The Best Showerheads Have This Trifecta: Form, Function, and Water Pressure
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Updated Oct 12, 2018 2:05 AM
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Whether you prefer a strong spray, a relaxing rainfall, or a by-hand wash, the best showerheads make your regular rinse-and-repeat feel like stepping into a spa. But the field is crowded, no matter what you’re seeking, and there’s so much to consider when it comes to both function and form. It’s important to consider your shower’s style and the look and feel of your bathroom, as well as how it performs.
The decision is “all about what you want to get out of your shower experience,” say PJ and Thomas McKay of the Property Lovers. Maybe you’re looking for a solid wall-mounted option, which is the most common, or you’re searching for a rainfall, handheld, or one that is multifunctional. No matter what, the McKays say pressure is a main feature to keep in mind. To help you select your style, here are our top seven picks from the market.
- Best rainfall: Sparkpod Shower Head
- Best thin profile: NearMoon High Pressure Shower Head
- Best splurge: Rejuvenation Rain Shower Head
- Best handheld: Moen Attract Single-Handle Shower Faucet
- Best dual: Delta In2ition Dual Shower Head
- Best range of pressure: Speakman Anystream Shower Head
- Best high-tech: Kohler Forté Air Induction Shower Head
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
Finish: Are you beguiled by brass or charmed by chrome? Finishes for showerheads abound—popular styles include brushed nickel, polished chrome, polished or brushed brass, matte black, oil-rubbed bronze, and more. When it comes to finish, Barry Bordelon and Jordan Slocum of the Brownstone Boys advise staying consistent. “Our biggest tip is to make sure you get samples or buy all the fixtures from the same brand,” they say, noting that some finishes in the same family can look quite different. “For instance, brass finishes tend to be varied in color tone; some read yellow and some read gold.” However, there are no hard-and-fast rules to look and feel, and people are more regularly opting to change things up. “Mixing metals is becoming increasingly popular,” say the McKays. “Don’t be afraid to go bold with a brass showerhead even if you have black hardware in other places in the bathroom. If done correctly, mixing metals can look beautiful and intentional.”
Pressure and spray setting: Pressure is a matter of preference, and there are high-pressure and low-pressure options out there. “A rain showerhead, for example, will be lower pressure and gentler,” say Bordelon and Slocum. “A wall-mounted showerhead often comes with adjustable spray patterns that determine the comfort or pressure you feel: a soaking rain, pulsating massage, powerful stream, gentle mist, or even a combination pattern.” The McKays prefer several spray settings for multifunctionality: “We clean our dogs in our shower, so we have the rain showerhead going overhead while we spray them down with the handheld, and it works perfectly.” The water itself comes out of tiny nozzles in the showerhead, which direct the water pattern. Flat nozzles are easier to maintain, since raised nozzles often require you to unscrew them for the deepest clean.
Flow rate: Flow rate refers to the amount of water a showerhead dispenses, measured in gallons per minute (GPM). “A standard 2.5-GPM showerhead delivers 2.5 gallons of water each minute,” say Bordelon and Slocum. This means that it takes 25 gallons of water for a 10-minute shower. “The showerhead itself can deliver that water as high pressure or gentle rain, depending on the spray pattern,” they add. To conserve energy and save water, federal regulations mandate that showerheads can’t produce more than 2.5 GPM at 80 pounds per square inch (PSI). And different states have different GPM standards. For example, New York City requires 2 GPMs or less, while California’s standard is 1.8 GPM.
Adjustable features: Adjustable features like a slide bar or a handheld showerhead can make the design more custom. A slide bar is mounted on the wall of the shower and makes it easier to adjust a showerhead’s height. “It’s often used in conjunction with a wall- or ceiling-mounted rainshower head to offer a more high-pressure option,” explain Bordelon and Slocum. “While the adjustable sprayer can be very convenient, we find that many people like the luxury look of a slide bar with a handheld just as much as the functionality of it.” A handheld showerhead is connected by a long hose and rests in a cradle and can be especially handy for bathing pets and cleaning the tub.
