Bathroom Planning: What to Consider When Planning a Wet Room
Three professionals offer expert advice on what to consider when planning a wet room
If you’re tempted to fit a wet room but aren’t sure where to begin, check out this advice from three professionals, who share their expertise to help you successfully create a wet room in your home.
Professional advice from:
Deana Ashby-Alexander of Deana Ashby Interior Design
Alastair Keir of Keir Townsend
David Shaw of PAD Architects
With the average UK bathroom not much bigger than a king-sized bed, a wet room can be an ideal space-saving solution. ‘Shower cubicles can constrict movement in a small room, so installing a wet room, where the whole room can effectively become the shower, optimises the space and creates an open feel,’ explains Deana Ashby-Alexander of Deana Ashby Interior Design.
Wet rooms are a good solution if your bathroom is an awkward shape. ‘The shower area can be positioned within recesses and niches that wouldn’t house a standard-sized cubicle or shower tray,’ says Alastair Keir of Keir Townsend. Wet rooms also provide a step-free showering space, perfect for children or people with mobility issues.
Check out expert advice on how to choose an effective bathroom layout
Waterproofing – also known as tanking – is essential for a wet room to function properly. ‘A waterproof membrane is laid on the floor throughout the wet room – and generally turned up the walls, too – before the floor finish is laid on top,’ explains David Shaw of PAD Architects. ‘This creates a waterproof barrier and replaces the need for a traditional shower tray.’
To ensure water drains away effectively, you must first create a gentle slope or gradient in the floor. There are two ways of doing this: buying a pre-formed tray that is set into the floor and tiled; or spreading a levelling compound to form a slope. ‘Experienced installers may be happy to fabricate a “tray” themselves by preparing the sub-floor – for example timber joists – cutting plywood accordingly, and tanking on top of this,’ says Deana Ashby-Alexander.
You need to get the essentials right in order to make sure your wet room will work properly.
Firstly, the gully must be able to cope with the volume of water produced by the shower, so always check how many litres per minute the waste can manage.
Secondly, to create a ‘flush to floor’ aesthetic, the gully needs to be installed within the floor. ‘In some buildings, there may not be much space beneath the floor, for example, where the wooden joists aren’t deep enough,’ warns Deana Ashby-Alexander. ‘But there are space-saving wastes with reduced-height traps available on the market to help overcome installation problems.’
A standard drainage pipe is used to connect the gully to the main drainage runs. ‘The length of this run needs to be considered to ensure a sufficient gradient is possible to maintain a good rate of flow from the gully,’ says David Shaw. ‘The drainage pipe should also be at least 50mm in diameter to maintain a good flow rate.’
Wall-hung sanitaryware is a smart choice for wet rooms, creating a sleek, uncluttered look that enhances the feeling of space and eliminates awkward, hard-to-clean areas. The designers of this bathroom have teamed simple but stylish wall-mounted Vola taps with a pair of countertop basins from Italian manufacturer Flaminia.
Install a simple clear glass screen to protect sanitaryware from water spray while retaining an open, airy feel. This works perfectly in this stunning bathroom, which features a recycled glass basin lit from within by LED lights.
‘Underfloor heating in a wet room is ideal to help stabilise humidity, evaporate surplus standing water and take the chill off a tiled floor,’ says Deana Ashby-Alexander.
There are two types: ‘wet’, with hot water pipes buried in the screed or running under the floor; and ‘dry’, an electric mat or loose wire that sits within the tile adhesive.
‘Dry underfloor heating systems are more popular as they are easier to install and more practical as an isolated project within a property,’ says Deana. ‘Wet underfloor heating solutions are generally incorporated into the central heating of houses that have wet underfloor heating throughout, although this is not always the case.’
There are practicalities to consider when choosing your wet room tiles. You must be sure they won’t become slippery when wet, so check the slip resistance rating with your supplier. Also be aware that some tiles are very porous and require regular maintenance and resealing.
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It’s important your intended wet room has a stable floor. ‘Any movement or flex within the floor could cause the grout to crack and affect the integrity of the tanking,’ says Deana Ashby-Alexander.
‘Basement or ground-floor installations, where the sub-floor is solid, are ideal. However, here you may have problems with getting enough fall to drain the waste water away effectively,’ she says.
‘On an upper floor, you will often find wooden joists may need to be strengthened to bear the load of heavy stone tiles, and you must take steps to ensure the wooden sub-floor is thoroughly stable.’
Ultimately, the secret to a successful wet room is workmanship, explains David Shaw. ‘The same restrictions that apply to a wet room would apply to any shower room, so as long as the workmanship is of good quality, there shouldn’t be a problem.’
Do you have a wet room? Share your experiences and photos in the Comments below.