Bath and Shower Fixtures Information


Bath and shower fixtures are the devices that work together as a system to deliver water during showering and bathing. These systems control the temperature and flow of water in showers, bathtubs and custom stalls as well as the customized delivery of water in a highly diverse array of spray styles.


The fixtures are both a control panel to tailor the bathing and showering experience and the gateway to water being delivered at a chosen temperature and flow rate. Shower trims and valves allow the user to turn the flow of water on and off as well as manually control the flow rate and temperature of the water. Showerheads and bath faucets are both water delivery mechanisms that shape the flow of water as it emerges from the pipe into the shower or bathtub.


Advanced bath and shower systems date back to thousands of years B.C. in locations throughout the world, due to the relatively simple understanding of pressure needed to create them. The ancient Greeks first developed what would today be easily recognized as a shower system. Greeks built large communal shower rooms that tapped into their aqueducts made of lead pipes.


Personal shower and bath systems using mechanical fixtures began to take shape in the late 18th century. However, it took several decades of improvement in the design and popularization of reliable indoor plumbing in the mid-19th century before modern mechanical fixtures began to gain ground on self-filled bathtubs.




The main types of bath and shower fixtures include:


  • Showerheads (fixed overhead shower heads, hand showers, fixed body sprays)
  • Bath faucets
  • Shower trims
  • Shower valves 




Bath and shower fixtures connect to water pipes. Pipes carry hot and cold water to the shower valve; then additional piping delivers water from the valve to the bath faucet (if applicable) or showerhead. However, the first point of contact for users is the shower trim, which is the handle or handles used to turn the water on and off and set the temperature and flow rate. The shower trim also includes the metal ring that surrounds the handle.


A handle allows the user to control the shower valve, which is the most sophisticated and durable member of the bath and shower fixture family. These valves help achieve consistent water temperature and flow. Valves balance pressure from the hot and cold water sources through a system of check stops, which include the following devices:


  • Pressure-balancing spool
  • Cartridge limit stop
  • Temperature limit stop 

The cartridge and temperature limit stops encase inside a durable exterior that is designed to handle turbulent pressure and temperature swings.bath and shower faucets


Whether the shower trim includes one or two handles, pulling or turning these handles slides the cartridge forward in the valve so that cold and hot water runs to the showerhead or bath faucet. In most systems, water flows to the bath faucet by default. The faucet includes a mechanism to stop the flow, thereby redirecting it to the showerhead. In a three-handle shower trim fixture, a third handle allows the user to direct water to the showerhead or bath faucet. Bath faucets, regardless of design, deliver water through a single opening. However, shower heads disperse the water through a grid of small holes. The size of the showerhead, pattern of the holes grid and other special features determine how the water distributes.




Each member of the bath and shower fixture family has a wide variety of potential features. Some of the most popular and common features are noted in the following lists.


Shower valve features include:


  • Single-function pressure balanced valve cartridges, which provide a control for temperature only
  • Dual-function pressure balanced valve cartridges, which give the user the ability to control the temperature and volume of water independently
  • Dual-function thermostatic valve cartridges, which give the user the ability to control the temperature and volume of water. These cartridges also measure and monitor water temperature and automatically adjust the water mix to maintain a more precise temperature 

Showerhead features include:


  • Fixed overhead, handheld and fixed body spray applications
  • Varying head sizes, from 2-10 inches, which impacts the coverage of water over the user
  • Adjustable spray patterns to control width and power of spray
  • Flow rate differentiation—low flow (less than 2 gallons/minute max) to high flow (7 or 10 gallons/minute max)
  • Advanced touch on/off controls 

Bath faucet features include:


  • Handle-less with separate shower trim or handled, serving as the shower trim
  • Water stop mechanisms to divert the flow to the showerhead (if applicable)
  • Volume controls
  • Advanced touch on/off controls 

Shower trim features include:bath and shower faucets


  • One, two and three handle designs
  • Temperature only control
  • Temperature and volume control




Due to the amount of design value ascribed to bath and shower fixtures, they are made in a wide variety of materials that provide both functional and esthetic benefits. These materials include:


  • Brass
  • Nickel
  • Bronze
  • Stainless steel
  • Chrome 

Even within a particular material type, products are often differentiated by type of finish such as polished or brushed.


Selecting Bath and Shower Fixtures


Choosing the right bath and shower fixture is a personal decision based on the user’s desired showering and bathing experience as well as preferred esthetics. While the style of the showerhead, shower trim and bath faucet is a primary consideration, the different types of shower experience the features deliver should not be overlooked. The fixture chosen will provide one or more of the following results:


  • One setting with basic shower spray
  • Customizable pressure and spray settings
  • Spa-like features such as spray type mixture and volume
  • Detachable function with custom spray settings
  • Multiple shower heads with varying mount locations 

When renovating a shower and bath, it is also important to consider compatibility of fixtures with existing plumbing.


Specifications and Standards


Each element of a bath and shower system has unique characteristics and features. The installation guide provided by the manufacturer should be followed in order to get the most out of your complete solution. Fixtures need to be matched with the plumbing of your dwelling in order to measure its expected effectiveness after installation. The overall pressure and placement of your plumbing will quickly determine the range of choice and potential budget impact. Consult the vendor’s documentation or the manufacturer’s specifications along with professional plumbing advice before you make your decision.


Relevant Standards


WW-P-541/3 -  Plumbing fixtures (bathtubs)





Image Credits:


Delta Faucet Company 




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