Using bathroom cladding in wetrooms is a very sound choice. Whenever you undertake home improvements you always want your endeavours to last without you having to get involved with any costly or time-consuming maintenance. And cladding certainly fits the bill.
Initially wetrooms were only used in large, up-market properties or in homes where level access was required for the shower – perhaps because of a disability. But there are situations where wetrooms are installed in small bathrooms for cosmetic reasons or to make the best use of available space.
Adding a wetroom to your home is big undertaking so you need to make sure you only do it once. There are many things to consider before you embark on an exercise like this so we have listed all of the main issues that you need to think about.
Things To Consider
There is a whole host of structural, plumbing, aesthetic and financial implications that need to be considered carefully before you embark on installing a wetroom.
We will go through them a step at a time to ensure you have sufficient knowledge to make the right decisions.
What Is The Best Wall Covering For A Wetroom?
This is a perennial question and there is no particular difference between a wetroom wall and a standard bathroom wall. It goes without saying it needs to be waterproof so overall bathroom cladding is a better option as there is no grout to crack and allow water through. Bathroom cladding also has the benefit of of requiring no maintenance so you can fit it and forget about it.
We have many articles that cover this topic – this one is a good place to start:
Usually the flooring will have an upstand where the floor material returns up the wall slightly. The panels can be run down onto the top of the tiles or run down over the upstand in the case of a vinyl floor. There is more information on this here
What Flooring Is Best For A Wetroom?
There are two distinct approaches to flooring but whatever you choose it has to be 100% waterproof. The two options are:
tiles – either ceramic, porcelain or natural stone
vinyl – usually installed as one complete sheet with no joints
Immediately, you can see the advantage of vinyl over the more traditional tiles: there are no joints. Every grout line is a possible source of water egress should the grout fail. There are special adhesives and grout specifically designed for use in wetroom applications but there is no getting away from the fact that a one-piece sheet is more likely to provide a trouble-free solution in the long term.
The type of substrate can play a part in this decision – masonry floors work well with tiles as thy are solid and stable. Wooden floors are less so. Whichever option you choose you will need to build falls into the floor to ensure the shower water will drain away properly and not stand in puddles across the room.
There are specialist backing boards to ensure the correct falls are achieved such as those by Impey
Shower Mixer System
If you are installing a wetroom then you are obviously a big fan of shower so the actual showering system that you fit will be something over and above the norm. But you need to keep in mind exactly what your heating system is capable of delivering – a drench shower head plus multiple body jets backed by a power shower pump will get through a lot of water in a short space of time.
A shower panel or screen will need to be incorporated into the design if the body jets will be pointing out into the room (towards a door or window for example).
If your requirements are more modest then a standard mixer valve will do the job with no issues – but again there are different mixers for different types of system. If in doubt check with a professional.
Another aspect of wetroom design that is often overlooked. The drainage position, direction of pipe-work and size are all factors that will need to calculated accurately. A badly placed or specified waste will not effectively carry the water away from the showering area and will result in puddles. Similarly the pipe-work, its diameter, the necessary falls needs to be up to the job of draining the water away quickly enough to prevent pooling.
There are special wastes available specifically designed for wetrooms such as this one from Wirquin. They look good and get the job done effectively.
As you can see the flooring, shower system and drainage are all linked to each other and a change of plan on any one of these aspects will affect the other two. For example an increase the volume of water output by the shower could require steeper falls in the flooring and larger drainage.
So choose carefully and seek professional advice to ensure you get it right first time.
Alternatives To Wetrooms
The obvious move to provide yourself with a luxury shower is to install a shower cubicle. There are large units available that will give you a very generous showering area.
If you really, really like the open nature of wetrooms there are walk-in cubicles that have no doors and feel a little less claustrophobic.
Level access shower trays will provide a small, almost imperceptible, transition into the showering area should mobility be an issue or if you require a wheelchair.
It is apparent that wetrooms need a lot of planning and some specialised skills to ensure a successful installation. They might appear a simple solution but they present a lot more issues than just opting for a bath or shower cubicle.
So don’t rush into your decision. Take your time and get as much advice as you can get.