Choosing the right shower head for your daily routine can greatly impact the quality of your everyday showering experience. And while taking a shower is a pretty basic human activity, we all have our own unique method. Luckily, there’s a giant world of different types of shower heads for every preference or whim. Whether you’re a utilitarian type, want a fancy spa experience, or you’re somewhere in between — your perfect shower head is out there.
So let’s talk shower heads! Read on to learn which one is right for you.
10 Shower Head Types
The variety of shower hardware can be a little mind-boggling. There are many different kinds on the market, from budget to ultra-fancy — and prices range accordingly.
However, when you truly get down to basics, there are really only 3 main different types of showerheads. We will follow these first 3 main types with 7 popular styles of showerheads.
Fixed Shower Head
A fixed shower head is directly mounted on the wall of your shower. In some cases, a fixed shower head is mounted to the ceiling. They tend to be smaller in diameter and budget-friendly. If you don’t need to detach your shower head from your wall, then a fixed shower head is a classic and straightforward choice.
The majority of fixed shower heads types are at least somewhat adjustable, angling one way or another to get the spray to aim right where you want it to go. Some of these types of showerheads are mounted so they feature up or down or side-to-side adjustability. However, if you choose a nonadjustable fixed shower head, be sure to carefully consider height and positioning before mounting it to the wall.
Handheld Shower Head
A handheld shower head connects to a flexible hose, which allows you to detach the shower head nozzle and use it from whatever height or angle you choose. Handheld showers make bathtime for kiddos a lot easier, and they’re handy for quickly hosing off messes or spills (or even a kid who’s been too enthusiastic in a mud puddle outside!) Animal lovers also swear by handheld showers, as they’re perfect for bathing pets. You can even use this type of shower head for hand-washing laundry or cleaning the bath or shower itself.
Handheld shower heads are also easily upgradable. While most come with around 5 feet of hose, longer hoses are available if you’d like some additional flexibility and reach.
Dual Shower Head
If you can’t decide between a fixed shower head and a handheld shower head, why not have both? Dual shower heads feature the best of both worlds. They come in two forms: a detachable handheld shower head that also solidly affixes to a bracket on the wall of your shower (for 2 in 1 use) — or a unit that has a fixed shower head up top and also an additional hand held shower head mounted below.
Single Function Shower Head
This is your ultra-basic, no-frills, “just turn on your shower and do your business” option. While this is an easy, minimalistic choice, be sure to choose the flow that you’re truly committed to — often, single function shower heads can have a strong spray. We like this sturdy option from WASSA that boasts a robust 1.9 GPM flow rate and a budget-friendly price point.
Multifunction Shower Head
Most multi-function shower heads offer at least 3 spray patterns; some offer many more. If you’re at a loss of what to look for, think about how you shower. Do you have long hair, or do you use a lot of different products? You might want to get a shower head with a nice soaking function that will rinse off shampoo or body wash in a jiff. Do you want more of a spa feel in your shower? Consider a shower head with a sharp spray option, which can help ease sore muscles. Or, perhaps a gentle, mistier setting is more your speed. All of these options and more are widely available. This hand held Waterpik 9-spray shower head is a great, affordable example of a multi-function unit that offers lots of flexibility.
Rain (aka Waterfall or Rainfall) Shower Head
These shower heads have gained popularity over the past few years, owing to their upscale aesthetic and appealingly broad spray pattern. There are a few things to be aware of before you buy one, however. If you’d like to mount a waterfall shower head from your ceiling, you’ll need to have plumbing that allows you to do so. Otherwise, you’ll need one that includes an overhead shower arm, which extends out from the wall to accommodate a side mount. The other thing to consider is whether your home has strong enough water pressure for a rain shower head. If you have low water pressure, you may end up with a dribble rather than a rainfall.
Filtered Shower Head
If you’re worried about contaminants in your water or want an extra level of filtration, a filtered shower head might be a good bet. Chlorine or hard water can cause dry hair and skin irritation, and a filtered shower head can help mitigate these unwanted issues. A couple of things to note: make sure to buy an NSF certified filtered shower head brand, and remember that you’ll need to replace the filter periodically.
Low Pressure Shower Head
If you have low water pressure, you may be looking for an option that can boost the flow’s intensity. If that’s the case, there are many high efficiency low flow shower heads on the market. A nice side benefit is that you’ll also save $ on water and energy costs by using this shower head style.
LED Shower Head
If for some reason, you’ve ever dreamed about the possibility of mixing a laser light show with a shower, you can now make that dream a reality. LED shower heads light up with colors as it rains water down on your head. These types of shower heads will transform your water flow into a beautiful waterfall of light.
Bluetooth Shower Head
You can even get a shower head with a built-in Bluetooth speaker if you like to rock out or listen to news while you shower. Typically these types of shower heads feature a detachable Bluetooth Speaker that has a built-in rechargeable battery. What a time to be alive!
How to Choose a Shower Head that’s Right for You
Now that you’ve perused the popular types of shower heads, here’s a few factors to consider before purchasing a shower head.
Determine your home’s water pressure.
Know what you’re working with in terms of pressure. As a general rule, the larger the diameter of your shower head, the weaker your water pressure is likely to be coming out. This rule is true of all shower heads, but especially comes into play with bigger rainfall shower heads, which require at least 55 psi, or sometimes more. If you have lower water pressure, you may have to choose your shower head accordingly. See here for tips on how to test your home water pressure.
Decide how important energy savings and water conservation is to you.
There are a couple of things to look for if conserving water and money is at the top of your shower head priority list. First, look for a shower head with a cut off valve or pause button. This feature allows you to temporarily stop the flow of water whenever you’re soaping up, shaving your legs, etc. This strategy can dramatically cut down on water use over time. Second, choose a shower head that has a “WaterSense” label. Products with this label meet EPA standards for water efficiency and performance, are also third party-certified, and provide measurable water savings results.
Select a Finish.
In addition to functional options, you have even more choices when it comes to shower head finishes. Most manufacturers select metal to fashion their shower heads, but some choose to incorporate plastic parts or an all-plastic design that is then coated in a metal finish. As with most modern bathroom fixtures, you can choose from nickel, chrome, brass, bronze, copper, and even matte black or white finishes.
Invest in quality for more extended use.
You can find plenty of shower head options in the ultra-budget category, and if you don’t mind replacing your shower head every few years, that’s certainly an acceptable option. However, a small additional investment will result in a sturdier unit that will last longer. Shower heads with metal components will last longer, but you can get away with a coated plastic shower head. However, if you choose a hand held shower head, make sure that its hose is metal. One more pro-tip: shower heads with softer rubber spray nozzles are easier to clean if or when they start to accumulate mineral scale over time.
There’s a lot to choose from, and the number of shower head types out there can seem a little overwhelming. But once you figure out which type of shower head is the right choice for you — you’ll be rubba-dub-dubbing and singing shower songs in no time.