Are Shower Valves Universal? (Find Out Now!)

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

Most homeowners buy showers as a complete set, and that can complicate things when one component goes bad. A shower valve is among the most important parts of a shower set, and it’s important to replace it right away if it goes bad. So, are shower valves universal?

Shower valves are not universal, and you must use the same manufacturer’s valves and trim. Valves vary in size and shape between manufacturers and you cannot swap them out. Always use the shower valve that is intended for your complete shower set because valves can even vary within the same brand.

Brands such as Delta produce a shower valve and trim kit, but that is rare. Be careful when you buy a replacement shower valve even if it is made by the same brand as your shower set. Follow along as we explore why shower valves generally are not universal.

Are Shower Valves Universal?

Shower valves are not universal and you must use the valve that is meant for your shower set. Complete shower sets come with a valve that is compatible with the rest of the set. You are not supposed to mix and match shower valves because they won’t likely fit properly.

It isn’t even good to swap shower valves made by the same brand unless it is meant for your shower set. Brands typically produce several shower valves that each go with a different shower set. Always make sure to buy a shower valve meant for your complete set if you need to replace one.

Shower Sets

Purchase a complete shower set so that you don’t have to worry about getting the right shower valve. Shower sets are the standard for modern brands, and you can find them at most hardware stores. You can purchase the trim and shower valve separately, but you must make sure that they are compatible.

Otherwise, your shower valve rough-in may be flawed and it will be difficult to ensure a strong connection. You can always buy a replacement shower valve that goes with your complete shower set if it goes bad.

Universal Shower Valve

Delta is one of the few brands that produce a universal shower valve. The Delta MultiChoice Universal Tub/Shower Valve R10000 is a popular valve and trim kit. This kit is an example of how a brand can produce a universal shower valve, but it is not the standard within the industry.

Most brands don’t produce universal shower valves. You can use Delta universal shower valves with any of their shower kits interchangeably. However, you can’t depend on most other brands to produce universal shower valves so you should always check before you buy one.

What is a Shower Faucet Trim Kit?

Shower or tub faucets generally have two pieces to them: the valve and the trim kit. The trim kit is what you see of the shower. It will include the shower handle (which turns the shower on or off), the Escutcheon Plate which covers that hole in your wall, and the flange.

The trim kit may also include a tub spout if you are buying a shower and tub combination faucet. For the most part, each brand should include the shower cartridge, though that may not be the case in rare instances.

Pay attention to the trim kit and the various part numbers. If you go with someone other than Delta, you will need to replace any broken or defective components with the right part number. Mixing and matching will not get you far.

What is a Shower Faucet Valve?

So, the second part to this equation is the valve. You may also hear it referred to as a rough-in valve. But basically, this is the part that installs in the wall and hooks up to both the cold and hot water lines. The valves are where those two lines mix.

When the water gets mixed and is at a proper temperature, it is then ready to spray out of the shower head and be used by you. Again, most of these are not universal. You will need to stick within the brand at the very least, though most other brands aside from Delta do not allow for mixing and matching of the valve and the trim kit.

Why Are They Sold Separately?

Now that we know that brands are not interchangeable – and most brands don’t even offer that possibility within their own brand – what is the point of selling them apart in the first place? It seems to leave open the possibility of mismatching the valve and the trim kit.

The reason is versatility. For the most part, people may want to change up the look of their shower but don’t want to go ripping tile off the wall. For that reason, it may make sense to only purchase a trim kit instead of both.

With the trim kit, there is no need to pull out the shower’s inside valve, so all that you have to do is change the trim to get a brand-new look. Of course, buying a trim kit separately really only works if you have a valve installed already.

Related Questions

Do shower valves go bad?

Shower valves go bad if the cartridge breaks or wears out over time. The cartridge in a shower valve can last up to 20 years, but it can wear out before then. A shower valve cannot work without the cartridge, and you’ll need to replace it.

When should a shower valve be replaced?

Replace your shower valve if it leaks regularly. A leaking shower valve is often a sign of a worse problem and the water can cause dangerous mold. Mold forms behind the shower when a valve continually leaks because the water becomes trapped.

How much does a shower valve replacement cost?

It costs an average of $400 to replace a shower valve, but it can cost as little as $200. Costs vary based on the brand, availability, and what kind of shower set you have. Replacement shower parts are expensive and the individual components are cheaper when you buy a complete set.

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Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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