The Best Shower Valves of 2022

Forget finicky temperatures! Get the water just right with the best shower valves for your style and budget.

By Tom Scalisi | Updated Jun 20, 2022 5:50 PM

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Best Shower Valve

Photo: amazon.com

The shower valve is the component of a shower that controls water temperature, and the slightest movement one way or the other can be the difference between scalding and frigid. Choosing the wrong valve—or worse, a low-quality product—can result in a poor fit and may lead to leaks. Shoppers also want the valve to suit their style and moderate temperature to meet their specific needs.

Whether it’s a simple replacement, a valve that ties in with a smart device, or even a vintage-looking setup, keep reading to find shopping tips and a model that will work for almost any situation.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Hansgrohe iBox Universal Leak Preventing Valve
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Grohe Grohsafe Pressure Balance Rough-In Valve
  3. UPGRADE PICK: Moen S3102 Smart Shower Digital Thermostatic Valve
  4. BEST WITH SHOWER HEAD: Delta Faucet Ashlyn Single-Handle Shower Faucet
  5. BEST SHOWER ARM DIVERTER: Mingor Brass Shower Arm Diverter Valve
  6. BEST FOR OUTDOOR SHOWERS: EZ-Flo 10789 Self-Closing Shower Valve, Chrome
  7. BEST VINTAGE: Kingston Brass KS266C Vintage Wall Mount Tub Faucet
Best Shower Valve

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Shower Valve 

Believe it or not, there is more to a shower valve than simply twisting a knob and letting the water flow. The following are some of the most important considerations to keep in mind when choosing the best shower valve.

Type

Generally speaking, there are three basic types of shower valves: diverter, thermostatic, and pressure balancing. They each work differently so be sure to understand them before purchasing a shower valve.

  • Diverter valves are very simple, as they choose the direction the water flows. These valves are in control of whether the water will exit the wand or the shower head. Diverters are typically simple to install as well.
  • Pressure-balancing valves can sense a drop in hot or cold water pressure and adjust the opposite pressure to match and maintain a constant temperature. For instance, if someone flushes a toilet and the cold water pressure drops, it will automatically change the hot water pressure to match and maintain the same temperature.
  • Thermostatic shower valves work similarly to the pressure-balancing valve except that they maintain temperature, not balance. These valves have basic thermostats within them that allow the user to adjust the water temperature more accurately and with better consistency.

There are also stand-alone shower faucets with individual valves for hot and cold water. These valves are much simpler, though often more expensive. Also, the term “rough-in” refers to the shower valve body itself, which the plumber installs during the rough-in phase of construction. It doesn’t have trim kit components installed, such as the ring plate, handle, or any other finished fixtures.

Outlets

Shower valves have varying numbers of outlets. Since each of those outlets will feed a fixture, it’s important to have the right amount.

For example, folks with a simple shower head can get away with a shower valve that has just one outlet. Those with a shower head and spout will need two outlets. Those with body jets will require three outlets, and so on.

It’s best to come up with a plan for the shower before choosing the shower valve. This will ensure that there are enough outlets for the plan at hand, allowing DIYers to build the shower of their dreams.

Material

Shower valves are typically tucked behind a wall somewhere with relatively limited access. For that reason, it’s important to ensure that any valve chosen features durable materials that will last for years.

The best material for plumbing fixtures is almost always brass; it’s durable and doesn’t rust. Next, look for copper shower valves. Worry less about plastics and more about the metal materials housing the cartridges that adjust the temperatures.

Our Top Picks

Check out this collection of some of the best shower valves that DIYers can buy to replace or upgrade their existing models. From high-tech to super simple, there is a wide range of options for those updating showers indoors and out.

Best Overall

Best Shower Valve hansgrohe
Photo: amazon.com

The Hansgrohe iBox Universal Leak Preventing Valve is all about flexibility—for use and installation now and in the future. As a rough-in valve that works with any Hansgrohe or Axor shower trim, including pressure balance and thermostatic, it allows users to maintain and update their showers at any point. There’s an adjustable depth collar meant to fit most wall thicknesses, and it mounts directly to the wall studs, providing extra strength and stability from water hammer or multiple showers each day.

This Hansgrohe can supply multiple shower outlets, including a shower head, tub spout, and a handheld shower wand. Plus, the PVC housing was designed to help reduce in-wall vibrations and noise as well, allowing for a quiet and relaxing shower. However, it does require a trim kit.

