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How to Create a Custom Shower System

Updated on July 8, 2014

Shower System - Let's start with the basics

A shower system is a great way to transform your bathroom from just average, to EXTRAORDINARY. A Custom Shower can add value to your home, and can also take your shower experience to a whole new level. This guide will talk about How to build a Danze shower system however if you are interested in a Delta Shower System, check out How to Build A Delta Shower System.

The price of a Shower system has gone down dramatically in recent years and a custom shower is now within your reach. With a little knowledge, you will be ready to put together the shower system of your dreams. They call it a CUSTOM shower for a reason. You can set it up however you like. With a few basic elements, you will be able to choose from a wide variety of peripheral shower faucets. Shower heads, body sprays, handheld showers, multiple shower heads, the sky is the limit if you understand how the system works. Remember, the only limitations on a shower system are WATER FLOW and your imagination. This hub will explain how to put together a fully functional, custom shower system. Keep the rules in mind while you plan your's today! Remember, purchase EARLY - if you want a great Custom Shower System a little PLANNING is required.

Get everything ordered in advance. Don't be subjected to back-ordered items, shipping delays, and other unforeseen problems which can delay your project and force you to comprimise your vision. Order early as Shower valves are one of the FIRST things that must be installed in a bathroom remodel or new home construction. You will NOT pass inspections if you don't have the valves installed in the wall so make sure to decide EARLY. The valves must be welded in, so changing them later is not really an option. Best to make up your mind as to what you want well in advance.

The process of designing a shower system will be explained in detail below, so please keep reading! If anything is unclear, comment with questions and I'd be happy to help! I have 5 years experience setting up this kind of custom shower and have seen thousands of people through the process.

Do you want to be a part of the hottest trend in American home design? Consider a Custom Shower System for your home!

Danze oil rubbed bronze shower system - Custom Shower
Danze oil rubbed bronze shower system - Custom Shower

Standard Custom Shower System shown above

The shower system shown above is a pretty standard set-up, which works great for most people.

Is the picture confusing? We will break down each of the elements and step-by step discuss what it takes to make this abstract picture of a custom shower into a reality. The example I'll talk about is good in general and will work with many different styles. I will be using Danze oil rubbed bronze shower system components as this is a very popular finish.

Here's a list of the items shown above:

  • Top left, Danze oil rubbed bronze personal handheld shower faucet
  • Top right, Danze oil rubbed bronze 10" ceiling mount shower arm
  • Right below, Danze 8" oil rubbed bronze sunflower shower head
  • Bottom left and right, Danze oil rubbed bronze multi-function body sprays
  • Middle, Danze Opulence oil rubbed bronze 4 port diverter
  • Middle bottom, Danze Opulence oil rubbed bronze Thermostatic Control

Below (while featuring a different style of products) is a great picture I found that can help get your imagination working. I've seen a lot of custom showers but this one really blew me away because of the amazing glass work.

Amazing dream custom shower system

Amazing shower system showing the full effect you can create with a custom shower
Amazing shower system showing the full effect you can create with a custom shower | Source

Understanding the plumbing of a Custom Shower

When you take the pieces of a shower system apart and look at them, you are missing some critical aspects. Once the custom shower is installed, you will not see any of the actual plumbing and pipes which must be installed to create an easy to control, custom shower system.

There are two very important valves which must be installed. Typically the fixtures you will purchase include the valves, but sometimes they do not, so make sure to check. I will only recommend products that are sold complete.

The base of the shower system is the Danze opulence oil rubbed bronze Thermostatic Control. This item includes a rough-in valve which must be installed prior to everything else. This, along with the 4 port diverter valve, must go in the wall very early.

Inspectors will come to make sure the rough-plumbing is installed WELL before you will have anything close to a finished product (in fact it will be before the walls are even sealed up). Due to this fact, you need to get you shower system planned, and ordered, so you will have the rough-in valves ready when the contractor demands them.

If you wait to order these items, you may find that the contractor did not let you know about the installation scheduled, and he/she will suddenly try to force another product on you because of a time crunch. Don't let this happen!! PREPARE and purchase in ADVANCE. I cannot stress this enough if you really hope to create a custom shower to be proud of.

(Right) Danze thermostatic rough-in valve (Left) Danze 4 port diverter rough-in valve
(Right) Danze thermostatic rough-in valve (Left) Danze 4 port diverter rough-in valve

Custom shower system STEP 1: Rough-in valves and copper pipe

To create a custom shower system you need to have a valve to power it all. The Danze thermostatic valve is a special, high flow valve which generates enough water pressure to power the entire system. The copper piping (both hot and cold) will run into this valve and build the necessary water pressure to send water to the rest of the shower system's faucets.

The thermostatic valve has another important function. It mixes the hot and cold water, and allows you to set the water to a desired temperature. The thermostatic valve then directs the pressurized, warm water to the 4 port diverter valve.

