The Shower Valve Buyer’s Guide

chrome and black exposed thermostatic shower valve

Navigating the shower valve landscape

If you’re planning to upgrade your shower setup, you may find yourself overwhelmed by the choices available, particularly when it comes to shower valves.

Modern or traditional, concealed or exposed, manual or thermostatic—the list of considerations can seem endless.

But don’t fret! Our comprehensive buying guide is here to simplify your decision-making process, providing you with everything you need to know about selecting the ideal shower valve for your home.

The role of your shower valve

Exposed shower valve on a bathroom wall

At the heart of your shower system lies the shower valve—a device that serves as the control centre for your hot and cold water supplies.

Not only does it regulate water flow and temperature, but depending on its type, it can also channel water to multiple outlets such as a hand shower, fixed shower head, and even body jets.

Essentially, a shower valve functions as the gatekeeper for water flow and temperature in your shower.

Choosing the right shower valve

Before you plunge into the selection process, you must first understand your shower needs.

Are you looking for a basic setup featuring just a hand shower, or do you aspire to a luxurious multi-functional system?

Once you’ve assessed your preferences, you can better gauge which valve type best suits you.

Here’s a short breakdown of the different shower types to help you decide which would work for you.

Twin Thermostatic Shower Valve

Designed to control water flow to a single outlet, this valve comes equipped with two handles – one for temperature control and another for managing water flow.

Triple Thermostatic Shower Valve

This valve variant allows simultaneous water flow to two outlets, such as a fixed shower head and body jets.

It has three handles – one for temperature and two for individual flow controls.

Twin Thermostatic Shower Valve with Diverter

Ideal for dual outlets, this valve has a temperature control handle and a diverter that lets you toggle between different functions, like a fixed head and hand shower.

Triple Thermostatic Shower Valve with Diverter

This option is perfect for those desiring water flow to three different outlets.

It comes with three handles – one for temperature, one as a diverter, and the third for independent flow control to a third outlet.

Why opt for a thermostatic shower valve?

Thermostatic shower valves are equipped with an anti-scald feature, providing a stable water temperature even if someone else uses water elsewhere in the house.

These are highly recommended for homes with young children or the elderly.

Inside the thermostatic valve is a temperature-sensitive element that expands and contracts to balance the water temperature.

If your water supply is disrupted, the valve will automatically shut down, ensuring safety against scalding.

Imagine taking a shower and suddenly experiencing a scalding burst of hot water or an icy chill when someone else in the house flushes a toilet or uses a sink.

A thermostatic valve prevents such fluctuations by utilising an internal thermostat that senses changes in water temperature and adjusts the mix accordingly.

Key benefits of thermostatic shower valves

Safety first

The anti-scald feature is particularly beneficial in homes with children or elderly individuals.

With a thermostatic valve, you can set a maximum water temperature to prevent accidental burns.

Consistent Temperature

Ever experienced sudden water temperature changes?

Thermostatic valves offer a steady water temperature, giving you a more comfortable and enjoyable shower experience.


Thermostatic valves can be paired with multiple showerheads, body jets, and other fixtures, providing you with a more customized and luxurious shower experience.

Installation and planning considerations

Outlet compatibility

Determine how many outlets (showerheads, hand showers, body jets, etc.) you want in your shower system.

Thermostatic valves come in twin, triple, and even quadruple configurations to accommodate multiple outlets.

Water pressure

Check your home’s water pressure level.

If you have low water pressure, you might need to install a water pump alongside your thermostatic valve to ensure optimal performance.

The type of wall

Some thermostatic valves can be concealed behind the wall for a sleek look, while others are designed to be exposed.

Make sure you know the type of installation that will work for your bathroom.

Professional installation

While DIY projects can be rewarding, installing a thermostatic valve requires a certain level of expertise.

A qualified plumbing professional should handle the installation to ensure it meets all safety and building regulations.

The flip side – Cons to consider

The cost

Thermostatic valves are generally more expensive than their manual counterparts.

However, the additional cost is usually offset by the long-term benefits of a safer and more consistent shower experience.

Keeping them maintained

Like all plumbing fixtures, thermostatic valves can develop issues over time, such as limescale build-up.

Regular maintenance and perhaps the occasional part replacement may be necessary.

Concealed vs. exposed shower valves

Concealed Shower Valves

a concealed thermostatic shower valve

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 face plate and handles.

This type of shower valve comes in a wide range of designs to enhance any bathroom style. A 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

  • Streamlined aesthetics
  • Diverse style options
  • More placement flexibility

Exposed shower valves

an exposed thermostatic shower valve

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.

So these are easier and less expensive to install, but they don’t offer the same aesthetic finesse as concealed valves (though the Elizabeth collection does look amazing!)

Reasons to Choose an Exposed Shower Valve

  • Easier installation
  • Cost-effective
  • Availability of modern and traditional designs

Modern or traditional – What is your style?

Your final shower valve decision revolves aroiund the design, and this would usually be dictated by your bathroom’s overall theme.

For a modern look, you should opt for concealed valves with square or round handles.

For a classic touch of vintage sty;e. cross-heads or l;ever handles and exposed valve systems are the way to go.

And it is probably a good idea to mathc them up with your bath taps and basin taps too!

We hope this guide helps you to decide which shower valves are for you. Choosing the right shower needn’t be a daunting task. Use our detailed guide to mak an informed decision and ensure your shower set up is both functional and stylish!

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