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Choosing the Right Size Pipe for Luxury Showers

By: Jonathan Simon on October 3rd, 2023

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Choosing the Right Size Pipe for Luxury Showers

Contractors  |  Installation  |  residential plumbing  |  CPVC

A luxury shower with multiple body sprayers can add appeal and value to new homes. When specifying these types of showers, it is important to pay attention to the piping materials in order to control the performance and cost of the system.  

When plumbing luxury showers, it’s essential not only to make sure the showerhead and all sprayers are receiving enough pressure to create an immersive experience, but also that pressure and flow are balanced across sprayers both within and between each loop.

Multiple designs can be employed to achieve a balanced loop between sprayers, including H, 8, and circular configurations. But every balanced loop configuration requires the use of equal lengths of pipe connected with elbows and tees. In luxury shower systems using PEX piping, installers cannot rely on the flexibility of PEX to achieve a balanced loop – fittings are required to ensure the performance of the system.

That creates serious performance problems due to the use of pressure-destroying insert fittings in every PEX system. As shown below, there is a 27% to 55% difference in the internal diameter of PEX insert fittings compared to CPVC solvent welded fittings. 



Those differences in internal diameter have a direct effect on flow and pressure. In a ½” 90-degree elbow fitting, for example, PEX will experience 2 to 3 psi or more of pressure loss compared to only 0.25 – 0.30 psi for CPVC. With at least eight fittings required to plumb a simple balanced loop, those losses are amplified in luxury showers. The only way to ensure sufficient water pressure in a luxury shower using PEX piping is to upsize the loop piping and the branch line by one or two sizes.

Conversely, with FlowGuard Gold CPVC, which costs less than PEX to begin with, upsizing may not be required. Exact pipe sizing will, of course, depend on street pressure, the location of the shower, the number of sprayers and the shower system manufacturer’s specifications, but CPVC will always enable smaller pipe sizes in these types of installs than PEX. And it is often possible to meet shower system pressure and flow requirements with ½” CPVC pipe within the shower assembly.

Plus, since CPVC fittings install faster than PEX fittings, you save time on every install and have the advantage of working with a semi-rigid material rather than fighting against a coiled material that doesn’t want to hold the shape you need.

As homes and plumbing systems continue to evolve, the benefits of FlowGuard Gold CPVC become more obvious and more valuable. Because CPVC sizes similarly to copper, FlowGuard Gold pipes and fittings help you enjoy a luxury shower without upsizing the system and adding cost. Don’t diminish your luxury shower with underperforming PEX systems. Instead, get the water pressure you need while saving on material costs, installing faster and ensuring protection against changing water conditions with FlowGuard Gold CPVC. To learn more, download our brochure.


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