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Shower buying guide
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Shower buying guide

Posted by Adam Chard in Buying guides | 3 months ago 15 min read

Is there anything better than a refreshing and invigorating shower to start your day? Find your perfect shower with our expert buying guide.

For many of us, our shower is a vital part of our daily routine. It's the place we do some of our best thinking, wake ourselves up after a good night's sleep or wash away our cares and worries after a busy day on the go. That's why a good quality shower, which works efficiently and effectively, is arguably one of the most important purchases you'll ever make.

In this shower buying guide, we'll help you find the perfect model, with a brief overview of the things you'll need to consider when choosing. We'll take a closer look at domestic water systems and different types of showers, as well as all those essential extras you'll need when fitting a shower.

Click on the links below to jump to a section:

What do I need to think about when choosing a shower?

When buying a new shower, the first things you'll need to consider are your water pressure and the type of domestic water system you have on your property. This may ultimately dictate what kind of shower you will end up buying.

What is your water pressure like?

The water pressure in your home will influence how powerful your shower is, and affect the type of appliance you will need. You can check the water pressure yourself using a quick and simple method, but it may be easier and safer to call in a professional instead.

Showers at Victoria Plum

Which water system do you have?

Different water and heating systems may affect your choice of showers. UK homes are generally built with one of three types of water system. Use the infographic below to identify your system:

How to identify your heating system

1. Gravity fed system

One of the most common, it usually features a cold water tank in the loft space and a water cylinder in the airing cupboard. This can result in low water pressure, but you can use a shower pump to boost it. One pump can feed two or three showers simultaneously too, so it’s a great option for larger properties with multiple showers.

2. Combi boiler system

Usually features a boiler with no tanks or water cylinders, designed to heat water as and when you use it. Combi boilers generally provide the highest possible water pressure and are compatible with a shower mixer to provide hot water on demand.

3. Unvented system

A water cylinder is heated by an immersion heater or boiler under high pressure, allowing large volumes of hot water to be supplied.

Once you know your water pressure and water system, you will know which types of shower would suit your home, and what accessories you may need. Our experienced team will also be happy to advise you. Find out whether you need a shower pump with our handy guide.

Types of shower

  1. Manual mixer shower—Mixes hot and cold water supplies together manually. They are easy to fit and simple to use.
  2. Thermostatic mixer shower—Incorporates a thermostatic valve which keeps your water at a constant temperature. It is particularly suited to families with younger children or the elderly, as it reduces the risk of scalding.
  3. Electric shower—Quick and easy to fit, electric showers have their own heating element meaning only a cold water supply is required.
  4. Power shower—Often confused with electric showers, due to their similar appearance, power showers draw from both your hot and cold water supplies and contain an integral pump which boosts your water pressure for a more satisfying experience.
  5. Digital shower—An advanced form of thermostatic mixer, this type of shower uses digital technology to allow you to set an exact water temperature. With some models, you can even switch your shower on and off using a remote control or smart phone.

As well as the technical considerations of choosing a shower for your home, you also have to think about its style and look, to ensure it suits your bathroom and your taste. There are lots of different styles of valve controls, shower rails, and shower heads to choose from, which will fit perfectly with designer bathroom suites.

We'll now explain more about each of the main types of shower.

Manual mixer showers

This type of shower works well in homes that have a good supply of hot water along with high water pressure. It mixes the hot and cold water supplies together so you can set it to your desired temperature each time you shower. Manual mixer showers are easy to install and very simple to work.

  • Requirements: Hot and cold water supplies. Minimum 0.1 bar of water pressure.
  • Recommendations: For families with young children, a thermostatic mixer (see below) will avoid the risk of scalding.
  • Benefits: Cost-effective. Easy to install and easy to use.

Square manual shower valve

Our Square manual shower valve is a simple solution to your showering needs

Thermostatic mixer showers

The mixer controls of this shower incorporate a thermostatic valve that keeps water at a constant temperature, which the user can adjust manually. This makes it an excellent option for young children or the elderly, as there is more reliable control over the temperature of the water.

  • Requirements: Hot and cold water supply needed. Minimum 0.1 bar of water pressure.
  • Recommendations: Use with an electric pump to increase water flow, if needed.
  • Benefits: Avoids the risk of scalding, and the temperature is not affected by water use elsewhere in the home.

Orchard Derwent round shower riser system

The popular Derwent shower riser system from Orchard Bathrooms contains a thermostatic bar valve

You'll find a wide range of thermostatic mixer showers to suit your needs at Victoria Plum.

Electric showers

Electric showers are a quick and convenient way to install a shower in almost any home. They contain their own heating units and so don’t need to be connected to a hot water feed, making them ideal for installation in ensuites or downstairs shower rooms.

