Thinking of changing your shower head for a quick bathroom upgrade? Here’s everything you need to about the different types of shower heads available out there before diving in.
We sometimes underestimate the importance of a shower head. Most of us may not even consider changing the shower head that comes with the property we’ve purchased. Buying the right one can truly make a world of difference to your shower experience.
If you think about it, showering is an important daily ritual so surely this requires a little thought from us. There are many different types of shower heads in the market that can be a torrent of tantalizing options.
With so many options to choose from, you need to first understand the difference between a shower set and a shower system before you can decide which style of shower head is best suited for you and your budget.
Shower Set vs Shower System
A shower set comprises a shower head and the valve that controls the flow of water, and (in some versions) a rain shower. A shower set with a mixer shower tap combines cold and hot water in a valve before it is sent to the shower head and allows you to control the water temperature via a control lever.
A shower system is made up of a different combination of a shower head, a hand shower, a bath and shower faucets. In more luxurious settings, it may include a steam shower, wall jets, and built-in light or sound system to recreate a spa-worthy bathroom at home.
Now that we understand the differences between a shower set and a shower system, let’s focus on the main component—the shower head.
1. Do all shower heads fit any shower?
In a way, yes. There is technically no real reason why you cannot install a specific shower head in your bathroom. A plumber should be able to easily sort that out for you.
However, you should consider other factors when installing your shower head.
For example, if your bathroom has a low ceiling and you are a very tall person, you may not want to have a wall-mounted shower unless you plan to squat every time you want to wash your hair. Think about the shower space you’re working with when you’re deciding the type of shower head you want to use.
2. Can you replace only the shower head?
Yes, you can in most cases, assuming if you’re looking at the same type of shower head. To be safe, measure the size of the connecting end to your own shower to ensure it fits. This is because some imported shower heads may be designed for a connector that is a different size from the ones commonly used in Malaysia.
3. Does it matter what shower head you get?
Ultimately, any shower head works, but it is only when you have experienced the right one that you truly know how much better the shower experience it can be. This is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It really depends on the kind of thing you are looking for when performing this relatively mundane activity that we do every day.
Handheld shower head: The one where you can pretend to be Freddie Mercury
Let’s face it, handheld shower heads are always the most popular option because we love singing in the shower, and honestly, that is just not the same without a ‘mic’ aka showerhead. Singing into a wall-mounted one will make you sound like you’re being drowned and singing under a rain shower will make you feel like a wannabe. A handheld shower though, that one will have you feeling like a rock star.
Plus having a handheld shower just feels more practical. You can wash those hard-to-reach areas a wall-mounted or rain shower may struggle to get to. You can use it to wash stains off the walls and your shower glass, wash soap stains around the corners and shoot mosquitoes if one is flying around you. The sky’s the limit. And let’s not forget ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’.
Mineral enhanced shower head: The one with the feature you can show off
If you have spent a good part of your life growing up and being relatively concerned by the unhealthy chemicals and bacteria that are in our water supply, then you are in luck. You can get yourself a mineral-enhanced shower head that is basically a shower head with a mineral filter inside. It will help remove chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals, chemicals, and harmful bacteria from the water you are showering with.
Get a mineral-enhanced shower head where you can visibly see the filter beads.
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Rain shower head: The one with the hands-free option
Rain showers have become all the rage in the last decade or so. It is often seen as a luxury treatment when it comes to showers. I suppose the feeling one gets when stepping under a rain shower is likened to fairies pouring refreshing and rejuvenating waters to wash away accumulated grime.
There’s something special about water coming directly from the top and cocooning you in that it just feels relaxing. Then again, if you are living in Malaysia, you can also step out of your house in the evening during the Monsoon season to get that same feeling. If you enjoy high flow showers, a rain shower head may not be what you are looking for. They tend to have a softer flow.
Wall-mounted shower head: The one for no-frills people
Wall-mounted shower heads may feel a little plain and understated these days, but they do provide ease of maintenance, easy-to-use comfort, and the best pressure. There is also no need to concern yourself with hand-held shower head mounts that loosen and fall apart over time.
If you’ve been watching too much of ‘The Crown’ and feel a little fanciful, you can get one of those that allows you to switch streams – now you are really in business. The only trick is that you must set it at a height where it’s not too high that you can’t reach for the head if you need to adjust the stream or too low that you must do a wall-sit to wash your hair. Then again, that might be a way to sneak in some exercise.
Dual shower heads: The one for people who are super ‘kiasu’
If you are at your wit’s end trying to decide between a handheld shower head or a wall-mounted shower head, fret not, because there is a thing called dual shower heads.
Buying one that is a combo between a wall-mounted and handheld shower head will give you the joys of high flow. Plus. if you buy one that has a dual flow function, it means that you can have a detachable handheld unit to get to those difficult places without losing the flow that comes from the wall-mounted unit. Not great for the environment, but great for washing off after a long day.
4. Do different shower heads affect water pressure?
If you want to be technical about it, then the answer is no. A shower head cannot give you better water pressure. However, if you are struggling with poor water pressure, some shower heads can help. Certain shower head settings can give you the feeling as if the water pressure feels better.
5. How expensive is it to replace a shower head?
There are really budget shower heads costing less than RM10 for a no-brand one from China to the astronomical, over RM3,000 for brass plated one with a thermostatic mixer. Just to give you a better idea, IKEA’s shower heads range from RM19.90 for just the shower head to RM599 for a head/hand combo with a diverter. So, there is really a shower head for everyone.
If you are just replacing the shower head and you know the connector fits, then it is probably something you can DIY. However, if you are planning on installing a wall-mounted dual shower head, then you may need a plumber to assist you, especially if you need to drill into tiles. This should cost you between RM200 – RM400.
However, if you plan to relocate your shower to another part of your bathroom because where it is now is not the most efficient for you, then this could cost a lot more. It may involve work such as hacking walls, relocating pipes and retiling walls. If you are planning to do this then you would be looking at a total budget that would start at no less than RM4,000, depending on how extensive the work involved is and how large is your bathroom space.
Note: This estimation is based on an average-sized bathroom in a condominium with basic iterations of each job. Should the size of the bathroom or complexity of work increase or decrease, the cost will vary.
Summary of cost:
Cost of shower head: RM300 (average)
Basic workmanship to install a shower head: RM300 (average)
Cost of shower head: RM300 (average)
Hacking, tiling and wetworks: RM2,000
New plumbing and piping: RM2,000
As you can see, there is quite a bit to consider when picking out a shower head that works for you. That said, spending some time to pick out the right one can be the difference between a daily drudging shower and you zooming into one with zest every day.
READ MORE: Shower vs bathtub: The big bathroom decision