Whether you’re exploring shower heads for a bathroom renovation, looking for better water pressure, or simply want an upgrade, there are numerous options at your disposal. From luxurious rain shower heads to basic handheld models, these fixtures come with many forms and finishes to complement your bathroom space.
A new shower head offers significant benefits, perhaps more than you think. From spray settings like refreshing mist and rain, to massaging high-pressure, to water-saving shower heads—this seemingly simple purchase can make your bathing experience more enjoyable and less costly.
Read on for our top recommendations and tips on choosing the best shower head for your bathroom.
- BEST OVERALL: Delta Faucet 2-Spray H2Okinetic Shower Head, 75152
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: AquaDance High Pressure 3.5″ Handheld Shower
- BEST DUAL: Waterpik High Pressure Shower Head 2-in-1 Dual System
- BEST RAIN: SR SUN RISE 12 Inch High Pressure Rainfall Showerhead
- BEST LOW FLOW: Speakman Hotel S-2005-HB-E175 Low Flow Shower Head
- BEST HIGH PRESSURE: SparkPod Shower Head – High Pressure Rain
- BEST HANDHELD: American Standard Spectra+ Duo Shower Head
- BEST ANTIMICROBIAL: AquaDance Antimicrobial High-Pressure Shower Combo
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Shower Head
Are you replacing an existing shower head or remodeling a bathroom? The answer to this question will steer a lot of your decisions. Most bathrooms have wall-mounted shower heads, and unless you’re remodeling, you need to rely on current plumbing, ruling out ceiling-mounted options.
There are various shower heads with different spray settings to suit your needs—fixed versus handheld, or both, and rain versus jet streams. The current bathroom fixtures will help determine material if you want everything to complement each other.
Shower heads are available in different types and vary in functionality.
- A fixed shower head is smaller in size, with some having diameters of 5 inches or less. It attaches to the water pipe that comes out of the shower wall and has a ball joint to swivel and change the angle of the spray. Most allow users to switch between different spray settings.
- A handheld shower head sits in a cradle with a flexible hose attached. It can be used as a fixed shower head or removed from the cradle to rinse off shaving cream, wash pets or small children, or clean a bathtub or shower. The best handheld shower head will have a long hose that won’t kink, so bathers can reach the end of the tub or shower without worrying about the hose getting tangled.
- Combination or dual shower heads have both a fixed and handheld shower head. Users can use one or the other or both while showering. Some combination shower heads come with a rain shower head and can be handheld.
- Low-flow shower heads control the amount of water used to help conserve water. Look for a shower head with a 2.5 GPM (gallons per minute) or less flow rate.
- A high-pressure shower head provides a nicer rinse and a massage-like feeling on the body. It also uses more water per shower.
- Rain shower heads are also fastened to the wall, but they range from 6 inches and up, unlike fixed shower heads, and they often have a wider spray.
The three most common materials for shower heads are brass, stainless steel, and plastic.
- Brass is a durable, high-quality metal that won’t rust or corrode. Brass shower heads can last for years.
- Stainless steel is rust- and stain-resistant. Stainless steel is also lightweight and durable and can withstand extreme temperatures. It is also more cost-efficient than brass.
- Plastics such as ABS plastic are strong, nontoxic, and resistant to corrosion and chemicals. ABS is also BPA-free and heat resistant.
Gone are the days when the only options for a “nice” shower were being blasted out of the tub with a high-pressure shower head or barely getting enough water to feel relaxed and, well, clean.
Today, there are shower heads with upwards of 48 spray settings or more. For those who like jets spattering the body, no worries, that’s still a popular spray pattern. Other favorite patterns include rain, full, and massage.
Rain provides a gentle, wide spray. Full also offers a wide spray, but not necessarily soft. Massage is a little more forceful, like the jet, and also more targeted.
Flow rate is the amount of water flowing through the shower head—measured in gallons per minute (GPM).
For those looking to save water and lower their utility bills, look for a low flow rate of 2 GPM or less.
As of 1992, mandates restrict all shower heads to have a water flow rate of 2.5 GPM. Some local governments ask for even lower flow rates. If you live in Colorado or New York City, there is a 2.0 GPM limit. California has a 1.8 GPM restriction.
