The Shower Valve Buyer’s Guide

So, you’ve decided it’s time to upgrade your shower, and you’re probably wondering where to start, especially when it comes to deciding which shower valve to choose. With so many types of shower valves available, it’s no surprise that choosing the right one can be tricky.

Shower valves come in a variety of designs such as modern and traditional, as well as exposed, concealed, manual and thermostatic, plus not to mention one, two and three outlets – no wonder it’s not a straightforward decision! On top of that you’ll need to make sure it matches your shower head and is compatible with your home’s water system.

To make things a whole lot easier and clearer for you, we uncover all there is to know about showers valves in our expert buying guide.


What does a shower valve do?

A shower mixer valve connects to the hot and cold water supplies, and controls the flow and temperature of the water to a shower head. Some shower valves supply water to just one outlet such as a shower handset, while others supply water to a selection of outlets depending upon the style of your shower and its functions.

Concealed shower valve with 3 controls

Which shower valve do I need?

Before you choose a shower valve you will need to decide what kind of shower system you would like. For example, would you prefer a simple slide rail kit with a handshower, or perhaps a more elaborate system with a fixed shower head, handset and body jets would better suit your requirements? Once you’ve made this decision, you can then select the most appropriate type of shower valve. We explain the various types below.

Twin thermostatic shower valve – supplies water to 1 outlet such as a fixed shower head. One handle controls the temperature, while the other controls the flow of water.

Triple thermostatic shower valve – supplies water to 2 outlets such as a fixed shower head and body jets, both of which can be on at the same time. One handle controls the temperature, while the other 2 are the flow controls for each outlet.

Twin thermostatic shower valve with diverter – supplies water to 2 outlets such as a fixed shower head and handset. One handle controls the temperature, while the other handle is the diverter, which allows you to switch between the 2 different functions.

Triple thermostatic shower valve with diverter – supplies water to 3 outlets for example a fixed shower head, handset and body jets. One handle controls the temperature, the other is a diverter, which allows you to switch the water flow between one of two outlets. The last handle is a flow control, which independently allows you to control a third outlet such as body jets.

What is a thermostatic shower valve?

A thermostatic shower valve (or TMV valve) is specially designed to maintain the water temperature. If someone turns on a tap or flushes a toilet elsewhere in the house, the shower valve will prevent the water from turning freezing cold or scalding hot. For this reason, a thermostatic mixing valve is the best option for families with young children, and for the elderly too. This type of valve incorporates an automatic anti-scald device to ensure a safer showering experience.

Thermostatic shower valves typically feature two or more handles – one controls the flow and the other controls the temperature. Once you are happy with the temperature, you can simply leave that handle in the same position, so all you need to do is turn the shower on/off each time you use it.

Reasons to choose a thermostatic shower valve:

  • Precise thermostatic control ensures a constant temperature
  • Suitable for families with young children
  • Use with any shower outlet you want
  • Anti-scald technology
Shower valve

How does a thermostatic mixer valve work?

A mixing valve features a temperature sensitive element that expands and contracts in response to the varying water supply temperatures and pressures. As the element contracts and expands, it moves a slide valve, which adjusts the amount of hot and cold water entering the valve – this is how the water remains at a constant temperature.

If the water supply fails, the valve will automatically shut down by the element expanding and pushing the slide valve down, closing off the hot water supply, and therefore preventing the water reaching scalding temperatures.

TMV 2 Scheme badge

What does TMV2 approved mean?

Run by BuildCert (now called NSF International), TMV2 is an independent testing scheme specifically for thermostatic mixing valves. The scheme ensures that national and international standards are met, and a thermostatic shower valve must comply with these exacting standards.

A TMV2 approved shower valve provides a high level of thermostatic protection, and is completely safe for use in domestic properties in accordance with the Building Regulations. TMV3 certified shower valves are approved for use in the healthcare industry.

What is a manual shower valve?

Simple to use, a manual shower valve works in a similar way to a mono basin tap, where you lift and turn the handle to control the flow and temperature. Available with and without a diverter, manual shower valves are suitable for use with high and low pressure systems. Although just bear in mind that a shower diverter valve requires a higher pressure to ensure a good flow rate.

The main disadvantage of choosing a manual shower valve over a thermostatic shower, is that there’s no thermostatic control. So, if you’re in the shower and someone flushes a toilet elsewhere, the water will run freezing cold or scalding hot!

push button shower valve with 3 buttons and temperature control

Push button shower valves

The Milano push button shower valves provide an easy and convenient way to control your shower. They are supplied with five interchangeable push button controls, each etched with a different shower outlet image including a fixed shower head, shower blade, hand shower, bath spout and body jets, so you can configure your shower just how you want it.

Made from brass with a durable chrome finish, the push button shower valve comes in two and three outlet options, and each one incorporates anti-scald technology to ensure a safer showering experience.

Should I choose an exposed or concealed shower valve?

Shower valves are available in two main designs – exposed and concealed. Your choice will depend upon your budget, the style of your bathroom and the look that you want to achieve.

Concealed shower valves

Concealed shower valves are a great option if you want to achieve a neat, streamlined finish. The valve and all the pipework is hidden behind the tiles in the shower area, and the only visible part is the chrome face plate and handles.

This type of shower valve comes in a wide range of designs to enhance any bathroom style. The chrome finish blends seamlessly in with any décor, and the solid brass construction ensures great durability. Modern handles can be square or round, while traditional feature more decorative details. For a classic and timeless look, opt for a valve with crosshead handles.

It’s important to consider the recess that will need creating behind the tiling. A concealed shower mixer valve will need approximately a recess depth of 100mm. If the space isn’t available, a thin stud wall can be built instead. When the tiling is completed, the face plate creates a neat, streamlined look.

In case anything goes wrong, the handles on a concealed shower valve can be removed, allowing access to the cartridges.

Reasons to choose a concealed shower valve:

  • Provides a neat, streamlined finish
  • Wide range of styles available
  • Increased flexibility on the position of the valve and shower outlets
concealed shower valve with shower handset and slide rail

Exposed shower valves

Available as modern bar designs and traditional styles with lever controls and ceramic details, exposed shower valves sit on the wall. Although this doesn’t create such a neat finish, an exposed valve is usually less expensive to buy and install compared to a concealed shower valve.

Exposed valves are also ideal if you have solid brick walls that are unable to accommodate a concealed valve. As the hot and cold water pipes only need chasing in within the wall, it makes this type of valve quicker and easier to install.

An exposed valve is a cheaper option, but it doesn’t give you the same flexibility in the positioning and design choice.

Reasons to choose an exposed shower valve:

  • Quicker and easier to install
  • More affordable than a concealed valve
  • Modern and traditional designs available
exposed shower valve with modern shower head and sliderail

Modern or traditional?

Once you’ve decided between a concealed or exposed, manual or thermostatic and the number of shower outlets, all that’s left to do is choose a modern or traditional design.

To enhance a modern bathroom, and for a clean, contemporary look, opt for a concealed shower valve with square or round handles. If your bathroom is traditional, choose an exposed or concealed shower valve with cross-head or lever handles for a timeless and classic look.

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