Shower head tape: is it necessary and HOW to apply it?

There are a lot of discussions about what shower tape is and if it is needed. Let’s take a look at what most plumbers do.

Some shower heads come with a rubber washer ring and don’t require tape. While other shower heads don’t have a washer and do require tape. Let’s take a look at how this is done.


What Shower head tape is used by plumbers?

There are different tapes that can be used for this. Often Teflon (or PTFE) tape is used. There are different types of Teflon tape. Each type has a color. We use the white one for a showerhead. 

 It is important to use the right tape as other tapes might leak or create a less strong bond. You also have to make sure that the tape is properly applied. This means that it is in the groves of the fitting (connector) and doesn’t make the fitting loose. 

You can use a knife to remove the excess tape. The installation can look quite sloppy if the tape is not removed from the shower head. It only takes a few seconds and makes everything look better.

Handheld shower heads typically don’t require shower tape as a rubber washer is generally supplied. This makes it easier to install as you don’t have to mess around with tape. These washers are quite cheap and easy to replace. You just have to make sure that you get the right diameter and thickness. You can easily replace them, as outlined here.

How to apply shower head tape? 

Preparation of the install

Close the water supply by closing a nearby valve. Don’t forget to close the hot and cold water. If there is no valve nearby, you can also close the main valve. Open up nearby faucets to drain all the water from the pipe. Have a bucket and a towel nearby as water can drip out of the pipe.

You should also wear goggles, strong shoes, and gloves when you perform this work. Let’s get started!

Make sure that the threads on your water pipe are clean. You can use a brush or cloth to remove the oil from it. This is important as dirt can make the connection less strong. The threads also shouldn’t be broken. You might want to replace the pipe if the threads are in a bad condition as the shower head can fall off!

Applying the tape

Start by opening the tape. Use your thumb to hold a piece of it in place. The other hand holds the tape. You wrap the tape two times clockwise around the threads of the pipe. It is possible that you have to wrap it more often, check the manual of the tape that you have. Start at the top of the pipe and work your way down. Pull it tight so that you can see the threads.

Don’t go over the least tread as this makes it harder to screw the shower head on the threads. Once this is done, you can use a knife to cut the tape. Make sure that the tape is in the groves and isn’t applied to lose. 

Some plumbers add some pipe dope on it to make the tape last longer. Other plumbers don’t. Read the instructions on your Teflon tape to check what is needed. 

This might sound quite overwhelming but it is simple to do. Don’t damage the tape. It is quite thin so you have to be careful with it. You can also use a stepladder if you are having a hard time reaching the threads of the pipe.

Installing the shower head

Once this is done, we can turn the shower head over the end of the pipe. The tape can start to wrap up if you haven’t installed it properly. It is always possible to remove the tape and start over if needed. It shouldn’t be too hard to get the shower head over the threads. If you have to use too much force, something might be wrong.

You can use two wrenches to tighten this further. Use one wrench to hold the water pipe so that it doesn’t break. The other wrench should be used to hold the shower head. Don’t overtighten this as you can break the water pipe!

Once this is done, you can test the installation by opening up the water pipe. Make sure that there are no leaks. You can always start again by removing the shower head and tape. The showerhead should hang level as well.

Your shower head often comes with instructions. The manufacturer generally outlines if you need to add tape or not. In a lot of newer showers, this is not required but it depends on the design of the shower head.

To conclude, we can state that shower head tape can be used in some situations. It is not always necessary to use it as some shower heads come with a washer. When you have to use this tape, you have to make sure that you use the right one and apply it correctly.

This keeps the shower head in place and makes sure that water doesn’t leak between the shower head and the water pipe. You can remove the excess tape with a knife. Be careful that you don’t damage the water pipe or shower head as they have a coating that protects them from rust. 

Shower heads typically last more than 10 years so it is important that you install them correctly. Don’t damage the shower head as this can break the coating and lead to rust. You have to use the right Teflon tape (if there are no rubber washers needed for your system) and install it correctly.

If you don’t want to do this yourself, you can always hire a plumber to do this installation process for you. It is an important part of a shower and should be properly installed. This is something that most people can do on their own though.

A leaky shower head is annoying. Make sure to use the right sealant to avoid problems with this.