Cover photo for blog and video "How to Buy a Shower Valve"

Buying a New Shower Valve

Is it time to update your old bathroom? Then it’s certain that your plumbing fixtures are something to take into consideration. A common request from clients is to update their bathrooms with brand new fixtures, but oftentimes they have already purchased plumbing accessories from their local hardware store or online.

One of the common frustrations we see from homeowners that purchase their own fixtures is not understanding the plumbing lingo; unfortunately, when customers buy these plumbing goods, the manufacturers and retailers fail to explain what each item is and what’s required for installation. We want to clear up the confusion for you when it comes to purchasing a new shower valve for your bathroom so that >you can invest with confidence.

  1. What Is Shower Trim?

    Your shower trim consists of the parts of your shower valve that you can see; these are the cosmetic pieces like your handle and escutcheon. The shower trim is what most of our clients are looking to replace when they are updating the look of their bathroom– they have an old 80’s chrome finish with that clear teardrop handle and they want to move into the current century.

  2. What Is a Shower Valve?

    This might seem silly, but it’s a real thing; your shower valve is not the handle and pieces that you see on the outside of your shower wall, however, it’s the valve body that is inside of your wall. When purchasing a new shower valve, you’re buying the valve body that is internal and cannot be seen which the outer handle connects to.

  3. Shower Trim Is NOT Interchangeable

    Considering that most of us are only looking to update the trim on our shower valves, there is something else to keep in mind before spending your hard earned money. Trim is not interchangeable. Brand aside, shower trim from the same manufacturer is not always compatible with other products. You cannot buy a new shower trim that you love from Delta and match it up to the shower valve you have that is Moen, Price Pfister, or even a Delta! Shower trim is a lot like car wheels– different bolt patterns and sizes mean that you must stick with wheels and tires that will work for your car. Shower valves are the same way; the trim choices are very dependent upon the shower valve and the cartridge that is inside of it. This is where I see the most frustration from our clients– they buy a new trim for their shower valve that they love the look of and matches their new bathroom faucet, but it ends up not suiting the existing shower valve.

  4. Does Brand Matter?

    When it comes to shower valves, I am partial to name brands and here is the main reason why: availability of parts. When off-brand shower valves are purchased and need to be repaired, finding the right parts can often be a real chore. Furthermore, off-brand shower valves can be discontinued quickly– when your shower valve starts to leak, the parts for it may no longer be available and could require the replacement of your entire shower valve. We have seen way too many shower valve manufacturers discontinue a model or even go out of business; if their rights were not sold to another manufacturer for those repair parts, then our clients are forced to replace their valves in the wall rather than make a repair. This is the number one reason we always recommend sticking with a well founded name-brand manufacturer. This gives more security that future potential problematic parts are readily available or at least can be quickly ordered; plus, the parts generally have a warranty!

  5. Choosing a Finish

    There are some incredibly beautiful finishes on the market these days– jaw-dropping looks. However, another consideration to take into account when picking your amazing choices is the maintenance required and your water condition. Some finishes require special maintenance and cleaning; if that’s okay with you, then go for it! Just make sure you keep those special instructions readily available in case you hire a cleaning person or someone else starts to handle the cleaning and maintenance of your fixtures. Not following the specific protocol of these specialty finishes can ruin the finish and may even void your warranty.

    If you have hard water, then you will want to consider not purchasing a product with a dark or chrome finish. Hard water spots show up like your unwanted relatives– annoying and hard to get rid of– and they are especially prominent on darker styles and polished chrome. Have no fear though, because Robins can install a system that will virtually eliminate those hard-to-clean water spots and can help lengthen the overall lifespan!

  6. How Many Handles?

    How many handles to choose for your shower valve is often a personal preference, unless you are not replacing the surround in your tub or shower. If you are trying to update your bathroom without remodeling it or replacing your shower surround, then you are going to want to stick with the same amount of handles you currently have. Also, you’re going to want to install a remodel retrofit type shower valve if replacing it from the front; this type of shower valve has an extra-large escutcheon which allows the hole to be covered that is necessary for this restoration. Replacing a shower valve from behind using drywall access usually means a remodel kit is not necessary unless you are unable to find a shower valve that fits the current sizing of the preexisting hole.

    When replacing your shower valve during a remodel, the choice of handles is completely up to your personal preference. Shower valves with single handles have a pressure balancing cartridge inside of them; this helps to prevent accidental scalding or cold shots when someone runs water while you’re in the shower.

Services in Phoenix & Beyond

When you’ve found yourself in need of plumbing services in the Phoenix, Glendale, Scottsdale, or Chandler area, you can trust Robins Plumbing to provide you with prompt and expert care, contact our team today! In addition to our toilet services, we also offer a variety of residential and commercial plumbing services, including: drain cleaning, water heater repair and replacement, sewer camera inspection and locating, backflow prevention, commercial and residential jetting, water treatments, and more. Visit our reviews online to see what others have to say about our local plumbing company!