From Rainfall to High Pressure: The 10 Best Shower Heads, Tested

Choose the ideal water pressure, spray settings, and more when purchasing a shower head that transforms your bathroom into a home spa.

By Tony Carrick and Tiffany Lewis and Amy Lynch | Updated Jan 19, 2024 4:32 PM

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more.

Handheld shower head spraying thick streams of water

Photo: Tony Carrick for Bob Vila

Whether you’re exploring shower heads for a bathroom renovation, looking for more water pressure, or simply want an aesthetic upgrade, there are numerous options available. From luxurious rain shower heads to basic handheld models, these fixtures come in many forms and finishes to complement any bathroom space. With spray settings like refreshing mist, massaging high pressure, or water saving, this seemingly simple purchase can make your bathing experience more enjoyable and less costly.

In an effort to find the best shower head, we tested 10 models, evaluating their coverage, water pressure, and spray patterns to find the ones that performed best. Of those 10, two didn’t make the cut, and we can’t recommend them.

Read on for tips on how to choose a shower head for your bathroom, and find out which eight models made our list of the best shower heads.

  1. BEST OVERALL: American Standard Spectra Duo 2-in-1 Hand Shower
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: AquaDance 6-Setting 3.5-Inch Handheld Shower Head
  3. BEST DUAL: Waterpik PowerPulse Massage Dual Shower System
  4. BEST HANDHELD: Moen Engage 6-Function Spray Head Handheld Shower 
  5. BEST RAIN: Nerdon Rainfall Shower Head Combo
  6. BEST LOW-FLOW: Speakman Hotel Low-Flow Shower Head
  7. BEST HIGH-PRESSURE: SparkPod High-Pressure Rainfall Shower Head
  8. BEST ANTIMICROBIAL: AquaDance Antimicrobial High-Pressure Shower Combo
Matte black shower head mounted on large-scale square taupe tile

Photo: Tony Carrick for Bob Vila

How We Tested the Best Shower Heads

To test each of the 10 shower heads, we installed and used them for at least four showers. We evaluated how easy they were to install and whether standard steps were sufficient for preventing leaks. We used all the shower head’s features, noting the coverage and variation of each spray pattern setting and the intensity of the massage features.

For combination models, we tested both the main shower head and handheld, assessing how easy (or difficult) it was to remove and reattach the handheld to its mount and toggle between the outputs.

We also considered the shower head’s build quality along with functionality to determine how well it would hold up over extended use. Finally, we evaluated the aesthetics of the shower heads and which decor styles they would match best.

Our Top Picks

The following list contains some of the best shower heads on the market, chosen based on type, spray settings, flow rate, aesthetics, and more.

Best Overall

American Standard brand chrome Duo Shower Head on white background

Product Specs 

  • Type: Combination
  • Spray patterns: 4
  • Main head diameter: 9.5 inches


  • Magnetic docking station makes it easy to attach and reattach the handheld shower head
  • Integrated dual shower heads combine to create a broad rainfall spray pattern
  • “DivertPaddle” and “AquaToggle” features make it easy to switch between heads and modes


  • Limited range of adjustment makes it difficult to direct the flow of water lower, which might impact use for taller individuals
  • Has a futuristic look that may not suit some bathroom designs

This American Standard shower head sets itself apart from other handheld models with a magnetic docking mechanism and a broad 9.5-inch head that gives it shoulder-to-shoulder coverage. It comes in several finishes at a 1.8 gallons per minute (GPM) or 2.5 GPM flow rate (we tested the 2.5 GPM version).

This dual shower head uses a toggle to change between spray patterns and a diverter paddle to swap between heads. When the handheld unit is attached to the main one, the two combine to create a rainfall-like flow. By pushing the paddle to limit the handheld flow, we got a higher-pressure spray perfect for rinsing shampoo and conditioner. The head also has a drench pattern that soaks the entire body and a fine-spray/sensitive pattern that’s soft and gentle.

Another highlight is the handheld’s magnetic attachment design. It’s easier to remove and reattach than a bracketed shower head, and the attachment point allows it to hang lower for better accessibility. 

