Q We're planning to gut our bathroom and have heard that we should install a "rain" type of shower head for the shower stall. Can you please explain the difference between a regular shower head and a rain shower head?
A They say it's all in a name, and when it comes to a "rain"-style shower head, that's exactly true. Rain heads are exactly that -- they're usually mounted on the ceiling of a shower stall, pointing downward. And they're very wide, from 8 to 14 inches, so that they cover a larger area. They rely on gravity to help the water flow, rather than to blast water pressure at the user. Put this all together, and you can have a nice warm rain shower in your shower stall.
I first saw them on the scene years ago, but then they went away for a little while because of new water-regulation codes. Presently, the industry uses a 2.5-gallon-per-minute flow rate, and most new rain head styles meet that code.
Now that new air-injection technology makes the water drops feel big and full, rain heads have come back strong, and are using less water.
A few other things to consider about rain-style shower heads:
• Make sure your shower and/or tub is large enough to handle the wider spray, and you have enough ceiling height to accommodate this type of shower head.
• You can also install a rain head in an existing stall with the pipe coming out of the wall. In this case, what's called an "arched shower arm" is installed to move the shower head up and over toward the center of the shower.
• This is a high-end product. Shop around for a quality unit so you won't end up getting soaked by a cheap knockoff.
Master contractor/plumber Ed Del Grande is the author of the book "Ed Del Grande's House Call" and hosts TV shows on Scripps Networks and HGTVPro.com.