Manufacturers still make it possible to enjoy high-pressure showers with low-flow shower heads. They can increase the water pressure going out regardless of the pressure flowing through the shower head.
Most homes have wall-mounted shower heads. Because of this, the current plumbing configuration limits you to wall-mounted shower heads. For those planning a renovation or building a new home, choosing a ceiling-mounted shower head may be best.
Most ceiling-mounted shower heads won’t have the same spray pattern settings since they are so high. Water from ceiling-mount shower heads flows evenly over the body.
Unless you’re planning to redo the entire bathroom, you’ll likely want to match the new shower head to the current bathroom fixtures, including the finishes and materials. Some of the most popular finishes are chrome, polished brass, brushed nickel, and stainless steel. Keep in mind shiny finishes show off spots while matte finishes resist staining.
The size of the shower head itself can play a role in design and style. If you have space in a nice stand-up shower and want a square rain shower head up to 18-inches large, why not? It can add a modern look and provide a relaxing shower experience. Conversely, those with smaller bathrooms may need to stick with something smaller.
But smaller doesn’t need to mean boring. You can find fixed shower heads with different arm styles. Of course, there’s the traditional arm that comes out a bit and aims downward. Others are offset and extend from the wall and curve up. Not only does this provide more headroom, but it also gives off a contemporary look.
Some additional features that you can look for when purchasing a shower head:
- Ergonomic shower heads can come with extra-long hoses that reach the end of or even outside the bathtub or shower. This allows for easier shaving for women, cleaning kids and pets, and washing the bathtub and shower. Or, if you want to fill a bucket with water, you can set it on the floor and fill it outside of the tub.
- Nonslip grip handheld shower heads come with rubberized handles so that they don’t easily fall out of your hand while showering.
- LED lights add an extra level to the shower experience. Users can select from various colors depending on mood, or users can turn off the lights and just hide out if they need to ignore the world for a while.
- On/off switches allow users to pause the shower while shampooing or shaving to save water.
Installing a shower head is not a difficult task that requires a plumber, especially if you’re keeping the existing shower arm. Look for a shower head that states it will work with standard shower arms (if the one you have is standard), and you’ll be able to have a leakproof fit.
The tools most often required for changing a shower head are a crescent wrench and plumber’s tape. And in this scenario, it’s a matter of unscrewing and replacing. Other shower head installations call for more complex instructions.
Our Top Picks
Selected based on the shopping considerations detailed above, the following list contains some of the best shower heads on the market in a range of categories.
This WaterSense-certified shower head creates a wave pattern that cuts down on water consumption using 20 percent less water, even while providing a satisfying, luxurious experience.
For households with varying water pressure preferences, the dual settings of the Delta Faucet make it versatile enough to suit the whole household. On the one hand, there’s a conservative high-power spray, and on the other, water-saving comfort spray. Plus, the pivoting shower head lets users find the angle that suits them.
Self-cleaning spray holes help prevent lime and mineral buildup over time and decrease time spent cleaning and scrubbing.
This reasonably priced shower head from AquaDance has a 3.5-inch chrome face and comes with many features. The shower head has six spray settings: power rain, pulsating massage, power mist, rain massage, rain mist, and water-saving pause mode—to ensure every user in the house is happy. Quickly change the settings with the click-lever dial. The water-saving pause mode is excellent for pausing the shower and saving water.
The angle of the shower head is adjustable to ensure a suitable position, and the handheld shower head comes with an ergonomic handle for a comfortable grip. The flexible 5-foot hose has an excellent reach. The rub-clean jets make for simple cleaning and prevent lime buildup.
Users can pick their adventure every time they hop in the shower. This 2-in-1 dual shower system from Waterpik comes with two shower heads—one fixed and one handheld. Each shower head has six spray settings to choose from: full body, full body and massage, PowerSpray, PowerSpray and massage, PowerPulse massage, and water-saving trickle.
The PowerPulse massage is a therapeutic-strength massage that helps soothe muscle tension, increase flexibility, and promote restful sleep. Users can choose to use just the fixed shower head, just the handheld, or both at the same time. The shower heads use high-pressure 2.5 GPM flow.
