Creating the best shower experience doesn't require a boatload of cash or oodles of square footage -- just a little planning and a few quality products.
This space-saving setup is found in about 65 percent of American homes, according to research by Delta Faucet Co. Bathers can fill the tub for a relaxing soak or hop in for a quick shower. Upgraded showerhead and a tiled tub surround can add layers of luxury to the basic setup.
A stand-alone shower can be as unique as the homeowner who uses it. Without a tub to dictate the footprint, a shower stall can be designed to fit almost any configuration. Though stand-alone showers have endless design options, they are more expensive and often require additional plumbing.
Prefabricated shower stalls come in a variety of materials and quality levels, from basic models to luxury designer surrounds. Popular and dependable prefabricated stalls are made from fiberglass, tempered glass, or a combination of the two. Manufactured stalls are produced in specific sizes, so you'll need to make sure you have the proper space available. If you are remodeling, make sure the pieces will fit through existing window or door openings.
Custom stalls can be built in any size or configuration and in a variety of materials, including tempered glass, ceramic, porcelain, solid-surfacing, and natural stone. They can be built atop a custom covered waterproof subfloor or a prefabricated subfloor, called a shower pan.
Get tips for getting a clean shower without a lot of scrubbing.
If you opt for a glassed-in shower, you have two options: framed or frameless. Showers constructed with metal framing use thinner (1/8- to 3/16-inch) tempered, polished safety-glass panels that are joined together with very little metal. While you'll pay about 50 percent more initially for a frameless shower, the lack of trim pieces makes the glass easier to clean, and there's nothing to rust. Also, the expanses of glass keep the look of your bath uninterrupted.
Adequate storage is often overlooked when it comes to planning a new shower. Add at least three cubbies inside the stall for bathing supplies to ensure that all of your space needs are fulfilled.
A shower seat should be 17-19 inches high and 15 inches deep, and it must not infringe on the minimum interior size of the shower. This wall-mount teakwood seat provides a spot to relax in the shower. When not in use, it tilts up and out of the way.
When it comes to showerheads, standard wall-mount units are the most economical option but are the least versatile. Models that offer a range of sprays are your best bet. While a single showerhead is standard in most homes, more showers now feature a combination of showerheads, bringing maximum versatility. After deciding how many fixtures you want in your shower, determine which spray heads fit your needs and the best placement for each. Remember, the more showerheads you have, the more water you use.
Wall-mount fixtures are the most common type of showerhead, and basic models are very affordable. Look for models with a multispray option so you can adjust the flow from a heavy pulse to a light mist.
If you like a vigorous shower experience, consider a shower with sprays installed at various levels on opposite or adjacent walls. Such placement creates a crisscross water massage between the shoulders and knees.
Ceiling-mount showerheads, also commonly called rain-style showerheads, are generally more expensive. They also require additional plumbing. The payoff is a soothing flow of water that envelops your whole body.
These showers enable you to hold the sprayer and direct the flow of water, a handy advantage when it comes to washing your hair, rinsing off, or scrubbing the shower enclosure. This one comes equipped with a 3- to 6-foot-long gooseneck hose.
New shower systems do more than just clean -- they provide a spa experience in your bathroom. A shower panel with water jets arranged vertically from neck to knee level can be installed on your existing shower wall. This model features a showerhead with a fold-out shoulder shower, a handheld shower, five body sprays with massage function, and a fold-out, anti-slip foot rest.
The handheld shower on this system slides up and down on a bar mounted to the wall. A sliding device is a good option when the shower is used by people of varying heights, such as in a family bathroom.
The legal standard water flow rate for showerheads is 2.5 gallons per minute. Today's low-flow models -- showers with a flow rate of less than 2.5 gpm -- do just as good a job of cleaning as their more water-consuming counterparts. Showerhead spray options make a difference, too. Fine sprays or gentle pulses use less water than vigorous massage sprays. Aerated showerheads mix air with water as it passes through, and the resulting flow feels just as invigorating -- but it uses up to 60 percent less water.
While a showerhead installed to flush to the ceiling is limited to a 2.5 gpm flow rate per shower spray, a bath faucet mounted to the ceiling doesn't have a flow restriction. To be sure, always check local codes and regulations before installing any plumbing fixtures.