  • Requirements: Cold water supply. Minimum 0.1 bar of pressure. Must be installed by a fully qualified electrician and plumber.
  • Recommendations: Use as a simple solution for ensuite bathrooms and shower rooms.
  • Benefits: Can be more economical. Temperature not affected by other water use in the house.

We work with some of the best electric shower manufacturers such as Mira Showers, Bristan, Triton, Aqualisa and AKW, to bring you a high quality range. Find out more about them with our electric shower buying guide.

Electrical shower installation should always be carried out by an experienced professional. Find out which tradesperson you should hire to fit your electric shower.

Gainsborough Slim Duo titanium grey electric shower

The Gainsborough Slim Duo, with its titanium grey finish, is a great example of a stylish electric shower

Power showers

The term “power shower” is often used to describe any type of shower that delivers a powerful flow, however (if we’re being technical!) it is actually a specific type of shower.

Sometimes confused with electric showers, due to their similar appearance, power showers contain an integrated pump, taking water from both your hot and cold supplies and boosting your flow.

Power showers can come with manual or thermostatic controls, depending on your needs. They are ideal for low pressure water systems, however, you will need a good, reliable supply of water for efficient use.

  • Requirements: Hot and cold water supply needed. Minimum 0.1 bar of water pressure.
  • Recommendations: Use with gravity fed water systems if your pressure is low
  • Benefits: Boosts your water pressure without the need for an additional pump

Find out more about the differences between power showers and electric showers in our Mira Showers power shower buying guide.

Mira Event XS thermostatic power shower

Boost your flow with a thermostatic power shower like the Mira Event XS

Digital showers

An advanced form of thermostatic mixer shower, digital showers offer precise control over your water temperature thanks to a simple processor box. Some digital showers even offer remote control using a separate controller or smartphone, meaning you can enjoy the luxury of switching your shower on from the comfort of your bed.

With a choice of exposed or concealed valves, digital showers are easy to install, making them ideal for contemporary bathrooms and ensuites.

  • Requirements: Hot and cold water supply, plus electrical supply, needed. Minimum 0.1 bar of water pressure.
  • Recommendations: Use with an electric pump to increase water flow, if needed. Some digital showers come with a built-in pump for gravity-fed water systems.
  • Benefits: Easy controls, avoids the risk of scalding and the temperature is not affected by water use elsewhere in the home.

Mira Platinum ceiling fed digital shower standard

The Mira Platinum is one of our most popular digital showers

Discover more about digital showers by reading the articles below:

Choosing a shower head

The shower head is probably the most important component in creating your perfect shower, as different shower heads can create very different experiences. There are three main types of shower head available:

Fixed shower head

Perfect for designer bathrooms, this type of shower head is generally fixed to the ceiling or to the wall, creating a clean, high-end feel. They are great for establishing a stylish and elegant look, and are luxurious and enjoyable to use.

However, they may not be the best choice for a busy family bathroom, as the head cannot be detached for more versatile use. There are both contemporary and more traditional styles available, so can be matched to any bathroom look.

Mode Renzo square slim stainless steel shower head 200mm

With its highly contemporary square design, the Renzo shower head is one of our bestsellers

Riser kit shower head

This type of shower head slots into a bracket fixed to the wall of your shower enclosure, meaning its position can be moved according to the height of the person using it, and can also be detached if you're just washing your hair or cleaning the bath or shower. With this style of shower head, there are lots of different designs available, complementing a wide range of bathrooms.

Mode Harrison thermostatic slider rail mixer shower

The Harrison is a great example of a shower riser kit with an adjustable handset

Combination shower head

A combination set allows you to have both a fixed and a detachable shower head for maximum versatility. There are many different designs available in both contemporary and traditional styles, so it’s easy to find what you want to create your perfect look.

Mode Harrison thermostatic triple shower valve shower set

The Harrison thermostatic triple shower valve shower set from Mode Bathrooms gives you flexibility, with both an overhead shower and handset

Find out why a dual outlet shower may be the perfect choice for you.

Choosing your shower valves

Just another one of the many things to think about when choosing your shower is the type of shower valve you’ll need. In general, shower valves fall into two main categories: Exposed and concealed.


Exposed valves are easy to identify, as all their working parts sit external to the wall. They can come in a variety of designs, with the most common being the bar valve. Your shower hose or pipe is attached directly to the valve.

Benefits: Cost-effective and easy to install.

Orchard Eden bar valve

The Eden bar valve from Orchard Bathrooms is one of the most common types of exposed valve


Concealed valves offer a more sleek and stylish appearance, with the working parts concealed within your wall cavity. Usually, the only parts on display are the controls with a back plate that sits flush to your wall. If you have a shower hose, it will normally feed into your wall via an outlet. Fixed shower heads will feed directly into your wall or ceiling.

