What Is The Difference Between A Walk-In Shower And A Wet Room?

While cruising the internet for bathroom remodelling inspiration, you saw two pictures of a sleek, modern bathroom. Once site called it a wet room design and the other referred to it as a luxurious walk-in shower. Is there a difference?

In this post, I’ll explain what a walk-in shower and wet room are, their differences, pros and cons as well as answer some popular questions around the topic.

Let’s dive in!

What Is The Difference Between A Walk-In Shower And A Wet Room?

A walk-in shower is designed to be an enclosure or defined area to a bathroom while a wet room encompasses the entire bathroom. Both a walk-in shower and a wet room provide easy access by having a low profile shower tray or no tray at all. Unlike a shower above a bathtub, walk-in showers and wet rooms are much more accessible.

Let’s look at them both in a little more detail.

You May Also Like:
Wet Room | Pros, Cons & Everything You Need To Know

Walk-In Shower

Walk-in Shower

A walk-in shower may be either a pre-fabbed shower enclosure or a hand-tiled area. It has either a very low threshold of just a few centimetres or no threshold. The point of a walk-in shower is to eliminate the need to step over the side of the tub. It is a great option for those that are mobility challenged, use a wheelchair, or are elderly.

The area immediately surrounding the walk-in shower will be waterproofed. This includes the floor, walls, and window. If you spray some water just outside the shower, it will not damage your surfaces or seep behind the wall.

Your walk-in shower may include a sliding door, a simple shower curtain, or is built into the end of the room. You can add a bench or seat inside the walk-in for a more comfortable bathing experience. Your walk-in shower may have a fixed, handheld, or combination shower head. Rain showers and jetted nozzles are also possibilities.

You can create a walk-in shower in a bathroom with the appearance of a wet room, but use a fixed glass panel to prevent the water spray from damaging your luxurious ensuite. This maintains the look while allowing you the convenience of power outlets, light switches, and wood shelving and cabinetry.

Walk-In Shower Considerations

A bathroom with a walk-in shower can include light switches inside the room, as long as they are far enough away from the shower. The same applies to shaver outlets.

Are you dreaming of a huge double vanity crafted out of mahogany to support your double basins? A bathroom with a walk-in shower can include custom wood cabinetry and shelving. You may even build in a closet to store your linens.

Unlike a wet room, your bathroom with a walk-in shower will not support an all-out water fight using a Super Soaker. The design of the shower enclosure will work to contain the spray from your shower. The rest of the bathroom will be crafted just like any other traditional bathroom.

A walk-in shower is much more budget-friendly than adding a complete wet room as you will save significantly on waterproofing, electrical fixtures, and your counter space.

Advantages of a Walk-In Shower

  • Easy access for anybody that faces mobility challenges
  • Budget-friendly upgrade
  • Can include light switches and shaver outlets in the bathroom
  • Easy to find pre-fabbed options

Disadvantages of a Walk-In Shower

  • Areas beyond the shower enclosure can be damaged by water
  • Uses an outdated shower door or wall to contain the water

You May Also Like:
What Is A Zero Entry (Curbless) Shower? | Everything Explained

Wet Room

Wet Room

Many homeowners scrolling home design sites may refer to a walk-in shower and a wet room design interchangeably, but they are not the same.

Wet room designs for bathrooms started out in gyms, schools, hospitals, and other businesses where it is likely that water will be sprayed into every corner of the room. Today, wet room bathrooms are gaining popularity in private homes for their open-concept and minimalist design.

A wet room shower is completely open to the rest of the room. The floor is designed to direct water to the drain from every part of the space. The walls, flooring, and windows are sealed to prevent water from getting into the subfloor and frame.

A true wet room will have overhead lighting that you control by a switch outside the room. There are no shaver outlets. You will need to use a separate room to complete your morning grooming.

Wet Room Considerations

Wet rooms can be completely finished using a single surface such as tile, natural stone, or micro-cement that delivers a luxurious and modern appearance. Careful thought must be given to your choice of basin/vanity and open shelving. The units must be able to withstand a serious water fight.

The wet room option is a fabulous choice for small bathrooms where the use of a shower door can interfere with the use of the toilet or basin. It is a much more expensive option as you will not be using a pre-fabbed shower enclosure. Waterproofing the walls and floors behind the tile is labour-intensive which also adds to your bottom line.

Advantages of a Wet Room

  • Chic, modern appearance
  • Every surface can get wet without incurring any damage
  • Easy to enter walk-in shower
  • Easy to clean

Disadvantages of a Wet Room

  • More expensive and labour-intensive installation
  • Limits your choice of cabinetry and storage shelving
  • No shaver outlets permitted
  • Lights controlled outside the bathroom

You May Also Like:
What Is A Wet Room Former? | Everything Explained

Walk-In Shower vs. Wet Room Costs

The average cost to add a walk-in shower to your home ranges between £200 to £2,000, depending on whether you are doing a DIY with a pre-fab or paying a pro for some serious tiling. If you are replacing a tub/shower enclosure with a pre-fab walk-in, you could do it in a weekend with the right skills. If you are starting from scratch, it may take your professional a week.

Since a wet room is an all-inclusive bathroom project, the price jumps to an average of £8,000 – £13,000. You will be completely demolishing the existing bathroom and working with licensed contractors to complete the job. A small under-the-stairs wet room could be accomplished for around £5,000 if your drains are in the right place.  It can take anywhere from two weeks up to two months for a complete refit depending on your choice of finishing materials.

You May Also Like:
Can You Have A Wet Room Upstairs? | Everything Explained

Final Thoughts…

There you have it! Everything you need to know when comparing a walk-in shower and a wet room.

Whilst they are very similar, there are a few small key differences, advantages and disadvantages to both that may mean one suits your bathroom, budget and needs more than the other. If you have a healthy budget and want to create a luxurious spa-esque bathroom, then a wet room is the way forward. However, if you’re looking to save a little bit on costs but still want something with good accessibility and that looks great, then a walk-in shower is a perfect choice.

So, all that’s left to decide is will you have a walk-in shower or a wet room?


Michael R

Michael is a KBB designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new Kitchen, Bedroom and Bathroom installations for over eight years now, and before that, he was an electrician and part of a KBB fitting team. He created The Bathroom Blueprint in early 2020.