Learn the Lingo: Plumbers Shower Terminology

Learn the Lingo: Plumbers Shower Terminology

Glossary of Plumbing Terminology for Showers

If you’re planning a new bathroom or perhaps looking to just update your existing bathroom with something simple like a new shower rail then it’s likely that at some point in your research process you will be looking at showers as a whole. Now there’s plenty of different shower options on the market, there’s shapes and sizes to suit a variety of different tastes and spaces but where oh where do you begin? In this edition of Learn the Lingo we are looking at all things shower! From the names of the different cubicle shapes to the types of shower units and all the way through to the technical parts that are hidden in the walls - we will help you to talk all things showers with confidence so when it comes time for you to design your own, you’ll have a better idea of what you want and how it might work in your space.

Not sure what style of shower you should go for? To help you compare the different options we have put together a simple infographic showing the most popular shower cubicle styles. We hope that our infographic will help you to visualise how a different shape and style might look in your space.


Common Shower Cubicle Shapes & Styles

Now there’s more to a shower than just the cubicle, you’ve got all the bits and bobs that go with it like the shower rail, the shower heads, taps and knobs and all the kit in between. Worry not though as we’ve gone into depth with our glossary of shower terminology below which also includes the technical parts like the valves etc which your plumber may discuss with you (always useful to know what tradespeople are talking about).


Buy Plumbing Online infographic showing illustrations of the most common shower cubicles shapes and styles


Glossary of Plumbing Industry Terms Relating to Showers


Cubicles & Doors

Offset Quadrant Shower Enclosure

Generally fitting into a corner of a room, an offset quadrant shower enclosure is mainly rectangular in shape, but features an angled corner at one end where the entrance is positioned.

Inset Shower Tray

This is the base of the shower. An inset shower tray is a thin tray suitable for installation either inside or upon the bathroom floor and these come in various shapes and sizes to suit a range of tastes and spaces.

In-line Shower Panel

An in-line shower panel attaches to a shower door in order to increase the size of the cubicle, it gives the look of a larger door as there is more glass at the opening of the shower cubicle however the in-line shower panel is unlike the door in that it does not move and is a fixed feature.

End Panel

An end panel is an additional glass panel to help contain water within the shower space when a side wall is not present.

Adjustable Shower Tray

Different to an inset shower tray, an adjustable shower tray normally comes with changeable feet so that the height can be adjusted as needed during installation, this is so that the tray height can be customised to provide enough room for plumbing to be accommodated underneath.

Square Shower Cubicle

A square shower cubicle is an enclosure that fits a square area in the bathroom, like the offset quadrant shower enclosure that is normally placed in the corner of a room so that it comprises a door and a minimum single side panel, however it can be placed anywhere with additional side panels added as needed.

Slider Door

Slider doors operate by running along a guide track in order to open and close to allow entry to the shower, more often than not these are used in rectangular cubicles however modern designs also feature them in curved cubicles such as offset quadrant shower enclosure.

Side Panel

A side panel is a screen that is attached to a shower door at a 90° angle to contain water within the shower space wherever a side wall isn't present, more often than not these are glass to allow light into the shower while keeping water from leaking out into the rest of the room.

Shower Tray

Shower tray - this is the part of the shower you stand on, it is the base of the shower cubicle and features a waste drain for the water to escape.

Shower Screen

A shower screen is positioned on the perimeter of a bath in order to prevent shower water escaping.

Rectangular Shower Cubicle

Like a square shower cubicle but slightly longer along the door side thus making it rectangular in shape. Comprising a door side and a minimum of 1 side panel.

Quadrant Shower Cubicle

A Quadrant Shower Cubicle is quarter circular in shape and designed to fit into a corner space, the door options can vary from pivoting shower doors to sliding doors, to a single door opening or a double door opening, popular in rooms where space is at a premium. A variation of this is the quadrant shower enclosure which has the same overall style but is slightly roomier and more rectangular.

Pivot Shower Door

Pivot shower doors are a clever way to provide a wider entrance shower door when space is a premium. Pivot shower doors revolve on pins that are positioned at the top and the bottom of the frame, designs can have both frames or be frameless so design options are versatile.

