Rain shower ? Want to decide if I should install one

raehelenApril 3, 2013

OK, Master BR is gutted, DH wants the shower faucets in his hands, actually the thermostatic valve really, so he can determine where to position studs to accommodate niches.

I had thought I wanted a rain shower head and a handheld. Of course, I have only experienced one rain head (at a B & B), and it was less than impressive. Before I hit send to order an expensive shower system I have:

2 major questions--

1) Will I be happy with choosing a rain head over a 'normal' shower head?

2) If I go for the 12" round one I'm contemplating, how long does the wall arm have to be, and will it actually hold up to supporting the rain head, and not bend/break eventually? (Dh doesn't want to put piping in ceiling, so has to be wall-mount)

Info about me that might be useful to know. I am a swimmer, a swim coach, and I LOVE the water! We have a hot tub outside, and will be installing a Bain Ultra air jet tub in the next bath reno. This shower will primarily be for me, (DH uses the basement one which we renoed 4 years ago). I have long hair, and know the hand held is a necessity for shampooing/rinsing, etc.

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I'm pretty ambivilent about our rainhead, in fact, I don't recall the last time I used it(!) I have long hair too and use our regular showerhead almost exclusively and the handheld occasionally.

Since a rainhead isn't going to rinse your hair as well as a handheld or regular showerhead, it comes down to whether you want one for the gentle rain experience. If you weren't taken with the rainhead at the B&B, I wonder if you would use it in your own shower... especially considering the other water-relaxation options you have to choose from in your home.

Our rainhead is ceiling mounted so I don't know how well the wall-mount arms support the large heads.

Edited to add that, notwithstanding my own ambivalence, my 14 year old son really likes the rainhead so we're putting one in his tub/shower currently being renovated.

This post was edited by treasuretheday on Wed, Apr 3, 13 at 16:29

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 4:26PM
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Thanks Treasure,

I am sort of feeling I need to rethink the rain head. This is probably why I haven't made a final decision on our shower system yet...that and the more I investigate, the more confused I get by all the valve, divertor and volume control options!

I welcome any other feedback, and particularly if you have a showerhead you love, what brand, model and size is it?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 5:12PM
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Here's a link to the one we have in our master shower. It's a Delta. I'd say my hair is moderately long (past my shoulders, but not down to my rear) and it rinses beautifully. The 'Touch-Clean' technology on these shower heads is awesome. You literally just touch the cleaning cloth to it, rub slightly and you're done!


We paired it with the Delta handheld linked below. DH loves the massage feature--he sits on the bench in the shower and lets it rain down over his back and shoulders. Its handy for me for rinsing hair, shaving legs, & cleaning the shower. We also use it as a 2nd shower head if we need to get in the shower together.


Hope this helps!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 10:03PM
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Here's my experience:

I never like rainshower head that much before.. I tried them a few times at hotels/resort, and they are all kinda weak and I keep getting water in my eyes.. so I didn't understand all these craze for rainshower head past few years.

For our home remodel, since we have a few bathrooms, I actually picked a rainshower head for my master bathroom. Why? I like this particular one because it's pretty wide. I want to get a "waterfall" showerhead. and I want to have an open bathroom/open shower for the master. Rain shower head have the water go straight down from the showerhead and you don't get a lot of splashes. It looks mordern and I save money on huge glass panels.

So, now, my master bathroom has a rainshower with waterfall feature, and a hand shower. I found I like this one quite a bit. The rain fall is nice,, it has this "air" technology to make the waterdrop really big and nice even with waterflow standard. I can actually get a good shower and I can duck out my head and still give good water coverage for my body. If I need extra water, i can switch to the hand shower or the rain fall.. So, I'm quite please with this model. I have been using it for a year and a half.

In your case, I think you will regret it if you only have the rainshower head because it will take a long time to rince shapoo out for long hair. But if you have a hand shower too on the side, then it's fine..

When you shop for rainshower head, beware of the kind of rainshower head that just give small streams of water, and not rain drop like.. i think those sucks.