Why do you need the diverter? Without a diverter, even though you could split the piping and send water to each individual shower faucet in the shower system, you could not control them individually. The diverter valve and control allow you complete control over which shower faucets will actually spray water and when.

The Danze Opulence Oil rubbed bronze 4 port diverter has 8 settings. This allows you individual control over all the shower faucets with one control.

Even though it has 4 ports, one port must be reserved for the water flowing from the thermostatic valve into the diverter valve. This means you can choose 3 shower systems.

Let's say your 3 shower faucet systems are as follows (like the first picture on this page)

  1. Danze opulence oil rubbed bronze personal handheld shower faucet
  2. Oil rubbed bronze ceiling mount shower arm hooked to the 8" oil rubbed bronze sunflower showerhead
  3. 4 multi-function Danze oil rubbed bronze body sprays

The 4 port diverter will allow you to choose if you want shower system 1, 2, or 3 only. It will also let you choose combinations. 1 and 2, 1 and 3, or 2 and 3. It offers full control from one easy handle.

EVERY DANZE SHOWER SYSTEM must start with both a thermostatic control and a 4 port diverter. All the peripheral shower faucets are up to you, but you need to start with this base.

Stage one of installation, will be to actually install the valves and hook them from to the hot and cold copper pipes. It will also involve connecting the thermostatic control to the diverter with a copper pipe.

Next, you must decide and determine what shower systems you want for your custom shower, and where you want them to be located.

REMEMBER! The items I'm recommending below INCLUDE the rough-in valves pictured above (which install in your wall under the tile and are hooked up to the water lines)

Shower system Base - You MUST have these before moving on!

Custom shower system shower faucets: Here comes the fun!

Once you have the base of the shower system installed, now you have to decide your additional shower faucets.  You also must decide where in your shower they will be located.  With a Danze system, you can choose 3 systems (one for each port).  

You will then run the copper pipe out from the diverter, in the wall and ceiling, and have it stick out where you want to install each custom shower faucet.  This must be done before tiling, as you need these copper pipes to be sticking out after the tiling is all finished.  Consult your contractor or leave me a COMMENT if you have questions.  This way I can answer it in a way that everyone who might have the same question can see.

Shower system showerhead options

A Shower head is one possible part of a custom shower system.  You can theoretically have as many as 3 shower heads running on this style of custom shower.  Each would be powered by an individual diverter port.  Danze offers many options of shower heads - there are wall mount showerheads, ceiling mount showerheads, massage style showerheads, large sunflower showerheads, and various other styles.

Typically I recommend you go for one or two standard showerheads and use the open diverter ports for something else - That's just a suggestion.  Check out some options for Showerheads from Danze below.

Showerheads require shower arms!

In all the cases above, except for the Danze 6" ceiling mount showerhead, you will also require a shower arm.  There are many options as far as the style of the arm goes, but just remember, it is not included!

Shower system: Body Sprays

When creating a custom shower system, most people want some body sprays.  These are like little showerheads that spray out from the wall.  You can put multiple body sprays on the same diverter port as long as you don't want individual control over each one.

I would recommend putting 1, 2, 3, or 4 body sprays on one port (depending on your preference).  You can run one copper pipe out of the diverter valve and split it to accommodate however many body sprays you choose.  You will then run the pipe inside the wall to the location you wish the body sprays to be located.

I would NOT recommend exceeding this number unless you plan to devote another diverter port to body sprays.  If you have more than 4 you will start to run into water pressure issues.  Helping people install thousands of these systems has given me some insight so if water pressure is an issue in your area, make sure to go with less.  Most people choose either two or four.

Danze oil rubbed bronze multi-function body sprays

Shower System: Personal Handheld Shower Faucet

Another great use for a diverter port is a personal handheld shower.  You can decide between whether you want the functionality of the slide bar, or if you only want the handheld showerhead.  This item is pretty straight-forward and will occupy one of your diverter ports.

Popular Shower System Set-up

Remember the first picture from this page? That was the most popular set-up I saw people choosing, and it works GREAT! You can't argue with a good thing right? All the feedback I got on setting up a system this way was very positive. That being said, I hope you understand now how to set up a custom shower system. If you believe in the saying, if it "ain't broke, don't fix it" Why not order this whole system TODAY!

Amazon prices may vary, but as I publish this page, the total cost for the entire Shower System is: List Price: $2001.00, Amazon Price: $1018.26

Here's the photo again so you can see the big picture. Below are the links to purchase from Amazon. Remember, DON'T wait until the LAST minute. ORDER now, and start building the Custom Shower System of your dreams!

Danze opulence oil rubbed bronze shower system
Danze opulence oil rubbed bronze shower system

Shower System Summary

Remember, if you are looking to purchase a Delta Shower Systems, Take a look at Building A Complete Delta Shower System.

Creating a Custom Shower System is easier then you thought right? I tried to make this as clear as possible but I realize what may seem clear to me, might only be that way because I have helped thousands of people put together a shower system. If you are unclear about any aspect of the entire shower system, please leave your question in the comments. This way I can respond to any questions publicly to help anyone else who might have the same question.

