Everything You Want To Know About Handheld Showerheads 

 September 12, 2021

By  Tricia Hale

There is nothing that feels better than enjoying a refreshing shower after a long and tiring day on the job. Taking a long hot shower can help calm your senses and warm water is always great for alleviating pains and aches or for soothing sore stiff muscles.

The only thing that can better than enjoying a good shower when you feel all tired and sweaty is enjoying a shower with a handheld showerhead installed within.

Handheld showerheads are a true bathroom innovation because these altered showerheads give you a lot more flexibility and comfort in your shower.

What Is A Handheld Showerhead?


A handheld showerhead is also referred to as a dual shower head, an adjustable showerhead or a shower spray unit. The showerhead is different from the traditional overhead showerheads in that it has a long flexible hose with a showerhead attached to one end while the other end connects to your water outlet. The water outlet usually includes your standard switch or turn knobs and these showerheads usually fits snug into a showerhead hook that allows you to use it just like you would normally use your shower. The big difference is that you can disconnect the showerhead and hose from its hooking rest to apply water at different angles and locations in the shower.

The Benefits of Installing a Handheld Showerhead

A showerhead with a hose can be used just like any other normal showerhead. You can leave it on the showerhead holder and it will function just like a normal shower. But unlike ordinary showers, these showerheads offer a lot more benefits like the following;

  • Wash your shower with ease

With the hose effect in your shower, you can rub and scrub your shower from top to bottom and rinse down any debris and soap scum with great ease. This enables you to maintain a cleaner and more hygienic shower.

  • Perfect for taller people

Taller family members that visit won’t have a hard time washing their hair ever again. They can simply remove the showerhead from the hook and rinse down their hair without having to bend down to fit under the nozzle.

  • Wash kids with ease

Parents can bathe children with great ease when they have a handheld showerhead. The water can be sprayed where needed and avoiding contact with tiny sensitive eyes and faces is very easy when you have full control over the water direction.

  • Bathe your pets with ease

Washing your pet will never be easier again. Instead of dragging a heavy pet into a full and scary bathtub you can hose down your pet, lather in soap and rinse your pet without any discomfort.

  • Easy assisted bathing

Caregivers can assist others like the disabled, sickly or elderly during bath time. The showerheads make it much easier to bath someone else who might not be able to do these things for themselves.

  • Shower while sitting down

These showerheads are especially handy for seniors and for those who might not be able to stand for a long time. You can sit comfortably inside the shower and rub and scrub without the risk of slipping and falling.

  • Great for washing odd objects

If you are washing large and odd objects then the shower is the perfect place to do just this. Simply push that big object into your shower and rinse away.

Understanding the Different Parts of Handheld Showerheads

Before we dive too deep into the different types of showerheads available, it might be helpful to understand the different parts these types of showerheads are made off. Here is a quick look at the most common parts found in most types of handheld showerheads;

  • The shower arm

This is the piece of pipe that connects a traditional overhead showerhead to the bathroom wall. The one end of the shower arm is screwed into your home’s plumbing while the other end screws into the showerhead directly.

  • The three-way diverter valve

Most handheld showerheads have a 3-way diverter valve. This is a small pipe that connects the showerhead with the shower arm. It has three openings; one for a water inlet and two for water outlets. This little piece allows you to screw a handheld showerhead in place without having to remove the original showerhead. The 3-way diverter valve has a 3-way diverter that allows you to redirect the direction of the water through either the showerhead or the shower hose. This little component is optional. Many prefer to install a handheld showerhead on its own in the place of the traditional showerhead. In this case, your shower will always run through the extended shower head.

  • A vertical slide bar

You can choose to install a showerhead holder individually or attach your showerhead holder to a vertical slide bar. The vertical slide bar is installed on your shower wall and has the showerhead holder attached to it. The showerhead holder can slide up and down the vertical slide bar to allow taller or shorter individuals to adjust the height of the shower.

  • Showerhead holder

This is a little bracket or hook in which the showerhead clips. The shower head holder can be installed directly into the wall as a dedicated holder or you can choose to install it on a vertical slide bar that allows you to move the showerhead holder up and down. 

  • A hose

A long hose connects the showerhead with the shower arm. Most modern showerhead hoses are made of a tough stainless steel coil that stretches and that prevents the hose from getting dented or becoming entangled.

  • A shower head

Lastly, you get the showerhead. The showerhead attaches to the end of the hose. There are quite a few different types of showerheads available, some of which even allow you to adjust the spray settings and pressure levels.

