Personal Showers Buying Guide
Congratulations! You’ve decided to take the plunge and transform your shower. When you’re done, it will be a sacred space for cleansing and rejuvenation…and the possibilities are endless. But with so much to consider on the surface, behind the walls, and even, in other parts of your home, use this guide to help you put the “ahhh” in your spa.
Before we can get to the fun part, there are several things to consider and preparations to make first:
Water output is the most important thing to consider when building a custom shower system. Every spray option you choose adds to the total flow rate produced by the system and your controls/valves need to be sufficient or water pressure will be affected. Water output is measured by a certain number of GPM (gallons per minute) at a certain PSI (pounds per square inch).
- GPM is the amount of water created by each sprayer every 60 seconds.
- PSI is a unit of measure that represents the water pressure of your home. This is not controlled by the shower system; this is generated by the lines in your home connected to the water supply.
Water pressure is another critical factor in a custom shower system. Most standard showers are designed for 30 psi. At least 50 psi is needed for a custom system with 3 or more sprayers. It’s important to measure the PSI in your home before installing a complex system.
Considering a custom shower system has the potential to produce up to 36 gallons of water per minute, drain capacity is another important consideration. Standard showers normally use a single 2″ drain, while custom systems require two 2″ drains or one 3″ drain.
The supply line carries the water from the valve to the sprayer. Standard showers use one supply line to connect one valve to one showerhead. If you currently have a standard shower, your supply line is probably too small for the increased water flow that will be created by a custom system.
On the Surface
Now for the fun part! When you opt for the custom path, you can go as complex or simple as you want with any combination of sprayers:
- Showerheads: mount to the wall, ceiling or on a slide bar; available in a wide variety of spray pattern options.
- Handshowers: hand held with an extra-long, tangle free hose for further water reach; mount to the wall or on a slide bar; available in a wide variety of spray options.
- Body Sprays: massaging shower jets that spray water on targeted body parts; usually mount to a different wall than showerhead and handshower for full body spray experience.
Whether you want a soft mist, a massaging soak or to really make it rain, there are a flood of possibilities. Many sprayers even have multiple spray patterns so you can really pour it on!
- Full Spray
- Full Spray + Massage
- Full Spray + Aerated
- Full Spray + Mist
Volume Control Trim
When you hear volume related to a shower, it’s referring to quantity of water. Volume controls turn the water on/off. The trim consists of a handle or knob and face plate, and is connected to a valve behind the wall (more on this below).
A diverter is needed to get water to each sprayer. Turn on the water via the volume control described above, then use the diverter to select where the water will come out. The trim consists of a handle or knob and face plate, and is connected to a valve behind the wall (more on this below). Custom shower diverters usually have a certain number of pre-set spray options; for example: showerhead only, showerhead and body sprays, handshower and body sprays, etc.
Behind the Walls
Volume Control Valve
Hot and cold lines are run through this valve and it mixes water to maintain a temperature you choose via the trim. You must install a valve with enough capacity to handle the total GPM of all sprayers in your system. Many valves are also equipped with an anti-scald feature.
The mixed water from the volume control valve goes into the diverter valve and is pushed out to the combination of sprayers you’ve selected via the trim.
Around the House
Depending on your hot water demand, you may need to upgrade your water heater. A 50 gallon heater will supply enough hot water for a four sprayer system for just 8 minutes. The recommendation for a custom system is at least a 100 gallon hot water heater.
Put the “Ahhh” in Your Spa
Now it’s time for the REALLY fun part…mapping out your shower oasis!
- It’s important to consider the heights of each person who will use the shower.
- The showerhead should be above the tallest user but not out of reach for shorter users (excluding children).
- The highest body spray is normally set at shoulder or back height. It should not spray horizontally into a user’s face or ears.*
- The middle body spray is normally set at waist or hip level.*
- The lowest body spray is normally set at thigh or knee height.*
- The diverter trim should be around waist height and easily accessible.
- The volume control trim should be slightly above the diverter trim and easily accessible.
* Do not aim body sprays at the shower door.
There is no question: a custom shower system is a big undertaking. It will be more than worthwhile when you’re done, washing away your cares and worries in a truly spectacular space. But given all of the considerations a job of this magnitude requires, we recommend hiring a licensed plumber and contractor to help you create the shower of your dreams.
What’s in Store?
Make us part of your selection process and relish the results.