Buying Guide

Shower Design Tips & Terms

Planning on adding a new shower to your home’s bathroom or remodeling an existing one? Knowing the right terminology gives you a common language and a starting place when planning and discussing your project. Knowledge is power when it comes to designing a shower that is just right for your needs. We compiled some helpful information for planning and discussing your project. Save valuable time (and money) by exploring these issues before shopping when you are designing a bathroom shower.

Consider These Tips when Designing a Shower

Tips to Consider

Avoid disappointment and added cost by planning in advance.

Often homeowners wait until their rough plumbing is installed behind the wall to actually shop for a shower system. If the valve that your plumber has installed does not support the shower system and design you fall in love with in a showroom, then you will incur costly changes to accommodate your vision of the perfect shower.

Make note of interior and exterior walls.

When planning a new shower layout, water can only be placed on interior walls.

Note water heater capacity.

Consider taking note of the GPM that your water heater can output, as that will impact your product selection.

Gallons Per Flush (GPF)

The amount of water used per flush. The current maximum allowed by law is 1.6 GPF, though newer models use as little as 1.0 gallons per flush.

Do you want to achieve a multiple-user shower?

Consider who will be using the shower and what features are important to each person. This will help guide your product selection.

Shower Enclosure

Most popular shower enclosures today are frameless or semi-frameless (with minimal metal utilized in construction to create a clean shower door look).

Curbless Shower

No-threshold or curbless showers continue the floor surface right into the shower with no lip or edge over which you must enter. Once considered primarily an accessible living option, these showers are now seen as a luxurious addition to any bathroom.

Linear Drain

This rectangular shower drain is a clean and modern alternative to the traditional 3” round drain. Linear drains come in various lengths and allow for any size tile and reduce the number of tile cuts. Linear drains offer a clean, elegant look.

Multi-threshold Shower

A modern and open showering experience with more than one exposed side. The standard shower has one threshold, while now there are options for two or three exposed sides.

Digital Shower Control

A digital shower control is an innovative shower system that allows for customized user shower experiences. Some are voice- or phone-controlled, offer temperature presets and other advanced features.

Shower Valve

The shower rough-in valve, which is behind the wall, controls the temperature and the flow of the water in your shower. It controls the temperature by mixing water from your hot and cold water supplies.

Super Slim Valve

Refers to a low-profile shower control and offers a very modern look.

Terms to Understand for a Perfect Shower Design

Terms to Understand

High Flow (GPM)

The standard measurement for water flow in plumbing fixtures is Gallons per Minute (GPM.) Multiple outlets require higher flow rates, so that several can be experienced at once (i.e. the handheld shower, rain shower, and body sprays are all on at the same time).

Volume Control

Certain shower systems allow for customization of water pressure from varied outlets (handheld shower, shower heads, and body sprays).


A handheld shower can be a replacement for a shower head or an addition to the shower experience. While it is desirable for accessible-living design, it also allows for easy cleaning of the shower, children, or pets!

Rain or Rainfall Shower Head

This popular shower head design is mounted from the ceiling or from a 90-degree shower arm off the wall. This provides a larger, wider spray for better body coverage. It gives a distinctly different shower experience than a traditional shower head.

Shower Base

Sometimes referred to as a shower pan, this provides a watertight floor for your shower. Shower bases come in standard sizes, and offer durability and ease of installation.

Shower Surround

When considering the walls around your shower, tile is still the most popular look. However, many manufacturers offer panel systems that allow for ease of installation, reduce areas for mold growth and provide for easy cleaning.

Shower Trim

Shower trim includes the finished pieces that mount over the valve to the wall. It includes the handle or components to turn the shower on and off and the surrounding metal.

Steam Shower

Steam showers are becoming more popular due to their health benefits. A residential steam shower system has three basic components: the steam generator, a digital steam shower control, and a steam head. You can combine regular showering and steam in one shower design when you totally enclose the shower with a glass door that does not allow the steam to escape from above.