Remember, a shower system starts with the thermostatic valve and diverter. You then can add 3 peripheral shower system shower faucets to the base set-up and create a truly custom shower. I hope you have found this page interesting and helpful. Please comment, Tweet, and Like this - I would really appreciate it! Thank you :)


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    • profile image

      Greg 4 years ago

      I've been doing a lot of research and hated the pre-plumbed systems. Your explanation makes me feel like I can do it and design the shower of [my wife's] dreams! I have 2 questions, does the diverter valve help keep the water pressure satisfactory....for example, I don't want water pressure to be low if I install the system you describe here and now run a shower head and a couple body sprays (my existing pressure is fine, but my current system is just one shower head). 2nd, can I use PEX rather than copper? Thanks, again, for the info!

    • profile image

      Kim58 4 years ago

      Hi! Getting ready to install a Danze Sirius shower system so I talked to a sale person from Danze warehouse and was told I need 3 Danze volume Control trims and valves. Is this correct? I'd like to do our shower just like you have pictured above but then was told a diverter was needed for the overhead shower, the hand-held shower and the sprays. I'd appreciate your input! Thanks!

    • Eiconnectlink profile image

      Eiconnectlink 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hey Gayle, your plan is fine too but it will require a second diverter. It will help with the water pressure as you mentioned so if you are ok with the additional cost then it will work fine.

      Delta is a good brand as well but you should make sure their diverter functions the same way as the Danze diverter. Some companies don't have multi-function diverters. In some cases, the diverter is single function so you need one for each different type of showerhead, handheld, body sprays, etc. When you purchase the Delta products, make sure you understand exactly how their diverter functions.

      Danze quality is equivalent to Delta and they also have parts replacement. I don't have as much experience with Delta shower systems so I'm not sure about the water pressure issues. I can tell you the Danze thermostatic valve is also 1/2" so it's probably not going to be an issue.

      Your water pressure is pretty good and if you go with two thermostatic valves and two diverters I don't expect you to really have any issues with pressure.

      If you have any other questions feel free to ask :)

    • profile image

      Gayle 7 years ago

      Thank you for the quick response. If I do put only the 1 additional handshower on the 2nd thermostatic valve, will the water pressure be balanced. My thoughts are, to put 1 handshower and the overhead showerhead on one valve and the other handshower and jets on the 2nd valve. I know it would require another diverter, but I'm ok with that. Do you feel that would be worthwhile?

      By the way, I will be using Delta products. I was told that Delta's quality is very good and their replacement parts are always readily available, do you agree? Also, Delta only sells a 1/2" Thermostatic Valve. We have not gotten into the wall yet, but in the event our main is 3/4" do you think it would be a mistake using a 1/2" valve, or do you think because we are using 2 valves we really wouldn't be losing too much water pressure. My husband told me our water pressure measures 70psi.

      Thank you again for taking the time to respond.

    • Eiconnectlink profile image

      Eiconnectlink 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Hi Gayle, in your case you will need to purchase the items in the example, however you will need two thermostatic valves and two hand showers. Inside the wall the plumber will split your hot and cold water lines. Essentially you will have two hot and two cold water lines. The first set of hot and cold pipes will run into the 1st thermostatic valve which will work with the diverter and the system as shown in the example above. The second set of hot and cold pipes will run into your second thermostatic valve. This second valve will operate solely to control the second handheld shower and you will ONLY control that handheld shower. You will set the temperature on the first thermostatic valve to control the big system (with the ceiling mount shower, 4 body sprays, and the 1st handheld shower), and the temperature on the second valve to control the second handheld shower. You do NOT need two diverters as long as your second handheld shower will be the only item running off the second thermostatic valve.

      So your entire system would look like this:

      1 thermostatic valve + 1 diverter to control the ceiling mount shower head, 4 body sprays, and 1st handheld shower

      2nd thermostatic valve and additional handheld shower, operating independent of the rest of the items.

      Remember, this set-up only works this way with Danze fixtures and might be a little different if you go with another manufacturer. Hope this makes sense! Feel free to ask any follow up questions!

    • profile image

      Gayle 7 years ago

      Thank you for putting all this together, very well done. I need a little more information if you don't mind. My shower is going to have one more peripheral. I will have one more handshower than you indicated in your example. Therefore, my shower will have 2 handshowers, 1 ceiling mount shower head, and 4 bodysprays. From what I understand, I will need an additional thermostatic valve as well as another diverter. Where is the 2nd thermostatic valve attached? Also I would like the handshowers to be able to operate at different temperatures at the same time. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

    • Eiconnectlink profile image

      Eiconnectlink 7 years ago from Los Angeles

      Thanks for the comment - this one took a lot of time :)

    • Golfgal profile image

      Golfgal 7 years ago from McKinney, Texas

      Great shower stall. Nice job on the hub.


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