A one-stop guide to your bathroom’s most complex piece of kit
23 July 2019| Last updated on 19 January 2020
All Credits: PA
There are few things more satisfying than working up a sweat in the gym, before popping home for a relaxing soak in the shower.
Conversely, there’s few things more annoying than stepping into the shower – and finding it intemperate, malfunctioning, or just plain bad.
It’s probably fair to say that the average Brit logs roughly 48 hours in the shower every year (based on the assumption you shower daily for the frequently-cited eight-minute average). So whether you’re renovating, restructuring, or simply replacing, it’s well worth getting it right.
Here’s how to navigate this tricky bathroom buy, from pumped-up power shower to the feel of falling rain…
A functional item first and foremost, a new shower comes with a host of technical and structural considerations you’ll need to take stock of in advance.
First, you need to determine your home’s water pressure, as a cutting-edge, many-nozzled power shower will be reduced to a trickle without the water pressure to back it up. There are ways to do this yourself, but we recommend calling in a professional. When plumbing goes wrong, it goes really wrong, so if you don’t already know how to do it – don’t.
A variable amenity
You might think there’d be only so many ways of ejecting water through a nozzle, but depending on preference and plumbing, there’s a whole host of different models and methodologies.
First, there’s your run-of-the-mill mixer shower: An easy-to-install, all-purpose design that combines hot and cold water to reach the desired temperature. It’s simple but effective, and requires independent hot and cold water supplies.
Add a splash of modernity with a thermostatic mixer, which comes with a valve used to closely control temperature. You can add a pump for systems struggling with low pressure.
Alternatively, try an electric or power shower. Electric models are essentially in-built water heaters, that rapidly warm water on the way to the shower head. Economical, because it only heats what you use, these showers can function without an independent hot water supply.
In normal parlance, ‘power shower’ just means ‘powerful shower’, but technically the term refers to a unit with an integrated pump that boosts flow with both hot and cold.
Showers have a rep for saving water, but some modern high-impact power showers can outstrip the average bath in less than five minutes. Eco-conscious consumers should consider water-saving, ‘aerated’ shower heads, which preserve water by injecting the flow with air.
For next-level washing, you can opt for a digital shower, which maintains the balance of temperatures with an electronic processor, generally controlled from a nearby panel.
The classic modern shower is chrome-coloured and shiny, made up of sleek, straight-lined, angular shapes, and goes well in minimalist, white-washed bathrooms decorated with marble or textured tile.
Traditional shower heads tend to value elegance. Think circular ‘watering can’ styles, exposed fittings, vintage valves and ceramic handles. While chrome can be integrated into a classic look, more luxurious builds have expanded into brass, nickel and even gold.
Naturally, you can mix old and new at your leisure, and your best bet is to embark on some window shopping.
For those looking for more from their bathroom routine, there’s a variety of high-end designs to make your morning wash experience a bit more bespoke.
Particularly popular right now are ‘rain showers’ – huge, flat, ceiling-mounted (usually) units that deluge the showerer with vertical streams of water. No prizes for guessing where they get their name.
Inevitably, in the era of remote-controlled toasters and voice-activated toilets, there are also smart shower options that can integrate with household AI. Take, for instance, the SmarTap, which warms up automatically in line with your routine, and can be programmed to stop after a set amount of time. It can also warm your towel rail.
At the very pinnacle of luxury, there are even showers with horizontal body jets lined up down the walls. Expect a bill in the thousands – and that might just be for installation.
Last but not least, remember the most important bathroom accessory of all… A well-chosen rubber ducky.