Shower head- is a handheld necessary?

belaseaOctober 21, 2012

Hi, we are remodeling our bathroom and have one fixed shower head that has been fine all of these years. Our bathroom is very small and our house was built in 1906. We want simple and uncluttered. Our contractor is recommending a handheld shower system, but we think one shower head is fine. One shower head or is two really necessary? Is a handheld really worth it? Does it have the same pressure? We do not have kids or a dog, just a cat that we wouldn't bath:).

Would love to hear other opinions. Thank you so much.

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We don't have handhelds in any of our showers (or tub-showers). We didn't want them, and don't find ourselves wishing we had them, if that helps.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 12:31PM
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We went from a regular showerhead to showerhead + hand shower in the new bathroom, but eventually changed the whole setup to just handshower. It functions as a regular showerhead and is invaluable for cleaning the tub and surround and also for dog washing. I would never have another bathroom without a hand shower.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 12:57PM
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Just make sure that you get a hand shower that is very adjustable as far as angle of spray. My mother always had cheap ones, which necessitated only standing in a very awkward position in the shower. I have a handheld which I can change the angle of the spray, in addition to the height by sliding it up and down a bar. This is in addition to a fixed head shower on the opposite wall.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 2:25PM
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I love ours. We only have a handheld, but is very adjustable in terms of angles, but obviously not height.

I am not sure how I would rinse the tub or clean large itmes without it.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 3:34PM
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Thanks so much for the responses and the picture - I so appreciate gardenweb!

Williamsen, is that shower head a little high? I think if I go that route, I may put it on a bar since I'm not too tall.

It seems like there are a number of folks that only use the handheld as their regular shower I guess. Who knew.... thanks again!

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 8:37PM
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Never really thought about it, just left it alone during the recent hastily planned reno! It's 74 inches I think, which I assumed was standard, though I have learned that's a bit dangerous with this house! If it came down to it, we could probably retrofit a slide bar. For now, one less thing to clean :-)

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 10:09PM
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It depends on how you will use it. I find clients like them at least for cleaning the tub or shower.

Alao, if anybody in the house is anticipated to be getting up in age or down in mobility, they are a really nice thing to have. Keep in mind that when it's installed as a separate function, it's more cost than just the cost of fixture.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 10:58PM
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Thanks, Homebound. Do you find that most people are installing the hand shower when they remodel?

We are redoing our bathroom and trying to decide if we should install the handheld and a shower head. Thanks so much.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2012 at 11:58PM
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I was just talking about this with a friend! I installed a handheld that's mounted as the regular shower head about a year ago; every day, at the end of my shower, I use it to rinse off the shower curtain and tile. Since I started doing that, the amount of mildew/soap scum has diminished significantly: I honestly have not needed to scrub the grout in the past year. For that alone, it's been completely worth the $25 that I paid for it (no-tool installation, although I had to use a wrench to loosen the old shower head; the new one even came with plumbers' tape included!)

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 12:43AM
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Going back as far as college rental apartments, I've always replaced the standard shower head with one of the cheap hand held ones. If for no other reason than it makes cleaning the shower/tub a snap.

Except for the last place we moved out of a year ago, where the shower stall was tiny and the hand held stuck out too far & DH made me take it down. I actually couldn't figure out how to easily rinse the shower walls when I scrubbed them.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 12:55AM
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There are a lot of after-market shower heads out there now. I replaced my guest bath shower head with a filtered head. For my master bath remodel, I've decided to buy a regular shower head, then replace it with a hand-held head like williamsem, only one that has a filter in it. This way, I am not tied to a permanent shower head and can replace them in the future with one of the after-market ones. The filtered ones are great for hard water - I use the guest bath shower and my scalp no longer feels greasy from the hard water deposits.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 1:04AM
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I am a 65yr old retired master plumber and all through my working career I wondered why ppl wanted both a standard shower head and a hand shower?

I am 6' tall and all through my working career I comfortably carried about 225 to 240lb, but since I retired the old age spread has creeped up on me. Sadly, I am now about 300lbs and the old midriff bulge has now taken on the proportions of building a roof over my crotch and lower limbs, so when I take a shower with a standard shower head it is difficult to get the areas below my waist wet, never mind trying to get a good forceful rinse.

I too now have both the standard shower head and a handheld and I can tell you first hand, I wouldn't be without it. I can't speak for others, but in my case the handheld offers a solution to getting portions of my body washed that would be very difficult otherwise.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 11:27AM
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Lazypup, thank you very much for sharing your experience. Would a handheld be good enough or would it be better to have both a shower head and a handheld? I am planning to have a small bathroom with stall shower remodeled. Thank you very much.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 1:35PM
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I am staying with dd helping with new baby. This is the shower head in her guest bath. It detaches to become handheld. Don't know the brand but it is an awesome shower.

I would not build a bathroom without a handheld. Essential for a good rinse, IMHO. Nurses perspective.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 4:15PM
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A handheld brings the water to you rather than the other way around.