Product Specs

  • Type: Universal (thermostatic or pressure balancing)
  • Outlets: 2
  • Material: Brass

Pros

  • Adjustable collar for fitting a variety of applications
  • Universal design works with pressure balancing or thermostatic valves
  • Leak-preventative design that seals around the wall

Cons

  • Does not come with trim kit

Get the Hansgrohe shower valve on Amazon or Hansgrohe.

Best Bang For The Buck

Best Shower Valve GROHE
Photo: amazon.com

The Grohe Pressure Balance Rough-In Valve is a worthy contender for anyone on the hunt for a quality shower valve at an affordable price. This pressure-balance valve works with any Grohe trim kit. It comes with two inlets for hot and cold water and two outlets for a shower head and a tub. For those who prefer to use just the tub spout or shower head, however, there’s a plug to seal off the other outlet.

This shower valve has a wide range of temperature adjustability, rotating 265 degrees between handle stops so users can make small adjustments. It also has built-in check valves to prevent back-feeding hot or cold water into the other line. For maintenance, the Grohe features two built-in shutoffs for working leak-free within the wall. Keep in mind that it does require a trim kit.

Product Specs

  • Type: Pressure balancing
  • Outlets: 2
  • Material: Brass

Pros

  • Wide temperature adjustment range
  • Built-in check valves to prevent back-feeding
  • Plug included to shut extra outlet

Cons

  • Requires a trim kit

Get the Grohe shower valve on Amazon or Grohe.

Upgrade Pick

Best Shower Valve Moen
Photo: amazon.com

Dialing in the perfect temperature is now easier. The Moen Smart Shower Digital Thermostatic Valve lets users adjust shower temperature digitally from their phone when paired with a Moen Shower Smart Controller. This shower valve has 0.5-inch inlets and outlets, and it will work with both the tub spout and shower head (or a handheld shower in place of the spout). It also comes with a 30-foot-long data cable and the power-supply unit, though users can upgrade to a battery backup separately, as well.

While a controller is sold separately, the S3102 is the foundation to build a smart shower system on. It uses thermostatic valves to adjust for consistent temperature, and it installs easily in a standard 2×4 stud wall.

Product Specs

  • Type: Thermostatic
  • Outlets: 2
  • Material: Various

Pros

  • Smart valve controlled via smartphone for smart shower system
  • 2 outlets for a faucet and shower
  • Personalized temperature settings

Cons

  • Controller sold separately

Get the Moen shower valve on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Best with Showerhead

Best Shower Valve Delta
Photo: amazon.com

Whether upgrading an old shower or installing a new one, consider the Delta Faucet Ashlyn Single-Handle Shower Faucet. As a complete kit, it includes the necessary components to revamp current shower trim, including a pressure-balance valve, a shower head, a tub spout, and hardware. It comes in four different finishes—bronze, matte black, stainless, and chrome—to suit the decor of the bathroom.

The Delta Faucet rough-in valve itself features universal 0.5-inch inlet and outlet fittings, allowing users to replace most older valves without coupling up or down in pipe size. The pressure balance works to maintain a set temperature within plus or minus 3.6 degrees, eliminating the negative effects of flushing toilets or using washing machines. Do note that this valve only features one outlet, however, so it’s only suitable for showers.

Product Specs

  • Type: Pressure balancing
  • Outlets: 1
  • Material: Brass

Pros

  • Available in multiple finishes
  • Universal fit for simpler installations
  • Maintains temperature within 3.6 degrees

Cons

  • Only 1 outlet

Get the Delta Faucet shower valve on Amazon.

Best Shower Arm Diverter

Best Shower Valve Brass
Photo: amazon.com

Showerhead valves can be finicky, especially if a home has hard water. If a diverter valve isn’t working as it should, it may be time to upgrade to the Brass Shower Arm Diverter Valve from Mingor.

For users who don’t already have a separate shower wand, this diverter valve allows for an easy installation, as it threads onto the pipe behind the shower head. When the handle is 180 degrees backward, all of the water will flow to the wand. When it’s 180 degrees forward, all the water will exit through the shower head. At 90 degrees, it mixes both outlets equally.

