A wet room used to be something only the most expensive homes could install. However, over the last few years they have become increasingly popular which hasn’t just driven prices down but has also raised awareness of the benefits of having a wet room instead of a standard bath or shower room.
If you’re still unconvinced about the benefits of having a wet room, perhaps our guide will answer some of the questions you might have.
What’s the difference between a wet room and a shower room?
If you think about your current bathroom or shower room, you’ll notice that there are zones in the room which are waterproof, and others which are not. We usually have tiled areas around the bath or the shower to keep the water out of the walls, but flooring and other areas of the room are not waterproof. In a wet room, the entire room is like a sealed, waterproof box. All of the walls will be specially treated and tiled – as will the floor – and this will stop any leaks or dampness from getting into other parts of the house. As wet rooms are fully waterproof, there is often no need for a separate shower tray, as the water just drains into a drain in the floor.
Benefits of having a wet room
Apart from dragging a dated house well and truly into the 21st century with a stylish contemporary look, there are a number of other benefits of having a wet room. Firstly, a well-designed wet room could add value to your property as having a wet room as a second bathroom is a feature which buyers are increasingly looking for. A small bathroom is ideal for a wet room as it creates more space and is easier to install and maintain. Wet rooms are also more practical for elderly people or those with disabilities as they are all on one level.
Building a wet room from scratch in your house allows you to go right back to the basics and design your space from scratch, giving you choice over everything from the layout to the tile finish. If you have a very cramped bathroom, taking the bath out completely and turning it into a wet room without a shower cubicle can make the room feel a lot bigger too.
Disadvantages of having a wet room
Obviously nothing is perfect, so it’s worth pointing out a few of the downsides to having a wet room. Firstly, although as mentioned they are more practical for the elderly or disabled, on the flip side a family with young children may be put off your house if the only bathroom available is a wet room. If the only bathroom available is a wet room then that could make your home harder to sell.
Having a wet room built is not cheap either, and depending on the size of the room and the finish you choose, it could easily cost anything between £5,000 and £15,000. Some finishes, such as porous stone tiles, will need to be re-sealed often.
Finally, if you’re installing a wet room in a small bathroom then you need to consider the impact that spray from the shower will have on bath towels and toilet rolls in the room. Nobody likes a soggy roll, so you may have to consider installing a shower screen if this is going to be a problem.
Building a wet room
There is no getting away from the fact that having a wet room built at home is a major project and not something which can be done in a couple of days. The entire room will have to be “tanked” which involves putting a plastic or rubber waterproof membrane sheet or a waterproof liquid compound on all of the walls before tiling. Your builder will also have to adjust the floor so that it slopes very slightly in the direction of the drainage point. This can be done in one of the following ways:
- Install a sub-floor that’s made from a type of plywood called WBP Ply which is tiled over.
- Install a ready-made sloping shower former that’s sort of a big shower tray, which is also tiled over.
- Install a giant preformed tray that slopes down towards a drainage point. This doesn’t need to be tiled over and can be fitted across the entire floor.
Finally, to be safe, the threshold for the bathroom door should ideally be raised 5mm from the floor. This is to stop water flowing out of the bathroom into the rest of the house should the drainage point get blocked.
All of this means major building work is going to have to be done, and you should expect to be without your bathroom for at least a fortnight while the plumbers and builders work. As you can tell, this isn’t a job the enthusiastic amateur can take on at evenings or weekends; you need to find some reputable local companies who have completed similar projects in the past and get them to quote for doing the work. It needs to be installed by a professional as a poor job will lead to leakage that can damage your home.
Tiles and heating
When it comes to choosing your toilet, sink or shower, there is no need to buy special items which have been designed for use in a wet room. However, tiles are a different matter and when you are shopping for floor and wall tiles, you need to choose a material which is non-porous. Slate or marble tiles can be used, but you have to seal them every few months to stop them becoming damaged. You’ll have to consider if that look is worth the effort of having to constantly re-seal them. Finally, only use floor tiles that specifically designed for use with bathrooms as they’re non-slip.
Most wet rooms are also built with underfloor heating, and this is a great option as it does away with the need for a bulky, unattractive radiator hanging on the wall and also helps dry up any water which might accumulate on the floor.
Ultimately, having a wet room installed in your home is not something that’s going to be a simple process, but the benefits offered once installed are more than worth the effort – if you can afford it!
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