Installing a Luxury Shower

Adding Luxury to a Shower

With the huge array of bathroom innovations in recent years, there are countless ways to add luxury to a shower -- power showers and shower towers (which are actually panels), multiple shower jets, footbaths, waterfall showerheads, steam generators, sauna accommodations, heated towel bars, and more.

These mood-altering improvements, however, have more complicated technical requirements than normal baths. For example, a multiple shower installation will usually call for larger supply lines -- 3/4-inch pipe is the rule, installed from the source to the shower room -- so you'll have enough water at all the showerheads. Multiple heads also require more piping, not just because you'll have more outlets, but also because you need to install pipe loops to balance the pressure so the water comes out at the same pressure and volume from all the heads. (Without looping, water would just dribble from the last head.)

Steam rooms need steam generators. Waterfalls and circulating baths require pumps, which can necessitate additional framing and plumbing.

Prestart Checklist

One to two weeks, depending on the complexity of the installation

Standard carpentry and plumbing tools

Basic framing, electrical, and plumbing skills; professional assistance may be required for planning

Step 1

For an existing shower room, remove sufficient drywall from the back of an adjoining wall to allow you to install blocking and framing for mounting the modular control units and shower fixtures. Hire a licensed electrician to mount and wire a GFCI outlet within the framing.

Step 2

Using a manufacturer's template (or your own), drill the studs for the water lines. Install all fixtures. Run the water lines (with supply valves and water-hammer arrestors) from the fixtures to the valve location but do not connect them to the control unit. Fasten the control unit to the framing in predrilled holes.

Step 3

Using your diagram showing which fixtures are supplied by each water line, identify any unused outlets in the valve and plug them. Wrap the plugs and all threaded pipe connections with two or three turns of teflon tape. Snug the connections, but do not overtighten them.

Step 4

Connect the 3/4-inch hot and cold supply lines to the outlets with unions. Make sure to connect the correct supply pipe to the correct outlet (they are color-coded and marked on the side of the valve body). Install the outlet piping on the appropriate outlets and secure all the piping to the framing.

Step 5

Fasten the power supply unit to the framing in predrilled holes. Insert the power plug into the power receptacle on the valve unit body. Install the interface unit(s) if you haven't done so already, and connect them to the valve.

Step 6

Plug in the power supply and make sure the valve unit door is sealed. Turn on the water supply valve, check for leaks, and make necessary adjustments. Turn on the main water supply and make sure the valve powers up and the indicator light is lit. Install an access door when finishing the drywall.

Installing pressure loops

Luxury shower installations with multiple showerheads will require both larger and additional water supply lines. Pressure loops -- either within a fixture, as shown here, or tying fixtures together -- are essential if you want water coming from all the jets at equal force. Instead of a supply line terminating at each head, the line continues to from one head to the next in a continuous loop that balances the pressure.

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