Choosing a Shower Valve Part 2 - Concealed or Exposed


Selecting a shower valve can be tricky given the variety of different types available and abundance of plumbing industry jargon. But do your research first and, you will be better placed to make an informed decision about which valve is right for your bathroom and your budget.

Shower valves can be either ‘concealed’ or ‘exposed’. In this guide we’re going to take a look at what these two terms mean and how they apply to your new bathroom.

Concealed Shower Valves

A concealed shower valve is simply a built-in valve that is concealed behind the tiling in a shower enclosure. The only visible part of a concealed shower valve is the chrome control plate and handles; the rest sits neatly out of sight within the wall. The main benefit of having this type of shower valve is that it effectively masks any ugly pipework and fittings to create a more aesthetically pleasing look.

Another advantage to choosing a concealed shower valve is the flexibility of design options that it provides, such as the choice of shaped wall plates and variety of different handle options.

Before purchasing a concealed shower valve, it’s important to think about the recess you’ll need behind your tiling in your shower enclosure.Concealed shower valves typically need a recess depth of around 100mm. If you don’t have this space available, you can build a thin stud wall at one end of your shower. Once tiled, this blends seamlessly in with the rest of your room and provides the perfect place to hide away valve and plumbing. If you don't want to do this, you will need to opt for an exposed valve instead.

We often get asked whether it is difficult to access a concealed shower valve in case anything goes wrong in the future. Luckily, concealed valves are designed with this access in mind, and the handles themselves are easily removed to uncover the cartridges just behind, which can be removed for cleaning or replacing if necessary.


Exposed Shower Valves

Unlike a concealed shower valve where the working parts are out of sight, an exposed shower valve is typically a horizontal bar that sits outside of the wall and houses all of its working parts within. It isn’t such a neat look, but it is usually cheaper to buy and cheaper to install.

Exposed shower valves are a good choice if you have solid brick walls that are unable to house a concealed shower valve. They are quicker and easier to fit as it is only the hot and cold water pipe feeds that need ‘chasing in’ within the wall, not the whole valve. This should reduce your installation costs slightly. Below is the Nathan Thermostatic Exposed Valve Shower Set which is super easy to install.

One more thing to note - concealed valves can be placed on a wall away from the outlet they are controlling. In other words, you could install the valve at the entrance to your shower on one wall, but then situate your shower kit (slide rail, fixed head etc) within your shower on the opposite side. You do not have the same flexibility with an exposed shower valve as you are limited by the length of the shower hose.



At a glance:

Concealed Shower Valves

Exposed Shower Valves

Hide away working parts – looks neater

Whole valve is exposed – Not as neat

More expensive to fit and often more expensive to buy

Quicker and therefore cheaper to install and often cheaper to buy

More flexibility with placement of valve and outlets

Shower kit must be placed with valve due to shower hose

More design options, shapes and styles to match taps and rest of bathroom

More limited design options

In the end, it all really comes down to personal preference and budget. An exposed valve will be the cheaper option, but it won’t give you the same flexibility in positioning and design options. Concealed valves will cost you a bit more to buy and install, but the result is a more stylish, fuss-free look.

Read More: Choosing a Shower Valve Part 1: Manual or Thermostatic


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