Category: Bathroom


Talking Toilets with Chip Wade (or, How to Choose a Toilet)

While the mechanics of a toilet are pretty basic, there are several factors to consider when it's time to shop for a new one, says HGTV's "Elbow Room" host, Chip Wade.

How to Choose a Toilet - Delta

Photo: Delta

“With subtle style differences and various makes and models available, a toilet is a pretty simple machine designed to do a pretty basic job,” says Chip Wade, professional contractor and host of HGTV’s Elbow Room. They’re cast and coated with a porcelain protective finish. They have a tank and a bowl and a flush valve that—when pressed—lifts a flapper that fills the bowl with water and siphons the contents down the drain. Other than clogs, cracks, mishaps, and loose fittings, they perform their job without notice. End of story!

“But despite the straight-forward design and mechanics, not all toilets are created equal,” says Wade. If you’re in the market for a new one, here are some things to take into consideration to make sure that the product that you choose and install is the best one for the job.

How to Choose a Toilet - Diagram

Illustration: professortoilet.com

SEAT HEIGHT
The average seat height of the standard commode is roughly 15 inches from the floor to the top of the seat. Comfort height, sometimes referred to as ADA Compliant Height, toilets have become increasingly popular in the last several years, in part because the higher seat makes them easier for the elderly to use. They measure between 17 and 19 inches from the floor, a distance more comparable to standard chair height. While seat height is clearly a personal decision, notes Wade, having a comfort height toilet in the bathroom may be a selling point for a future buyer.

BOWL SHAPE
Toilet bowls come in essentially two shapes, round or elongated. Round bowls are usually less expensive and take up less space, measuring roughly two inches less than their elongated counterparts. “If you can fit it into your design, I recommend an elongated bowl,” says Wade. An elongated bowl provides more support and comfort, and as this is becoming the shape of choice, it will be easier to find a replacement seat should you need one.

WATER USAGE
Toilets account for about 27 percent of the water used in the average home, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program, with some models—depending on age—using between three and seven gallons per flush. By law, new toilets can’t use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush, so if you have an old toilet, replacing it will be not only a decorative improvement, but a cost-saving one as well. “Good performance is key when it comes to toilets,” says Wade, “so look for products that are manufactured by well-known brands and that carry the WaterSense® label,” which indicates that they use 20 percent less water than the standard now required by law.

Delta SmartFit Tank-to-Bowl Connection

Delta's SmartFit Tank-to-Bowl toilet

INSTALLATION
Even if you choose the best toilet on the market, its performance will be compromised if it is not properly installed. “You’ll want to make sure that all external bowl and tank connections are tight and secure, that the flush valve and flapper are installed and functioning properly, and that the water supply line and fill valve are connected, tight, and leak-free,” says Wade.

Newcomers to the category, like the Delta toilets that feature SmartFit™ Tank-to-Bowl Connection, make installation even easier for the do-it-yourselfer. The design uses a metal bracket mounted on the underside of the tank to secure the three anchoring bolts snugly to the bowl. By eliminating the holes typically found in the bottom of the tank for this purpose, the new Delta toilet reduces potential leak points—and the cracks often caused by overtightening. The toilet comes boxed with everything needed for installation—from tank, bowl, and seat, to mounting hardware, tools, and wax ring—making it a smart homeowner replacement buy.

For a look at just how easy it is to swap out your toilet, watch the Delta video below:

 


Buyer’s Guide: Tubs

From bare-bones functionality to almost unimaginable luxury, today's tubs offer a dizzying range of styles, features, sizes, and materials. Here's how to navigate the bubbly waters and find the perfect tub for you.

How to Choose a Bathtub - Niahome

Photo: niahome.com

Equal parts meditative and functional, today’s bathroom has been transformed into a spa, a place to unwind and refresh the body. Situated at the heart of this relaxation center is the tub. Once a utilitarian device, the tub has become a glamorous and, in many cases, exciting feature in bathroom design. These days, when it comes to choosing a tub, the possibilities are nearly limitless. Options include soakers and whirlpools; classic claw-footed models; contoured shapes, ovals, squares, and rounded; tubs with neck rests and armrests; tubs set into platforms; and tubs you step down into—or even walk into. All this variety comes at a price, so it’s important to remember that the total cost of a tub will reflect the amount of technology involved as well as the type of finish and material.

