Custom showers can help transform any bathroom into a rejuvenating, spa-like retreat. With so many options in style and functionality, your bath can be completely customized to create the shower experience you are looking for.
There are two stages of a shower system’s installation. The first stage, or the “rough-in” stage, is when the plumbing parts, pipes, and valves are installed. Essentially, everything behind the wall that you’ll never see. The second stage of installation comes after the wall is hung and includes all the parts that you do see, referred to as the “trim”.
A trim kit will include the shower head and arm as well as any control handles, body jets, handheld showers, and slide bars included in the system you select. Any piece that has a decorative finish is part of the trim kit. The important thing to note is that not all shower valves are sold with the trim kit included and vice versa. They are often sold separately, so make sure that the rough-in components and the trim pieces that you choose are compatible with each other. If you are unsure or need some help, consult with your contractor or a customer service representative to ensure you’re getting everything you need.
Thermostatic Shower Valves
A thermostatic valve mixes hot and cold water to ensure constant, safe outlet temperatures and prevent scalding. These mixing valves compensate for variations in both the temperature and pressure of the incoming water supplies to maintain a temperature that is within 1 degree Celsius of the selected temperature.
Along with providing immediate response to temperature fluctuation, thermostatic mixing valves also allow high temperature storage, thereby reducing bacteria growth. The constant temperature regulation also greatly reduces the risk of thermal shock to the fixtures, increasing the lifespan of the faucet. A thermostatic valve may also require the use of a volume control valve to function properly.
Some thermostatic valves have built-in diverters to switch between your hand shower, body sprays, etc. Other types of thermostatic valves use a separate diverter valve that is installed above the thermostatic valve. The number of features on your shower system, such as the addition of a hand shower or body sprays, will determine which type of diverter you need.
Volume Control Valves
A volume control valve gives you the ability to choose how much water flows through the shower system. In other words, you can adjust the water pressure to your liking. Before you add one of these to your custom shower system, check the specifications of your mixing valve first. Volume control valves are meant to be paired with thermostatic valves only, and many thermostatic mixing valves have this functionality already integrated.
Pressure Balanced Mixing Valves
A pressure balanced mixing valve is designed to safely maintain water temperature despite pressure fluctuations in the hot and cold water supply. Pressure balanced valves do not require a volume control valve.
Some pressure balanced valves have built-in diverters. The diverter can be a single button type diverter, or a three-way switch diverter. The number of features on your shower system, such as the addition of a hand shower or body sprays, will determine which type of diverter you need. Diverters can also be purchased separately from the valve.
One type of pressure balanced valve is called a “Simple Select” type valve. This valve has built in diverter buttons, offers the ability to use two features at the same time, and has a compact, modern design.
A diverter allows you to alternate between any of your selected shower outputs by directing the water from the shower head to each additional accessory, one at a time. The diverter will not adjust the water temperature or turn the water off or on. You can select a combination of shower heads, body sprays, and hand showers to create your own customized shower system. If only two outputs are desired, simply close the third output with a threaded brass plug (provided). Some mixing valves have diverters built into their design, so check the specifications of the one you choose before you purchase a stand-alone diverter.
The addition of body sprays is one of the most popular ways to create a spa-like experience. Most body jets are adjustable, so that massaging streams of water can be aimed where rejuvenation is needed most. Body sprays can be arranged in any pattern to best suit your needs.
Rainfall Shower Heads
Rainfall shower heads provide a truly unique experience. Normally installed from the ceiling, rainfall shower heads cascade water from above to simulate the experience of being soaked by rainfall. Rainfall shower heads come in many sizes and finishes. Sizes range from 6 to 12 inches in diameter.
Another great addition to a custom shower is a hand shower. Hand showers allow complete customization and flexibility with the ability to point the water flow in any direction. Hand showers deliver massaging water streams and rest in a holder installed directly to the wall for convenient storage.
Standard Shower Set
Learn more about what to consider and what shower parts to include when building a custom shower by visiting our Custom Shower Buying Guide.