View Full Version : confused by shower fixture options

09-29-2009, 05:55 AM
The more I researched shower fixtures, the more confused I got. I realize that high quality is essential since it's going behind expensive tile. I'm not going to cheap out this time and buy an off brand from **** like I did with the sink faucets. I spent all the money I "saved" in repeat plumber visits.

Here's what I'm looking for. All suggestions would be apprecated: a regular shower head (not rain shower) and a hand held shower. Chrome, modern design.

Is it important to have a valve that controls water temp and pressure separately?

Is it possible to stay under $500, including the valve? Is it possible to find one control unit that has diverter in it?

What do I need to buy to accomplish both tasks - shower head and hand held? Do I need two valves? Two controls? does anyone make a dual unit? Suggestions for websites?

I like the Danze Sirius control a lot, but I've read questionable posts about its quality. Anyone have it?

09-29-2009, 11:23 AM
WIth divertors, you have to make the choice of whether you want one or the other, or both simultaneously...it takes a different valve to do that which adds to the confusion.

A typical pressure balanced shower valve has no volume control. This may not be an issue since the flow is restricted by the showerhead - the valve can flow much more water than a single shower head can dispense unless you modify it by removing the built-in restrition. Now, if you were going to use the hand-held on say an infant, you might want to restrict the flow. Often, that is only available on a thermostatically controlled valve (but there are a few exceptions). So, for all adults, separate control of the volume may not be a big deal.

As to brands, you need to consider not only style, but construction and availability of parts down the road. Some brands, like Kohler, rarely keep the same thing for very long, and it is very difficult to buy replacement parts. Delta and Moen tend to use the same guts for long periods of time, so parts are often carried virtually everywhere. Personally, I've had good luck with Grohe, but I'm a sample of one. I did need a new cartridge, and they sent me one for free (I probably could have gotten one from the local dealer, but I was in no hurry).

In a big box store, you often buy a 'kit' which includes the valve and trim. In a plumbing supply store, you can usually buy the rough-in valve separate from the trim, so you may have more choices.

10-07-2009, 08:04 PM
Sorry for jumping on to this thread but it speaks to my current confusion.

I live in a building with high water pressure - 100 - 120 lbs - so the contractor, who knows the building well, told me to get separate valves.

I went to the plumbing supply store he recommended and they told me to get Kohler, so I'm going with Stillness - reading this post gave me a sinking feeling, because I'm willing to spend to get stuff that will be problem free.

Should I kiss off the Kohler and buy another brand before the job gets done, so I can get parts down the road? Which brand for clean, modern style? Should I buy some parts to stock - again, which ones? A friend is ripping apart her bathroom because of exactly this problem - with a handle.

Also, I'm installing a shower head and a hand shower. Today I was on the phone with Kohler and they told me that I need THREE valves - thermostatic, diverter and volume - which is a question I've been asking the dealer for weeks. He told me that I don't need volume. I'm not worried about babies but about me when I'm 90.

Does it matter how high on the wall the outlet for the hand held shower is placed? This is a small urban bathroom so the shower is narrow - a problem with three controls - and I plan to use the handshower when I'm sitting.

Finally, what is the normal arrangement if I need three controls - volume bottom, thermo middle and diverter top or ???

This stuff is insanely confusing.

10-07-2009, 08:23 PM
In many places, the building department would require they install a pressure regulator to keep the pressure below 80# (sixty is a more typical good working pressure). You might want to give them an annonomous call. Pressure that high risks any valve or hose in your unit, whether washing machine hoses, toilets, faucet supply lines, etc. if you have a shutoff for your unit, you should probably install a pressure regulator valve. Since this would be in your unit, it wouldn't affect anything else (with the only possible exception I could think of is if they have a common supply locally to your sprinkler system - but that's usually a separate feed - wouldn't want to mix potable water with that that would be stagnent in those pipes). You should be able to find a whole bunch of showrooms with lots of choices. You can view many styles on-line, narrow it down to a few, then find out who may have them out where you can touch.

10-07-2009, 09:02 PM

The odd thing is that I've lived in this building, along with folks in 66 other units, for 30 years and have never had an issue with the pressure or with the bottom of the line stuff the developer put in. Now, when I'm finally re-doing it, everyone is freaked out by the pressure - except the contractor, who has worked in the building. He is stunned that a former client here is complaining that her rain shower doesn't produce enough water to clean the soap out of her hair.

I assume that he'll step down the pressure somewhere - but I'd appreciate any more info you have on Kohler replacement parts worth buying now.

And to think the plastic stuff has been just fine all these years!

10-07-2009, 10:16 PM
If you're going with the volume controls then You should'nt need a diverter. You can install the thermostatic in the middle with one volume control above it to feed the stationary head and one volume control below it to feed the hand shower. There is also a single valve that is thermostatic and diverts. The Hans Grohe Interaktiv. One unit; two handles. Check it out online or at a plumbing showroom.


10-07-2009, 10:18 PM
I've always had trouble with Kohler valves holding up maintenence free over time.

10-08-2009, 06:58 AM
Thanks, Dcelite. The contractor said that the cartridge and the diverter are the two things most likely to go in a shower, which leads me back to the question.

Can we do shower controls for dummies?

Thermostatic - hot/cold

Diverter - which outlet: shower head, hand shower

Volume - how much water

So, first really, really dumb question: with a thermo and diverter set up, how does a person turn the water ON? Does a diverter have an "off" position?

Second question: If I have a thermostatic and diverter but do NOT have a volume control, how do I get the trickle of water I need in the hand shower when I'm shaving my legs? It seems like my only option would be full blast, which wastes a lot of water.

Third question, as a result of your prior post: The diverter is long ordered, as is the thermo valve, so I can't back out of those choices. Does adding a volume control make sense?

Should I do as you suggest and buy a second volume control for the shower, and sell the diverter valve on ****, if that part is more likely to break and isn't really needed if I have a volume control?

All this just when I thought I'd bought the very last thing needed for this job.

Thanks again.