The two most common shower riser designs are the two-piece shower riser and the three-piece shower riser. If you guessed that the difference between the two-piece and three-piece shower riser is one piece, you guessed wrong. This is plumbing after all and numbers are often nominal.
- A two-piece shower riser has two tubes and a union nut (3 pieces). The union nut joins the two halves of the two-piece riser.
- A three-piece riser has three tubes, a tub filler, and a shower valve (5 pieces). The tub filler joins the bottom tube to the middle tube of the riser and the shower valve joins the middle tube of the three-piece riser to the top arched tube.
Clawfoot tub shower enclosure sets featuring two-piece risers are the most popular with Shop 4 Classics customers. There are many more two-piece riser shower options on the market than three-piece riser shower options. Not only are there more options, shower enclosure sets with a two-piece riser tend to be the most economical. Two-piece shower risers are also easier to assemble than there three-piece counterparts.
Two-piece shower risers only provide a shower. They are paired with a clawfoot tub faucet that has an integrated spout for filling the tub. A clawfoot tub shower with a two piece riser can be assembled over time. The faucet can be installed first. Riser caps are available to cover the shower riser connection until the riser is added later. The three-piece riser provides both a spout and a shower. Because the spout is part of the riser, three-piece risers are paired with faucets that do not have a spout. Although the clawfoot tub faucets that are used with a three-piece riser can be installed without the riser, a faucet without a spout functions better as a fountain than a tub filler.
Clawfoot tub showers that utilize a three-piece riser are code-friendly because the spout is up on the riser well above the tub's flood plain. This isn't to say that shower enclosures that include a two-piece riser aren't code friendly. Many are. However, because the spout is part of the faucet body, the presence of a two-piece riser doesn't guarantee that the spout will be above the tub's rim as it does with a three-piece riser.
The three-piece riser's greatest asset is water conservation with convenience. The tub filler and the shower valve can both be temporarily turned off without turning off the hot and cold valves. For example, the shower valve can be turned off while shampooing and then re-engaged to rinse without having to re-adjust the hot and cold water valves. Shower enclosures that have a two-piece riser don't typically provide this convenience. The faucet's diverter switches between shower and spout but the valve is always open. The only way to turn both off simultaneously is to turn off the hot and cold water. In contrast, the tub filler and shower valve on the three-piece riser can both be turned off independently, turned off simultaneously, or even turned on simultaneously without having to adjust the hot and cold water handles.
Recognizing the differences between a two-piece shower riser and a three-piece shower riser is all well and good but this knowledge can be used to do more than simply impress friends and family. We can now use this knowledge to make informed decisions about our choice of a clawfoot tub shower.