  • Taps

Naturally, your shower also needs shower taps installed along with the plumbing. The taps need to be opened to allow water to pour into your shower.

Lots of Different Handheld Showerhead Options

Handheld showerheads are pretty similar in function yet there are surprisingly many types, brands, styles, and options available on the market. The key difference in showerhead types is in the way they are designed to be attached and the key components that these different showerheads consist of.

Different locations to use your showerhead

Handheld showerheads can be installed in many different locations such as the following;

  • In the shower

There are quite a few different installation options for your showerhead and other accompanying attachment inside the shower. Here is a quick look at the main ways to connect a showerhead with the hose inside your shower;

Replace the existing showerhead - In this case, you don’t use a diverter valve. You fully replace the old showerhead and connect the hose directly onto the showerhead arm. The water will always run through the extended showerhead and you do have the option to disconnect it from a shower hook to use it all over the shower.


Replace the showerhead and arm - If you want to fit your showerhead directly to the wall then you can remove the showerhead arm as well. Although it is preferable to replace the showerhead arm with a shorter showerhead arm so you can maintain a good spray angle inside your shower.

Replace the showerhead and install slide bar - If you have a diverse family then this could be a good option. Replace your showerhead with the hosed showerhead and install the holder onto a sliding bar. This makes it easy to adjust the height of the shower or to disconnect it for easy hosed use.

Install a diverter valve - This is the most flexible way to install a handheld showerhead because you can still make use of your overhead showerhead. The diverter valve allows you to either allocate water through the hose or the overhead showerhead. You can use your showerhead the traditional way or disconnect it to use the hosed showerhead.

Install a diverter valve and a slide bar - For optimal flexibility, you can choose to install a diverter valve, keep your overhead showerhead and connect your handheld showerhead while attaching it to a side fitted slide bar. This makes it possible for you to use your shower the traditional way, to switch it over to the hose connection and to slide your hose showerhead up and down to a height that suits you.

Install a separate overhead showerhead and handheld showerhead - If you prefer not to mess with the original plumbing then you can also choose to install a separate handheld showerhead in addition to your current overhead showerhead. For this to function your plumbing setup will require two tap fixtures; one for your overhead shower and one for your traditional showerhead.

  • On a bathtub

Handheld showerheads can be installed along with your bathtub spout. There are two main ways to install your handheld showerhead in your bathtub;


Diverter valve installation - You can install the unit with a diverter valve that allows you to set the water to run through the spout or the hose.

Over spout installation - You can also attach the showerhead to cover the tub spout although this option won’t allow you to use your bathtub the way you used to.

  • On a sink

Handheld showerheads can be installed on your sink as well. The main reason for installing a showerhead with a hose on a bathroom sink is so you can wash your hair in comfort without getting into the shower. There are also two main ways to install your showerhead on your sink;

Over sink spout - You can install it over the sink spout after which water will always run through the showerhead.

On a diverter valve - The better option is to install it with a diverter valve for more flexibility so you can still traditionally use your sink.

  • Bidet types

Bidet types of showerheads function the same way as normal handheld showerheads but the showerhead component is different. These showerheads are used for rinsing the loo amongst other things. It is installed to the toilet’s water supply and features the same hose but has an angled showerhead with a valve that allows you to open and close the bidet with ease.

Features of modern handheld showerheads

The right type of features in your handheld showerhead can make a huge difference in its functionality and the durability of the unit. Here is a quick overview of the main features that modern models offer;

  • On/off controls

Most showerhead functions via standard controls, or shower taps located on your shower walls. But modern types also come with on/off switches on the showerhead itself. This makes it much easier for the user to control the water from a seated position.

  • Vertical sidebar doubles as a grab bar

Older types of slide bars were not strong enough to be used as grab bars. But modern showers often contain slide bars that double as a grab bar to enhance shower safety or to ease getting up and sitting down inside your shower.

  • Safety handles

Some modern models come with C-shaped handlebars. You can grip onto this bar with comfort instead of having to hold onto the slippery handlebar itself. These types of handles are often preferable for those with weak hands or poor muscle function.

  • Different shapes

Showerheads come in all sorts of different styles and shapes. You get classic shapes with a slight curve, modern shapes that might be straight, cubed or flat paddled or you can choose artsy ring-shaped showerheads.

  • Different switches

Many showerheads or diverter valves come with lots of different styles and designs of switches. It is important to ensure that you are fully capable of operating this switch if you have weak hands.

