Wet Room | Pros, Cons & Everything You Need To Know
Is it time to replace your old standing shower? Did your friend mention that you might want to do a wet room instead of just replacing the cracked shower tray? Wet rooms can often be found in fancy tropical resorts, at your local gym, or in exclusive spas.
Does it sound beyond your budget? Before you discard the idea of a wet room, learn a little more about this trending idea in home improvement.
In this post, I’ll explain what a wet room is, its pros and cons as well as answer some common questions around the topic.
Let’s dive in!
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What Is A Wet Room?
Wet rooms are rapidly becoming one of the most popular options for designing an upscale bathroom for your master en-suite or main family bathroom. The entire room is completely waterproofed. The floors and walls are tiled over a waterproof membrane sealing the room from any water leaking into its structure and causing damage. The whole room is designed to be open to and withstand water and splashes from the shower.
Instead of a step-up shower enclosure, shower tray or bathtub shower, there is no floor transition for the shower area. There may or may not be any kind of wall, screen or door dividing the shower area from the rest of the bathroom. This means that you end up with a bathroom design that is very open, lending a feel of extra space. Especially pleasing for compact, smaller bathrooms or anyone trying to achieve an open-plan look.
Common Parts Of A Wet Room
- Combination handheld and fixed shower head
- Waterproof vanity and basin
- Tiled surfaces
- Enclosed and water-resistant storage for towels and toiletries
- Glass screen divider
- Floor drainage system
What To Consider When Designing A Wet Room
When designing a wet room, there are a few different things that your contractor will need to consider. You may want to consult with a builder that is experienced in creating wet rooms to ensure that no detail is overlooked.
One of the most important things to get right. There will be a single floor drain in the shower area as the main wastewater drainage to remove water while showing and help the floor to dry out between uses. The floor will be subtly slanted to direct water towards the drain from all parts of the room. The drain needs to be installed before you begin levelling the floor and laying tile. So the floor will need to be lifted and drainage pipes chopped in during the early stages of the renovation.
A waterproofing membrane should be installed on all walls and the floor before plastering, hanging cement board or another mounting medium for your wall tiles, panels and flooring tiles. This allows water to be sprayed in all directions in the room without getting behind the tiles and causing hidden water damage. You may also need to do additional sealing around windows, lighting fixtures, and switches.
The most effective flooring material for a wet room will be ceramic or porcelain tiles or natural stone. Vinyl floors are not as resistant to damage and wood cannot be sufficiently sealed to truly protect it from rot. The mortar and grout must be specifically designed for use in a wet environment. You will need extra seals at every corner to stop water from working under the tiles.
Having anti-slip or textured floor tiles is recommended to help prevent any falls from the wet floor. Often times you can use contrasting ‘grippier tiles or mosaic tiles in the main ‘wet’ area of the room to help with grip underfoot.
You can be thrifty with a traditional DIY bathroom renovation for about £1,000. However, usually creating a wet room requires completely ripping out the existing bathroom down to the studs. Expect to spend a minimum of £4,000 for a small project and up to £7,000 or more for a roomy wet room spa. Costs ultimately depend on the size of the room as well as the materials and fixtures chosen.
You will not be able to do this on a shoestring budget as every item from the vanity to light fixtures to the window must be designed for the wet environment. Also, installing the wet room drainage, water-proofing the room and tiling professionally can be labour intensive tasks. All adding to the cost.
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Advantages Of A Wet Room
- Wet rooms are great for providing safe access to a person that uses a wheelchair or has trouble stepping in and out of a traditional shower or tub.
- They are easy to keep clean since the walls can be rinsed down using a handheld showerhead.
- Wet rooms provide a luxurious appearance with seamless tiles covering the walls and floor.
- With the removal of any wall or shower door, there is extra room to navigate tight corners surrounding the toilet.
- Can be a great option for small or compact bathrooms unable to fit a shower enclosure.
Disadvantages Of A Wet Room
- A wet room will be more expensive to install compared to a traditional bathroom design.
- Some people are uncomfortable taking a shower in such an open environment.
- The whole room may get wet. Need to think about where to locate towels and other bathroom items (loo roll).
- If you discover water damage under the floor or behind a wall, it can be difficult to locate the crack in the grout that is causing the problem. A repair may be expensive.
- Need to be more considered with your choice of materials for other items in the room as they will be damaged over time with the extra exposure to water. (Wooden cabinets or storage)
- Sourcing lighting fixtures, exhaust fans, and switches may be difficult to find and harder to install while meeting regulations.
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Can You Have A Bath In A Wet Room?
Yes. If your wet room is large enough, you can add a bathtub. This could be built-in or freestanding and can be a nice addition and extra feature to your bathroom. However, if you plan on having a tub in a smaller bathroom, you may want to reconsider the wet room concept.
You could be spending a lot of extra money on waterproofing that is not necessary if you are using the tub on a regular basis. It may also be impractical to try and fit both a bath and ‘wet room’ shower in a small space.
Do You Need A Shower Screen In A Wet Room?
You don’t need a shower screen but it can be helpful. One of the most attractive elements of a wet room for many people is the total lack of any walls, doors, or curtains. There is no need to hang a screen to stop the spray and splashing from getting your vanity or toilet wet. It is built so that every surface can withstand moisture.
However, you may want some kind of wall or screen so that your towels will stay dry. Having a discreet glass screen can help to keep splashes and water a little more contained and closer to the main drainage on the floor.
Can You Have Underfloor Heating In A Wet Room?
Oh, yes! Tile floors are excellent at transferring and retaining heat, so your wet room floors are the perfect surface to support underfloor heating. It will also help to keep the floor dry between showers as the underfloor heating will evaporate any water left sitting on the floor.
You can use either wet or dry underfloor heating with a wet room. It is safe and better yet, a total luxury upgrade for your bathroom project. I definitely recommend installing underfloor heating in your wet room, if you can.
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There you have it. The pros, cons and everything you need to know when considering a wet room for your new bathroom or bathroom renovation.
No longer just for fancy hotels and resorts. Wet rooms are becoming increasingly popular for homeowners, for good reason. Stylish and practical, they can be a fantastic addition to any home.
So, are you considering a wet room for your new bathroom?
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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.