Water feature: choosing the right type of shower for your home

From walk-in wet rooms to compact shower enclosures and over-bath solutions, choosing the right shower will get your day off to the best start

Walk-in shower, cubicle, over-bath shower… when it comes to choosing the right configuration for your bathroom, there is a diversity of options to suit varying needs.

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We’ve put together a quick and easy guide to the most popular types of shower system. We explain the pros and cons of each set-up for different households, and talk to experts in the bathroom industry for their advice. Read on to find out what shower type will work best for you:

Wet rooms

The benefit of a walk-in shower area is it allows you to future-proof the bathroom, because a low-level or seamless shower tray or flooring is easy to access for all ages and abilities.

Wet rooms tend to be spacious and not as confining as a cubicle, as well as offering an ultra-contemporary look that can be personalised with colourful or patterned tiles and on-trend brassware. Do away with the bath if you hardly use it and install an oversize walk-in wet room instead.

Heritage Bathrooms shower wetroom
A completely open wet room is a practical choice for a compact en suite, as it doesn’t take up much room. Just make sure it’s professionally tanked or waterproofed. Hemsby shower in rose gold, £1,000; Wynwood wall-mounted basin, £245; Hemsby taps in rose gold, £195; Wynwood WC and cistern, £420, all Heritage Bathrooms

The drawback is time, upheaval and money, as they will require tanking (waterproofing), which will incur additional costs and disruption. Your installer can advise you on plumbing with regard to the correct gradient for the waste.

‘A true wet room means the shower area is flush with the floor level, and the drain is fitted into the tiled floor,’ explains Yousef Mansuri, head of retail design at C.P. Hart.

‘Originally, this would have been completely open without any glass, but for practicality in an everyday bathroom, a simple fixed glass panel to create a ‘walk-in’ shower area has become the go-to.’

Mira shower
Combine a smart shower with a walk-in wet room. Mira Mode digital shower with remote control and app operation, from £690; Mira Ascend 8mm hydrophobic coated glass enclosure, from £189, both Mira Showers

A completely open wet room is a practical choice for a compact en suite, as it doesn’t take up much room. Just make sure it’s professionally tanked or waterproofed.

Drummonds shower
As part of a project by Cuschieri Architects in Malta, an Art Nouveau apartment was completely renovated and now includes a stunning wet room inspired by Moroccan hammams. It features brushed brass Grand Floor Standing Shower Pipes, from £1,372 each; hand shower and wall bracket, £515; Chessleton thermostatic valve with china lever handles, £774; on/off controls, £785 and shower rose, £541, all from Drummonds

Shower cubicles

An enclosed area with a tray and glass surround is a more straightforward solution and this is generally installed in addition to a bath.

The drawback is that it will take up more space, so it is best suited to larger family bathrooms – you can get the children bathed and hair washed while you have a quick shower, keeping everyone happy.

Installation is a lot less complex than a wet room, which makes it less expensive and less hassle, and you can still create a walk-in effect by choosing a single sheet of frameless toughened glass and low-level surface solution. This also helps contain the water spray.

Triton shower
Available in white, black or cloud grey, Host is Triton’s digital mixer shower that allows you to enjoy a unique experience with three customisable pre-sets for flow and temperature. With digital display, it also has a warm-up feature and a start/stop control that can be located outside the bathroom. Prices start from £580

For smaller areas, choose a bi-fold, quadrant or curved screen and consider building into alcoves, airing cupboards or unused box rooms adjacent to the bathroom.

Merlyn shower
Made from 8mm toughened glass, the reversible curved showerwall from Merlyn’s Series 8 collection deflects water spray and is available in three widths. Priced from £1,193 for the 900mm size

‘Customers are often unaware that they can purchase a shower enclosure with a roof,’ says Lorna Wainwright of Alchemy Design Award.

‘This presents many advantages, not only in terms of providing a cosy draft-free showering environment, but also steam containment and increased functionality.’

CP Hart shower cubicle
FitBox is a hammam cube from Effegibi at CP Hart, priced from £1,420. Designed to fit into smaller spaces, it combines an aluminium frame with 8mm glass that seals in the steam produced by the Effe generator. It can be fitted to traditional-style shower trays or flush with the floor and comes in two sizes, as well as a made-to-measure option

Over-bath showers

A great space-saving solution for smaller bathrooms, installing a shower over the bath suits those who enjoy a long soak as well as those who want a quick hair wash or a blast in a hot shower. A lot of baths are now available with the same footprint as a typical shower enclosure for those who don’t have space for separates.

BC Designs over-bath shower
A lot of baths are now available with the same footprint as a typical shower enclosure for those who don’t have space for separates. BC Designs’ Tin Bateau bath is made using 18th century techniques and features curved ends to support head and shoulders. Prices start from £4,032. Axbridge 3 outlet exposed shower column in chrome, £1,595, Booth & Co

The downside of an over-bath shower is that busy households may find that everyone wants to use it at the same time, so it’s not ideal if you are all sharing one bathroom.

Consider either a P or L-shaped shower bath complete with curved or straight-lined bath screen, or go for something more eclectic.

Burlington Bathrooms shower bath
A shower over the bath saves space in a smaller bathroom. Team a traditional roll-top tub with a classic-style shower rose. Hampton bath, from £748; bath screen with access panel, £549; Edwardian basin with chrome washstand, £508 and Standard high-level WC, £1,027, all Burlington Bathrooms

‘At Day True, we tend not to select a complete bathroom suite,’ reveals Hayley Robson, creative director. ‘All the items are individual, which for me is what makes bathrooms so exciting.

‘I also think there is a tendency to ensure everything matches, whereas I think it is much more interesting if they don’t all match.’

Day True bathroom
This monochrome bathroom scheme by Day True features wow factor tiling and a sleek white tub with arched overhead shower arm. Similar designs start from £8,000

Choosing the right shower

Take time to assess the type of shower you need – electric, which takes hot water on demand from the mains cold supply; mixer showers that use hot and cold water supplies, thermostatic to prevent the risk of scalding, eco electric or mixer showers with limited water flow, and digital with remote and even voice control.

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Showerhead configuration is also something to consider. There are concealed and exposed designs, fixed, handheld and recessed ceiling mounted, amongst others. By planning each element carefully, you’ll soon have the perfect shower set-up to suit all your needs.

Tips for choosing an eco-friendly shower system

Yvonne Orgill, Managing Director at the Unified Water Label 

• It is easier than most people think to be environmentally conscious when choosing a new shower. Look for the Unified Water Label (UWL) when choosing, which gives clear information on how much water a product uses.

• Choose an electric eco shower or mixer eco shower. Manufacturers offer options that are designed to limit water consumption and reduce your water bill, without compromising on the showering experience.

• Check your water pressure and the efficiency of your boiler. Your shower is only as efficient as your whole water system.

• Look at your product to see if a shower flow regulator is included. Some manufacturers incorporate them in the valve and some in the showerhead. Use a professional installer who can advise on which products will match your water pressure.

• Time yourself and reduce the amount of time you spend in the shower. It is estimated that if everyone in Europe cut their shower time by just one minute, we could save 7% of all the water used in Europe.

• Visit europeanwaterlabel.eu to compare products for efficiency.