We were less impressed by this unit’s small adjustment range. For example, to use the massage setting on the lower back, users at about 6 feet or taller will have to remove the handheld from its mount; the spray won’t reach that distance when mounted. Plus, the design, while quite functional, also gives this shower head a futuristic look that may not suit some bathroom designs. 

Get the American Standard shower head at Amazon, Walmart, or Build With Ferguson.

Best Bang for the Buck

Round 3.5 inch chrome handheld shower head spraying water on white background

Product Specs 

  • Type: Handheld
  • Spray patterns: 6
  • Main head diameter: 3.5 inches


  • Broad range of spray patterns that include rain, rinse, and massage
  • Easy to cycle through various setting using the shower head’s dial design
  • The tested 2.5 GPM version produced ample water pressure with all spray patterns


  • Plastic construction may not survive repeated drops on hard tile

This reasonably priced shower head from AquaDance has a 3.5-inch chrome face with six spray settings—power rain, massage, power rinse, rain massage, rain rinse, and water-saving pause mode—to ensure everyone in the house is happy. It includes a flexible 5-foot hose with excellent reach and rub-clean jets for easy clearing of lime buildup that could otherwise block the jets. 

In addition to its low price, we found a lot to like about this shower head. Switching between spray patterns was easy, as was removing and replacing the handheld from its cradle. The rain pattern applied soft and soothing pressure, and the rinse setting was ample enough to wash away shampoo and conditioner. It also produced a surprisingly broad coverage area. The massage settings were powerful, producing a high-pressure stream that could easily soothe an aching back and sore neck. The pause setting would be particularly nice for those serious about saving water. 

We also liked the wide range of pivot on the mount, making this shower head adaptable for bathers of varying heights. There was no leaking at connection points or from the head during testing. Our only concern was the durability of the plastic shower head, which we could see potentially cracking if dropped repeatedly onto a hard shower floor. 

Get the AquaDance handheld shower head at Amazon or Walmart.

Best Dual

Chrome Waterpik brand shower head and handheld shower head on white background

Product Specs 

  • Type: Combination
  • Spray patterns: 6
  • Main head diameter: 5 inches


  • Main shower head produces excellent coverage in full body spray pattern setting
  • Controls make it easy to toggle between shower head and handheld and change spray patterns
  • Long hose gives the handheld enough range for bathing children and pets


  • High water pressure on the PowerSpray settings is uncomfortable on the skin
  • Gray color of shower head base isn’t particularly attractive

This two-in-one dual shower system from Waterpik comes with two shower heads—one fixed and one handheld. Each shower head has six spray settings: full body, PowerPulse massage, full body plus PowerPulse massage, PowerSpray, PowerSpray plus PowerPulse massage, and water-saving trickle. 

During testing, we found the performance of the Waterpik’s various spray patterns to be mixed. The coverage and feel offered by the full-body settings were good, but the massage settings could have had more pressure. This lack of oomph was surprising, given the overwhelming intensity of the shower head’s PowerSpray setting, which was downright painful on bare skin.

The rotating head on the Waterpik makes it easy to choose between handheld, shower head, and combination. We also liked the long 5-foot hose, which would be great for bathing young children or pets, though we wish the handheld were a bit easier to connect and disconnect from the head. In terms of build quality, the Waterpik is made of lower-grade plastic, which didn’t inspire confidence that it could survive more than a few drops on the shower floor. 

Get the Waterpik shower head at Amazon, Ace Hardware, Walmart, or Target.

Best Handheld

Moen brand chrome 6-Function Handheld Shower head on white background

Product Specs 

  • Type: Handheld
  • Spray patterns: 6
  • Main head diameter: 5.5 inches


  • Magnetic mount makes it easy to remove and reattach the shower head
  • Handle is easier to reach when mounted as compared to most handheld shower heads
  • Push-button controls make quick work of cycling through spray patterns


  • Large head makes it more conspicuous and bulky than other handheld models

This Moen handheld shower head provides excellent flexibility, allowing users to bring the handheld down to bathe young children or stand and rinse off beneath a massive stationary head. It features six setting options, including massage, relaxing massage, wide coverage, rinse, downpour, and intensify. It’s easy to remove and replace the head from the magnetic dock, and its matte or chrome finish options will suit most bathroom designs.

