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An Essential Guide to Panning your Ideal Wetroom

Wetrooms are becoming more and more desirable, and they’re a great way to add value to your home. But how do you go about designing a wet room? We’ve put together 10 helpful tips outlining some of the essentials.

1. Drainage

If you’ve researched installing a wet room, you’ll know that 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 subfloor 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. If you’re longing for an invigorating power shower, then you’ll need to install a drain that can handle high water volumes efficiently. A flush-fitting, channel-style drain collects water across its full width, and an easy access trap will help to keep water running freely.

2. Waterproofing

Waterproofing wet rooms involves priming the floor (applying a base coat which penetrates the surface of the substrate and acts as an anchor for the top coat), 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.

3. Layout

One of the first things to consider when designing a wet room is where to position the drain. Ideally the drain should be as far away from the bathroom door as possible to minimise any risk of water escaping the room. If you have a wooden subfloor, the way your joists run is crucial to where your drain can be positioned. You’ll also need to think about which way the gradient runs towards the waste, to avoid any drainage problems. Many wetrooms have a glass panel for containing splashes, but that’s not the only way to section off the shower part of your wetroom. A tiled partition wall is also a great way to stop water from flowing all over the room, while providing the easy walk-in access that makes wetrooms so popular.

4. Advantages of installing a wetroom

  • Wetrooms are super-stylish and perfect for creating a sleek, modern look.
  • As a second bathroom, a wetroom can easily increase the value of your home.
  • Great for small bathrooms – removing the bath will create lots more space.
  • Wetrooms 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 is better protected than it would be in a standard bathroom.

5. Disadvantages of installing a wetroom

  • In small wetrooms, watch out for soggy towels and loo rolls caused by spray from the shower.
  • You’ll need a professional wetroom 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 will add to the cost.
  • Swapping a main bathroom for a wetroom could make your home less saleable – buyers may want at least one bath.

6. Tiling

Tiles are the most popular wall and floor covering, but you can opt for sheet vinyl for the floor, or even Corian, which is a seamless, non-porous and low-maintenance material. Concrete and tadelakt (a waterproof plaster from Morocco) will add a rough luxe look. Forgoing a shower tray in favour of a wet room allows the floor tiles to run through to the shower, which adds visual space to a room. However, not all surfaces are safe in a wet room – it is crucial to know the slip rating of materials. If you are going to use tiles, choose non-porous bathroom tiles like ceramic or porcelain. Mosaics are a great choice for wet areas, as the grout between the tiles gives appropriate grip.

7. Heating

Mo and the team recommend installing an underfloor heating system as it keeps the tiles warm underfoot and helps to dry out the water on the floor. The absence of wall mounted radiators will create more space; radiant heat from the floor will be more effective and saves money over time.

8. Fixtures

If you're foregoing any kind of screen, it is essential to think about your choice of sanitary ware, as it is likely to get wet from the shower spray or condensation in the room. Opt for ceramics that are flush to the wall and ideally wall-mounted. A wall-hung toilet is a great choice in a wetroom, as there are no areas for water to pool and makes cleaning easier.

9. Fittings

Decide whether or not you want shower valves to be exposed or concealed. Exposed shower valves work well in a modern country scheme and are also easier to install. But if you want a super-sleek look, a fixed rainwater shower head with concealed pipework can’t be beaten. It's a good idea to include a handheld shower as well, for those times you don’t want to wash your hair.

10. Storage

Allocating a dedicated space for storing shampoo and soap inside the shower area of your wetroom is essential. One of the smartest solutions is niche shelving, which can be built into a stud wall at construction stage. Unlike chrome racks and rails, niche storage doesn’t encroach on your showering space. It’s important to tile the actual shelf on a slight gradient to prevent water from pooling at the back.