“It used to be that bathtubs were just a tub-and-shower combination, with the primary goal being showering and cleansing the body. Today, bathtubs are often separate from the shower, with the sole purpose of soaking to relax and unwind,” says Gray Uhl, director of brand education at American Standard. Buying a tub is no longer a simple decision, and because a tub can be an expensive and permanent purchase, it is very important to do the research before you actually buy.

Before shopping for a tub, first ask yourself how you like to bathe. Do you prefer a long lingering soak, or an invigorating whirlpool massage? Factor in how important bathing and other uses of a tub are to you and your family. Taking this opportunity to evaluate your goals and lifestyle before choosing a tub can be well worth the time investment.

TUB MATERIAL

Fiberglass: This is a lightweight, moldable material. A fiberglass tub is the least expensive type you can buy. Unfortunately, it’s prone to scratching and doesn’t wear well, lasting about a dozen years. Fiberglass with an acrylic finish will hold up longer.

Porcelain-Enameled Steel: This is a steel-based material covered in porcelain enamel. The result is a low-cost, smooth, glossy, and durable finish that is easy to clean.

How to Choose a Bathtub - American Standard

American Standard's Spectra Cast Iron Tub at Wayfair ($1,050)

Enamel-Coated Cast Iron: This classic material will endure as long as your house stands. Because of its heavy weight, especially when filled with water, it is not recommended for large soaking tubs, and it’s best used on ground floors.

Acrylic: This is a type of plastic featuring a high-gloss finish and excellent durability. Solid acrylic is a mid-price-range product that is more durable than fiberglass. Another plus: Scratches are less noticeable because the color is solid all the way through.

Because it is easy to mold into shapes, acrylic is a popular material for uniquely shaped whirlpools with molded armrests and other detailing. It’s also lightweight, an important feature in large tubs that can put damaging stress on structural elements.

 

TYPES OF TUBS

Standard Bathtubs
The two most common tub sizes are 60 inches long by 30 inches wide and 60 inches long by 32 inches wide. A standard rectangular-shaped tub, however, will have a smaller dimensioned bathing well, measuring 55 inches by 24 inches at the top and narrowing to 45 inches by 22 inches at the very bottom. These are general bathtub dimensions for both cast iron and fiberglass tubs. When you’re shopping, be sure to choose a tub with a drain in the correct location, either left- or right-sided to correspond to your tub faucet and shower placement.

Claw-Footed Tubs
Popular since the 1800s, claw-footed tubs are very traditional. They are often generously scaled and typically made of cast iron. This style is usually expensive in part because of the porcelain enamel applied to the exterior and interior surfaces.

How to Choose a Bathtub - Kohler

Kohler's 66-inch Iron Works Clawfoot Tub at Lowe's ($3,687.64)

Freestanding Tubs
Unlike a standard tub, a freestanding tub is not surrounded by cabinetry or built into an alcove. The tub may stand on feet, or be skirted or encased with custom-built panels and a stone, tile, or marble deck. Designed to be self-supporting, this type of tub can serve as a luxurious focal point for any bathroom.

Soaking Tubs
Soaking tubs are usually deeper and wider than conventional tubs; some units are as long as 6.5 feet and sized to accommodate two adults. Soaking tubs can be found in many different styles, from the classic enameled cast iron Victorian style claw-foot to ultramodern acrylic vessels. Models can weigh between 225 to 2,000 pounds, not including the weight of the water, which can be significant—soaking tubs require 50 to 80 gallons of water at 8.3 pounds per gallon. Heating the water can also be an issue. A hot water booster can be installed to augment an existing water heater or, in some cases, an on-demand heater may be necessary.

Whirlpool Tubs
A popular choice today is the sunken whirlpool tub, which comes with an array of therapeutic and relaxing options in the form of multiple jets or single jets that are installed in the walls behind the tub. You can also choose from a wide assortment of sizes, shapes, and colors, including models that fit into the standard 5- to 6-foot tub space. Among the more basic types of whirlpool baths is the hydromassage, which uses a pump to recirculate bath water out of several jets strategically located in the tub walls. Another is the therapeutic air massage—or “air bath”—that features an air system that encases the tub, engulfing the bather with thousands of gentle bubbles that pour in from small holes in the bottom and sides of the tub.

Manufacturers like American Standard, Jacuzzi, and Kohler offer luxury systems with a combination of both massaging jets and soothing air bubble systems in one unit, as well as baths equipped with heaters that warm the air before it enters the tub. If you’re in the market for a whirlpool tub, you’ll want to choose one that features a quiet yet powerful pump motor, is UL listed and approved, and has a removable front apron for easy access to internal parts and maintenance.

