In today’s fast-paced world, installing a shower in your bathroom has become essential. While a leisurely bath is delightful, the demands of modern life often make this luxury impractical. A quick, refreshing shower offers a perfect alternative. This guide will explore different shower types, address compatibility with your heating system, and answer common questions about shower installation.

Let’s begin with the simplest solution:

Bath Shower Mixer

The most straightforward method to add a shower to your bathroom is by installing an over-bath shower. Utilizing the space above your bathtub provides a generously sized showering area.

A bath shower mixer is a fixture that combines a bath tap with a diverter. This diverts the water flow from the tap upwards to a showerhead, offering a basic yet effective solution.

The key benefit of this option is its simplicity; it requires no additional plumbing since it uses the existing water supply from your bath taps. Simply attach a slider rail kit to the wall, and voilà—you have a functional shower.

To complete your setup, you’ll need to install a shower curtain or a bath shower screen to contain the water spray within the bath area.

However, it’s important to be aware of potential complications that may arise with this setup.

Understanding Your Heating System

Before installing a bath shower mixer, it’s crucial to consider your heating system as not all are compatible with mixer valves. The mixer valve combines hot and cold water, ideally at the same pressure. Challenges arise when you have different pressures, such as tank pressure hot water and mains pressure cold water.

The solution can be partially closing the cold tap to balance the pressures, while fully opening the hot. Additionally, the hot water tank needs to be situated above the shower head, which is typically the case in houses with attics but less common in flats and apartments.

If your home is equipped with a combination boiler or an unvented heating system, pressure discrepancies are less likely to be an issue. Both systems maintain similar pressures for hot and cold water and are designed to handle higher pressures, ensuring a strong, consistent flow for your shower.

Installation Challenges

Installing a bath shower mixer can be complicated if the bathtub remains in place. While feasible, the process can be intricate and offers limited access to the necessary fixtures. Removing the bathtub can facilitate installation but risks damage to the bathtub and surrounding areas, leading to potential redecoration needs. This transitions into the next important consideration: decorating around a bathtub.

Ensuring Your Bathroom Walls Are Waterproof

If you’re adding a shower to a bathroom that previously only had a bathtub, it’s essential to confirm that the walls are waterproof. Typically, only a few rows of tiles might be installed as a splashback for a bath, which isn’t adequate for a shower. For proper protection, tiles should extend up the entire wall.

If this is not currently the case, you’ll need to install a waterproof wall covering. Bathroom wall panels are a great choice; they are straightforward to install without needing specialist skills or tools and can even be placed directly over existing tiles.

Electric Showers: A Versatile Solution

Given the previously discussed complications with certain heating systems, you might wonder if there’s a shower option compatible with any system. Fortunately, electric showers provide a solution. They only require cold water and must be connected to a high, mains pressure system.

Electric showers demand significant electrical power, necessitating installation by a qualified electrician who will also ensure all necessary safety measures are in place.

The setup for an electric shower allows for both the water pipe and the electrical cable to be run along the surface of the wall. Although not the most aesthetically pleasing option, it is quick and straightforward. Alternatively, these can be concealed within the wall if you are installing new tiles or bathroom panels, or behind the shower wall in an airing cupboard for a cleaner finish.

Performance of Electric Showers

Electric showers do not provide as strong a flow as those connected to a heating system since they heat water on demand. The heater’s capacity limits the flow rate. However, because they only heat the water you use, they are highly efficient. An additional benefit is their independence from your home’s heating system, ensuring you’ll always have access to a shower, even if your boiler fails.

Mixer Shower Explained

A mixer shower utilizes a valve mounted on the wall to mix hot and cold water from your plumbing, delivering it through the shower head. Typically, mixer valves require equal water pressure from both inputs, similar to bath shower mixers. However, some mixer showers are designed to function well even with unequal water pressures, thanks to the inclusion of restrictor washers that adjust the flow for a balanced output.

In descriptions of mixer showers, you may encounter terms like ‘manual’ and ‘thermostatic’. These relate to how the shower manages water temperature.

A thermostatic mixer shower maintains the water temperature at a preset maximum, ensuring it doesn’t exceed this limit—even if other water usage in the house affects the flow. This feature is particularly beneficial in households with children or vulnerable individuals, as it prevents scalding.

Manual mixer showers lack this protective feature and may exhibit fluctuating temperatures if the water supply varies. Fortunately, thermostatic showers have become more affordable over time, making them a worthwhile investment for added safety.

Considering a Power Shower?

The suitability of a power shower for your home largely depends on your existing heating system. A power shower enhances water pressure using a pump and is unnecessary if you already have high-pressure water, such as from a combination boiler.

For a power shower, your hot and cold water supplies must be stored at the same pressure, and you might need an additional cold water tank due to the high volume of water power showers consume.

Be cautious with the placement of a shower curtain when using a power shower. The strong water jets can lift and move the curtain, potentially causing water to splash over the bath’s edge. A robust bath screen is advisable to manage the forceful spray and avoid a wet bathroom floor.

Although power showers do not heat water—they only pump it—you will rely on water heated and stored in a tank. This is less efficient than on-demand heating systems like electric showers. Power showers are favored for their ability to deliver high volumes of water, accommodating features like body jets and drench heads.

However, be mindful that the most powerful models may use more hot water than an average bath, which could be a consideration for your utility usage.

Installing a Shower Enclosure in a Compact Bathroom

Many bathrooms are compact, typically designed to accommodate just the essential fixtures. Often, homeowners face a choice: integrate a shower with the existing bath or replace the bath with a dedicated shower enclosure. For insights into the benefits and drawbacks of removing your bath, refer to our detailed article on the subject.

In some older or larger modern homes, there may be sufficient space to install a separate shower enclosure. This option would require installing new plumbing to the chosen location.

Options: Shower Pod vs. Shower Enclosure

Consider a shower pod if you’re planning to add an enclosure. These self-contained, fully waterproof units simplify the installation process. You’ll need to select a shower valve—be it a mixer, power, or electric shower—and ensure the necessary pipework and electrical wiring (if needed) are in place. A waste pipe must also be installed to drain away water.

For those opting for a traditional shower enclosure, ensuring waterproof walls is essential. While tiles are a common choice, many are now turning to shower wall panels. These panels are large, grout-free sheets of waterproof material that offer a durable, maintenance-free solution, greatly reducing the risk of leaks.

Shower pods typically cost more upfront than conventional enclosures but require less complex installation. Setting up a standard shower enclosure involves preparing and waterproofing the walls, fitting tiles, grouting, and polishing—a labor-intensive process.


There are numerous ways to integrate a shower into your bathroom, with decisions often driven by budget, heating system compatibility, and personal preference. Each option presents different costs and installation complexities, so consider these factors carefully to make the best choice for your home.

Jackson Martin

Jackson Martin, holding a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas, has been a prominent figure in the home improvement sector for over 18 years. He joined our team in 2020, sharing his expertise in renovation techniques, sustainable building practices, and DIY projects. Jackson's previous experience includes working in residential construction management and as a home renovation consultant. He is an advocate for energy-efficient homes and enjoys participating in local marathon events.

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