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Making a Wet Room Work

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 11 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Making A Wet Room Work

The wet room is the latest fad in contemporary bathroom and shower design and can give a real touch of luxury to a property, particularly one where the bathroom is really too small to have an impressive traditional bathroom layout. The downside is that the attention to detail, especially waterproofing, has to be spot on if you are not going to create a maintenance headache for yourself in years to come.

Wet Rooms Gain in Popularity

The idea with a wet room is that the whole shower room or bathroom is designed to accept having water thrown all over it so there's no need for shower curtains or screens. This allows a very clean and minimalist design, which is just right for apartments aimed at professional buyers or renters.

A lot of people install wet rooms after using them on holiday and finding them practical and easy to clean, but they are a different proposition in the United Kingdom because of the damp climate. In a warm climate a wet room can dry out properly but in the UK those chances are more limited, so the flooring, drainage, heating and ventilation must be designed properly or damp problems such as mould can set in.

Solid Grounding in the Bathroom

A wet room can be built on any floor type but the floor level of the wet room may need to be raised to allow the right fall to encourage water towards a central drain, sited in the shower area. A waterproof membrane, possibly integrating a preformed shower base, is then extended to fit the whole room, curved up to meet the walls of the room. Timber floors are likely to need more in the way of waterproofing than concrete.

Preparation is all-important here as a rushed job will lead to water collecting in pools rather than flowing toward the drain. This can lead to mould forming and eventually leaks where water will drip through onto the underfloor structure. In extreme cases, if unchecked, this can lead to rot in the structure of the house below the wet room.

Drainage will need special attention. Often linear drains will be used to increase the speed at which waste water is taken away from the floor, with pumps if the waste piping route is particularly long or tortuous. Once the flooring and drains are laid down and sealed, a top surface of tiles or a non-slip continuous flooring material can be laid down to finish the floor.

Heating for Wet Rooms

Underfloor heating is strongly advised for wet rooms. The even spread of low level heat will be warm underfoot but, more importantly, will warm the room from the floor upward, increasing the chances of the room drying out properly. If that's not practical, consider long, low level radiators rather than vertical ones as this will get the heat out into the room at floor level as much as possible. Ventilation will help too, so plan radiator locations in relation to fan vents and opening windows so that moisture is encouraged out of the room.

A waterproof wall covering is vital too and often a wet room will be completely tiled. If that's too expensive, use waterproof paints or acrylic water panels, but with the latter make sure they are properly sealed at the joins and gaps.

Adding Screens Helps Contain Water

Although the completely pure minimalist look will have no shower curtains or screens, quite often plain walls of glass or toughened plastic can be built in to separate the shower area to some extent.

This helps the drainage problem as the bulk of the water is contained in one area. It also means that other people who use the bathroom while the shower is running aren't deluged too.

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