Did your eyes glaze over when you read the title above? Me too, when I first heard about this. This was the title of a recent National Kitchen and Bath Association Continuing education course. As uninteresting as that seemed, I thought I should learn more about it as universal design becomes more prevalent and mainstream, especially in bathrooms. So, I braved the Atlanta traffic and subjected myself to an hour on this subject and surprisingly it turned out to be quite interesting and important.
A universal shower valve is the unseen valve in the wall behind the tile in your shower or bathtub that the handle affixes to. In years past, you had to select your entire shower or tub fixture before they could rough in the valve and pipes as the valve varied with the design that you chose. With the invention of the universal shower valve, the plumber can rough in with this valve and you can select the decorative trim later in the project. In using this valve, you also have flexibility in changing the faucet out in years to come without tearing up the wall behind it.
I always believe that it is best to finalize your entire plan and selections, and in some cases purchase items, before you begin the rough in stage of the project. This insures that all items will still be available when you need them and helps prevent mistakes on the job site. In selecting your shower valve before hand, you can plan your tile design and plumbing layout to work with each other.
Using the universal shower valve may cost a few more dollars up front but will surely be worth the extra investment in the future. Talk with your plumber about this and don't assume they are going to use it. A good plumbing distributor, such as Ferguson's or DeVore and Johnson can also be helpful in answering any questions you or your plumber may have.
I hope this has been helpful and informative and helps you with your future projects. Don't hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions. Know that I am always learning, reading and asking questions to help you with your projects.