Fast and Affordable Custom Showers

Exposed shower columns allow for upgrades without rerouting pipes and opening walls.
Fast and Affordable Custom Showers
Ed Del Grande

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A popular request I have received over the years from many homeowners has been about upgrading an existing tile shower stall to a custom shower setup with multiple heads. Usually after we talked about working behind the shower wall to install new piping and controls, in most cases the project was scaled down.

So, instead of a nice rain-head shower or a fancy personal shower setup, the client usually settled for a new showerhead to replace the existing one. Rerouting pipes, installing a diverter and opening up walls seemed like too big a project just to install an extra showerhead outlet.

From my point of view, this was also extra income that went right down the drain, especially after spending the time to price out the job and walking away with only a single showerhead replacement. There had to be an easier way to upgrade a tile shower stall and I am happy today to say there is.

Welcome the exposed shower columns that are becoming very popular with plumbers and homeowners. A shower column setup can provide a custom shower upgrade without going behind the wall. The piping, connections and controls are beautifully finished and are installed outside the wall.

These new bath/shower and shower-only units can convert a single-outlet shower into a two-outlet custom shower setup including a diverter and hand shower slide bar bracket. The exposed pipe column is installed on the wet wall of the shower stall and the existing mixing valve stays in place.

By connecting to the threaded shower arm fitting flush with the wall, a new shower column can quickly upgrade the shower stall to a two-outlet stall in just an hour or so. Another great feature with a two-outlet shower column is the ability to mix and match different showerheads and hand showers. This means you can customize the column to fit your client’s showering needs.

From choosing a column pipe finish to choosing the showerheads, not only not only can clients get the exact custom shower they want, but they can complete the job according to budget. The built-in diverter is located at the base of the column and the sliding adjustable hand shower bracket is not only functional, it also adds to the beauty of the unit.

Plus, if you look around you can find different types and styles of shower columns for different tub/shower or shower only setups. To help you with more information on the available models, here are four shower columns I have worked with:

  1. Hand shower only – This is the entry-level, single-outlet column. It can be a nice choice for a children’s bathroom or a special-needs bathroom. The slide bar and locking hand shower bracket allow for fast and easy changes to shower height and angle of the water flow. Plus, the removable hand showerhead can target user body areas and helps clean up the shower stall.
  2. Hand shower with standard showerhead – This two-outlet unit gives you all the benefits of the hand shower model along with a fixed-mount second showerhead outlet. You can reuse the homeowner’s existing showerhead or install a new showerhead to perfectly match the new hand shower. The ability to mix and match hand showers and showerheads adds to the creativity of a custom shower upgrade.
  3. Hand shower with "arched" rain-head shower connection – This is a good choice for tub/shower units or larger shower stalls with higher ceilings. The attractive high-arched piping allows the connection of a rain-head showerhead over the user standing area. Basically, you are getting a hand shower and rain-type shower installation without opening up the ceiling or walls of the shower stall.
  4. Hand shower with “beam” rain-head shower connection – This two-outlet shower column allows a rain-head connection in areas with lower ceilings. Instead of a taller arched pipe extending off the top of the column, a tighter bending straight pipe extends out from the column. Other than the piping change, it’s basically the same unit as the arch model.

All these shower columns are available in tub/shower or shower-only models. Finally, plan on doing a little drilling through the tile to anchor the column flanges to the wall. But, in most cases a shower column can be a quick and easy install.

About the Author: Ed Del Grande is a three-time master plumber, GBCI LEED green associate and contractor with licenses in pipe fitting, fire protection and plumbing. He grew up in a family-owned plumbing business, and has 30-plus years of construction experience.

A self-employed contractor and professional comedian, he combined his performing and construction talents to became a pioneer in home-improvement television. Starting on HGTV with shows such as Dream Builders and The Fix, Del Grande helped build the DIY Network and with shows such as Warehouse Warriors and Ed The Plumber

To view a HydroRail shower column install, please visit and click Ed’s Bonus Banner or see the video below. 


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