How to Choose a Bathtub - Jacuzzi

Jacuzzi Finestra Walk-in Tub at Quality Bath ($6,925.75)

Walk-in Tub
For seniors, or anyone with mobility issues, the walk-in tub offers a simple solution that combines safety with revitalizing hydrotherapy. Walk-in bathtubs come in several convenient sizes and can even be installed in a standard bathtub space. The tub includes a comfortable, chair-height, built-in seat and a grab bar for added security. Jacuzzi offers a walk-in bathtub with their patented PointPro jet system, featuring high-volume, low-pressure pumps with a perfectly balanced water-to-air ratio to massage thoroughly yet gently. They’re arranged in precise locations that deliver a therapeutic massage and are fully adjustable. American Standard’s walk-in bathtub offers options like whirlpool, air spa, and combo massage systems. The tub also comes with a special Quick Drain feature that incorporates a powerful pump that removes bath water in less than two minutes.

 


Bob Vila Radio: Bath Venting

The bathroom is the most humid room in your home. Tubs, showers, and sinks all produce moisture, which can lead to peeling paint, unsightly stains, and the growth of mold and mildew. Your best defense is an effective ventilation fan, which removes moisture and odor and encourages the circulation of fresh air.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON BATH VENTING or read the text below:

bathroom-venting

Photo: familyhandyman.com

There are three basic types. The most common are ceiling-mounted fans, which are installed directly in the ceiling and vent into the attic or through the roof. Less prevalent are inline fans, where a grille in the bathroom connects via ductwork to a fan installed in the attic. A third option, wall-mounted fans, are (as the name implies) installed on an exterior wall and vent outside.

What size fan should you buy? Vent fan capacity is rated in CFMs, or cubic feet per minute. According to the Home Ventilating Institute, an effective bathroom vent fan should produce eight air exchanges each hour. One rule of thumb is to estimate 1 CFM per square foot of bathroom area. For example, an eight-by-ten-foot bathroom is 80 square feet, so you’d need a fan rated at least 80 CFM. If your bathroom is especially large, or if you have a whirlpool tub, you’ll probably need an even more powerful fan.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Bob Vila Radio: Whirlpool Tub Considerations

Even in an average-size bathroom, you can install a jetted tub but prior to making a purchase, take the time to weigh all factors.

Do you dream of reclining in a whirlpool tub as the warm water bubbles around you, washing away your cares? If so, maybe you’ll want to include a jetted tub in your next bathroom renovation.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON WHIRLPOOL TUB CONSIDERATIONS or read the text below:

Installing a Whirlpool Tub

Photo: examiner.com

If you’re swapping out a standard 60-inch tub, the good news is that you can get a whirlpool tub to fit in that space. The bad news is that it probably won’t supply the luxurious soaking you had in mind, so you may not use it often enough to justify the cost. Before you buy, sit in one in a showroom or supply center to be sure you’re comfortable in it.

When you’re choosing a tub, note where the motor is located. You’ll need access to it if you ever need to make any repairs. Depending on your floor plan, access could be in a nearby closet or vanity, in an adjacent room, or even through the basement ceiling.

Also check your water heater’s capacity. Whirlpool tubs are deeper than regular tubs and hold more water. Your water heater should be able to hold about two-thirds of the tub’s capacity. And these tubs can be heavy, so your flooring may need to be reinforced to support the weight and withstand the vibration.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


Bob Vila Radio: Small Bath Sinks

Choosing the right sink for a small bathroom can make all the difference, physically and visually.

Choosing a sink for a small bath can be challenging. Choices are limited, and even if you find a sink that physically fits a space, it can still visually dominate a tiny room. Here’s a rundown of sink designs that suit small baths.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON SMALL BATH SINKS or read the text below:

Small Bath Sinks

Photo: pastelpatterns.com

Wall-mounted sinks are naturals for small baths because the open space below makes the room feel bigger. Some styles are great for retro-style baths; other sleek, modern versions are perfect for contemporary interiors. But wall-mounted sinks can give off an institutional vibe, they offer no storage, and the basins tend to be very small.

Pedestal sinks are also good choices: They take up less space than a vanity, and they add sculptural drama. Since they lack storage, look for models that have wide rims for accessories or soap, or are outfitted with an attached towel bar.

