But where do you start? Check out our essential guide to wet rooms for everything from planning the bathroom to who to contact. And if you're looking for style ideas, be inspired by our pick of the best wet rooms 2010.
Can anyone have a wet room?
In theory, yes. A wet room is basically a shower room that does away with the shower screen and tray, and has an open, fully tiled shower area. If your bathroom is on the small side you probably will need to include a shower screen to prevent everything getting sprayed.
Installing a wet room is a job for the professionals as a gradient needs to be created along the floor to channel the shower water into a drain and then the entire room needs to be tanked (waterproofed).
The most common method for creating a gradient is to install a sub-floor made from WBP Ply (a type of plywood), which is then tiled over.
Another option is to install a ready-made sloping shower former (a bit like a giant shower tray), which is also then tiled over.
A final method is to use a giant preformed tray (sometimes known as a Hi-Macs system) that slopes towards a drain, and can be fitted across the entire floor without the need for tiling over.
Waterproofing the wet room involves priming the floor, the lower section of the walls and the whole of the wall area around the shower and then covering with a syrupy membrane. Once it's set, the room is then tiled.
It's also worth raising the bathroom door threshold by about 5mm from the floor in case the room fills with water (if someone covers the shower drain with a towel, for example). This will keep the water contained.
Advantages of a wet room
- A wet room is super-stylish and perfect for creating a contemporary look.
- As a second bathroom, a wet room can easily increase the value of your home.
- Great for small bathrooms - removing the bath creates loads more space.
- Wet rooms are, in general, easier to clean. There's no shower screen or tray to worry about and if you go for a wall-hung sink and toilet, it's easier still.
- If it's done properly, your floor (the bit under the tiles) is better protected than it would be in a standard bathroom.
Disadvantages of a wet room
- In small bathrooms, watch out for wet towels and loo roll caused by spray from the shower.
- You'll need a professional fitter to waterproof the room - if it's not done properly leaking water can cause damage.
- Wet rooms should be tiled from floor to ceiling - and that's expensive. And if you go for porous stone tiles, they may need to be resealed every few months, which is hard work.
- Swapping a main bathroom with bath for a wet room could make your home less saleable - buyers want at least one bath.
Your wet room questions answered
What will it cost?
The cost of installing a wet room is usually between £5,000 and £10,000. If you are paying a company to tank and install the wet room, including floor-to-ceiling tiles, suite and shower, expect to pay more. Retailers such as Victoria Plumb and Wickes may offer you some ideas or may sell you those little extras you need to complete your wet room.
What type of tiles should I use?
Tiles are the most popular wall and floorcovering, but you can opt for sheet vinyl for the floor, or even Corian, which is a seamless, non-porous material that is low-maintenance.
If you are going to use tiles, choose non-porous bathroom tiles like ceramic or porcelain. Porous tiles, such as slate, marble and limestone need sealing every few months to prevent water damage. Only use floor tiles specifically for bathrooms on the floor as they aren't slippery.
Can I install underfloor heating?
Many fitters recommend installing underfloor heating as it keeps the tiles warm underfoot and helps dry out the water on the floor.
It's best to employ a specialist company rather than a separate builder, plumber and tiler. The Kitchen Bathroom Bedroom Specialists Association (www.kbsa.org.uk) and the Federation of Master Builders (www.fmb.org.uk) both have online databases of specialists in your area. Before choosing a company, ask to see examples of their work.
Boundary Bathrooms - design and installation of wet rooms (including sanitaryware)
Dolphin Designs - supplies and fits wet rooms (including sanitaryware and tiling)
Solidity - offers an alternative to tanking using preformed trays known as Hi-Macs
Wet Rooms UK - provides a tanking service with a 10-year guarantee
Wetrooms Online - wet room products and instillation guides
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