Fixed or hand-held
The most common showerheads are either stationary or handheld. Handheld models can rest on a standard wall bracket, or they can be paired with a shower bar, a vertical track that an adjustable-height bracket slides on. Shower bars are more customizable (useful if people of different heights share the bath), and often come in stylish designs, though they cost more than standard hand-shower sets.
Fixed showerheads are more low-key in style, but a hand shower is a must if you bathe pets or small kids on a regular basis. Seniors and people with disabilities often find them easier to use, too.
Regardless of what type of showerhead you opt for, look for adjustable spray settings. Handle floor models to see how easy it is to switch between settings. If it isn’t a breeze in-store, it’ll be even more difficult when your hands are sudsy.
Both fixed and basic hand-held showerheads are relatively easy to install for beginners. Shower bars require a more experienced touch or a professional plumber.
Rain-showers and shower tiles
With their sunflower-like, spa-inspired dimensions, rainfall showerheads (also known as rain-showers) help create a luxurious bath environment. But be warned: their gentle, non-adjustable spray isn’t for everyone. Also, because they’re installed directly overhead, keeping your hair dry requires use of a shower cap.
Tile-style showers that are set flush into the wall or ceiling (Kohler’s Water Tiles are a popular example) are another option, though pricier due to the need for professional installation. Remember though: the more you install, the more water you’re using.
Older showerheads guzzle 10 to 18 litres per minute. Newer, water-saving models use half that – just five to seven litres per minute, without any sacrifice in water pressure.
Less water used means less water wasted. Additionally, since water takes energy to heat, the less you use, the more you save on your energy bill and the smaller your carbon footprint. According to Natural Resources Canada, a low-flow showerhead can pare 15% off your water-heating bill. And, according to Greenpeace, a low-flow showerhead can save almost 70,000 litres of water in one decade.
BUY: Danze 6" 305 Low-Flow Showerhead - Oil Rubbed Bronze
BUY: Danze 4" Lamp Style Low-Flow Showerhead - Brushed Nickel
Safety features (anti-scald, pressure-balance features)
If you want to avoid scalds, but prefer not to lower the thermostat on your water heater, look for an anti-scald showerhead that reduces water to a trickle when it gets too hot, or install a thermostatic, anti-scald valve to work with any standard showerhead. The latter may sometimes require going in behind the tile wall, however, making an anti-scald showerhead the less invasive, less-expensive option.
If you’re doing a quick switch between old and new showerheads (rather than a full-on replacement of all fixtures), just match the finish of your new showerhead to the existing fixtures in your bathroom.
Got hard water? Look for rubbery nozzles or a plastic head, as they’re less likely to get clogged or crusted with mineral deposits or need regular de-scaling than all-metal models. Metal’s still an option, but look for Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD) finishes if you want to avoid frequent maintenance.