Are you thinking about incorporating a wet room or open shower into your next renovation or new home? What is a wet room? and what are the pros, cons and important considerations when installing one?
What is a wet room?
We see many different levels and versions of wet rooms around the world, but here in Australia a wet room is typically referred to an open bathroom, where the entire room essentially becomes the shower cubicle. Sure, they may not be for everyone but designed right they can be an extremely function space.
You may think if you only have a small space that a wet room may not be feasible. Think again…creating a wet room can make smaller bathroom appear much larger. AND small wet rooms are actually really functional!! After all, the Japanese have been doing it for centuries. If your room is small it will open it up allowing it to feel and become more spacious and useful.
But before you go ahead and install one, make sure it is right for you, your needs and your budget. We also strongly recommend getting a design professional in to assist with the design, after all it’s an expensive exercise to get wrong. But to get you started we have developed a list of pros and cons as well as other important design considerations to assist in the decision making process …
What are the pros and cons of a wet rooms and open showers?
(What do you need to keep in mind if considering one for your bathroom?)
- Facilitates contemporary modern design and an effortless open plan feel
- Opens up the bathroom and allows for a more efficient use of the space which is often more visually appealing
- Eliminates a lot of space or size limitations often seen in traditional bathrooms and therefore facilitates the good use of space
- Wet rooms can make small bathrooms appear larger and we all know large bathrooms tend to look more luxurious
- Generally wet rooms are easier to clean as there is no shower screen or shower base to worry about, nor is there any cracks and crevices
- Great for kids, elderly, wheelchair access needs etc as there is no recesses and shower trays or tracks to worry about step over
- A wet room design is generally a lot more ‘open plan’ so yes, splashes and steam can go everywhere
- Costs can be higher e.g. in most cases you will need to have the space fully wet sealed, waterproofed and often fully tiled. This costs more money.
- Definitely requires professional design and installation rather than DIY type of project
- Be aware that if drainage is not spot on flooding can occur and water has the potential of going everywhere
- There are some restrictions on where electrical can go i.e. power points / heated towel rails. Check with local building authority for regulations.
Other important considerations:
- If the room itself becomes a shower enclosure it will need to be water tight – fully wet sealed and waterproofed
- The fall on the floor is crucial to drainage and pooling. The gradients need to be spot on to ensure the fall is correct and the water is channelled from the shower and you have the ability to drain the entire room effectively
- Strategic Placement and location of drains / grates are paramount
- Sufficient ventilation is even more important in a wet room to ensure the bathroom is able to dry out. Ensure windows cross ventilate and have adequate extraction fans. Ensure the extraction vents moist air outside not in the roof space – otherwise this will cause problems in your roof
- Choose products i.e. fixtures / fitting / storage / accessories carefully
- Consider installing wall hung fixtures (basin /toilet) to add to the spacious feel and free up the floor. Not only will this look more visually appealing but will make cleaning even easier
- For the ultimate showering experience consider ceiling mounted shower fittings, along with multi-directional body jets fixed to the wall and if the wet room is large enough double his/her showers are ideal
- For storage, consider recessed cabinets to not only make it look like it disappears in the space but protect it from the water.
- If you want to divide the space up into zones consider low walls or benches as a part of the floor plan for seating, suspended cabinets or to double as storage.
- Low walls / half tiled walls will also reduce the splash zone containing water and will give more space to hang fittings and accessories
- Minimise splashes by installing higher storage for towels and clothes etc
- Consider where electrical power points and heated towel rails can go. Check with local building authority for regulations.