A bathroom shower is a plumbing fixture that allows users to quickly cleanse themselves under a continuous spray of water. But within that broad definition, there is an amazing diversity, ranging from simple hand-held showers that fit on a bathtub faucet spout, to cascading waterfall showers that make bathing a truly unique experience.
Whether building a new shower or remodeling an existing shower, you have several types to choose from, categorized by the size or shape of the enclosure, or by the way in which water is delivered. Showers range from pre-fabricated units ideal for DIY installation on up to custom showers designed and built by professionals and costing many thousands of dollars. Shower enclosures can be rounded, square, rectangular, or neo-angle. Because showers are all about the water, the water delivery system is equally important. Waterfall shower heads gently drip water from high above. Or you might prefer the vigorous feeling of a full-body shower with jets at various heights.
Whatever your preference, you will find a shower that fits your needs. Here are 10 different shower types you can consider.
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Prefabricated Shower Insert
- Best for: DIY installation, quick remodels.
A pre-fabricated shower consists of an acrylic or fiberglass shower pan and molded shower surround walls. Smaller showers are sometimes one-piece units, while larger showers use separate wall panels and shower pan. Often, extra ledges and soap dishes are integral to the surround walls.
Since pre-fabricated showers may be broken down and delivered in separate pieces, they can more easily fit through tight doorways than do one-piece pre-fabricated units. Most pre-fabricated shower units can be installed by the homeowner.
Costs vary widely, but it's possible to buy a small prefabricated shower insert complete with shower pan, walls, and door for as little as $500, ranging all the way up to several thousand dollars.
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- Best for: Luxury bathrooms.
True to their name, custom showers are usually built by professionals to the homeowner's custom specifications. Typically, custom showers are usually built out of natural stone or porcelain tile. The shower pan is often created from a wet mortar base laid with stone or tile.
Custom showers can take on any size, shape, and form desired by the user. Custom showers, when built right with premium materials, can increase the home's resale value. Expect to spend thousands of dollars on this kind of shower.
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Glass Enclosure Shower
- Best for: Large luxury bathrooms.
A glass enclosure shower is a particular type of custom shower built from panels of 1/4-inch-thick tempered glass that wall off a corner of the bathroom where the shower fixtures are mounted. The inner shower walls are normally floor-to-ceiling ceramic or porcelain tile, with a shower pan that is usually made of custom-laid tile. Secured at the corners with metal clips, the sheets of glass form frameless shower enclosures that are easier to clean than framed enclosures and give the bathroom a greater sense of openness.
Glass enclosure showers are extremely elegant, but they can also be a good choice for curbless showers that allow easy access by wheelchair users and others with physical limitations.
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Curved Enclosure Shower
- Best for: Small luxury bathrooms.
Curved enclosure showers usually occupy a corner of the bathroom, featuring a curved door sliding open in a graceful arc to provide access. Curved shower enclosures more smartly use space than do rectangular shower enclosures, though at a higher cost.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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Corner Enclosure Shower
- Best for: Bathrooms containing separate tub and shower.
When viewed from above, a corner enclosure shower is a square formed by two walls and two sheets of glass of equal length. One of the sheets of glass has a pivoting door. Corner enclosure showers tuck away neatly and conserve a maximum amount of bathroom flooring space. They are often used as a space-saving design in bathrooms that contain both a bathtub and a shower.
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- Best for: Space-limited bathrooms.
For some homeowners, a neo-angle enclosure shower is a good compromise between a corner and a curved enclosure. Situated in a corner, two flat sheets of tempered form two sides of the square shower (the walls are the other two sides). However, the two sheets of glass do not meet. Instead, a third sheet of glass runs at a 45-degree angle and completes the enclosure.
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- Best for: Multi-purpose family bathrooms.
Bathtub-shower combinations have been installed in bathrooms for decades as a way to double up on bathing services. The bathtub—usually an alcove tub with three surrounding walls—has a set of faucets that control both the lower tub faucet and the upper shower head.
While the trend has slowly been moving away from this setup in favor of shower-only installations, tub-shower combinations are still an excellent method of saving space in small bathrooms. Homes with small children especially can benefit from tub-shower combinations.
08 of 10
- Best for: Luxury bathrooms.
A body shower is one that has multiple penetrations in one or more walls for water jets that vary from knee- to shoulder-height, along with a shower head placed above the head. In theory, a body shower can save water by more efficiently sending water to pinpointed areas of the body, rather than relying on the water to course downward. In practice, this type of fixture makes for a supremely luxurious bathing experience.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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- Best for: Contemporary bathrooms.
A shower tower is a metal column the incorporates controls, the shower head, a hand shower, jets of varying heights, and controls. These units eliminate the need for multiple penetrations in the shower wall. With their sleek design, shower towers are best for contemporary-style bathrooms.
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- Best for: Large luxury bathrooms.
A waterfall shower is a shower head located higher than a regular shower head, which emits a soft, rainfall-type flow of water. This shower head may not work well for users who prefer the massage-like feeling of water pressure on their neck and shoulders. Nor is this a good choice for water conservation, as this type of shower tends to encourage, slow, luxurious bathing. But if luxury is your goal, no other type of shower does the job better.
How to Choose a Shower Type
When remodeling a bathroom or adding a new bathroom, three main considerations play into your choice of shower types:
Preferred use: A primary bath reserved for private, relaxed use calls for a much different bathing fixture than one used by different family members or guests who must quickly get ready for school or work each morning. Give careful thought to how long your showers typically last, and whether it is relaxation or simple quick cleansing that is the primary goal.
Budget: Most shower types are available in a range of options to meet different budget needs, but some types of showers are inherently more pricey. A large custom-tile shower stall with plate glass walls and a waterfall shower head, for example, will likely be off the table if you have budget constraints.
Space: It's no surprise that a large, expansive bathroom gives you more options when it comes to what type of shower you include. In large bathrooms, you may be able to include both a bathtub and separate shower enclosure, while more cramped bathrooms may require a shower only, or a tub-shower combination fixture.
DIY skills: The plumbing, carpentry, and tile skills that go into creating a shower are specialized talents, and if you plan to do some or all of this work yourself, it will definitely impact the type of shower you choose. Prefabricated shower inserts or neo-angle showers, for example, are popular choices for DIYers with moderate skills, but extremely experienced DIYers may be able to install more elaborate custom showers.