Different Types of Shower Heads : handheld, wall-mounted, rainfall, pulsating, …

Many of us stick with the same old shower head year in year out, even though we know it’s healthier to change shower heads from time to time. Often it takes a leak or entire bathroom overhaul to get a new shower head into place.

With a dizzying array of different types of shower head, once you’ve decided to make a change, it can be tempting just to stick with what you know. Not anymore, we’ve listed the main types of shower head so you can find out which one would make the ideal choice for your lifestyle.

Here’s a line up of the different types of shower head available, along with a description and handy summary.

shower head

Handheld Single Spray

The handheld single spray shower head is your average entry-level shower head. Being handheld, it allows for flexible cleaning and you can use it to target specific areas, such as when rinsing your hair or use it to rinse down the shower after use.

As a handheld shower, single spray shower heads don’t often provide excellent coverage, so if you’re looking for a relaxing soak you may be better trying a rainfall-style shower head, or how about the best of both worlds with a dual shower head combo.

Handheld single shower heads are simple and easy to install, simply screw one on to your existing hose and you’re done. There aren’t any particular benefits as such to a single spray shower head, it all depends on the quality of the product and what kind of water pressure you have.

Although they’re relatively inexpensive, shower heads with multiple spray settings don’t tend to cost any or much more. So if you’re looking to replace a handheld single shower head, you should definitely have a look at some of the other options available below.


  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to install
  • Height adjustable
  • Versatile, use it with a support or handheld to rinse hair or to clean your shower cubicle


  • Only one spray setting
  • Replacing your existing showerhead with a handheld single spray shower head is not going to enhance your showering experience.


Pulsating Shower Head

Pulsating shower heads are ideal if you are looking to destress or to relax tired, aching muscles with a massage-like experience. When you use a pulsating shower head, water jets provide rhythmic pulses of hot water that provide relief to aching limbs. It can also be an invigorating wake-up experience.

Pulsating shower heads tend to come with other spray settings, some have a dial-like set up so you can select your own intensity. They can also be available as part of a dual head combination shower headset. In the majority of cases, a decent pulsating shower head will cost more than your average shower head due to the extra parts that it requires.

Recommended for anyone suffering from tension or with muscular aches and pains, pulsating showers can also be beneficial to those who have a very active lifestyle and need some extra relaxation and pleasure.

Pulsating shower heads are generally handheld to enable you to target a specific area, although some fixed heads may have a pulse option. Not to be recommended unless you only want a head massage. They can also be purchased as part of a dual shower head combo, ideal for use with an overhead shower head providing front to back coverage.



  • Strong pulses of water provide a massage-like experience
  • Ideal for relieving aching muscles
  • Popular for rest and relaxation if you have a very active, busy lifestyle
  • Usually, have other spray options included


  • May not provide enough coverage as a unique shower head.
  • May have less spray options than other types
  • Tend to be more expensive due to extra parts needed to create a pulsating spray

fixed shower head

Fixed Shower Head

Fixed shower heads are non-adjustable in height, although they often pivot to alter water flow direction. If you are looking for a clean, modern look for your shower, then a fixed shower head is the way to go. You will be surprised how different your shower looks without its hose.

Fixed shower heads tend to be larger than handheld ones, which can make them slightly more expensive. They are designed to provide complete body coverage from front to back. When installing a fixed shower head, make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations on spacing to ensure that you have it installed at at the optimal height.

If you are looking for a hassle-free, install-and-forget-about-it shower head then a fixed shower head is a good choice for you. If you like to have a handheld shower head, check out dual shower heads to keep the benefits of a relaxing overhead shower with the versatility and practicality of a handheld.

Installation is simple if you’re just replacing like for like. Otherwise, some rudimentary skills are recommended and basic tools if you’re moving from a handheld to a fixed shower head.



  • Modern and elegant, no need for a shower hose
  • Relaxing full body spray
  • Certain models pivot to alter spray direction
  • Simple to use, no complex dials or having to alter settings before taking a shower


  • Cannot adjust the height
  • No change of spray settings


Rain Shower Heads

Rain shower heads are ideal for those looking for a relaxing shower experience. They are generally larger than average shower heads and provide front-to-back full coverage with a fast flow of droplets to recreate a tropical rainstorm effect.

The majority of rainfall showers do not provide other flow settings, although there are some models available with extra settings.

In general rainfall shower heads, due to their size and one setting, tend to be ceiling or wall mounted. Installation is simple although if you are replacing a handheld shower head you will need some basic tools and experience.

Rain shower heads tend to look very elegant. Thanks to their size and ergonomic design they make attractive bathroom showpieces. They can be expensive, although prices vary hugely.

See some amazing rain shower examples on Pinterest.

