The Different Types of Shower Handles and How To Choose the Right One

Bathroom Scape may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. This comes at no additional cost to you, and all the prices and availability are accurate at the time of publishing.

There are different types of shower handles available on the market. Some shower faucets come with a single shower handle, while others have two or more shower handles. So, how do you choose the right one for your needs?

In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of shower handles and how to pick the right shower handle based on the number of handles and which one is best for your home!

Types of Shower Handles

Shower Handle 12 inch Grab Bars for Bathtubs and Showers Suction Grab Bar Bathroom Bathtub Bath Handles Handicap Elderly Seniors Safety Cup

There are 3 main types of shower handles with a variation in design but essentially achieve the same objective.

1. Lever Handle

Moen Gibson Chrome Posi-Temp Pressure-Balancing Modern Valve Trim, Valve Required, T2901

The lever is the most commonly used shower handle. The water pressure and water temperature controls are on separate handles, and this is the reason why it requires 2 different levers. The lever design allows the handles to move freely without getting in each other’s way.

2. Cross Handle

Pfister LG01-8CPC 3 Tub & Shower Faucet with Metal Cross Handles, Polished Chrome

The cross design, or ‘X’ design, as it is sometimes described, is another functional handle for your shower faucet. These handles can also be installed with one, two, or three handles, depending on how many water outlets you have and the setup of the fixture.

3. Knob Handle

Delta Faucet H11 Single Clear Knob Handle Kit

These types of handles are on the market; however, they are not so popular. Typically a round-shaped knob turns left or right to control either the water, the temperature, or the diverter, depending on how many water outlets you have and the setup of the fixture.

The Main Difference Between 1 Handle, 2 Handle, And 3 Handle Shower Faucets

There are various styles and shapes, no matter which configuration you decide to install in your bathroom. Depending on your fixture setup, you will either need a single, double or triple-handle shower faucet.

We will look at the difference between them and, based on our experience, and after speaking with professional plumbers, we can reveal which is the best option and why.

Single Handle Shower Faucet

Delta Faucet Foundations Shower Valve Trim Kit, Shower Handle, Delta Shower Trim Kit, Chrome BT13010 (Valve Not Included)

The single-handle shower faucet has one handle that controls both the water pressure and the temperature.

Additionally, you will not have to worry about the shower burning you if the water pressure changes because it has a built-in pressure valve which the 1-handle and 2-handle models do not.

Double Handle Shower Faucet

Design House 595686 Oakmont Classic Bath and Shower Trim with Single-Function Shower Head, 2-Handle Faucet and Valve for Bathroom, Matte Black

The 2-handle or double-handle shower faucet is not as popular anymore because building codes require you to install a separate pressure balancing valve with this particular setup. The handles control hot water with one handle and cold with the other.

3-Handle Shower Faucet

KAPHOME Matte Black 3 Handles Shower Faucet Set with Tub Spout,Tub and Shower Trim Kit with Valve,Wall Mounted,KHSSB05U-1

Similar to the 2-handle shower faucet, this 3-handle has one handle for the cold water and the other for hot, and the third handle is the diverter which controls where the water comes out from. This type of shower faucet also requires a separately installed pressure valve.

The Winner

In our experience, the single-handle or 1-handle shower faucet is not only the most convenient shower faucet to use, but it is also the safest one because the chances of you getting scolded by hot water are zero due to the built-in pressure valve. According to professional plumbers, it is easier to fit as you only require one hole in the wall.

Signs Your Shower Handles or Valves Need to be Replaced

Typically, these types of issues can be tolerated for a while; however, they can cost you more in the long run, so it’s better to repair or replace your shower handle as soon as possible.

  • A leaky faucet or shower head when the handle is securely closed.
  • Damp areas in and around the shower handle indicate a leak from the shower handles, which can, in extreme cases, lead to mold and even tiles falling loose.
  • The temperature either takes a long time to change when you turn the handle or doesn’t change at all.
  • While showering, you notice the temperature going from hot to cold, indicating you have a faulty pressure valve.

How To Replace a 2-Handle or 3-Handle with a 1-Handle Shower Faucet

Most new bathrooms that are installed these days have a 1-handle shower faucet; however, the older constructions commonly have 2 or 3-handle shower faucets, which are not only outdated but can be dangerous.

It is a popular misconception that it is somehow difficult or expensive to switch to a 1-handle shower faucet.

There is no need to remove any tiles, and with the help of available kits, you can easily convert your current configuration to a 1-handle shower faucet system.

Most kits will have instructions that you will need to follow. Cut and remove the tiles around the handles and isolate the valves leading to the handles no longer in use, creating a central valve to accommodate the 1-handle shower faucet.

Finally, you can place the metal housing of the single lever over the area with the missing tiles.

This is a more challenging job to take on, so if you are not 100% confident, then it’s probably best to let a professional tackle it.

FAQS Frequently Asked Questions

What is the knob in the shower faucet called?

These small devices are called diverters and can be in the form of a small lever that you push left and right or a round pin that you pull up and down to direct the water through the bathtub faucet or to the showerhead.

How to make your shower handle last?

The best way to make your shower handle last for a long time is to use it on a regular basis, and if you have hard water, then a water softener will not only extend the life of all your fixtures, but it will be better for your hair and skin.

What kind of shower valve do I have?

Usually, the number of handles will determine the type of valve you have.

  • Single handle – Pressure balancing valve with water pressure and temperature controlled by a single lever.
  • 2 or 3-handle – Thermostatic valve with the water pressure and temperature controlled separately by 2 levers.
  • Shower and tub combo – Diverter valve allowing you to divert the water to the bathtub or the showerhead.

Why is my bathroom faucet so loud, and how can I fix it?

If your pipes are not wide enough and you are lucky enough to have high-pressure water, this can cause the faucet to be louder than normal when you turn it on.

You can wrap your piping with heavy insulation and install fiberglass sound attenuation batts in the wall by the pipes to block out the noise, but it could mean replacing the pipes with wider ones and allowing the water to run at a slower pace which will be much quieter.

What is the difference between a shower faucet and a shower valve?

These two are often confused, and this shouldn’t be the case.

A shower faucet is a fixture that typically sits on your bathtub and that you interact with to turn the water on or off when you shower or have a bath. The shower valve is a device that is installed on the water pipes within the wall and controls the water pressure and the water temperature.

Do shower faucets come with valves?

Typically, a shower faucet has 2 parts. The valve and the trim kit. The valve controls the water pressure and temperature, and the trim kit is essentially the handles, the shower head, and anything that is attached to the shower or tub.

Are shower parts interchangeable? 

The short answer is no. Every single manufacturer has its measurements and design, so if you need to replace a valve and not the faucet, then you will need to make sure the replacement part is from the same manufacturer.

Why is my shower handle so hard to turn?

This could be due to limescale build-up or internal corrosion. Either way, do not force the handles, as this may crack the inside and cause you further issues. You will need to unscrew the front and clean the inside and, in some cases, remove and replace the gasket.

If you liked this article about types of shower handles, consider checking out these articles below —