Of all the elements in the bath, the shower is the most complex. This post will be about planning for the optimal shower experience because once the shower is built additions are nearly impossible and always expensive.  We will discuss surface materials for the shower in another post.

The shower is often thought of as the “utility” zone of the bath.  It is, however, the primary bathing environment and its success depends on the valves that you select AND their correct installation. The invisible mechanical parts control the flow and temperature of the water but the pressure comes from the internal plumbing in your house.

1)  Concealed pressure balance valve: “reacts” to changes in water volume to prevent scalding

2)  Concealed thermostatic shower valve: allows you to set the exact water temperature you prefer and retain consistent temperature

3)  Exposed thermostatic shower valve: like concealed thermostatic valve with exposed mechanical parts

Body sprays and vertical shower bars can turn your shower into a home spa. Steam heat can be piped into an enclosed shower stall, promoting perspiration to cleanse pores, and drawing therapeutic moisture into the lungs and skin (great for relieving congestion).

The shower, just like the bath itself, must have storage. Shampoo and other items on the floor can can be messy and dangerous. A built-in niche, which looks architectural and blends in to the wall, or surface mounted wire baskets are the solution to keeping your shower neat and organized.

The space itself should make you feel warm and enveloped with room to move around (or at least space to pick up dropped soap).  A built-in seat will make your shower more enjoyable, especially if you install a steam unit, and it will certainly make shaving your legs easier.   A large drain will whisk away the water so that you are not standing in soapy water. And, grab bars are always useful.

There has been great demand for ceiling mounted shower heads, but without adequate water supply pressure it will feel like a sprinkle (and won’t take the soap out of your hair).  In fact, the entire shower experience will be disappointing without a sufficient flow of water through your system.  This is where an experienced contractor or plumber will be an invaluable resource.

Here are a couple of really important tips:

1)  Your shower floor must be pitched to the drain or the water will not drain properly (standing water is a health hazard).

2)  The shower floor should installed with small non-skid material (honed mosaics are good for this application).

3)  The valves for operating the shower should be placed strategically so when you turn on the shower you won’t get wet (and have a blast of cold water on your arms or head).

4)  Hand showers are essential for rinsing your body AND cleaning the shower.

Images courtesy of: Steven Gambrel, East Coast Home, and Waterworks Showrooms.

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