We loved how easy the handheld was to remove and reattach during testing. Plus, since it is attached to the mount via the head, the handle hangs below the spigot, making it easier to reach for shorter users. Rather than using a lever on its head to rotate between settings, it features a button that cycles through its spray patterns. 

The Engage is also one of the largest handhelds I tested at nearly 10 inches between the head and handle. In terms of performance, though, it was merely average. It offers good coverage compared to other handheld models, but not as much as most fixed or combo models. Water pressure for the massage settings was pretty standard.

As for appearance, the Engage has an attractive modern look. We liked that the entire shower head has a chrome finish, though we did wish the large and very visible mounting bracket was also chrome instead of dull gray plastic. 

Get the Moen shower head at Amazon, Lowe’s, Wayfair, Walmart, Build With Ferguson, or Moen.

Best Rain

Square chrome Rainfall Shower Head and handheld sprayer on white background

Product Specs 

  • Type: Combination rain
  • Spray patterns: 5
  • Main head diameter: 12 inches


  • Combines the luxury of a rainfall shower head with the functionality of a handheld
  • Works with a standard shower spigot thanks to a 15-inch extension arm
  • Handheld unit complements rain shower head with 5 different spray settings


  • Handheld uses a suction cup mounting system that may not stay secure

This low-flow shower head from Speakman saves water by allowing only 1.75 GPM of water to stream into the shower head. But the 50 full-coverage water sprays and eight center massage jets deliver the same enjoyable shower experience found in upscale hotel rooms. 

During testing, the Speakman worked well. It produced good water pressure on the spray setting, though we wished it provided a little more coverage. The massage function delivered enough water pressure to soothe sore muscles. We also particularly liked the Anystream 360-degree system, which allowed us to change spray patterns by rotating the knob on the side of the shower head. It made cycling through spray patterns easy and allowed for more control over the mix of its two spray patterns.

In terms of looks, the Speakman is one of the more attractive shower heads we tested, thanks to its all-chrome housing and relatively small profile. And though its housing is plastic, it has a sturdy feel that inspires confidence that it will last for a long time.

Get the Nerdon shower head at Amazon

Best Low-Flow

Small round chrome shower head on white background

Product Specs 

  • Type: Fixed low-flow
  • Spray patterns: 3
  • Main head diameter: 4.13 inches


  • Chrome finish and compact size give this shower head an attractive look
  • Anystream 360-degree system makes changing between spray patterns easy
  • Single stream spray pattern provides ample massage intensity


  • Coverage isn’t as good as the larger diameter shower heads out there

This low-flow shower head from Speakman saves water by allowing only 1.75 GPM of water to stream into the shower head. But the 50 full-coverage water sprays and eight center massage jets deliver the same enjoyable shower experience found in upscale hotel rooms.

During testing, the Speakman worked well. It produced good water pressure on the spray setting, though I wished it provided a little more coverage. The massage function delivered enough water pressure to soothe sore muscles. I also particularly liked the Anystream 360-degree system, which allowed me to change spray patterns by rotating the knob on the side of the shower head. It made cycling through spray patterns easy and allowed for more control over the mix of its two spray patterns.

In terms of looks, the Speakman is one of the more attractive shower heads we tested, thanks to its all-chrome housing and relatively small profile. And though its housing is plastic, it has a sturdy feel that inspires confidence that it will last for a long time.

Get the Speakman shower head at AmazonThe Home Depot, or Build With Ferguson.

Best High-Pressure

Round chrome Shower Head spraying water on white background

Product Specs 

  • Type: Fixed high-pressure rain
  • Spray patterns: 5
  • Main head diameter: 6 inches


  • The large diameter of the shower head creates a broad spray of water
  • Chrome finish and streamlined shape make it an attractive shower head
  • Broad range of adjustment for bathers of varying height


  • Has limited functionality with only 1 spray pattern

With this high-pressure rainfall shower head from SparkPod, high pressure doesn’t have to mean a waste of water—the SparkPod head has a max flow rate of 1.8 GPM. If a shower head only has a single spray pattern, as this one does, it better be good—and the SparkPod’s is. The rainfall spray pattern provides some of the best coverage and pressure of any shower heads we tested, even with the flow restrictor installed. 