Invaluable for a trivial cost.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 8:30PM
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I have always had just a handheld. Works great. I get annoyed staying in hotels since they are always fixed. I don't feel completely clean until I shower at home.

Unless you want a rainfall type fixed head, a handheld would be absolutely fine. I don't understand having both when a handheld can easily function as both.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 10:52PM
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I have both a standard shower & a handheld on a bar but there is simple reason. When our shower mixer gave up the ghost I went to my mini-warehouse and sorted through all the materials that I had bought for jobs over the years, only to have the jobs cancel and I was stuck with materials, otherwise I would have probably just installed a handheld with a bracket to hang it as a conventional shower as in the photos above.

On the other hand, having both does work very well for Jan & I because I am 6' tall and she is only 5'1". I can comfortably use the conventional shower head so we set the bracket for the hand held lower where it works better for her as a conventional shower, and we both have the option of using the hand held for those hard to reach areas.

The bottom line, I could care less about the impressive brand names or comforming to whatever is in vogue at the moment. For me it is purely a matter of form & function, but in this case we seemed to have resolved the form & function for both of us.

Now if your looking for Handsgrohe and italian marble I am afraid you would be very disapointed in my bathroom, but if your looking for a comfortable shower with enough hot water that you can stand in there for an hour without it getting cold, this is it.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 2:44AM
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Annie Deighnaugh

We have both in our shower, we have a hand sprayer in our tub and a combo shower head with hose to use as hand sprayer like williamsem posted in our other shower. Would not be without one, just for cleaning purposes. But then are the other things that work so well, like in the summer, I barefoot all the time, and like to wash my feet before I go to's perfect to do with a hand held.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 10:06AM
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Don't need both, especially in a small shower space. Just go with a handheld and you'll be glad you did. I actually introduced my husband to this fancy new contraption when we first started dating...his response was why in the world hadn't his own parents done these in their showers. Between that and using a loofah rather than a cloth to wash up with, I think I rocked his shower world :d

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 6:14PM
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I like having both, as it allows the water to flow overhead from the rainshower whilst using the hand spray to aim at, say, my leg, which can also speed up showering if i'm in a hurry. Not the best thing for water conservation i'll admit, but it feels good.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 7:44PM
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Don't think a hand held or multiple heads is necessary.Depends on personal preference and space. I live in Southern CA and wouldn't think of multiple heads because I try to conserve water. We have one tiny shower stall in a downstairs bathroom and when we remodel that one we'll probably replace the standard head with a single handheld because it would be easier to rinse off.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 7:52PM
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If you go with the handheld on a bar make sure it's a good one. Our current house had a cheap plastic one, and it was always sliding down in the middle of my shower.

I also will never have a bathroom without a handheld sprayer. My parents don't have one and have to use a cup to fill and then throw water on everything. I was usually the one who cleaned the shower because they hated doing the cup thing so maybe I'm jaded. : )

    Bookmark   October 23, 2012 at 11:23PM
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niteshadepromises - Your post made me laugh - When we remodel our hall bath I will be getting a handheld fixed combo and a large deep soaker tub.

My DH still takes a bath and has a single shower head and uses bar soap and a wash cloth. He will be supplied with liquid shower soap, a poof and a hand held/fixed combo shower head.

Oh My Goodness he refuses to use shower soap and a poof. A loofah might send him over the edge.

I told DH when we get the remodel done that the bar soap leaves a ring and residue and he would have to use liquid soap. I am trying to find data that supports my argument.
: )

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 1:41PM
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Tell him he is responsible for cleaning the bar soap shelf weekly.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 2:26PM
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I can vouch for liquid soap=no more scum! We banished bar soap in our house many years ago. My husband likes Dr. Bronners almond castile soap - uses it as shampoo too.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2012 at 8:32PM
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I say get the handheld sooo practical..

Not to sound like a smart ass...but how the heck do you wash off the bathroom cleaner products without a handheld? I know a fixed shower head only tilts so much and you cannot get the area under the shower head...??? This is precisely why I got rid of the regular heads and got hand helds.

    Bookmark   November 12, 2012 at 3:34PM
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We love a handheld shower head. You don't have to hold it, as it attaches in its holder so can be used the same way a fixed shower head is. It's really great for hair washing as you can press the unit right against your head. Once you have one I'm sure you will love it to.

