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Bamboo Galore. Bamboo comes in many guises these days — flooring, cutting boards, and now backsplashes. Totally Bamboo offers 4-inch-tall backsplashes with or without an inlay in both flat and vertical grain patterns with a carmelized finish. The integral bullnose cap measures 11/8 inches wide. The material also can be ordered in 3/4-inch-thick 8-foot-long-by-4-inch-wide planks without a cap. Costs range from $5 to $10.25 per foot, depending on style. Totally Bamboo, 818/765-9000,

Neo-Classic. Although an embossed-tin backsplash provides an authentic period look, installation can be time-consuming. ACP has an alternative: thermoplastic panels that look like tin and come in more than a dozen finishes and six embossed designs. They can be cut with scissors or a utility knife, and attach with adhesive or double-sided tape. Matching corner and edge trim finishes off edges. The 18-inch-by-24-inch panels cost about $17 each. ACP, 800/434-3750,

Stain-Free Marble. Tumbled marble is a popular material for backsplashes, but if its porous surface isn't sealed, its good looks won't last. Questech's tumbled-marble tiles have a factory-applied finish guaranteed to hold up for as long as the homeowner stays in the house. According to the company, the tiles repel water and stains, resist mold, and — unlike most stone tiles — never need resealing and can be maintained with ordinary household cleaners. They come in two colors — castle wheat is shown — and several sizes, and cost $12.50 per square foot. Questech, 802/773-1228,


Squeaky Clean. We might not be in such a hurry to jump in the shower if we knew just what was in the water: Chlorine from the municipal water supply, iron oxide, hydrogen sulfide, and sediment could all be hitching a ride. The Enviropure shower filter strips out those contaminants and leaves water pH balanced. It comes in four models, including the hand-held shower shown (available in white or chrome); prices range from $54 to $67. Replacement filters cost $20 to $27. Water Inc., 800/322-9283,

Comfortable Low-Flow. Like other low-flow showerheads, Hansgrohe's Croma 1-Jet EcoAir uses a lot less water than the government limit of 2.5 gallons per minute. But its spray is softer and more soothing than that of its competitors, says the maker; the showerhead mixes three times as much air as water in the spray to produce a flow rate of 1.6 gallons per minute. It lists for $26 in chrome and $36 in brushed nickel. Hansgrohe, 800/334-0455,

Doubling Up. Homeowners are clamoring for oversized showers, but sometimes space is just too tight. In such cases, the Danze Double Head Showerhead can be a modestly priced compromise. Each of the two pivoting spray heads has an adjustable spray pattern. The fixture mounts on a single shower arm, making installation no more complicated than that of a conventional showerhead. It costs $120 in chrome (shown) and $138 in brushed nickel or polished brass. Danze, 877/530-3344,