Along with its coverage and feel, we also liked the broad range of movement this shower head offered. It was easy to adjust its water flow to suit various heights. With a simple look and chrome-plated finish, the SparkPod was also one of the more attractive shower heads we tested. Installation was quick and tool-free—connecting directly to a standard shower arm in minutes. And it also has easy-to-clean nozzles with 90 rubber jets that remove hard water deposits such as limescale. 

Get the SparkPod shower head at Amazon, Walmart, or SparkPod.

Best Antimicrobial

Chrome round shower head and handheld sprayer combo on white background

Product Specs 

  • Type: Combination
  • Spray patterns: 6
  • Main head diameter: 7 inches


  • 6 spray patterns on both the main shower head and handheld
  • Antimicrobial on nozzles in both heads resist mold and mildew growth
  • Main shower head produces a broad spray that covers the entire body


  • Build quality feels cheap in comparison to other shower heads

Steer clear of mold, mildew, and bacteria with this antimicrobial shower head from AquaDance. This combo shower head features a 7-inch rainfall face and a 4-inch handheld unit. Each has six spray settings that can be used together or separately for a total of 30 combined water flow patterns. During testing, the options seemed endless, and we couldn’t find a pattern we didn’t like. 

The wide spray options offered ample coverage, the mist pattern was a nice soothing option, and the massage setting provided ample pressure for soothing sore muscles. We also liked the availability of these spray patterns on the handheld, which was particularly useful for rinsing conditioner out of thick hair or targeting specific muscle groups. The three-way diverter made it easy to choose between shower heads, and the click-lever dial quickly changed settings from one to another. 

We should note that the handheld attaches to a bracket just behind the main shower head, which could make it harder for shorter individuals to reach. This combination model is also one of the bulkiest shower heads we tested, but we liked its all-chrome finish. It is made with what feels like a cheaper grade of plastic, which makes us wonder how well it will hold up over extended use. 

Get the AquaDance combo shower head at Amazon


Delta Universal Showering 5-Setting Shower Head

Unfortunately, the 1.75 GPM flow on this shower head translated to a less luxurious shower than the other heads we tested, even compared to other water-efficient models. The full-body spray setting, the main setting on most shower heads, had notably less coverage than other shower heads as well, and the single stream setting didn’t provide enough water pressure to provide much massaging action. While we liked the inclusion of a rinse spray pattern, it lacked the water pressure to fully rinse conditioner from thick hair.

High Sierra WaterSense Classic Fixed Shower Head

While High Sierrra’s shower head is certainly one of the most efficient shower heads out there, we found it unpleasant during testing. This shower head offers one spray pattern, which doesn’t consist of separate streams but rather a fire-hose-like burst of water. While this design allowed it to produce impressive water pressure with a low flow rate, it wasn’t at all soothing. It was also notably louder than other shower heads we tested.

Jump to Our Top Picks

What to Consider When Choosing a Shower Head

Are you replacing an existing shower head or remodeling a bathroom? The answer to this question will inform a lot of the decisions you need to make when choosing a shower head. This is because most bathrooms have wall-mounted shower heads, and unless you’re remodeling, you’ll need to rely on current plumbing, which rules out ceiling-mounted options.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t opt to change a shower head. Various shower heads with different spray settings are available to suit your needs: fixed versus handheld, combination units, and rain versus jet streams. The finish of your current bathroom fixtures can help determine the material to choose (if you want everything to match).


Shower heads are available in different types and vary in functionality.

  • A fixed shower head is relatively small in size, often with a diameter of 5 inches or less. It attaches to the pipe that comes out of the shower wall and has a ball joint to swivel and change the angle of the spray. Many fixed shower heads have multiple spray settings users can switch between.
  • 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. Bathers 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. Shower heads with WaterSense labels are verified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to use no more than 2.0 GPM.
  • High-pressure shower heads provide a nicer rinse and a massagelike feeling on the body. They generally also use more water per shower.
  • Rain shower heads can be mounted to shower ceilings or walls, but fastening them to the wall may require an extender arm. They typically have a diameter of 6 inches or more with a wide coverage area.