Pentagon Shower Cubicle

Designed to fit into a corner space, a pentagon shower cubicle is triangular in shape but with 5 individual surfaces most often glass should a side not be placed up against a wall.

Neo-Angle shower Cubicle

A neo-angle shower cubicle is constructed from a central door with adjoining panels fitted at angles on either side of the door. This is similar in shape to the pentagon shower cubicle however the shape is not symmetrical. This is a design rare in leading manufacturers however Matki do produce a high end neo-angle shower cubicle which they market through their Quintesse line of products.

Hinged Shower Door

Unlike the pivot shower door, a hinged shower door swings open and closes on hinges along the side of the door as opposed to pivots at the top and bottom. The hinges are generally metal to provide strength to support the glass door and durability in a wet environment.

Floor-Standing Shower Tray

A floor-standing shower tray is the simplest form of shower tray and sits directly on the bathroom floor, however space is needed below for plumbing and drainage and design of the shower would take this into account.

Corner-Entry Shower Cubicle

A Corner-Entry Shower Cubicle features 2 sliding doors that open from a corner point. Popular in square cubicle showers where space requires entry via a corner where traditional side entry is not possible.

Bi-Fold Shower Door

A bi-fold shower door operates by bending in the centre and then folding and sliding to open (kind of like an accordian). While one end remains in a fixed position, the other slides along a track to grant an entrance to the shower.

Adjustment Mean

The adjustment describes the capability of a shower cubicle to fractionally increase or decrease in size to fit a given space - ie, allow ample means for adjustment when it comes to fitting the shower.


Reversible describes a shower door or panel that is suitable for use when rotated or turned upside down, economical when purchased in bulk.

Visual: Fixtures & Fittings

Digital Shower

This is an electronically controlled unit that offers thermostatic control over water temperature which includes mixing and programming presets for safety and convenience.

Manual Shower Mixer

A manual shower mixer means that controlling the mix of hot and cold water is in the hands of the user who can adjust the water temperature to their preference with the turn/ tilt of a knob or handle within the shower.

Power Shower

A power shower (also known as an electric shower) is fitted with a built-in water pump to increase the pressure of the water flow, this is especially beneficial for gravity fed water systems that are otherwise unable to generate the desired strong water pressure required by the shower user.

Riser Rail

This is the rail that supports the showerhead and the accompanying hoses. It is fitted with a slider that allows the shower head to be slid up or down according to the users height preference.

Slide Rail

This is another term for riser rail (see above).

Shower Head

This is the phone shaped device that the water sprays out of, many have adjustable heads to allow for different water spray patterns, different patterns often have different pressures of spray so this allows for variety according to the preferences of the user.

Shower Panel Towers

This is a wall-mounted shower unit which is also embedded with multiple jets (the number can vary depending on the unit), this unit also comes available with thermostatic controls.


This allows the user the freedom to hold the showerhead in hand to give freedom of movement in the shower. The handset remains connected to a hose for flexibility of movement.

Telescopic Shower Rods

Telescopic shower rods are extendable in length - this is where the 'telescopic' term comes from. You'll often find this 'telescopic' style for shower curtain rods, the telescopic style makes the rod length customisable without the need to physically cut it to length to fit a space as the unique screw action fixes the length in place.

Thermostatic Mixer Showers

These showers mix hot and cold water and the temperature is monitored and maintained by thermostat settings ensuring safety against scalding, popular for households with young children or older occupants with mobility impairment who may be more sensitive to water temperature variances.

Hidden: Fixtures & Fittings


A device within a shower system that helps to channel or direct the flow of water to desired outlets.

Check Valve

This is a valve that restricts the flow of water in the reverse unwanted direction.

Cross Flow

Cross flow is a scenario where water starts to flow from one side of the mixing valve to another which could then lead to water contamination.


A damper is a valve used to facilitate the opening and shutting of an air flow.

Diverter Valve

The diverter valve allows you to divert the water flow to different outlets and allows you to control those one at a time, often you may find these in a shower where you have say a rainwater shower head above the shower and also a more traditional handset on a sliding rail. A diverter valve may also be found in a shower bath combo situation where the diverter valve is utilised to direct water flow to either the bath tap or the shower head depending on the user preference.


