronze, nickel, gold, platinum, wrought iron, etc., allowing you to match existing fixtures. Not every fixture comes in every possible finish, so if you are trying to match other fixtures, check carefully.

When sold as part of a collection, the showerhead will typically come with the pressure balancing valve or with the valve and tub fixtures (which may include body spray nozzles and a handshower). Matching sink and lavatory fixtures may be available, as well as toilet paper holder, mirror with decorative hardware, towel bars and rings, tank lever, and/or shelving, all in a matching style and finish.

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head

Showerheads deliver water in a variety of ways. There are mounted showerheads, handhelds, jetted sprays, and oscillating shower panels, not to mention combinations, which often include from two to eight choices, depending on the brand and model. Showerheads, handhelds, and jet sprays can have multiple heads, sometimes capable of being programmed differently. Showerheads and handhelds also vary in the patterns of water delivery, with systems including various massage options, full spray, jet spray, mist, rainshower and waterfall simulations, and combinations of all these choices.

If you are considering any kind of a showerhead with options, check to see how the choices are made. Often a lever, button, or dial is used to set the changes, and this device should be designed so that it is easy to reach and to operate with wet and/or soapy hands for everyone who will be using it.

home institute 1 Jet spray and other body spray fixtures are associated with spa sets, while handhelds are very useful for bathing children or pets, as well as useful for cleaning the shower/tub area. Anti-clogging nozzles can help make cleaning the showerhead itself easier, especially if hard water deposits tend to clog it. Showerheads made from a material other than metal (for example, plastic) are easier to clean deposits from. Mounted showerheads may be available on an adjustable arm that can be changed to suit the height of the person showering.

Some Like It Hot

Since 1992, by law, all showerheads that are manufactured in the United States must restrict water flow to 2.5 (9.5 liters) gallons per minute or less. (This is down from the prior level of 4.5 gallons (17 liters) of water per minute.) As a result, many showerheads developed since that time aerate the water flow in order to provide a fuller spray. Unfortunately, this practice also lowers the water temperature. Since safety recommendations suggest setting the house water temperature on the hot water heater no higher than 120º F, if you like really hot showers, you may wish to avoid aerating showerheads.


Less expensive showerheads are usually designed to be easily installed by the homeowner. Some installations require a large enough area so that all the water remains inside the shower/tub. These include rainshower heads, which may work best directly overhead, and jetheads, which stream water horizontally. These, and other choices, may require professional mounting and in-wall plumbing changes, which makes the cost of installation an additional consideration. You may also wish to consult a plumber before purchasing any showerhead that requires consistent high water pressure to operate properly in order to make sure your plumbing is up to the task.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

Related Home Institute Articles

  • Introduction to Showerheads
  • Water Conservation in the Bathroom
  • Introduction to Bathroom Sinks
  • Introduction to Bathtubs
  • Introduction to Bathroom Lighting
  • Toilet Buying Guide
  • Introduction to Bathroom Sink Faucets