A console sink—a sink set on a table— is often outfitted with a bottom shelf that offers open storage. If  you need concealed storage, look for a petite vanity, but remember some of its limited storage will be eaten up by plumbing. Whatever the sink’s overall dimensions may be, pay close attention to the width and depth of the actual basin. A small basin may be fine in a powder room, but you’ll want something bigger in a full-function bathroom.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


How To: Replace a Toilet Seat

The range of available styles and options make choosing a new toilet seat a little more challenging than it used to be, but the actual task of replacement couldn't be easier. Here's what to do.

How to Replace a Toilet Seat

Photo: shutterstock.com

Though certainly not cutting edge, toilet seat design has witnessed a tide of innovation in recent years. So if you are planning to replace a toilet seat, especially if it’s been some time since you last perused the selection at your local home improvement center, keep an eye out for these key features:

Quiet closing: Gone are the days of toilet seats’ banging closed. Select a product with hinges designed to let the seat down gently.

Molded bumpers: The simple, no-nonsense advantage of molded-in-place bumpers? They do not break in the course of regular use.

Colors: Toilet seats now come in dozens of colors. One manufacturer, Bemis, offers a color selector tool to help homeowners navigate the field of available options.

Cleaning: The better the seat, the easier it is to remove for cleaning. Find a product that can be taken off with nothing more than a screwdriver.

Durability: Choose a toilet seat with stainless steel or zinc-plated hinge posts, which neither snap nor corrode as they hold the toilet seat in place.

Versatility: For kids, there are “trainer” models that have built-in, removable potty seats; for senior citizens, some toilet seat models feature side arms with slip-resistant grips.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- Replacement toilet seat kit
- Penetrating oil
- Adjustable wrench

How to Replace a Toilet Seat - Kit

Toilet seat replacement kit. Photo: JProvey

Different toilet seats require slightly different methods of installation. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions to understand the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the product you have chosen.

One thing is certain: Today’s toilets seats are so easy to install that removing the old one is likely to be the most difficult step in the process. If your existing toilet seat fastens to the bowl by means of metal hardware, the dampness and humidity of the bathroom may have corroded the hinges, making the nuts tough to remove. If so, spray each nut with a penetrating oil, such as WD-40, then wait 10 minutes and try again.

Once you’ve succeeded in removing the old toilet seat, proceed to install the new one. Few tools are required, because more often than not, it’s a simple matter of nuts and bolts. Slide the bolt through the appropriate holes in the toilet seat and bowl. Then, with an adjustable wrench, apply torque to the nut situated beneath the bowl. The larger or more elongated the nut, the easier your job is going to be. Some toilet seat replacement kits may require the use of a tool specially designed for tight spaces.

Will these new easy-install toilet seat designs prove their durability over time? We’ll find out. In the meantime, consider posting a sign over the toilet that warns, “No standing!”


How To: Install Shower Valve Trim

Install new shower valve trim to freshen the look of your bathroom quickly, easily, and at low cost.

How to Install Shower Valve Trim

Photo: JProvey

A fast and easy way to freshen the look of your shower is to install new shower valve trim. If your trim resembles mine on the day that I undertook this project, then it’s either conspicuously out of date or completely corroded—or both. Fortunately, of all the countless projects you might choose to do in the bathroom, this is one you won’t need the plumber for.

The very first step is to determine what type of shower valve you have. Identification may be visible on the valve. If not, try performing an image search online. Since the majority of older valves were made by only a handful of companies, you probably won’t have to sift through many results before discovering a match.

Related: Wet Tech: 10 Waterproof Gadgets to Enhance Your Shower

When purchasing a new trim kit, it’s important to buy one whose mounting holes are in the same position as the holes that are in your existing trim. Some trim kits have mounting holes at 5:00 and 7:00 positions. Others have them at 2:00 and 7:00. The kit packaging helpfully lists which type of valves the trim has been designed to fit.

Installing valve trim is a task simple enough that conceivably—if all goes according to plan, of course—you could finish the job before you begin your morning shower routine. Even beginning do-it-yourselfers ought to have no problem with the step-by-step instructions that follow.

 

How to Install Shower Valve Trim - Remove Screws

Photo: JProvey

Remove the screws holding the shower control handle in place, then proceed to remove the handle itself.

