Why You Need a Waterfall Shower Head

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These luxurious bathroom fixtures make a home shower feel like a spa.

The shower head is one of the most commonplace plumbing fixtures in a home, so it’s often overlooked. When you’re showering, it’s out of sight above your head. When not in use, it’s hidden behind a shower curtain or door.

But an upgraded shower can make or break a bathroom, and a waterfall shower head — also known as a rain or rainfall shower head — is the latest home shower trend. Why? Read on.

What Is a Waterfall Shower Head?

Waterfall shower heads attach to a wall or ceiling and create a wider, softer stream of water, much like a small waterfall or heavy rain. They’re meant to be relaxing and luxurious. They often have a modern, streamlined appearance with a wide and flat head, unlike the cone or cylinder shape of a typical wall-mounted shower head.

Some fixed or removable shower heads have a waterfall setting; others are all waterfall all the time. “They’re great for a long soak and create a rainwater effect that mimics nature’s downpours,” says Eric Phillips, a plumber and founder of Dripfina. “It’s like you’re in a shampoo commercial every time you take a shower!”

Styles of Waterfall Shower Head

There are two main styles of waterfall shower heads: round and square. “Both can imitate the rainfall effect,” Phillips says. “But only a square shower head, with the drenching slot built-in, will give you a sheet of water as well.” Oxygenics makes several rain shower heads with waterfall slots.

The other main difference is mounting position. Ceiling-mounted waterfall shower heads look luxurious, like what you would see at a spa or luxury hotel. Phillips recommends them for wet rooms.

Wall-mounted waterfall shower heads are easier to install in existing showers with a wall-mounted shower head in place. They’re “more traditional and better placed in cubicle-style showers,” says Phillips. Just replace your old shower head — no ceiling holes or drywall work necessary. You can also buy them with a second, handheld sprayer, which requires a more involved installation.

All styles come with multiple settings for spray speed and pattern.

Waterfall vs. Other Shower Heads

The benefits of waterfall shower heads are mainly aesthetics and comfort. Phillips notes these offer a larger surface area and stream of water, excellent for soaking and relaxing.

Disadvantages include mobility and water pressure. “Because waterfall shower heads are wall- or ceiling-mounted, they can’t be moved around,” Phillips says. And the broader spray can make it harder to rinse conditioner out of long hair. To address both problems, many waterfall shower heads come with a handheld attachment.

Although a waterfall shower head won’t automatically save you water, Phillips says the wider water area doesn’t always mean a a higher water bill.  Most waterfall shower heads use about two gallons per minute (gpm), less than the 2.5 gpm limit on U.S. products. You can also find more efficient shower heads as well.

Waterfall shower heads tend to cost more than other models. That’s understandable — it’s a luxury product, after all. “Elite shower heads will cost a few hundred dollars, and professional installation will stretch to a couple hundred more,” Phillips says. Some models are more affordable.

Best Waterfall Shower Heads

Home improvement stores carry waterfall shower heads in multiple styles. Measure your shower for the correct size. Phillips recommends two models, both available on Amazon.

One is the POP Sanitaryware black shower system, “I love the dark finish of this particular ceiling-mounted waterfall showerhead,” Phillips says. “(While) it won’t suit every bathroom color scheme, it exudes elegance and luxury through its minimalist design.” The Home Depot sells similar products, like this Boyel Living shower system.

The other: The AILUKI rainfall shower head combo. “It’s wall-mounted, simplifying installation and keeping the costs down (while) providing a luxurious spray,” Phillips says. Here’s a similar model from The Home Depot.

If you’re hiring a plumber to install it, ask them for recommendations that fit your specific situation before you buy.

Mikayla Borchert
Mikayla is an assistant editor for Family Handyman, specializing in indoor and outdoor gardening, organization and décor. She has one cat and holds a B.A. in English from the University of Minnesota. Outside of work, she likes running, skiing, hiking and tending her balcony garden.