Buying Guide for the Best Shower Valve
For many people, taking a shower is a necessary part of their daily routine. However, if your shower isn’t working correctly, then it can throw off your whole day and create a host of problems that will only get worse. One overlooked component is a shower valve. This simple device can work in a variety of ways, but it’s imperative that you understand how it works and what it does so that you can be sure you’re getting the most value from yours.
Today we’re not only going to be looking at the shower valves, but we’ll dive into the various mechanisms and components involved so that you can make an informed decision. Whether your shower isn’t working or you’re looking to upgrade, the right shower valve can make a significant impact.
What is the Best Shower Valve?
Although these valves can be relatively complicated in some situations, the basic method of operation is this - the valve controls how the water flows from your pipe into the shower or bathtub. Some valves allow you to monitor and adjust the water pressure, while others may simply divert the water from the tub to the shower-head. In some instances, you may decide to get a valve that can do both, as well as control the water temperature.
Shower valves have to be installed behind the fixture and attached to the piping. Thus, you will likely want to seek professional help rather than doing it yourself. If you’re not sure what you’re doing, you could be looking at costly repairs, particularly if you don’t seal the pipes correctly before starting.
Overall, choosing the right shower valve can provide you with additional precision and control over the way you experience your shower. It can either be simplistic or complex, depending on your needs and your desires.
In Depth Reviews of the Best Shower Valves
1. Delta Faucet R10000-UNBX Universal Tub and Shower Valve
When it comes to bathroom fixtures, some companies are more well-known than others. Delta Faucet is one of the highest rated brands, meaning that you’re sure to get a lot of use out of this universal shower valve.
What we like most about this unit is that it doesn’t require complicated plumbing know-how to install it. It has three connector options, and it can work with a wide variety of control handles to get the results that you want. Also, it will fit onto almost any pipe with ease, making installation a breeze.
That being said, we still suggest consulting with a professional to make sure that it won’t leak or develop any problems. While you can do it yourself, you should always double check just to be safe. This shower valve is compatible with most Delta Faucet fixtures, so you can use it as a single or dual-control fixture. It will also work with thermostatic controls to enable you to adjust the water temperature as you see fit. Overall, this is a versatile and easy-to-use shower valve that will work in practically any bathroom.
- Durable brass construction
- Three connectors work with most plumbing
- Accepts single and dual control handles
- Works with thermostatic cartridges as well
- Can adjust fixtures without going behind the wall
- Made in the USA
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Cartridges not included
- In rare cases, the unit may leak
2. Kohler K-8304-KS-NA Rite-Temp Pressure-Balancing Valve Body and Cartridge Kit
For the most part, showers use a single control valve to manage both the water pressure and the temperature. Pressure balancing models are the most common, and this one from Kohler provides excellent results every time. What makes this valve high-quality is that it comes with both anti-scalding and anti-freezing protection. Also, it will regulate the water pressure and shut off if your system is too low. That being said, if you have a low-flow shower, this valve may not work properly, so you will want to test it beforehand.
As with most valves, you will want to get a professional to help with installation, but it does come with universal connectors, so you don’t need adapters, and it has a mounting bracket to hold it securely in place without any additional parts or equipment required.
- Pressure balancing valve
- Durable brass construction
- Anti-scald protection
- Water pressure regulation
- Mounting tabs for secure installation
- Maintains water temp within three degrees
- Standard connectors don’t require adapters
- Diaphragm design eliminates freezing and clogs
- Not designed for low-pressure systems (valve will shut off)
- May be tough to find a compatible trim
3. Pfister 00131XA 3-Handle Tub & Shower Rough-In Valve
With most showers, you only have a single handle that controls both the water pressure and the temperature. However, if you want more personalization for your bathing experience, then you may prefer to get a shower valve like this one from Pfister. What sets this model apart is that it has three controls instead of one. This way, you can divert water from the bathtub to the shower, and you can adjust the water pressure and the temperature separately.
Overall, if you like having an extra layer of control, then this is going to be a better option than any single-control model. As with all Pfister products, this shower valve comes with the brand’s limited lifetime warranty.
- Three control valve
- Durable construction
- Compatible with most trims
- Can control water source, temperature, and pressure
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Union nuts may have flimsy plastic components
4. Moen TL181 Chateau Single Handle PosiTemp Pressure Balanced Valve Trim
While picking out the right shower valve is the first step in upgrading your shower, you also have to get a trim so that you can use it. If you’re looking for a high-quality single-control trim, then this model from Moen is an excellent choice. This unit uses a single lever to help you adjust both the water pressure and the temperature. It has a sleek chrome finish, and it makes it easy to tell when the water is cold or hot at any given time.
Also, because it attaches to the valve, you can install it without any professional assistance. That being said, there does have to be a valve already in place as one does not come with this trim.
- Sleek, modern design
- Fits any pressure balancing valve
- Easy to install - no plumber needed
- Clear markings for hot and cold water
- Lever handle is elegantly simple
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Valve not included
- May not be compatible with all Moen valves
5. SR SUN RISE Square Pressure Balancing Shower Valve Control
For some people, having two controls in their shower valve is the best way to go. With this kind of setup, you can adjust both the water pressure and the temperature independently, which ensures that you get the best bathing experience possible. What we like about this dual-control valve from SR Sun Rise is that it includes both the valve and the trim. This way you don’t have to worry about finding one that is compatible after the fact, nor do you have to spend extra time and money on it.