 

How to Install Shower Valve Trim - Place Trim

Photo: JProvey

Place your new trim plate over the valve. Mine came with a rubber gasket; others may call for plumber’s putty or caulk.

 

How to Install Shower Valve Trim - Screw Plate

Photo: JProvey

Screw the trim plate into position using the screws supplied in the kit.

 

How to Install Shower Valve Trim - Diverter

Photo: JProvey

If appropriate for your valve, install the diverter—that is, the mechanism which directs water from the plumbing lines to your shower head.

 

How to Install Shower Valve Trim - Retaining Ring

Photo: JProvey

Clip the diverter retaining ring in place if needed. As the ring in my kit seemed prone to popping out, I used some adhesive caulk to secure it.

 

How to Install Shower Valve Trim - Stem Cover

Photo: JProvey

Now install the valve stem cover(s).

 

How to Install Shower Valve Trim - O Ring

Photo: JProvey

Use the supplied O-ring to fasten the stem cover(s).

 

How to Install Shower Valve Trim - Screw In Control

Photo: JProvey

Finally, screw in your new control handle.

 

Installing the shower trim kit took me all of ten minutes. Removing the old trim? Well, that took me an hour. Inexplicably, it had been installed with drywall screws. Oh, the joys of home improvement!


Bath Fans Do More Than Clear Odors

Since the bathroom is the most humid room in any house, a ventilation fan is the best defense against moisture-related problems—namely, mold and mildew.

Bathroom Fan Installation

Photo: diylife.com

Humidity is not only uncomfortable, it is damaging to your home, particularly indoors where it can lead to peeling paint, warped wooden doors and floors, and the potential for mold and mildew. Nowhere is the humidity problem more evident than in bathrooms, where bathtubs, showers, sinks and toilets all contribute to the release of moisture into the air.

Fortunately there is an easy solution within reach of most do-it-yourselfers: installing a bathroom ventilation fan. Bathroom fans are designed to promote positive air movement, bringing fresh air into the bathroom and at the same time, removing steam, humidity and even foul odors from the area.  In short, improving the overall air quality in your home.

“Since the bathroom is the most humid room in a house, having a ventilation fan is a no-brainer,” says Daniel O’Brian, a technical expert from online retailer SupplyHouse.com. Ventilation fans are designed to solve air movement problems and improve indoor air quality in homes and buildings. In many cases they are required by local building codes. “In the bathroom, a ventilation fan can quickly and efficiently whisk away odors, along with steam and moisture to reduce the potential for mold and mildew,” he adds.

Bathroom Fan Installation - Components

PB110 Premium Bath Fan (One Grille/Vent Only) from SupplyHouse.com

Bathroom fans come in three basic types: ceiling-mounted, which are installed directly into the ceiling and ventilate into the attic or through the roof; inline/remote fans, where the actual fan unit is located in the attic and connected to a ceiling grille in the bathroom with ductwork, venting to the outside through the attic roof or wall; and wall-mounted/external fans, which are mounted on the exterior wall of the house.

Inline/remote fans offer several advantages over ceiling- and wall-mounted fans: because the fan unit is located in a different location, inline fans tend to be substantially quieter. Also, one inline fan can be connected to several ducts and therefore can be used to ventilate multiple locations—a shower and a tub for instance—or even multiple bathrooms.

The main goal of bathroom ventilation is to change the air, and most experts say an efficient fan should produce eight complete air changes every hour. Therefore, the capacity of bathroom fans is rated in cubic feet per minute (CFM), indicating how much air a particular fan can move. According to the non-profit Home Ventilating Institute a good rule of thumb is to use 1 CFM per square foot of bathroom area: for example, typical 8-by-10 foot bathroom comprises 80 square feet and therefore needs a ventilation fan rated at 80 CFM.

For bathrooms larger than 100 square feet, the HVI recommends installing ventilation based on the number and type of bathroom fixtures: for example, showers, tubs and toilets all require a fan rated at 50 CFM, while a whirlpool tub requires a fan rated at 100 CFM. Therefore, if you have a large bathroom with a whirlpool tub, shower and toilet, your total ventilation needs adds up to 200 CFM.

Bathroom fans come in varied models and sizes, and typically are rated for continuous duty. Since many homeowners today are concerned with energy efficiency, there are numerous fans that are rated as part of the U.S. Energy Star program; Energy Star-compliant fans use approximately 20% less energy than standard models. Some bathroom fans also come with timers, humidity/moisture sensors, motion sensors that turn on when someone enters the room, heaters and decorative lighting kits.

