A Guide to Wet Rooms
If you’re researching options for a new bathroom, you’ve probably come across wet rooms. There are plenty of misconceptions about this type of bathroom. If you’re trying to refine your understanding of what a wet room is and how it compares to similar bathroom types, check out our guide to walk in showers vs wet rooms instead.
In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the things you need to think about if you’re considering a wet room for your home. After reading you should have enough information to decide whether a wet room is right for you and, if so, to get started with planning and implementing the project.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- A quick recap on what a wet room is
- How to lay out a wet room
- Wet room installation considerations
What is A Wet Room?
Just to make sure you’re in the right place, here’s a quick introduction to wet rooms before we get started. Whereas in a traditional bathroom the idea is to keep water neatly contained in a bath or a self-contained shower unit, wet rooms are designed in such a way that the whole room can survive getting wet.
Wet rooms do not necessarily have barriers between the different areas of the room. You can use wet room shower screens and enclosures, or thanks to a floor that encourages water run-off toward one or more drains, you can have a completely open room.
How Do You Lay Out A Wet Room?
First you need to think about the size of your space, as this will dictate whether or not a screen is required. If your bathroom is small, installing a screen near the shower is a good way to prevent water from splashing onto towels, toilet roll, and whatever else.
If you’ve got more space to work with, however, you can safely go for a screenless shower. This open plan wet room look is undeniably sleek and stylish, and if you have the space for it we definitely recommend considering it.
When designing a wet room you also need to decide which fixtures and fittings you’re going for. Many people choose a wet room because they have a very small space to work with, and a wet room allows for an open shower which feels much bigger than a snug shower enclosure. If this is the case, you’re unlikely to want a bath taking up space in the room.
But again, if you have a bigger bathroom to work with, you can consider incorporating a bath. Freestanding baths make fantastic contributions to the open, airy feel of a wet room: it’s easy to clean water away from underneath them, too.
The layout of your wet room will be determined in part by the plumbing in your bathroom, although it’s possible to alter this during the build. Usually we’d recommend working with what you’ve got, as making too many changes to the configuration of the plumbing can quickly become very costly.
Wet Room Installation Considerations
The first thing to say in this section is that we highly recommend commissioning a professional wet room fitter for this job. While you could theoretically install a wet room yourself, it’s a very complex job and you’re likely to enjoy far greater peace of mind knowing that a qualified professional has done everything correctly.
That said, it does help to understand the scope of the installation and what’s involved. With that in mind, the following headings explore various aspects of wet room installation.
Waterproofing (Tanking) the Room
A wet room needs to be waterproofed to make sure that water doesn’t pool in one area and stagnate, or that it doesn’t cause damage to your home. On that last point, water seeping through cracks or joints can quickly cause massive amounts of damage that is difficult and expensive to repair, so it’s important to get this right.
You’ll often hear this referred to as “tanking”, which refers to full waterproofing. If your room is tanked, you don’t need any form of barrier around your shower or anywhere in your bathroom: every surface is protected against water.
There are various steps involved in waterproofing your wet room:
- Apply waterproof primer to walls and surfaces to prevent moisture from seeping into the surfaces
- Apply waterproof tape to joints in floors and walls to prevent moisture from seeping through
- Double check all tape to ensure it’s secure and free of bubbles, to avoid incorrectly applied tape from causing leaks
- Apply rubber membrane to floors and walls to offer another layer of protection against water ingress
The exact materials and steps required will vary depending on the size and shape of your wet room, the fixtures you’re planning to incorporate, and other factors. Again: this is why working with a professional is encouraged, as they’ll be able to recommend the ideal process for your space.
Positioning the Drain
Before you start installing, you need to plan the optimal position for the drain. This is a crucially important part of the room, and getting it in the right place will save you headaches later on. It will also inform placement of other fixtures and fittings.
The wet room drain should ideally be away from the door, to reduce the likelihood of any pooled water or flooding from escaping the bathroom (see the ‘Raising the door threshold’ section for more info on this).
Getting the Right Type of Drain
The type of drain you need will depend on the plans you have for your wet room. While a standard shower won’t output more water than a drain can handle, if you have multiple shower heads (a standard hose and a waterfall, for instance), the combined water output may be enough to overwhelm some drains.
To avoid this happening, make sure the wet room drain you choose is up to the task! When browsing products they’ll give information on the amount of drainage: cross reference this with the output from the various shower heads.
Creating a Gradient on the Floor
To ensure water runs towards a drain and flows away, a wet room floor must have a gentle gradient. This is commonly achieved by installing and tiling over a subfloor, most often made from WBP ply, but you can also use a special non-porous material that fits over the whole floor and does not require tiling.
Choosing the Right Type of Tile
Because a wet room floor will be wet during use, you need to ensure you choose tiles that will offer a safe and suitable amount of grip. This can be achieved by selecting tiles with a high grip rating, using mosaics of small tiles with the grout offering grip, or some combination of the two. While this might limit your bathroom tiles choice, removing the risk of slips and falls is a higher priority. In terms of the slip rating, look for tiles with a high slip rating, ideally R11 and above.
You also need to consider whether or not the tile material is porous. Materials like marble, limestone and similar are porous, meaning they require sealing at regular intervals to protect against water damage. While they may look great, this can quickly become tedious and expensive!
We recommend choosing a non-porous material for your wet room floor tiles. In this category are plenty of attractive choices like porcelain or ceramic.
Installing a wet room is a perfect opportunity to think about underfloor heating, as the process involves doing a lot of work on the floor. As well as being a convenient time to do it, wet rooms lend themselves perfectly to this type of flooring: after all you’ll be walking about the whole room barefoot, and you’re unlikely to have bath mats or other floor coverings on top of the tiles!
Raising the Door Threshold
Many people like to raise the threshold of their bathroom door when installing a wet room, as an extra layer of protection against pooled water flooding out of the bathroom and into other areas of your home.
While the drainage system should protect against this happening, drains can become clogged or accidentally covered. In such situations, having a raised door threshold extends the amount of time you have to respond to the blockage before risking water damage outside of your bathroom.
All bathrooms need ventilation to prevent built-up moisture from causing problems. In a wet room this is equally important as anywhere else. We would recommend installing an extractor fan during your wet room installation if you don’t have one already: this will efficiently remove excess moisture.
Wet rooms work best when everything in the room can handle getting wet. Wicker storage units might not be the best choice, all things considered: water will leak inside, and the material itself will become damaged over time.
Designing a wet room is a great opportunity to consider other storage options. You could go for shower shelves that are high enough to be mostly protected from getting wet, or which is made from waterproof materials. Or you could even go for integrated shelving in wall recesses: this last option involves a tiled nook where you can store shampoo, conditioner and shower gel with ease.
Let Us Help You Make Your Wet Room A Reality
Wet rooms continue to grow in popularity, and for good reasons. These are inviting, comfortable spaces that are a pleasure to use. They contribute to the value of your home, and they open up a whole range of stylistic considerations.
To understand how a wet room could work in your home, why not book a 3D Bathroom Design Service appointment? One of our team will give you the rundown of how this exciting type of bathroom can be incorporated into your home.