These days you'll find nearly as many styles and finishes for tub and shower fittings as for bathroom sinks. In addition, you can choose a line of integrated fittings, or at least use the same handles and finish from sink to tub to shower.
For tub/showers, you can opt for either single or separate controls. Tubs require a spout and drain. Tub/showers need a spout, shower head, diverter valve, and drain. These can be deck- or wall-mounted; some installations use a combination. The best fittings have solid brass workings and come in many finishes, including chrome, brass, nickel, pewter, gold plate, and enameled epoxy. You'll also find color-coordinated pop-up drains and overflow plates.
Ever had a tub spout poke you while you were trying to relax? Mount it along the back wall or deck. Position handles where you can get to them easily. Roman or waterfall spouts are striking-looking and can fill tubs much faster than standard fittings―assuming that supply pipes are large enough for the task.
Unfortunately, tubs, especially whirlpools, aren't great for really getting clean. For that, add a separate hand shower controlled by a nearby diverter valve.
Multiple, adjustable, and low-flow are the bywords for today's shower fittings. Large walk-in showers often have two or more shower heads: fixed heads at different levels, or hand units on adjustable vertical bars. Massage units and overhead "shampoo" heads often supplement the basic head or heads. "Surround" designs combine one or more fixed heads with wall-mounted auxiliary jets or adjustable multijet vertical bars. How do you control all these jets? Diverters may have three or more settings for orchestrating multiple water sources. It's smart to consult a bathroom professional for complex shower schemes―otherwise, you may experience unequal pressures and water temperatures.
Safety plays a part in new designs, too. If you've ever suffered a pressure drop when someone flushes a toilet or starts the washer, you'll appreciate single-control shower fittings with pressure balancing to prevent scalding rises in temperature. Several companies make designs that incorporate adjustable temperature limiters. You can also buy quick-reacting thermostatic valves, with or without zoomy digital readouts.
Low-flow shower heads, rated at 2.5 gallons per minute or less, are required in much new construction, and many cities are demanding that less efficient heads be replaced in bathroom remodels.
You'll probably find that low-flow retrofits splash more and are slightly noisier than standard heads. Less expensive models deliver fine droplets that won't wet your body as quickly―and might even feel a little cool by the time they get down to your knees. On/off valves are built into many low-flow heads. Make sure levers are shutoffs, not just spray adjustments.
For safety and convenience, it's best to place shower controls to the front and/or side of the enclosure―not directly below the shower head.
Ideas for Great Bathrooms