To avoid extensive work on your shower wall, choose a new shower faucet with the same basic layout. Stick with a single- or double-handle faucet if that's what you have. The same goes for tubs, including antique or antique-style claw-foot units. Some have faucet holes drilled into the porcelain 3 5/8 in. apart, an unusual spread. Kohler and American Standard make faucets to fit this oddball size. Styles. The type of tub you have will determine which style faucet to select. If the tub is surrounded by a ceramic-tile platform, the spout and handles can be mounted on the platform. Rim-mounted faucets are installed through holes predrilled in the tub. Both configurations work when the tub and shower are separate. Wall-mounted faucets are the most common when the tub and shower are combined. They also offer the option of single-handle controls. Most showerheads provide a variety of spray options. If you don't like the height of your present showerhead, consider a handheld model. They're perfect for rinsing hair and cleaning the shower or tub. When not held, the head can be mounted on a bracket or on the shower arm like a conventional head. Many manufacturers also offer heads that slide on a pole to adjust for tall and short users. Using multiple showerheads in the bath is a growing trend. Separate jets molded into a shower wall wash your entire body at once. Each showerhead typically costs between $10 and $20. But because each head requires valves and piping to deliver the water, installing these systems requires extra in-the-wall plumbing - at a steep price. You'll also need to check water restrictions in your area before replumbing your shower. Temperature control. Most of us have experienced a hot or cold "shock" when someone flushes a toilet while we shower. Shower faucets with pressure-balance valves prevent this shock; the valve senses a sudden drop in hot or cold pressure and reduces pressure on the other side to keep water temperature from varying more than 2° or 3°F. Thermostatic valves accomplish the same thing by sensing changes in temperature. Until recently, scald protection was available only in single-handle faucets. The new Monitor II from Delta is the first two-handle faucet that offers it. Many communities have "scald codes" that require scald protection in all new construction. Even if your town doesn't have this requirement, antiscald protection is vital for children and older adults. Shower faucets with scald protection usually start at around $150. Heat memory is another shower option worth considering. Some are electronic, but most keep the handle in position when you turn off the water, allowing you to maintain the heat setting you had when you last shut them off.
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