Our Top Picks
Best Rainfall: Sparkpod Shower Head
With thousands of positive reviews on Amazon, coupled with an affordable price point, our editors and users agree that Sparkpod’s is the rain shower to beat. Unlike many rain showers, this one has high pressure, so you’ll feel like every spritz is akin to a spa experience. The simple design comes in six finishes, so it will seamlessly fit into any bathroom style. While the logo is a bit bold for our taste, it can easily be twisted out of sight.
Best Thin Profile: Near Moon High Pressure Shower Head
If you’re looking for a showerhead that combines superior performance and a sleek profile, you’ll appreciate this 8-inch slim design. Though it may seem slight, it packs a whole lot of power thanks to 90 nozzles, which deliver a full rainfall effect. It’s crafted from 100 percent stainless steel, so the construction is built to last. The oil-rubbed bronze iteration, which looks legit high-end, is priced at a mere $25.
Best Splurge: Rejuvenation Rain Shower Head
Assembled and finished in a 50-year-old Brooklyn factory, this timeless design will never feel too trendy or tired. With a 12-inch diameter, this is one of the largest showerheads our editors found and liked. “Though it’s pricey compared to others on our list (but not in the grand scheme of luxe showerheads), it will elevate any bathroom and offset inexpensive tiles, vanities, and more,” says Cat Dash, Domino’s market editor.
Best Handheld: Moen Attract Single-Handle Shower Faucet
Elegant design meets operational ease in this Moen model, and the spritzing system is as intuitive as it is user-friendly. It features a magnetic docking system, which means it will stay in place and won’t fall on your foot. And the beauty of a brushed-nickel finish is that it won’t show fingerprints or water spots like chrome does.
Best Dual: Delta In2ition Dual Shower Head
Can’t decide between a fixed showerhead or a handheld? You don’t have to with the Delta In2ition. Featuring a detachable hand shower, which can be used separately or simultaneously with the fixed showerhead, you’ll never feel a chill or a pause midstream. “We’ve installed many Delta showerheads over the years because it’s a solid brand that lasts forever and comes in every finish imaginable,” say the McKays. This one has three water-pressure settings and a pause feature that reduces the water to a trickle should you need to stop to make an exit for extra soap.
Best Range of Pressure: Speakman Anystream Shower Head
For those who prefer the feel of a strong jet stream, consider this showerhead’s water pressure the equivalent of a deep-tissue massage. The sleek, minimal design comes in eight finishes including matte black, brushed bronze, and satin brass. Our editors love the range of pressure settings, from Intense to Rain (a gentle and heavy flow), which utilize six plungers and 48 spray nozzles to alternate the intensity.
Best High-Tech: Kohler Forté Air Induction Shower Head
Bordelon and Slocum love Kohler for its overall design and functionality. This model fits the bill, and it’s air-induction technology injects air into the showerhead’s water flow, creating stronger pressure without using more water. This version infuses 2 liters of air per minute, so you’ll feel a powerful spray with larger water droplets. It has an advanced spray engine, which delivers three experiences: full coverage, pulsating massage, and a dense “silk” spray, perfect for rinsing. Choose from seven finishes, including polished nickel and fancy French gold.
How high should a showerhead be installed?
This can be tricky—too low and a tall person will be uncomfortable; too high and the spray may feel out of reach. “We always make sure to mount a showerhead high enough for even the tallest person,” say Bordelon and Slocum. “At the same time, you don’t want [it] to be too close to the ceiling.” A good rule of thumb is to place it at around 80 to 84 inches from the floor. A rain showerhead, however, can be mounted higher without issue since the rain effect will only be enhanced.
Are there water-saving options?
A water-saving showerhead, also known as a low-flow showerhead, uses as little as 1 GPM of water, which is not only environmentally conscious but can majorly cut your water heating bill. And just because it uses less water doesn’t mean you’ll feel any less pressure. Many water-saving models utilize pressure-boosting air induction technology, like the Kohler Forté.
How We Vetted These Products
Every product in a Domino guide meets these criteria:
- They blend form and function. We believe the best-designed products reflect your personal style and are a joy to use.
- They’re expert approved. In addition to our team of editors, we tap a range of designers, makers, renovators, and all-around knowledgeable people to share their intel.
- They’re endorsed by people who actually own them. We pay close attention to real reviews to know that they pass the test IRL.