The escutcheon (also sometimes referred to as an 'escutcheon plate') refers to the metal covering (usually a ring shape) that goes around shower valves, taps and shower heads etc. It is a decorative protective plate and is also found on other objects like around keyholes and light switches etc.

Float Operated Valve

This is an integral part of the shower valve used in asserting control over the water flow into a cistern/tank.

Non-Return Valve

This device is essential in that it prevents the possibility of the backflow of water that can lead to contamination.

Phased Shut Down

Unlike instant shut down, a system with a phased shutdown waits for the hot water to be completely removed from the shower system and continues to run cold water for a few moments even after you have switched the electric shower off. This is to ensure non-accumulation of lime-scale deposits and is beneficial especially in an area that uses hard water (water heavy in mineral deposits that is prone to limescale buildup on glass surfaces etc).

Sequential Control

Sequential control is a knob that has the rise in temperature triggers arranged in a progressive sequence where as you turn the knob higher the water temperature gets hotter.

Stop Cock

This is a valve used to regulate the flow of liquids and gases being carried in pipes.


TMV stands for 'thermostatic mixing valves', this is where the hot and cold water blend. These also shut the appliance at 43° Celsius as an inbuilt safety measure against scalding.


TMV2 is an independent testing scheme for thermostatic mixers including shower valves. It is run by BuildCert to ensure that national and international standards are met (BS EN 1111 and 1287). TMV2 approval means high standards of thermostatic protection and suitability for use in the home.


This is an independent testing scheme for high risk areas such as hospitals. This is again run and awarded by BuildCert to those brands who manufacture their valves to safety standards recommended by BuildCert.


The valve is the component that controls the flow mechanism.

Isolating Valve

An isolating valve is a device that stops the water flow toward an outlet or to a particular room while keeping other water outlets in use. It is a wise move to have an isolating valve outside of a bathroom for example so that should water need to be shut off to a bathroom only to address an issue within just that room, then the other water outlets in other rooms in the home aren't affected.


Safety Glass

This is a type of glass that is manufactured to be substantially thicker than your regular standard glass, the main reasoning behind this is to increase both it's stability and safety so it is ideal in a bathroom situation such as on a shower door or bath screen.

Frameless Glass

The hint is in the name, frameless glass is glass that is essentially frameless. Think of the glass panels you might find on a cubicle, door, screen or panel that features minimal plastic or metal to secure the glass in place. Frameless glass presents a sleek design which is desired in most modern bathroom aesthetics.

Patterned Glass

You will often find this to add privacy to a space whilst still allowing light to filter in. Often you'll find patterned glass on external windows and doors - think of the patterned glass on your bathroom windows etc. It is a manufactured repeating pattern or shape on the interior of the glass that can be seen through both aspects when looking through the glass from the inside or outside.

Framed Glass

Basically the opposite of frameless glass, this product is essentially a cubicle, panel, screen or door that has glass mounted within an outer frame of plastic or metal (generally it is plastic or metal as these are the most durable in a wet environment such as a bathroom).

Common Terms


Eco-friendly means the same as 'environmentally friendly', it refers to the device or action having a low negative impact on the environment.

Flow Rate

This refers to the amount of water delivered per minute and is normally measured in litres.


Bar refers to water pressure and is not to be confused with flow rate. When referring to 'Bar', 1 Bar equals the pressure of a 10 metre high column of water.


KW stands for Kilo Watt which equals 1000 watts.


Anti-vandal refers to surfaces that are specifically designed to be particularly resistant to scratching and staining. Anti-vandal products and surfaces are especially popular and sought after for use in commercial environments of high traffic use.


If knowledge is power then we hope we’ve armed you with ample plumbing industry knowledge around showers to help you successfully tackle your own shower related project - understanding the terms is half the battle won! If however you find yourself still scratching your head with a shower related query don’t fret, our friendly team of experts is here and always happy to help. If you’ve got a query and need to chat with a plumbing and heating industry expert just give us a call on 01862 808040 and we’ll help you in any way we can. We have a range of shower parts and spares with free UK wide postage regardless of your location so have a browse and if you have any questions just give us a call.

Copyright © 2013-2017 Magento, Inc. All rights reserved.