With modern life being so hectic it is no small wonder that showers have become an essential part of most people’s daily routine. A bath offers the chance for a long relaxing soak but not everybody has the time for such and indulgence especially on a daily basis.
Looking to install a shower in your home? Or are considering upgrading your existing shower? Then we have plenty of help, advice and information to guide you through the buying process.
There will be different consideration depending on what you are looking to achieve. We will start with the most straightforward option – a shower over the bath.
Shower Over The Bath
If you currently do not have a shower then the simplest solution will be to install a shower over your bath.
You will need to select the delivery method for your shower water. And then choose something to keep the shower water from splashing outside the shower area.
The options for installing a shower:
- a bath shower mixer
- wall mounted shower mixer
- an electric shower
- a power shower
Bath Shower Mixer
A bath shower mixer is usually the easiest and cheapest option. This consist of a bath tap with a diverter. This is a lever that switches the water flow up a shower hose to the shower head.
You need to ensure that both the hot and cold feed to your bath shower mixer are the same pressure. So if your hot water is tank pressure but your cold water is mains pressure you might have problems getting the water to mix. If you have a combi boiler your water pressures will be more or less equal.
Wall mounted mixer showers will require the same balanced water supplies. Although there are some mixers on the market that will handle uneven pressure.
These valves are mounted on the wall. They will require new pipework being run into them. This can sometime be achieved without any redecoration. For example if there is an airing cupboard behind the wall where the pipes can be routed out of site.
Or you could run the pipes on the surface – a little unsightly but a quick and easy solution.
Otherwise you will be looking at burying the pipework in the shower wall and then re-decorating to cover up the affected area.
Electric showers just require mains pressure cold water run into them. They also need a large electrical cable be run from the shower right the way back to your main circuit board.
These showers draw a lot of current and need to installed by a qualified electrician. They are quite cheap to buy and economical to run as they only heat the water that you use. Electric showers run independently of your heating system so will continue to work if you have your boiler breaks down or is shut off.
Although a power shower will require an electrical cable fed to it, it does not heat the water. That is still undertaken by your heating system. A power shower is basically a mixer shower and a pump and there are two distinct types:
- integral power showers
- composite power showers
An integral power shower looks like an electric shower in that it is a box that fits on the wall. The pump and mixer are housed within the casing. There is a separate slider rail kit that will be used for the shower hose and shower head.
A composite shower shower is a mixer shower (as described previously) plus a separate pump.
This option will usually be more expensive. But it does give you more choice with regard to how your set-up will look and perform.
You could choose a recessed shower valve with a fixed shower head. This will provide a very neat appearance. You can choose the power of the pump that best suits you. Body jets and drench shower heads are other options.
But make sure your heating system is up to the task. Powerful shower pumps can get through an awful lot of water.
Bath Shower Screen Or Shower Curtain?
This is a tricky question as both have quite a few drawbacks.
In general a shower screen look more modern and will be easier to keep clean. But single panel screens are permanently in place so they can male the room feel smaller.
A shower curtain can be pulled back and stowed. A towel ring on the wall is ideal for keeping things neat and making the room feel open. But shower curtains get grubby and can develop mould. Many are machine washable – something you should look out for when buying a shower curtain.
Bath shower screens are available in a wide variety of shapes and designs. The simplest and cheapest is the hinged, single pane screen. We would recommend getting a frameless, clear screen because this has the least visible impact in the room.
Folding shower screens can be stowed so can help make your bathroom feel more open. Some people find that they sometimes leak at the joints. This is more pronounced once they get worn. This type of screen covers a bigger percentage of the bath length than a fixed screen. But it will still fall short of the coverage provided by a shower curtain.
Less common are full, sliding screens. These will have a track fitted on the bath surface and ceiling and will cover the full length of the bath. They are ideal if you are using a power shower as curtains don’t cope well with high pressure water. And fixed screens don’t cover enough of the bath area.
If you prefer a shower and rarely use your bath then you could always remove it and install a luxury cubicle instead. Of course if you have the room you could always install both a bath and a shower cubicle.
There are arguments on both sides as to whether it is wise to completely remove a bath from your home. It mainly boils down to whether if it will affect the re-sale value of your home. We have an article with the pros and cons here – bath v shower
If you are going to install a shower cubicle then you need to consider a few issues.
How Big Should my Shower Cubicle Be?
We would suggest as big as possible but not so large that it looks out of proportion in the room.
Quadrant cubicles work really well in smaller bathrooms. The corner always curves away from your line of sight making the room feel more open.
There are cubicles as small as 700 x 700 mm but these are very restrictive even if you are not particularly tall. It is best to visit a showroom and physically stand in anything this small to check if it is actually useable.
Let’s Talk About Drainage
Not the most glamourous of topics but one that is vitally important.
You need to work out which way you will duct the water out of your shower.
If the shower is being fitted upstairs on wooden floorboards you might be able to run the pipes between the joists. If you are unlucky and the joist run the wrong way for you then the shower tray will need to be raised up off the floor. The pipes are then run underneath.
The raised height is a disadvantage but it does at least mean that you might be able to gain access to the pipes should you encounter any problems.
The size of the waste pipes and design of the shower waste also needs careful consideration.
As mentioned above, power showers can pump out a lot of water in a short time. If your pipework is too small the shower tray will start to fill up when you use it. And the current trend for shower rays to be as shallow as possible makes this doubly important.
What Shower Doors Should I Use?
This depends on available space and your own personal taste.
In general, hinged or pivot doors cause the least problems. Their simple mechanism is long lasting. And there are no rollers to break or channels to gunge up with soap residue. But they open out into the room so can cause design problems in small bathrooms. If the door is not fitted with a drip guard at the bottom they can also cause the bathroom floor to get wet when the door opens.
Sliding doors can be used if you are pushed for space. These do not open out into the room. This enables you to install other components nearer to the shower than would otherwise be possible. They use rollers and channels which can cause problems over time. Check if spare rollers are available when you buy the doors. If they are, buy them at the same time. Designs change over time and you might not be able to get hold of them in future years.
Bifold doors that open into the cubicle are fine in a large enclosure but can hinder entry in smaller units especially if you are not small yourself. Again, this is worth testing in physical world if possible.
What Type Of Shower Mixer Works Best In A Shower Enclosure
Basically, any shower will work well in an enclosure.
Power showers are much better suited to use in cubicles than in an over-bath situation.
Other than that, follow the same guidelines as above and select from mixer shower, electric shower or power shower.