Georgia in Alabama

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 8:08PM
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We have only a handheld shower head in our kids' bathroom. It's in a holder, like the ones above. I like it so much that we'll have a hand-held as well as a rain shower head in our new shower. We have kids and a dog, so it's invaluable for that, but where it really shines is cleaning. Imagine being able to rinse your shower walls without throwing buckets of water all over the place and making a splashy mess! That shower gets cleaned more often than the other, simply because it's so much easier to do with the hand-held. I wouldn't have a shower without one any more.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 8:31PM
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We went with a handheld (Kohler Flipside) only when we built our new bathroom. While i love it for ease of cleaning (seriously, how DO you rinse the shower well without it?), my favorite part of it is that we mounted it on a slide bar. There is more than a foot difference in our heights and the slide bar allows us to both have the showerhead at a comfortable distance.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 12:18AM
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Funny. Handheld shower heads have been the norm in Western Europe for decades. I always hated them compared to a regular wall-installed shower head. I always found it a make-shift shower. Sooner or later, they will dip their heads, slide down, or swivel around, or you drop the thing, banging up your enamel. They are good for rinsing the shower walls or cleaning the tub, though.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 10:36AM
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I rinse my shower walls with a cup of water because I don't have a handheld. *hangs head in shame

Our guest bathroom was only a tub when we moved it. DH added a cheapo handheld that mounted to the spout. It worked really well despite not being able to adjust it and it would spray out of the tub. When we remodeled for some reason I chose not to go that route and kick myself for it. We have moved into that bathroom while we remodel the master bathroom and cleaning the shower frankly just sucks.

If I have any money left from the master remodel (which is getting a handheld) I will change out the shower head in the guest bath for a handheld that is adjustable.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 10:52AM
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When we remodeled our master bath we did add a handheld sprayer in addition to the regular shower head. Then we got a dog. We sure were glad to have it for him. It's also great when you just want to wash off your feet or to clean the shower as others noted.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 12:46PM
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we are in the process of gutting our bathroom and installing the mirabelle edenton alcove soaking tub, new tile surround and replacing the shower head AND installing a hand held. we use shower primarily but definitely enjoy soaking in baths often. in the process of this remodel we are taking down a wall (opposite of shower/tub spout) from 8feet high to 4 feet high. we want the feel of an open shower/tub (there will be a partial glass wall on the tub enclosing the opening near the shower) we want to install the hand held on a bar next the the shower head. my question is how does this set up work? how many diverters will we need? one for the tub to shower head and one from the shower head to the hand held? does anyone have any examples of how a set up like this would work? i like the hansgrohe raindance S but then i need the tub spout too.... the plumber is coming next week and i dont have the slightest idea how to proceed with the shower/tub accessories. since we are spending quite a bit on the custom tile work i want to get the plumbing in that will work the best and last. we dont want to pull out the tile in a future remodel...
will we have to buy each one separately? i could see that adding up quickly.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 12:56PM
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this link is a picture of how our finished remodel will look with the partial glass panel execpt our opposite wall is only 4 feet tall- it's too bad this pic doesnt show the handheld and shower head and tub combo....

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 1:00PM
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hi ganesha - we just finished a bathroom with almost the same exact door. I posted this original post because we really went back and forth about having a hand-held or not. After a lot of thought, we decided not to get a handheld for aesthetic reasons. Now after using the shower, I'm glad that we didn't put in a hand held because I'm not sure how I would do with keeping the water inside the shower with this type of open door with using a handheld. I'm clumsy and I'm not sure I wouldn't accidentally get water outside the shower/bath. However, I'm not used to having a hand-held, so perhaps it would be fine, but just thought I would put that out there to consider. I love the new door and am really happy with it.

p.s. I'm also in San Francisco where your houzz picture was taken from. Our contractor has been installing these doors and he said that they have been working out really well. I have to agree. Good luck with your bathroom remodel! :)

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 6:06PM
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thank you for your response! we have never had a hand-held before so i appreciate your comment and i am thinking that i too would be awkward with keeping it at an angle that would stay in the confinements of our mostly open shower space. and we are trying to keep the clean lines look of the tub/shower so maybe we would rethink this.... i'd like to know what that diverter would look like to operate each spout (tub faucet, hand-held, shower head) separately. like i said we dont want to clutter the space. the most benefit i see with the hand-held is cleaning the tub/shower with the spray down.
do you have pics of your finished project? i would like to see your glass wall is mounted.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 7:48PM
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ganesha - here are a couple pictures. Please note that we originally had the shower handle/faucet and shower head on the right hand side, but when we remodeled we put the shower head on the left side. This made more sense with our bathroom - it allowed us to put the shower door on the same side as the toilet, without moving the plumbing, and it's really nice to turn on the water without being under it. We did have to use a shower arm that was pointed down, and we also added a volume control. We previously had a thermostatic valve which allowed us to reduce the water pressure. We went with a pressure valve, and realized that we still like controlling the water pressure because we have very high water pressure and we need to turn it down. One more thing to consider - which kind of valve! Pressure or Thermostatic! I wish we would have went with a thermostatic, but that also means more controls and I was trying to reduce the clutter. In retrospect, I liked the thermostatic valve better and will use it when we do our master bath.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2013 at 11:17PM
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I personally think a hand held shower head is pretty necessary in any shower, maybe more so for women.
Sometimes I like to have a shower but not get my hair wet because I have very long hair and it takes me ages to dry my hair!

I found a cool hand held shower filter that comes with an attachment that fits onto the shower pipe that allows you to either use the hand held shower head as a fixed head shower or a hand held shower.

So you get the best of both worlds. I'll like it here for you :

Here is a link that might be useful: shower filter

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 8:38AM
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