When it comes to shower and tub valves, there hasn't been much new under the sun. But manufacturers today are in tune with their installer customers, and are relentless in their search to streamline parts and valves to make installation jobs go smoother and more trouble-free.

For example, Danze Inc. ceramic disc tub/shower valves are maintenance free and help control water flow. Most valves use a washerless design that often requires replacement of seals, which are prone to deterioration. With ceramic, it is like glass: the material makeup is stable and reliable. It offers silky turning action for the end user, and its watertight seal keeps them drip-free.

For the professional, plumbers are always looking for ways to ease installation and decrease maintenance, says Ed Detgen, Danze's director of marketing. It's important to install the valves correctly and efficiently. “Time is money,” Detgen reminds us. “Difficult valves could mean mistakes, and that's costly.”

An installation should be as flexible as possible, too, to meet the ever-changing needs of homeowners. The Danze valve are available with stops, without stops, and a valve on the diverter for channeling water to the tub spout. The inlet and outlet ports can take various piping materials and can alter the way a valve opens: left or right, cold to hot, which helps with back-to-back installations. Piping is kept consistent without the use of additional pipe.

This valve was over three years in the making. Its advanced technology lets it take as much water as possible and can fill a tub fast and offer satisfactory shower water delivery. It works well in low-pressure homes, where older pipe is used, or in high-rise installations and well systems.

But, you say you want a revolution? Well, Delta Faucet Co. has unveiled its MultiChoice Universal tub/shower valve with many installation enhancements that allow for easier and faster installation. It also allows the plumber to change a shower's function, style and appearance without altering behind-the-wall components.

Paul Patton, senior product development manager, and the Delta team followed homeowner and builder purchases, and did extensive research with plumbers and installers. They discovered that showering and shower design is a very personal experience.

With MultiChoice, no matter what the customer chooses for trim or design, the valve can be installed - correctly and easily - with only one rough. “When multiple valves are being installed, the wrong valve sold or installed means high cost and lost time,” says Patton. “MultiChoice removes the error factor and also decreases the contractor's fear of selling upgrades.”

Delta says this valve is a perfect time saver for multiple installation jobs, such as new residential construction or hotel jobs, as well as “onesy-twosey” customers. A customer's choice is increased, without the added hassle of multiple valve SKUs. “Upgrades can now be made in function, not just trim and finish,” Patton says.

MultiChoice features three connection ports for all types of piping. It also has a square plaster guard - no more awkward round shapes - that is the size of standard tile, allowing for simple 90-degree cuts. Its heat-resistant pressure test cap allows for air/water testing before the valve cartridge is installed up to 300 psi, so plumbers can flush out the system easily.

MultiChoice offers three function options in one valve: Single- and dual function pressure-balanced valve cartridge or dual-function thermostatic valve cartridge. They are packaged in a master pack of 12, as well as single roughs in a pack of three.