With shower mixers you will need to look at the options available for your water pressure.
High Pressure: If you have high water pressure (mains pressure) you can use almost any type of shower mixer.
Low pressure: If you would like a lever mixer, it is good to choose a venturi type shower mixer, which helps ensure a good flow of water to the shower. Our experience is that of the lever mixers for low pressure systems, a Methven mixer with a fast flow feature gives the good result. Felton have just released some excellent low pressure lever mixers too. Shower mixers are usually mounted at about 1m high which is a comfortable height to use and children can reach them.
Very Low pressure: If you have very low pressure (like you will find if you have a header tank that feeds the hot water cylinder) the best type of shower mixer that we have found is a fixed wall shower head called a Feltonmix. See felton.co.nz. One of the downsides of this model is that children can’t reach the mixer.
Shower Rose options
Slide rail option: This has a shower rose on a hose which can be moved up and down a rail which enables the height of the shower rose to be adjusted to suit people’s different preferences for the height of the rose. The rose can be unclipped from the holder and used to hose down the shower which helps to make cleaning easier.
Low pressure: When a slide rail is used, it takes more water pressure to push the water through the hose and up to the shower rose. Some slide rail shower heads are designed for lower pressures and are often labelled as “all pressure”. If you have very low pressure, a Feltonmix unit or a fixed rose will give you better pressure in the shower.
Water saving shower head: A new type of shower rose head is available that causes jets of water to collide with each other to create thousands of droplets of water giving the feeling of a fuller spray. In the shower, this feels like you are using a lot of water, but in fact you are not, and it saves water compared to a conventional shower rose. The system is called a Satinjet, and is designed by a well know New Zealand brand called Methven. For more information see satinjet.com.
Massage functions: Some massage functions are available on the mains pressure models – from what I understand, they are not often used.
Advice for choosing a Shower
The basic shape is a rectangle or square floor, and the typical sizes are 750x900mm, 900x900mm, or 1000x1000mm with a hinged door on one side. The exact size of the tray can vary up to 20mm depending on the supplier. The shower wastes are usually in the centre of the tray or in one corner. The shower liners are usually 1830mm high, so the total shower height will be the height of the shower tray flat edge + 1830mm. A typical shower tray height is 70mm to 110mm. Some low profile trays go as low as 40mm. Other options for the shape include having a corner cut off the square shape at 45 degrees with a hinged door, or to have one of the corners rounded and have curved doors that slide on a track.
Corner Shower: The hinged door on a square or rectangle tray suits most circumstances, but can be restrictive whensmall spaces are required because the door opens out into the room and may hit a vanity or the bathroom door for example. It can stick out in the room making it annoying to walk around too.
Angled Corner: The 45 degree door helps by making it easier to walk around and it doesn’t go in to the room as much. The down side of the 45 degree door is that it takes up quite a bit of shower space, making the shower feel a lot smaller.
Round Corner: The Curved Shower is very practical and nice looking. The curve on the front means that it doesn’t stick in to the room as much and is easy to walk around, but it still feels like a good size shower. Another advantage with the curved doors is that the doors slide on a track and stay inside the shower unit. When the doors are opened after the shower is used, the water rolls down the glass doors and stays inside the shower tray, so there is no dripping on the floors. They are useful for tight spaces too because the doors don’t swing open and hit anything. The doors can be unclipped for easy cleaning in most of the curved shower models.
3-sided or Alcove shower: The 3-sided shower has 3 walls and one door. Traditionally these showers may have had a stainless steel shower tray and a shower curtain or a 3 panel sliding door. The more modern option is to fit an acrylic tray, an acrylic shower liner and a clear glass door.
Shower liner options
Acrylic Liner: The most common modern option for the shower walls is an acrylic liner. It is strong, flexible, water proof, white, shiny and easy to clean. They are glued to the walls and sealed with an overlap down to the shower tray. It is a very reliable system and very rarely gives trouble. Where the shower liner meets the tray there is sometimes a small gap visible.
Moulded Acrylic Liner: When you choose your shower almost all showers come with an option of having a soap and shampoo holder moulded in the acrylic liner. It is a very good idea as they are easy to clean and wont leak. The downside to a moulded liner can be that it takes up shower space if it’s on a flat wall – this isn’t usually much of a problem, but you may notice it more in smaller showers. An alternative option available in some shower models is to have shelves moulded in the corner of the shower liner. Some moulded liners also have a foot rest for a person to use while shaving their legs.
Tiled walls: Tiled walls can look stunning. The tiled walls rely on the waterproofing behind the tiles to ensure there are no leaks. Latex waterproofing is very good and is approved by councils, but it does fail sometimes. Other options for waterproofing include special shower liners that can be tiled over.
Seratone or Hardiglaze: Seratone has a glossy paint finish over a hardboard sheet, and Hardiglaze has a glossy paint finish over a fibre cement sheet. Seratone was commonly used as a shower liner over stainless steel trays before other options became available. It is pretty reliable if it is installed properly using the drip edge system such as over a stainless steel tray or coved vinyl and can last up to 40 years. When Seratone gets old or stays wet for long periods it absorbs water and becomes soft and breaks, when Hardiglaze gets old or stays wet for long periods it gets brittle and fragile and breaks. The cheapest colour is white, but Seratone have other colours and Hardiglaze have tile looking options available.
The main differences in shower models
You may notice that a cheap acrylic shower can be approx $1,000, while an expensive shower can be approx $3,500. The main factors that increase the price are:
- The thickness and height of the glass. Thicker glass looks nicer and it makes the glass stronger. Stronger glass means that it doesn’t require an aluminium frame around the outside of the glass, so it looks nicer and is easier to clean. This is called a frameless glass shower.
- Hinges and handle options
- If it is made in NZ or China or elsewhere
- The shower tray is more solidly built, is straighter and has a lower step.
- The design. This depends a lot on the personal taste of the owner. One way of describing it could be: If you look at a flash car versus an average car, you might say that they both have four wheels on the ground and get you from A to B – but one looks heaps better. Nicer model Showers are like that too. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why they look nicer, they just do.