Benefits: Sleek and stylish for a professional finish, space-saving.

Mode Cubik square triple thermostatic shower valve

The Cubik square triple thermostatic shower valve from Mode Bathrooms is suitable for use with 2 outlets

For more help and advice, including information on twin and triple valves, check out our in-depth shower valve buying guide

Choosing the style of your shower

As with most bathroom styles, showers fall into two broad categories: Contemporary or traditional.

Contemporary showers

Contemporary showers (sometimes referred to as “modern”) feature the very latest in on-trend design, including clean lines and simple shapes, with no fussy embellishments. Square shower heads and minimalist valves, especially those without back plates, are currently very sought after.

Mode Ellis thermostatic triple shower valve complete shower set

Featuring the very latest on-trend features, the Ellis thermostatic triple shower valve complete shower set from Mode Bathrooms is one of our bestsellers

Traditional showers

A traditional bathroom needn’t mean compromising when it comes to choosing your shower. You’ll find a wide selection of traditional style showers available. Look out for rain can shower heads with elegant hooped wall arms, plus vintage-inspired valves with ceramic levers and cross head handles.

The Bath Co. Dulwich rain can shower head riser shower system

Special finishes

Along with the more common chrome, you'll discover a range of different finishes for your shower, including black, gold, brass and brushed nickel.

Orchard Wye black thermostatic bar valve shower system

With a powder coated matt black finish, the Wye shower system from Orchard Bathrooms will give your bathroom a unique appearance

Click on any of the following for more colour and finish choices:

Shower fittings & accessories

Whichever option you choose, we have a range of shower fittings and accessories to complement the look and style of your bathroom. If you have the appropriate water system, you could add a bit of luxury to your shower with some body jets, available in both round and square designs to suit your bathroom.

How much does it cost to fit a shower?

Of course, once you've bought your new shower, you'll need to hire a competent and experienced Tradesperson to fit it. The labour cost involved will obviously vary in relation to the complexity of the installation and may depend on where you live in the UK. However, it could cost as little as £100, if, for example, it's a like-for-like replacement, or could be somewhere between £330–£430 for a brand new mixer shower installation (or up to £550 for an electric shower).

Find out how much a bathroom installation can cost.

Looking to take the first steps on the journey to your new bathroom? Why not take advantage of our free, no-obligation Bathroom Design Service?

Enquire about our Bathroom Design Service

Shower enclosures

As well as choosing the right type of shower system, you also need to choose your shower enclosure and accessories. At Victoria Plum, you can buy the shower enclosure products you need individually, or as part of a bundle. You can find more detailed information in our shower enclosure buying guide.


You need to start by thinking about the amount of space you have for your shower enclosure, and what shapes you can choose from. Square, D-shaped and rectangular-shaped shower enclosures are some of the most popular and fit nicely into most bathrooms. Pentagonal and quadrant enclosures are best suited to corner spaces. Measure up and make a plan of your room, so you can see how an enclosure would best fit into your space.

Orchard 6mm sliding quadrant shower enclosure

Fitting neatly into the corner of your bath or ensuite, the Orchard 6mm sliding quadrant shower enclosure is a nice little space-saver

Shower trays

If you want to create a freestanding shower enclosure, you’ll also need a shower tray. These can be low or high sided depending on the type of plumbing you have, and whether pipes will be above floor level or inset beneath the flooring. If you have underfloor plumbing or concealed pipes, you can go for slimline trays which sit flat against the floor, or we have elevated trays to disguise exposed pipes. All our enclosures have matching shower trays, so it’s easy to find what you need.

For more handy advice, read our shower tray buying guide.

Shower baths

If you simply want to install a new shower system over your bath, you won’t need a shower tray, but you will need a bath screen. A bath screen can provide a sleeker and more stylish alternative to a shower curtain, and there are lots of styles to choose from. We have single-screen or folding options, and other handy additions such as built-in towel rails.

For further information, browse our shower bath buying guide.

Orchard L shaped left handed shower bath 1700mm with 6mm shower screen

The Orchard L shaped shower bath comes in both left and right handed options, complete with a 6mm British Standard glass shower screen

Shop showers

Now you're armed with all the knowledge you need, why not browse our fabulous range of showers?

Shop showers

We stock a wide range of big brand names. Click on any of the links below, to explore your favourites:

Author, Adam Chard

Posted by Adam Chard in Buying guides | 3 months ago

A born & raised West Countryman, now living on the Yorkshire Coast, for over 10 years Adam has been bringing home interior ideas to life at Victoria Plum. Adam’s favourite interior styles have been shaped by both urban and natural influences.

Sales Line 0344 264 4141 Track order Design Service Trade account

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