Online retailer SupplyHouse.com has produced some helpful videos that can provide more information about how to choose the right product for your needs:

This post has been brought to you by SupplyHouse.com. Its facts and opinions are those of BobVila.com.


Bob Vila Radio: Bathroom Storage Plans

If you’re about to renovate the bathroom, here are some tips for making sure you’ll be able to stash all your stuff.

I bet you’ve never heard anyone complain that his bathroom has too much storage space. If you’re about to renovate, here are some tips for making sure you’ll be able to stash all your stuff.

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Listen to BOB VILA ON BATHROOM STORAGE PLANS or read the text below:

bathroom-storage-plan

Photo: shelterness.com

Start by measuring your existing bath storage, then count up the items that don’t fit—the towels, toiletries, and brushes that are now cluttering up the back of the toilet tank or the deck of the sink, and the towels that end up on the floor because they don’t have a place to hang.

Be realistic about who’s using the bath. Does your household include small children or older family members, who need easy access to shelves? Think down the road, too: Will you soon have teenagers, with their ever-growing collections of hair- and skin-care products?

Now figure out where to put it all. Determine how many towel racks and robe hooks you need, and what size medicine cabinet you can fit. If you’ll need under-sink storage, opt for a vanity instead of a pedestal sink.

Carve out space for wall-mounted or freestanding cabinets. Recessed shelves, hampers, and cabinets are great space savers. Plan for shelves above the toilet, and build in tall recesses in the tub surround for soaps and shampoos.

Remember to leave space for the toilet paper holder, spare rolls, and a trash can! A little thought today will save you from a cluttered eyesore tomorrow.

Bob Vila Radio is a newly launched daily radio spot carried on more than 75 stations around the country (and growing). You can get your daily dose here, by listening to—or reading—Bob’s 60-second home improvement radio tip of the day.


How To: Install a Shower Head

A small project that makes a big impact, installing a new shower head is a quick and easy job that almost anyone can do—no fancy plumbing tools required.

How to Install a Shower Head

Photo: shutterstock.com

Installing a new shower head is not quite as easy as changing a light bulb, but almost.

MATERIALS AND TOOLS
- New shower arm (optional)
- Replacement shower head
- Pipe wrench
- Thread seal tape
- Plumber’s putty or caulk

STEP 1
As you begin, decide whether or not to keep the existing shower arm—that is, the angled pipe to which the shower head attaches. If the shower arm has become corroded over time, or if it doesn’t match the finish of your new shower head, scrap it. A pipe wrench does the job when you’re bare hands fail. Note that while shower heads don’t usually come with shower arms, you should be easily find an appropriate one for sale separately.

How to Install a Shower Head - Outdoor

Photo: shutterstock.com

STEP 2
Skip this step if you’ve opted to keep your existing shower arm. To install a new shower arm, start by wrapping its threads, two or three times over, with thread seal tape. Stretch the tape slightly, as you apply it. Next, carefully turn the pipe into the wall fitting, and then seal the wall opening with plumber’s putty. Slide the shower flange over the arm and  press it into the putty. Wipe away excess.

Related: 10 Dream-Worthy Showers to Give You Bathroom Envy

STEP 3
The next step depends on the type of shower head you’ve purchased. If yours is the type that attaches directly to the arm, here’s what to do: Use thread seal tape to wrap the threads at the base of the shower arm, then turn the shower head into position, taking care not to over-tighten. (If using pliers instead of a wrench, protect the finish on the fitting with several layers of cloth or plastic tape.)

Homeowners who have purchased a handheld shower head probably do not need to add thread seal tape at the shower arm base (to be certain, however, check the manufacturer’s directions). Here, installation consists only of threading the handheld onto the shower arm, before threading the handheld shower head’s flexible hose onto the bracket.

Additional Tips
• Arguably, handheld shower heads are more practical than fixed ones.

• A low-flow shower head saves both water and the energy your water heater must use to deliver a comfortable bathing experience.

• Metal shower heads generally perform better than plastic ones. Look for chrome finishes and brass construction. Ease of adjustment and problem-free longevity justify the added cost of such fixtures.

• Metal hoses on handheld shower heads are more flexible, and thus easier to manipulate, than plastic hoses.

• Shop online for greater choice, but visit stores for a chance to see and feel the products you’re considering. Expect to pay at least $80 for a quality model.