Recent bathroom interior design trends have seen a move away from the traditional bath-over-shower fixture towards having a separate shower or, increasingly, a wetroom. A wetroom does exactly as the name suggests: it’s a room that can get wet. The floor has been waterproofed so that a conventional shower tray isn’t needed, and a drain is inset into a gently sloping floor. Sometimes a glass screen is fitted to prevent water splashing across the whole room.
Not only do wetrooms have a minimalist, contemporary aesthetic, but they are very practical. The lack of shower tray removes a potential trip hazard, making them ideal for people with limited mobility and wheelchair users. They are also very easy to clean, because there is no framework or runners where dirt and grime can gather. A wetroom is a good option if you have limited space, as there is much less bathroom furniture to fit in than a traditional bathroom.
In summary, wetrooms are a great addition to any home. However, there are a few important points to consider before you go ahead and have one installed…
Choose a Location
Contrary to popular belief, a wetroom can be installed on any floor of your home. It is sometimes erroneously thought that wetrooms can only be installed downstairs because of the pressure of the water on the bathroom floor but a properly installed wetroom will be watertight and safe wherever it is in the home.
Another important fact to consider when choosing where to put your wetroom is that they can be installed in relatively small spaces, as there’s no requirement for a shower cubicle. The smallest practical wetroom size is 1.5 x 1 metre, which offers enough space for a glass shower screen to contain the spray, plus a wash basin and toilet too. It helps if pipework and plumbing are already in place or at least nearby, but in the average sized home this shouldn’t be an issue.
Consider Flow Rates
Establishing the flow rate required for your shower should happen at the beginning of the project, as it will have some bearing on the way the floor is installed (see below). To do this you need to know the water pressure that the wetroom has to deal with, as this will determine the number of drainage traps you need.
A wetroom drain should have a constant flow rate that is above the output of the shower running at full capacity. For most standard showers, this means the flow rate should be about 46 litres per minute. However, if you have a shower with body jets or a deluge shower head, you should have drainage traps with constant flow rates of 60 to 120 litres per minute to cope with the extra water. If you aren’t sure, check with the plumber who is installing your wetroom.
All wetrooms need to be waterproofed, otherwise known as being ‘tanked’. The minimum requirement for tanking a wetroom is to do the whole floor area, floor to ceiling on walls within the immediate vicinity of the shower area and 100mm up the walls in the rest of the bathroom. This should be done using an impermeable membrane, which needs to be fitted to ensure all alwall junctions and corners have been fully sealed so that your wetroom is completely watertight.
When thinking about waterproofing, it’s also worth considering the fixtures and fittings you are going to install. Even if you have a shower screen, some parts of the room will get wet, so it’s important to think carefully about where you place various items in the room. For example, you need to make sure your towel rail is well outside of the shower spray and special thought should be given to wear the toilet is placed, as a wet toilet or wet toilet paper won’t be pleasant or practical to use.
When planning to have a wetroom installed, you need to find out what sort of floor you have. The floor level may need to be raised or lowered, depending on the floor you already have. Because wetrooms don’t have a standalone shower tray, the draining of the shower water needs to be done via the floor. This means your wetroom requires a gradual slope that leads to the shower drainage traps. The slope of the floor should be around 1:4 to stop water pooling on the floor and causing a slip hazard.
If your bathroom currently has a suspended timber floor – otherwise known as floorboards – it should be possible to install the shower drain below floor level. However, if you have a concrete floor, a suspended floor will need to be created from timber joists. This will mean your ceiling height will be lowered slightly.
When installing a wetroom, most people automatically think of either tiles or vinyl for the floor. Whilst tiling looks great, it can be slippery and hazardous. Tiles also require grouting which can quickly become dirty and require constant cleaning and maintenance. Vinyl, on the other hand, provides more grip and is easier to clean but may ruin the aesthetic of your wetroom.
Another great choice for bathrooms and wetrooms is tadelakt, a traditional lime-based plastering technique that has been used in Morocco for thousands of years. Tadelakt is waterproof and highly durable, whilst still remaining breathable, which makes it the perfect choice for a wetroom. It has a smooth finish, meaning there’s no need for grouting, and it can be used on walls too, giving your wetroom a beautiful, seamless look and beautiful, natural sheen.
A well planned and properly installed wetroom will not only look beautiful, but offer plenty of practical benefits too. It’s essential to get the technical details right both before and during installation to make sure the room is watertight, safe and that it looks fantastic. Bear in mind using materials such as tadelakt, which will take your new wetroom to a whole new level of style and sophistication.