The other excellent feature of this valve is that it uses a ceramic disk inside. Ceramic is much better at temperature regulation, and it will ensure a tight, leak-free seal. Simply put, this system is built to last.
- Designed for waterfall showers
- Dual-control system
- Adjust water pressure and temperature separately
- Valve and trim included
- NPT thread adapters reduce leaking
- Sleek, modern appearance
- Ceramic valve is built to last
- Works for both single and dual showerheads
- Some components are not as durable as others
- Not designed for a fixed shower (no bathtub)
6. Danze D112000BT
Our final shower valve is another single-control pressure adjustment system. That means that you can control both the water pressure and the temperature simultaneously, and it also protects you from scalding or freezing water while you’re taking a shower. This valve is easy to install thanks to the mounting bracket provided, and it uses a ceramic disk to regulate temperature better and reduce leaks or drips. As with all Danze products, it also comes with a limited lifetime warranty.
- Durable brass and ceramic construction
- Single control system
- Temperature limit adjustment
- Mounting bracket for easier installation
- Tight seal won’t drip or leak
- Limited lifetime warranty
- Only designed for Danze trims
How to Choose the Best Shower Valve
First and foremost, you will want to figure out where you’re going to deploy your new valve. The reason that this should be your initial step is that it will dictate the kind of valve you will want to get, as well as the installation process that may be required. For example, if you’re installing a new valve in the kid’s bathroom, you may simply want something that allows them to switch between the bathtub and the showerhead without any additional controls. If it’s for the master bath, you may prefer to have the ability to adjust your shower experience as you see fit. If you’re not sure what you’re trying to achieve, then you will probably want to consult with a professional to see what options are out there and what you can expect from each one. As we continue looking at various components of shower valves, it should help you get a better understanding of the potential you may have at your disposal.
Type of Shower Valve
Once you’ve figured out where you’re going to install the valve, then the next step is to determine which model is right for your needs. Typically speaking, there are three options available, so let’s go over the various elements of each valve in more detail.
If water temperature is crucial for you, then you will want to invest in a thermostatic valve. These models can either be manual or automatic, depending on how much customization and personalization you want to achieve. Manual thermostatic valves usually have an internal mechanism (like wax) that will cut off the water flow if it gets too hot. For example, if you live in a house where the shower can get scalding if someone else is using a water source (i.e., the toilet), a thermostatic valve may help you avoid getting burned. Automatic versions will usually come with a personalized control panel. This will enable you to set the temperature to your desired preference and ensure that it doesn’t go above or below. Typically, the valve will adjust the water pressure and flow to meet demand so that you don’t have to do anything besides set the temperature you want.
This type of shower valve works the same way as a manual thermostatic model, except that it doesn’t shut off the water entirely if it gets too hot. Instead, it monitors and regulates the water pressure from both the cold and hot sources so that your temperature remains constant. Using our example from above, if someone did flush the toilet (thereby reducing the amount of cold water), the valve would reduce the hot water pressure so that you don’t get scalded. Overall, pressure balancing valves are the most common as they alleviate the issues presented by old plumbing systems and ensure consistent performance from your shower.
If you have a shower that’s attached to a bathtub, then you want to be able to choose one or the other. Without this kind of valve, you will have water spraying from both fixtures, which can be annoying as well as exceedingly wasteful. Diverter valves can only move the water in one direction. Thus, you can just use the shower or the tub. Also, if you have a two-in-one showerhead (i.e., one with a handheld unit), then a diverter will only enable you to use one head at a time. Transfer valves, however, allow you to utilize water from different sources. With a transfer valve, you can operate both showerheads simultaneously if you prefer. If that sounds like something you’re interested in, then you will want to get a combo diverter/transfer valve that can keep the bathtub off while enabling both heads.
Typically speaking, shower valves will have one, two, or three control mechanisms. Let’s look at how more of these components can impact the overall experience. One Control - usually, this will be a pressure balancing valve as it will regulate the amount of hot and cold water, as well as the overall pressure. Two Controls - in this instance, the temperature is adjusted by one knob and the water pressure is controlled by another. Three Controls - in some cases, you may be able to adjust hot and cold water individually (if they are coming from separate pipes). Otherwise, it will be the same as a two-control valve except you can also divert the water as needed. When looking at a multi-control shower valve, you will have to buy handles for each option. For example, one-control valves will need a single trim, and so on.
Who Needs the Best Shower Valve?
Overall, if you’re looking to upgrade your showering experience, it may be time to find a better shower valve that can enable you to adjust things like the water pressure and the temperature. Other reasons to get a new shower valve may be that your old one is leaking or that it doesn’t work as quickly as it used to. Because these components can break down over time, it’s imperative that you keep them up to date so that you can maximize its performance.
Because the Best shower valve is the one that offers the most control and reliability for your bathing experience, we believe that the best model on this list is the Kohler Pressure Balancing Valve. However, if you want a little more customization, then we highly suggest buying the SR Sun Rise Square. We prefer the latter model because it also comes with a trim, and the ceramic components are built to last. Regardless, both of these valves will offer incredible results and will keep your shower in pristine condition for years to come.