One-piece brass construction makes this model long lasting and durable against hard water situations. It comes with the necessary O-rings for installation and is available in three finishes to match chrome, brushed nickel, or oil-rubbed bronze shower trim. Keep in mind that this valve doesn’t mix hot and cold water, however, so a basic shower kit is still necessary.

Product Specs

  • Type: Diverter valve
  • Outlets: 2
  • Material: Brass

Pros

  • Available in 3 finishes
  • 3-position handle for shower, faucet, or a mix of both
  • Durable 1-piece brass construction

Cons

  • Only a diverter valve—it does not mix temperature or balance pressure

Get the Mingor shower valve on Amazon.

Best For Outdoor Showers

Best Shower Valve EXFLO
Photo: amazon.com

Kids forgetting to turn off an outdoor shower can turn into a disaster for the wallet, and it’s especially bad for those on well water or living under drought conditions. This stand-alone EZ-Flo self-closing shower valve installs directly in line with an existing shower head and will operate as long as there is tension on the pull chain. After releasing the chain, it shuts off and conserves water, making it ideal for homes in areas prone to drought or with older well systems.

Brass construction and chrome finish make it a durable choice for outdoor applications. The 0.5-inch inlet and outlet make it a direct installation for most water-supply pipe fittings.

Pro tip: Be sure to drain the outdoor shower’s pipes before winter sets in. Install a catch to hold the pull chain open as well, to lessen the chances of a pipe bursting.

Product Specs

  • Type: Stand-alone
  • Outlets: 1
  • Material: Brass

Pros

  • Automatically shuts itself off
  • Universal 0.5-inch threads
  • Protects drought-prone areas

Cons

  • Needs a hook to catch the chain to prevent freezing

Get the EZ-Flo shower valve on Amazon or at The Home Depot.

Best Vintage

Best Shower Valve Kingdton
Photo: amazon.com

Those looking for a stylish upgrade for a clawfoot tub or luxury shower should check out the Kingston Brass KSC266C Wall Mount Tub Faucet. This kit features a two-hole installation pattern that installs as a wall-mounted unit for shower applications or directly to a clawfoot tub’s plumbing. It has two stand-alone valves for adjusting to the perfect temperature and features a built-in tub spout with a 59-inch shower wand that rests on the spout. It comes in several finishes, including chrome, matte black, brushed nickel, and antique brass.

Though not a high-tech shower valve, it includes such desirable features as a durable all-brass body (regardless of finish) and drip-free quarter-turn valve cartridges, helping to avoid the small leaks for which older tubs are notorious.

Product Specs

  • Type: Stand-alone
  • Outlets: 2
  • Material: Brass

Pros

  • Stylish look
  • All-brass finish for durability
  • Comes with shower head
  • Installs as wall or tub-mounted

Cons

  • No balancing or temperature control

Get the Kingston shower valve on Amazon.

Our Verdict

Those looking for a high-quality shower valve should check out the Hansgrohe iBox Universal for its universal design and leakproof collar. But for those who’d prefer to save some cash, the Grohe Grohsafe Pressure Balance Rough-In Valve’s wide temperature adjustment range and built-in check valves should do the trick.

How We Chose the Best Shower Valves

Putting together a list of the best shower valves took a lot of hard work. We had to sit back and draw upon our experiences performing DIY plumbing work to determine which features we really needed.

Next, we performed extensive product research to find shower valves that we thought would meet our criteria. We compared them based on features, materials, and price to determine which models were offering enough value. For the models that failed this comparison, we tossed them aside, narrowing down our list of winners. Finally, we took the winners and assigned the awards based on their strengths.

FAQs

That might seem like too much information to digest, but don’t worry, we have you covered. The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about these fixtures, so be sure to check for your answer below.

Q: What is a shower valve?

A shower valve controls the flow of water into a shower. Some shower valves mix water together to create desired temperatures.

Q: Are shower valves universal?

Some valves are listed as universal, but it typically takes some research to find out if it’s an exact swap.

Q: What is the most common shower valve?

The most common shower valve is a pressure-balancing valve with both shower and spout ports.

Q: How do you replace a shower valve?

To replace a shower valve:

  1. Turn off the water
  2. Gain access to the valve by removing the knob and trim from the front
  3. Cut or remove the existing shower valve at the pipes
  4. Clean up the cuts and solder in the new valve