Slide-bar showerheads are growing in popularity because they can adjust to bathers of different heights, and also because the handheld sprayer can be lifted off the slide bar to wash kids' hair, shampoo the dog, and rinse down the tub walls. Slide-bar showerheads range in price from about $200 (though you can find them cheaper online) to over $800, depending on the manufacturer, finish, and features.
To install a slide-bar shower, first remove the existing showerhead. Lock a pipe wrench onto the pipe that extends from the shower wall. Position the wrench close to the wall—not out near the showerhead. Carefully rotate the wrench in a counterclockwise direction to loosen the pipe. Once it's loose, remove the wrench and unthread the pipe by hand.
Next, wrap Teflon tape around both ends of a 1/2-inch-diameter, 1-1/2-inch-long brass nipple (you'll have to purchase this separately). Thread the nipple into the pipe stub-out inside the wall; be sure you don't cross the threads. Tighten the nipple with a pipe wrench, leaving about 9/16 inch of the nipple protruding from the shower wall.
Thread the wall-supply elbow that comes with the new showerhead onto the nipple. Cover the elbow with a thick cloth, then use a pipe wrench to tighten the elbow onto the nipple. The cloth will prevent the wrench from scratching up the finish on the wall-supply elbow.
Now it's time to mount the slide bar—the piece that allows your new showerhead to adjust up and down. Push a mounting bracket onto each end of the slide bar. Hold the slide bar in position against the shower wall with its bottom end about 52 inches above the tub floor. (That placement allows you to adjust the showerhead from about 52 inches to 76 inches high, which will accommodate most people.) Check the slide bar for plumb with a level, then mark the screw-hole locations in the upper and lower mounting brackets.
If the tub walls are tiled, use a hammer and nail set to strike a starting mark in the center of each screw hole. Then drill through the tile on each mark with a 3/16-inch-diameter carbide-tipped masonry bit. If the shower walls are covered with fiberglass, acrylic, or a solid-surface material, bore the screw holes with a standard twist-drill bit.
If you are fortunate to hit a wall stud, attach the slide bar with stainless-steel screws. However, if the holes fall between the studs, which is much more likely, use a 1/2-inch-diameter bit to enlarge the screw holes. Then insert a hollow-wall anchor, such as a Toggler SnapToggle, into each screw hole. Fasten the slide bar to the toggle bolts with 1/4-20 machine screws. Conceal the screw heads by snapping the end caps onto the mounting brackets at the top and bottom of the slide bar.
Finish up by attaching the flexible shower hose to the wall-supply elbow and clipping the showerhead into the slide-lock mechanism.
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