On the downside, rainfall shower heads are not adjustable, so if you and your partner or family members vary hugely in height this could pose some problems. Bear in mind that in some cases, it may be more practical to have a handheld shower head to be able to rinse down the shower afterward and to rinse your hair, or to provide the benefits of hot flowing water to a specific area, such as aching leg muscles.


  • Stylish and modern looking
  • Relaxing tropical-style drenching effect
  • Securely wall or ceiling mounted
  • Large shower head providing full body coverage


  • Rarely have a choice of spray settings
  • Lacks the extra practicalities of a handheld spray
  • Can be very heavy, ensure any existing accessories can support the shower head or replace as necessary


Dual Shower Heads

Dual shower heads offer an inexpensive showering solution that provides a wide range of spray options. In general, one head is often fixed and the second head is handheld. The handheld shower head tends to have a range of spray settings, while the secondary, main head may or may not have the option to alter its flow.

Dual shower heads are ideal for most households as they are extremely versatile. You can adjust the height of then handheld shower head making it suitable for all family members. You can also use it to clean the shower itself after use or even to hose down the family dog.

With their wide range of spray settings, especially when there is a three way diverter, you can choose from a combination of sprays. Relax with a rainfall effect combined with a power spray directed over aching muscles, or use a steam setting and light rain for a relaxing sauna-like experience.

Dual shower heads are also great for rinsing long hair or removing beauty treatments as you can stay warm under the main flow of water and simultaneously ensure a thorough rinse with the handheld spray on a powerful setting. Just ensure that you have decent water pressure before purchasing to ensure that you can benefit from using two heads at the same time.

Dual shower heads are generally very easy to install. If you are simply replacing a like for like set up then it will be quick and easy. If you are adding a mounted shower head and a handheld to replace a single handheld, you’ll need to drill your wall. Even so, installation is still pretty straightforward.


  • Combination of different spray settings
  • Good for rinsing long hair
  • One adjustable head, suitable for all family members
  • Easy installation when replacing like for like
  • Best of both worlds, coverage and targeted spray


  • Fixed shower head may require drilling
  • Need good pressure to run both heads simultaneously


Filtered Shower Heads

Filtered shower heads come with a filter that removes chemicals and other impurities from your water before it reaches your hair, skin and lungs (in the form of water vapor). Using a shower filter can be beneficial to your skin and hair. Sensitive skin can drastically improve after the installation of a filter shower head, while limp hair can become less weighed down and more bouncy. Using a filter shower head is also recommended for people who dye their hair as it removes certain chemicals which can cause discoloration.

Easy to install, the majority of filter shower heads simply screw on with no tools required. They range in price, as they do in their capacity to remove impurities. Note that the filter section only lasts so long before it needs replacing.

In order to really benefit from a filter shower head, you would need to find out your water composition either by contacting your supplier or buying a test kit. This way you can be sure that your filter shower head is adapted to your needs. Note, some filter shower heads also add vitamins and minerals to the filtered water, notably vitamin C which is known to contain skin rejuvenation properties. Read about shower filters for hair.



  • Protects your skin, har and lungs from certain chemicals
  • Can contain added vitamins and minerals
  • Helps to boost lacklustre hair and prevents dye discoloration
  • Good for those with sensitive skin, especially the young and elderly who may be more fragile.


  • Need to replace the filter on a regular basis
  • Can be expensive over time
  • Often have a limited range of flow settings if any.

shower head

Shower Panel Body Sprays

Shower panels with body jets are the ultimate in modern shower luxury. These shower panels are perfect for those looking to recreate a modern spa-like look in their home Typically a shower panel will feature two shower heads, one fixed for full body coverage and one handheld, body jet sprays and a waterfall spout. The handheld shower head tends to have a range of flow settings, while the overhead fixed shower is usually of the rainfall type designed to provide back to front coverage.

Shower panels often feature advanced control systems and some have special lighting. All shower panels are designed to provide a modern all-in-one, harmonious shower solution. If you are looking to transform your bathroom, then this will probably be top of your wish list. Installation can be tricky and you’ll need to replace and drill tiles too, so this type of shower is not ideal if you’re just looking for a quick fix or minor improvement.

Shower panels also tend to be pretty expensive, although bear in mind that the cost of various parts individually also add up to a substantial amount, without necessarily providing the same high wow factor in terms of unified finish.

See some examples of shower panels on Pinterest.

Another point to note is that using a number of body sprays and one or even two shower heads simultaneously will just not work out if you don’t have decent water pressure to start with.

All in all, shower panels with body sprays provide a luxurious look to your bathroom, reminiscent of a luxury hotel. They provide spa-like relaxation and the most complete selection of spray settings for the ultimate shower experience.



  • Stylish and modern
  • Complete range of flow settings
  • Body jets for spa-like massage
  • Complete harmonization of various shower elements


  • Expensive
  • Need good water pressure to be able to use all of its functions
  • Installation by a professional
  • Installation may damage your existing wall covering which may need replacing

See also our complete guide on top RV shower head.