In my guest room, we have hand shower and bodyspray.. those are nice too if you like lots of water

Showerhead: Hansgrohe Raindance E420 Air 2
control, diverter, thermostat: Hansgrohe Axor Urquiola

This post was edited by noopd on Fri, Apr 5, 13 at 22:38

1 Like    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 9:30PM
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My only thought is the rain shower commits you to the pipe placement. I would stay at a hotel with a rain shower and see if that is something you want every day. My architect warned us against it unless we were fully committed because you can't simply change out the shower head - rain shower is located in a different place so you are locked in.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 9:40PM
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Noopd, is that a picture of your bathroom? That room is wonderful!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 10:16PM
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Yes it is, Thanx enduring!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 11:32PM
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If you want a rain head, get a real rainhead. A 12" diameter one, for example. Have it come out of the ceiling.

A 6" rainhead, or a multi-function head with a rainshower setting is not a rainhead.

Now, with all that written...I have a 12" rainhead in our shower. I also have a separate handheld, and the handheld is our main shower head.

They are on separate supply valves, and we use them for separate "experiences" so to speak.

I have to say, the rainhead is a nice effect. It certainly is different. Sometimes I'll run it after a shower and just stand under it for a few minutes. Sometimes I run both heads at the same time but with different temperatures. It's a neat effect.

After a nice hot shower, I'll sometimes run the rainhead at a sort of lukewarm temperature setting, or even slightly cool. It really cools the body down.

In no way would I want a true rainhead as my only shower head. But I appreciate it as a different shower experience.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 11:35PM
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I'm so torn! It doesn't help that most of the sales people whether from my local plumbing supply showroom or online, don't seem to have the knowledge of how valves work like a good plumber would. I feel like I'm beginning to get a handle on it, (no pun intended), but Mongoct, when you say you have the two shower heads on two different supply valves, that introduces a new concept into the equation. I have saved a post you made about showerheads from 2008, yup, that's how long I've been contemplating this reno... and now that I've compiled several different 'shopping carts' from different manufacturers, none of them had separate valves. Do you have a diagram of what the plumbing looks like? ie you have the main supplies of hot and cold, if you have two separate valves, how does that work?

Since DH does not want piping in the attic, are you saying that if I want a 12" head it HAS to come from the ceiling (ie exposed pipes running from the wall overhead), and that a long wall arm is not a good idea? I get that you are saying the head has to be flat and not at an angle, but I thought the wall arms were designed to keep them level. (though I do wonder about weight sticking out from the wall, and possibly leaking/breaking off).

And, of course, I am always keeping the total cost in mind, weighing what I'd like against $$$. Brushed nickel finishes can cost double or more than chrome, and I'd rather pay the money towards function than form in this case.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 12:12AM
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I could draw up a diagram, but it's absurdly simple.

Just take a "T" off your hot and cold supply tubing for the second valve.

In my case, I ran the rain head tubing from the supply valve up the shower wall, and up in the shower ceiling (attic floor) joist bay. There is a finished attic space above, though this part of the attic floor is behind a kneewall. For that horizontal run through the attic joist bay, the pipe is pitched for drainage, so when the rainhead valve is turned off the horizontal pipe does hot hold water. The bay is also insulated above the pipe.

You could have exposed tubing within the shower if you wanted.

If you want to have a traditional shower arm, you can do it. But these heads can be rather unwieldy at the end of a horizontal shower arm that extends out of the wall. You could always fashion a bracket to secure it to the shower ceiling too, that would prevent drooping.

The reason I usually install rain heads from the ceiling is that I like them to be in the middle of the shower, not near a wall.

You are correct that a true rainhead, you want it horizontal, not at an angle.

Do understand there are no hard and fast rules as to how it's plumbed. I simply have my preferences. If you want the rainhead close to the wall, no worries!