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.

Spray Settings

Gone are the days when the only options for a “nice” shower were being blasted out of the tub with a high-pressure head or barely getting enough water to feel relaxed and, well, clean.

Today, shower heads can come with dozens of spray settings. Common patterns include jet, full, rain, 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 jet, and also more targeted.

Flow Rate

Flow rate is the amount of water flowing through the shower head—measured in gallons per minute. Those looking to save water and lower their utility bills will want to 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, there is a 2.0 GPM limit, and California and New York have a 1.8 GPM restriction.

Manufacturers still make it possible to enjoy high-pressure showers with low-flow shower heads. Their designs increase the water pressure going out regardless of the pressure flowing through the shower head.


Most homes have wall-mounted shower heads. If this is the case for you, the current plumbing configuration will limit you to wall-mounted shower heads. For those planning a renovation or building a new home, choosing a ceiling-mounted shower head is an option.


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 cozier 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. Traditional arms come out a bit and aim downward. Others are offset and extend from the wall and curve up. The latter style provides more headroom and gives off a contemporary look.

Additional Features

Some shower heads come with additional features that various users may prefer.

  • Ergonomic shower heads often have 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 spraying down 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 the tub.
  • Nonslip grip handheld shower heads come with rubberized handles, making them less likely to fall out of your hand while showering.
  • LED lights add an extra level to the shower experience, and users can select from various colors to match their mood or decor.
  • On/off switches allow users to pause the shower while shampooing or shaving to save water.


Installing a shower head is not difficult and typically doesn’t require a plumber, especially if you’re keeping the existing shower arm.

A crescent wrench and plumber’s tape are often all that’s required to change a shower head. In this scenario, it’s simply a matter of unscrewing the old head and replacing it with the new one. Manufacturers will include instructions with your purchase, and they may instruct you to add tape to ensure a leak-proof installation. More complex heads may require some additional tips and research on how to install a shower head.


There is a lot to consider when choosing a new shower head. If you still have questions about shower heads, the following section may help. Check out these answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

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. The two main features, however, are head type and spray pattern settings because, although looks are important, how you feel every time you step in the shower is ultimately the priority. For those who want to save on their water bills, pay attention to the GPM.

Q. Can a shower head increase water pressure?

Yes. High-pressure shower heads can increase the water pressure.

Q. What is a good pounds per square inch (PSI) for a shower head?

In the U.S., the standard PSI is generally between 40 and 60.

Q. How much water does a water-efficient shower head save?

By installing a WaterSense-labeled shower head that uses 2.0 GPM or less, the average family could save 2,700 gallons of water per year.

Q. What is the most water-efficient shower head?

Based on our tests, the water-efficient shower head we liked best is the Speakman Hotel shower head.

Why Trust Bob Vila 

Bob Vila has been America’s Handyman since 1979. As the host of beloved and groundbreaking TV series including “This Old House” and “Bob Vila’s Home Again,” he popularized and became synonymous with “do-it-yourself” home improvement.

Over the course of his decades-long career, Bob Vila has helped millions of people build, renovate, repair, and live better each day—a tradition that continues today with expert yet accessible home advice. The Bob Vila team distills need-to-know information into project tutorials, maintenance guides, tool 101s, and more. These home and garden experts then thoroughly research, vet, and recommend products that support homeowners, renters, DIYers, and professionals in their to-do lists.

Meet the Tester

Tony Carrick is a freelance writer specializing in home improvement, landscaping, technology, home security, and design. His articles have been featured on such sites as Angi, Popular Science, Futurism, 360 Reviews by U.S. News & World Report, Domino, and more. Carrick has conducted rigorous product testing on everything from power tools to home security systems to backyard grills. With each review, his goal is to help readers determine whether a product meets their needs and if it is or isn’t worth its price tag.

Additional research provided by Amy Lynch and Tiffany Lewis.