Design and install a wet room from scratch or turn your existing bathroom into a dedicated shower space.
A wet room can be kitted out with spa-style fittings for the ultimate in luxurious well-being or kept simple and minimal for quick, fuss-free showering. It’s easily accessible and a good option for small en suites – where squeezing in a bath is just not practical – plus, a thoughtfully designed, well-built scheme will be very easy to keep clean
f you’re self-building, a wet room can be planned at the early design stage, which makes the work easier to accommodate than if you are renovating your home and want to turn your bathroom into a walk-in shower space. With a retrofit, the entire room will have to be stripped back for waterproofing and the installation of new pipework and fittings.
Waterproofing and effective drainage are essential. Get these wrong and water leaks could damage the structure of the subfloor and walls, or cause problems with damp in the future. The basics of waterproofing involve establishing a gradient in the floor to ensure water runs towards a drainage point. The floor and any areas of wall within the splash zone must be lined with a suitable proprietary impermeable membrane.
You can buy wet-room shower plates and waterproofing kits with preformed trays that are designed to slope towards the drain, and special tape for sealing the joints between the tray and walls.
The whole point of a wet room is to have the best shower possible in the available space. To this end, it is vital to install a system that will work effectively with your home’s water supply. You may need to fit a pump to boost the pressure if you want features such as spa-style body sprays, or are converting a space in the loft. Seek advice from an experienced plumber before investing in fittings that might not be suitable. To ensure your waste system will handle the amount of water draining away, and to avoid puddles around the room, work out your chosen shower’s flow rate.
Make sure the surface is level before installing a tiled floor. An uneven subfloor can cause movement in the surface, which will result in cracks in any grout and could affect the tanking below. Choose anti-slip porcelain for safety; polished floor tiles will become a slip hazard. Consider fitting underfloor heating; kits are available that are suitable for wet areas. This will help the space to dry out quickly.
Image: The Watermark Collection
Good ventilation is essential to prevent condensation, which can lead to mould. Building Regulations state that bathrooms must be ventilated by means of a window opening or an extractor fan, but including both is the best option. An extractor in a new bathroom is required to remove at least 15 litres of moisture per second, with a 15-minute overrun after it has been switched off.
If you have room, consider fitting two showers, one at either end of the space. This will require two drainage points. A built-in bench and storage niches are also useful additions. Opt for a recessed drainage gully for a sleek finish. The drain is fitted at the bottom edge of the wall and all that’s visible is a linear gap alongside the shower area.
For more bathroom planning advice, read Grand Designs magazine digitally for free now by registering your details.