This rain shower head indulges users in a spa-like experience at home. The soothing streams of water from the unit’s silicone nozzles mimic the downpour of a heavy rain, while, thanks to built-in air injection technology, the total output of the shower head never exceeds 1.8 gallons per minute.
This brushed nickel finish offers an elegant look while being durable and resistant to corrosion. And the silicone gel nozzles prevent lime buildup, plus dirt can easily be removed from the nozzles. The shower head is available in 10-, 12-, and 16- inch sizes.
This low-flow shower head from Speakman allows only 1.75 gallons per minute of water to stream into the shower head. But the 50 full-coverage water sprays and eight center massage jets ensure the shower delivers the same enjoyable shower experience found in a hotel bathroom. The shower head offers intense massage and combination spray patterns that users can transition through using the side handle on the shower head.
The shower head comes with a filter that removes up to 99 percent of chlorine and other contaminants from the water. It’s available in polished chrome, brushed nickel, brushed chrome, and polished brass.
Users can step into heavy rain each time they take a shower using this high-pressure rainfall shower head from SparkPod. And high-pressure doesn’t mean a waste of water—the shower head has a max flow rate of 1.8 GPM.
The shower head has easy-to-clean nozzles with 90 powered rubber jets that remove hard water deposits such as limescale—a durable shower head that will last years to come. Made of ABS plastic and chrome-plated, the shower head comes in various colors and boasts an easy, tool-free installation, allowing it to be quickly connected to a standard shower arm within 5 minutes.
Like most handheld shower heads, this American Standard handheld has a magnetic locking mechanism that holds the shower head in place. Unlike most handheld shower heads, however, the contour around the shower head has extra nozzles for 9.5 inches of shoulder coverage.
The shower head comes with an aqua toggle that changes sprays and a divert paddle that switches between spray heads. It comes with four spray patterns in all to fit different needs. “Drench” soaks the entire body, and the sensitive feature is a fine spray that’s soft and gentle on the skin. The shower head comes in four different colors and is available in 2.5 GPM and 1.8 GPM.
Steer clear of mold, mildew, and bacteria with this antimicrobial shower head from AquaDance. The shower head hinders the growth of all three, and the flexible rubber material on the nozzles provides easy rub-clean removal of calcium and mineral deposits. Plus, since nothing can grow in or around the nozzles, it won’t ever lose pressure from clogging.
Users can use both shower heads together or use them separately, and there are a total of 30 combined water flow patterns. Each shower head has six spray settings. The three-way diverter makes it easy to choose between shower heads, and the click-lever dial allows users to change from one setting to another. The shower head also comes with a water-saving pause mode to pause a shower and save on water. The shower head comes in three different colors.
FAQs About Shower Heads
There is a lot to consider when choosing a new shower head. If you still have questions about shower heads, then the following section may help. Check out these answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about shower heads.
Q. What should I look for in a shower head?
If replacing an existing shower head, try to match the color and finish to current bathroom fixtures. For those who want to save on their water bills, pay attention to the GPM. Do you want cool features like LED lights? Do a specific search for those. The two main features are type and spray because although looks are important, how you feel every time you step in the shower will ultimately win out as the priority.
Q. Can a shower head increase water pressure?
Yes. High-pressure shower heads can increase the water pressure.
Q. What is a good psi for a shower head?
In the U.S., the standard psi is between 45 and 55 pounds per square inch.
Q. How much does a water-efficient shower head save?
By reducing shower time by 2 to 3 minutes and using a shower head with a 2.5 flow rate, a family of four could save up to 2,300 gallons of water per year.
Q. What is the most water efficient shower head?
The best high-efficiency shower head is the High Sierra’s High Efficiency Low Flow Showerhead.
The best shower head will provide what you’re looking for in terms of how you want to feel. Do you want a lot of pressure, or do you prefer a massage? For those who are replacing an existing shower head, it should probably match the current bathroom fixtures. Maybe you want to help the environment and reduce water flow.
Choosing between fixed and handheld shower heads can make a difference in your shower experience. And do you want extra features like LED lights and an on/off switch? Ultimately the shower is a place to relax and even hide out sometimes, so consider all your options carefully so you can have the best shower experience.