  • Showerhead weight

Showerheads are made of all sorts of materials. Metal types like stainless steel tend to be more durable but can be heavier where plastic or rubber showerheads can be much lighter and easier to handle.

  • Materials and finishes

These types of showerheads are found in many different colors. You can buy lots of different colors in plastic ranges or opt for copper, gold, silver, or ceramic heads. Alternatively, you can also consider showerheads with a coating of bronze, pewter, nickel and many more.

  • Water conservation showerheads

The best shower heads are those that allow you to save water. These are environmentally friendly and can help reduce your water bill. Showerheads that are “Water Sense” are designed to meet low-flow standards. These high-pressure showerheads enhance your water pressure level while reducing your water consumption as you shower.

  • Different showerhead stream designs

There are lots of different types of showerheads in terms of the stream. Standard rain showerheads offer you a rain-like stream and aren’t adjustable. But many modern showerheads allow you to adjust the stream intensity, direction, size, and even the stream pattern.

  • Remove flow restrictions

Many modern showerheads are also fitted with engineered nozzles. These precision nozzles are designed with anti-clogging and self-cleaning technology. They come with a mesh filter to keep your water flow clean and to keep sediments out of your shower. These showerheads usually result in a soft and clean shower. 

How to Choose the Best Handheld Showerhead?

Choosing the right handheld shower head for your home can be tough, especially since there are so many gorgeous models out there on the market. Here are a few tips to help you decide on the right type of installation and the right type of showerhead;

  • For those building a new bathroom

If you are remodeling or building a new bathroom then go ahead and indulge in a separately installed showerhead.  You will get the most functionality with this type of unit since you don’t have to close off your overhead stream to use your handheld showerhead to rinse down those legs after a shave.

  • For those with old bathrooms

If you are adding a handheld showerhead to an old shower then it might be best to simply unscrew the part of your shower that is easiest to unscrew; in most cases the showerhead. Install the new showerhead to the old showerhead arm. This will prevent damage to your current plumbing that might be a bit fragile.

  • For those that live with others

Those that share a bathroom with a big family or tenants should opt for the most flexible solution. Install your showerhead with a vertical slide bar and with a diverter valve. This will allow you to use your overhead shower the way you used to and give you the freedom to move the handheld showerhead up and down to compensate for taller and shorter individuals.

  • For the elderly and disabled

Seniors and disabled individuals benefit the most from these handy showerheads. They are easy to use and allow you to sit down in your shower. Add a non-slip mat and a stool to your bathroom. You will benefit most from a dedicated handheld showerhead so do not bother with a diverter valve. Choose a showerhead that is light in weight, easy to grip and that comes with an on/off switch at the handle. This will allow you to switch off the water without having to get up from the stool all the time and it is much easier for caregivers to help others when they have full control over the showerhead.

  • For those with children

If you have little ones using the bathroom then it is probably best to install your showerhead with a vertical bar and diverter valve. The showerhead can be lowered to the height of the child and can be disconnected for easy hair rinsing in the shower. As a bonus, mom and dad will still be able to enjoy their showers just as much as always because they still have the full functionality of the overhead showerhead.

  • For those that live alone

Singles can opt for any type of showerhead they deem worthy. You can pick and choose the type and installation that suits your overall needs best. Tall men can look into installing a vertical bar that allows you to set that handheld showerhead extra high and shorter women love the functionality of being able to slide the bar down to their height as well as the freedom to detach the handheld showerhead to rinse long hair or legs after shaving.

  • The best showerhead for renters

If you are a property owner that rents out an apartment or a part of your home then it is best to get a handheld showerhead installed that is the most flexible. You never know who your next tenants might be. They might have children, could be disabled or could be very tall or short. Tenants love landlords that pay attention to their needs and they will appreciate the extra effort you did when preparing the property for rental.

  • For small showers

If you have a teeny tiny shower then it is best to install the handheld showerhead’s holder opposite or to the side of the stream of the overhead showerhead. Most people face away from the stream and it is just more convenient to be able to reach ahead or to the side to get ahold of your showerhead.

  • For a bathtub shower

It is incredibly annoying to get sprayed in the face when you try to open the bathtub. For the best functionality, install an additional showerhead even if that means making modifications to your current plumbing. Diverter valves are easy to use but it is oh so easy to forget to switch it back to tap when you are done showering.

 Want to get a handheld showerhead installed at your home? Check out some of our product reviews of the best handheld showerheads available on the market so you can find out what the best picks are right now.

Tricia Hale

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