Showers and taps: the ultimate guide

The secret to finding stylish designs that will perform well for years to come

By Paula Woods | 2 December 2021

A new bathroom is an investment, not only will it improve the value of your home but it will also make a huge difference to the look and feel. One of the key elements of the space is the showers and taps. These give you a chance to put your personal stamp on your bathroom, so it’s important to choose the right set. Grand Designs has rounded up some of the best on the market, so you can make an informed decision.

To the last drop

For precision control of every aspect of your shower – water use, duration, temperature and flow rate – choose a digital model. You will be able to pre-programme your desired settings and preferences via touch controls, an app or smart device. This smart shower from Roca costs from £2,340.

Smart shower in porcelain bathroom

Photo: Roca

Double the value

Innovative fittings become the focal point in a pared-back contemporary wet room or walk-in enclosure, so it’s worth looking for a standout design such as this geometric showerhead with light. The apollo ceiling or wall-mounted shower in black with IP67-rated LED light costs £2,070 from West One Bathrooms.

So reliable

Thermostatic technology works to maintain a comfortable temperature throughout your shower. The latest valves have push-button or digital controls and temperature indicators. Beacon Dual thermostatic shower with self-powered HydroGlo light that indicates when the right temperature is reached, costing from £330 from Mira.

Grey marble wall behind silver rainfall shower with separate head with circular mirror to the side

Photo: Mira

All the senses

Modular fittings give you the freedom to design your shower with a single or several mood-enhancing spa-style features. This Architectural Wellness modular system has water jets, chromotherapy, Bluetooth speaker and atomiser. The hi-fi thermostatic five function shelf mixer costs from £3,853.20 while the Rettangolo hand shower costs from £528 from Gessi.

Chrome modular showers and taps attached to wall

Photo: Gessi

Using less, saving more

Eco showers and taps reduce consumption while retaining the feel of good water flow. Look for built-in flow limiters, aerators, condensed or pulsed sprays, plus cold start and timer functions. The pulsify overhead shower 260 2jet EcoSmart in matt black costs £666.67, while the shower holder set 105 1jet costs £84 and the ShowerTablet Select thermostat 400 is £475 from Hansgrohe.

Black shower and taps

Photo: Hansgrohe

For everyone

When designing for those with mobility issues, look for ranges that include lever and/or touch controls, cool-touch thermostats, temperature limiters, grab rails and seating. Keuco Plan Care grab bar and rail system with load capacity of 115kg, £548.28, Care handset, £489.69, ceiling arm and showerhead, £531.45, round thermostat with diverter, £1,215.12, Plan wall-mounted, foldaway seat with load capacity of 150kg, £736.44 , all Bathroom Design Studio London.

Easy upgrade  

Make a cost-effective improvement by adding a new showerhead that has hydrotherapy and massage features. The Rainshower SmartActive 130 hand shower in chrome with integrated controls, Rain, Jet and ActiveMassage sprays costs £129.12, and the 310 headshower set, is £664.61. Complete the bathroom look with the Grotherm SmartControl thermostat which is £716.50 from Grohe.

Showers and taps in bathroom with tiled flooring and marble walls

Photo: Grohe

Quite unique

Manufacturers such as Dornbracht, Fantini and Grohe offer a wide choice of colours and finishes. Dornbracht and CP Hart have products with interchangeable handles and inserts. The SO three-hole basin mixer in brushed gold with light wood handles and costs £1,958.26 from CP Hart. The range is available in eight body finishes and with 11 handle options.

Showers and taps gold brass tap over white porcelain sink

Photo: CP Hart

Always as good as new

The Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD) process produces long-lasting surfaces that are incredibly durable and scratch- resistant with an enhanced colour and finish – whether matt or high shine. Ask suppliers for PVD product recommendations. This Lineare single lever floor-mounted bath filler with StarLight chrome finish costs £2,061.05 from Grohe.

Silver tap poruing water into large square white basin, showers and taps

Photo: Grohe

Clean solution

Improve hygiene with motion-sensor technology that allows you to get water flowing without touching the tap. Bristan, Vado and Grohe offer mains or battery-powered options. Toto’s taps generate power from water flow alone. This wall-mounted, self-powered Autofaucet in chrome costs £612 from Toto. 

Wall tap pouring water into built in sink

Photo: Toto

A worthwhile investment

It is worth buying the best quality brassware you can afford. Designs with a solid brass or steel body are durable – check that the fitting has ceramic discs, which will ensure smooth operation for many years. An example is the Langbourn 3870 single lever basin mixer in unlacquered Satin Brass that
ages over time, it costs from £564.36 from Perrin & Rowe.

Feel the power

Low water pressure doesn’t have to restrict your choice of shower design. Models with Magni-flo technology from Mira operate at bar pressure as low as 0.1, Grotherm Cosmopolitan shower sets at 0.2 bar, while Swadling Brassware collections are suitable for all systems. The invincible exposed shower mixer in chrome costs from £745.20 from Swadling Brassware. The Gelato Azura ceramic tiles cost £47.47 per sqm and the Melrose Grey porcelain tiles cost £43.13 per sqm from Mandarin Stone.

Check the small print

Advice on labels and warranties from John Naughten, managing director of Bathroom Design Studio London

Products certified by the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) guarantee conformity to British regulation standards and will have gone through stringent testing. Look for the WRAS-approved label or refer to the online database. WRAS-approved products are a legal requirement for new-builds.

  • The European Water Label and the Waterwise Recommended Checkmark indicate the latest eco-friendly products designed to cut water consumption. These voluntary schemes provide information on water efficiency and include brands such as Vitra, Roca and Duravit. They’re also useful tools for self-builders when complying with water efficiency regulations as set out in Part G of the building code.
  • It is your installer who has a legal obligation to ensure that all brassware complies with any relevant regulations – in much the same way as a qualified gas installer does.
  • Most bathroom manufacturers offer warranties of two to five years, while spare parts are usually available for at least ten to 15. In some cases, such as with Hansgrohe, they’re available even after a product has been discontinued.
  • Warranties cover both the form and function of a product, and if there is an issue you will need to contact the retailer – not the manufacturer – within 30 days. If there is a legitimate problem such as a crack, then the manufacturer is liable for a replacement, unless the installation is faulty. Because most bathroom specialists have strong relationships with the manufacturers they represent, they may also be able to negotiate on your behalf if a problem should arise after the guarantee period.