If you want to keep the plumbing out of the ceiling but still get the head towards the middle of your shower, I did a search for "rain shower head ceiling bracket" and got these three hits, they might give you an idea on how to make up your own solution:

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 1:32AM
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Thanks Mongoct. I had just about decided to go with a super forceful 'normal' shower head (the Giessdorf 8 jet model), but now those pics have me wavering again! LOL

Anyhow, regardless of which main head I ultimately decide on, I am now having difficulty finding the temptrol valves you spoke of in your shower head post I saved from 5 years ago... When I go to the Symmons site there are 363 matches for shower valves! When you say it cost you ~ $100 per valve, that included the trim? DH said yes, it would be simple to install 2 separate valves..., he is comfortable with that, now I just have to buy everything, and I'm feeling overwhelmed again.

Symmons customer service is closed for the weekend, so I have to wait till Monday to contact them, but I am not 100% sure that I am searching correctly, cuz when I search for thermostatic valves, I get what must be commercial applications going into the many thousands of dollars! Yikes!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 2:37PM
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The Symmons valves? If you're looking for a decent valve at a good price, these are the ones I recommend. They are simple to install. Simple to maintain should you ever need to work on one. They are just not the prettiest valves. Do understand that at the low price points, parts of the trim kit are plastic, not metal.

The basic Temptrol with their very basic trim is S-96-1. There are variations of trim kits to go with the valve, but the price does escalate.

I recommend the S-96 when someone is looking for a rock solid valve that is affordable in price. The valve itself has been around for decades and decades. Replacement parts, if ever needed, are readily available, and Symmons has always sent them for free.

Do understand that the S-96 is a pressure balanced valve. And this specific valve, there's only one control knob that is essentially a temperature control, so you really can't control flow and temperature like you can with other valves.

The same valve is used in shower and tub/shower combinations. For shower only you simply cap the tub outlet port on the bottom of the valve and leave the diverter lever, if it has one, off. So the photos can be misleading, as a lot of websites use the same photo for different kits.

This post was edited by mongoct on Sat, Apr 6, 13 at 15:36

    Bookmark   April 6, 2013 at 3:33PM
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we have a cifial 'thunderstorm' shower head... i think it is a 6" diameter and comes out of the wall... i like it because it's alitlle wider than an average head, but has a forceful spray--not gentle like a rainhead.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 4:14PM
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Noopd your bathroom is beautiful!
Love the fixtures. Did you post a final reveal thread? if so can I please have the link? Would love to know who makes the shower and bath controls. Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 1:28PM
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Thank you Everyone,

For all the input! This was an excruciatingly difficult decision for me. For two reasons, One, I realize I really don't have enough experience to make an informed decision, and two, I am always influenced by the cost of things. I probably should have gone for Option #3, Rainhead, wall shower head and handheld, then I wouldn't really have to choose...LOL... but going for a brushed nickel finish was already costing me a premium, so I decided to forgo the rainhead. I can always add a long arm and a rainhead in the future if I decide I'd like one.

Tile and toilet are really the only decisions left...oh yeah and the bidet seat...BB1000 is leading the pack so far amongst the many possibilities!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 6:31PM
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hey island,

thanks.. i haven't done a bathroom reveal. we finished our reno last year and with 2 kids, our house is always too messy to take a decent pic :) My kitchen is still waiting for one appliance so maybe i'll do a bathroom/kitchen reveal soon after that is done.

the fixture info was in my previous post at the end.. hansgrohe axor urquilola line for control. shower head is hansgrohe.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 7:28PM
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I've contemplated the same Hansgrohe 420 showerhead that Noopd has, and would like to know more. It attaches to the same box that normally houses Hansgrohe shower valve control knobs, not the usual showerhead mount, so it can't easily be swapped out for another showerhead if I don't like it. That waterfall effect looks amazing though.

I also like having the hand spray on a different valve so the temperature can be different than the overhead shower. I never thought of that particular benefit of having the two on different valves, although I was careful to pick a single valve that had completely separate volume controls for the two outlets that can be operated together or separately.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2013 at 9:01PM
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