Are Shower Heads Universal? (Answered)

If your showerhead doesn’t have a comfortable setting, you’ve probably considered replacing it. If you’re not very handy around the house or apartment, as the case may be, you may wonder if you need to choose a specific type of showerhead or if they are universal. 

This article will discuss whether showerheads are universal worldwide, if shower hoses are universal, and how to figure out what size showerhead you need. You’ll also learn how to replace a showerhead yourself and how you can avoid buying the wrong showerhead.

are shower heads universal

Are All Showerheads Universal?

Yes, nearly all shower heads are a universal thread size of half an inch. This includes the NPT (National Pipe Thread) in North America and the British Standard Pipe (BSP), which is the standard in much of the rest of the world. So the same showerhead should work nearly worldwide.

One exception to this rule is homes with old plumbing. For example, the now-defunct ball-end shower arms aren’t compatible with today’s showerheads.

That said, you should be able to find ball-end shower arm adapters at your local home improvement store or online. If you use an adapter, you should be able to make any showerhead work on your ball-end shower arm. 

The other exception is a luxury shower. If you have a ceiling-mounted rainfall showerhead, the fittings won’t be the same as your standard showerhead.

These showerheads can be challenging to replace and may be better left in the hands of a skilled plumber to avoid damage to your shower.

Are Shower Hoses Universal?

Most hoses follow the NPT or BSP standard of ½ inch; however, occasionally, you’ll run across a hose that’s ¾ inch instead.

Make sure you check the package carefully before you purchase a new shower hose. If you plan to complete this project yourself, you may find it easiest to buy a shower hose kit that comes with the hose and all the seals together.

Although showerheads are technically universal, some companies make their pieces slightly different, so a hose from one manufacturer won’t necessarily be compatible with the seals from another manufacturer.

How To Measure For A New Showerhead 

measuring a shower head

Although most shower pipes are the standard ½ inch in diameter, you should still measure your pipe to make sure it doesn’t deviate from that standard.

You’ll also need to measure how far your pipe sticks out from the wall so you don’t accidentally buy a showerhead that’s too big for the area you have to attach it to.

Getting these measurements and taking them to the store will make it much easier to find what you’re looking for. These measurements will also help a sales associate guide you to the right showerhead if you can’t find one yourself.

Are Showerheads Easy To Replace? 

Showerheads are reasonably easy to replace, even if you don’t have much do-it-yourself experience.

replacing a shower head

Just follow these simple instructions.

1. How To Remove The Old Showerhead

Before installing a new showerhead, you’ll need to remove the old one. You can often do this by hand by simply turning the showerhead counterclockwise.

If it doesn’t budge, grab a pair of pliers to hold it steady. Make sure you put a washcloth between the pliers and the show arm to avoid scratching it. 

Next, use an adjustable wrench to twist the old showerhead free. Remove any build-up from the shower arm so you can get a tight seal with your new showerhead.

2. How To Install A Fixed Showerhead

Screw the new showerhead onto the shower arm clockwise, then turn on the water and check for leaks.

If you discover leaks, remove the showerhead, wrap the shower arm threads with thread seal tape, and re-install the showerhead.

3. How To Install A Handheld Showerhead

A handheld showerhead is a bit more complex to install than a fixed unit but still won’t require too much effort. 

First, screw the handheld shower mount onto the shower arm and tighten it by hand. 

Next, connect the hose to the shower mount and the handheld shower, tighten all connections by hand, then put the handheld shower in the mount. 

Finally, turn on the water to check for leaks, remove any leaking sections, apply thread seal tape to the threads, then re-install the unit.

4. How To Install A Fixed And Handheld Combination Showerhead

This is the most difficult style of showerhead to install, but as a novice DIY-er, I still managed to install my shower system in about 20 minutes. Take it one step at a time, and you’ll be fine.

First, attach the diverter that powers the fixed showerhead and the handheld shower to your shower arm by twisting in a clockwise motion and tightening it by hand. 

Next, screw the showerhead onto the end of the diverter. Finally, connect the shower hose to the diverter and the handheld shower, then put the handheld shower in the mount. 

Finally, turn on the water to test for leaks, remove any leaking sections, apply thread seal tape to the threads, and re-install the unit.

Tips To Avoid Buying The Wrong Showerhead

Although shower heads are universal for using a standard-size pipe, some shower arms and showerheads have different set-ups.

Here are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t get a showerhead that’s incompatible with your shower arm.

1. Check The Threads When Replacing Your Showerhead

Although shower pipes and hoses are typically universal, not every shower will have the same set-up.

Here are the two things you’ll want to pay attention to ensure a good fit.

  • Are the threads male or female?

When you remove your current showerhead, check the threads on the shower arm to see if they are male or female. Male threads are on the outside, while female threads are on the inside. It’s important to ensure the showerhead you buy has the opposite threads so they will go together correctly.

  • Are the threads parallel or tapered?

Parallel threads stay the same width for the entire thread, while tapered ones get smaller down the thread. Make sure you get a showerhead with the same thread style, or they won’t seal properly.

2. Take Your Current Showerhead To The Store With You

If you have a complicated shower arm set-up or you’re concerned that you won’t remember what your threads look like, you can remove your showerhead and take it along with you.

This way, you’ll be able to see what you need to get the right style of replacement.

3. Ask For Help

If you purchase your new showerhead at a local home improvement store, you can take your measurements along and ask the sales representative in the plumbing department.

These knowledgeable store associates can point you in the right direction.

4. Buy More Than One

If you’re unsure which showerhead style will work with your shower arm set-up, you may want to consider purchasing a few different options and returning the ones you don’t use.

This can be particularly helpful if you’re shopping online and don’t see the specs on the packaging or listing.


Can you change the showerhead in a rental?

es, you can change the showerhead in a rental unit as long as you don’t damage any plumbing. If you need to use pliers to get the old showerhead off, make sure you put a washcloth or piece of electrical tape between the pliers and the shower arm to avoid scratches. You should also keep the old showerhead handy, so you can put it back on when you move out of your rental unit.

Will I need any tools to replace my showerhead?

You often won’t need tools to replace the showerhead because they’re usually hand-tightened. It might take a little more effort if you have mineral deposits or other build-up. In this case, you might need a pair of pliers, a wrench, and a washcloth to prevent scratching the shower arm. You should also have thread seal tape handy in case of leaks in the new showerhead system.


Whether you need the massaging power of a forceful setting or you want to wake up peacefully with a gentle mist, choosing the right showerhead will significantly improve your shower experience.

Luckily, showerheads are mostly universal, except for very old plumbing or luxury styles. They’re also pretty easy to replace, even without much DIY experience. When you set out to replace your shower head, remember:

  • Measure your shower pipe and the distance it comes out from the wall.
  • Check the threads on your shower arm to see if they are male or female and parallel or tapered.
  • When in doubt, show your measurements to a trained sales associate in a local home improvement store and ask for help to avoid buying a shower head that won’t fit in your shower.
Shauna Stone