Building a Wet Room.
If you are thinking of modifying your second bathroom or en-suite and are looking for something to give a real wow-factor, then a wet room could be the answer. They can instantly transform a small space, where a conventional bathroom suite would be impossible, into a stylish and functional shower room. Increasingly, owners of larger houses are also turning their spare rooms into wet rooms, creating huge spa-style sanctuaries with luxury massage jets and steam room capabilities.
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While its not yet worth replacing your main family bathroom with a wet room doing so could significantly decrease the value of your home estate agents are reporting that houses with an additional wet room or wet room en-suite, are selling at a premium of up to £10,000*. So go on treat yourself! Here are the five essential stages to making your wet room a success:
Stage One Preparing the floor
The most crucial aspect of building a new wet room is drainage. It is essential that the room can drain properly and is completely watertight. Always hire a professional for this stage of the process and never skimp on costs if the room and floor are not completely waterproof, it could cause extensive damage which will prove costly in the future.
The floor of your new wet room must slope slightly to channel the water down into a drainage system, which will be positioned underneath the original floor.
If your house has traditional wooden floorboards as many houses do the drainage system is actually quite simple. The contractor will cut a hole into the joists and sink a shower-tray into the floor. The new floor of the room will then be raised fractionally to sit flush with the top of the tray and the door threshold will typically be raised by around 5mm in case the room ever fills with water if a towel blocks the drainage grate for example!
Once the new floor is in place, it is covered with a waterproof gel to create a watertight membrane which seals the floor before the tiles are laid over the top.
The tiles must be laid using totally waterproof adhesive and grout. This stage of completely waterproofing the room is called tanking and is the most important stage of the whole project.
While the floor is up, you may also want to consider installing underfloor heating, as the wet room will need to be tiled all over, meaning that when the tiles are cold in the morning, it will really penetrate the whole room!
Stage Two Choose a shower
Surely the main feature of any wet room has to be the shower? The room will lose all of its magic if the shower you choose is more of a trickle than a jet. A power shower is the only option in a wet room and most people opt for one with a large shower head after all, a luxurious shower is the reason most people build wet rooms at all!
Rainfall showers are the most luxurious on the market and can be big enough to shower two people at once. Alternatively, you could go for multi-jet body sprays, which have jets all the ways down the wall to produce a massaging effect the ultimate in luxury showering! What better way to unwind after a hard day at work?
However before you choose a powerful shower, make sure you have enough water pressure and that your boiler will be able to provide enough hot water. If not, you may have to install a new pressure pump and boiler system.
Stage Three Fixtures and fittings
After the all-important shower, you should consider which other fixtures you are going to need in your wet room. It is worth remembering that, because of the nature of a wet room, it is probably not wise to have too many fixtures touching the floor. Obviously the floor will be wet for the majority of the time although underfloor heating will dry it faster and any fixtures fastened to the floor could become mildewed or collect mould around the joins.
Most bathroom companies will offer fixtures specifically designed for wet rooms which are fully wall-mounted but you must make sure that the wall is strong enough to support the weight of basin and toilet facilities.
When it comes to taps and shower fittings, chrome is the most contemporary material to use. It gives the most modern feel and most power- and multi-jet showers will already be manufactured in chrome as standard.
An excellent addition to any wet room is a chrome heated towel rail the whole room will be wet or affected by condensation as you shower and a heated rail will keep your towels warm and dry for when you have finished! It will also dry the towels quickly once youve left and help to dry out the whole room throughout the day.
Stage Four Tiling
Once the room is fully prepared, the next stage is to tile it. Wet rooms need more tiles than your average bathroom, as the entire floor, walls and usually the ceiling are all tiled. The most stylish way to decorate your wet room is to use the same tile over all the surfaces, giving the room a spa feel.
Any tiles you pick for a wet room should really be non-porous. Ceramic or porcelain tiles are best and require the least maintenance once the room is complete.
If you want to have the sleekest look, you could consider using sheet Corian which comes specifically cut to fit the walls and floor which means no join or grout lines. Corian is ideal for wet rooms as it is extremely strong and completely watertight. It is available in over 100 colours and can be blended to include two or three colours inset into one wall. Corian is a more expensive option than tiles though and starts at around £300 per linear metre.
If you really want the look of marble or limestone in your wet room, it is possible to use these materials. However remember that they are porous and will need to be treated and resealed every two to three months to prevent water seeping through. Resealing these tiles could cost anything up to £80 a time.
Finally, all tiles which you use in your wet room will need to be non-slip falling over onto an entirely tiled surface will be painful! Consider your tiles carefully, as they make up the entire decoration and account for most of the safety aspects of your wet room. They are also extremely costly to replace just because you change your mind!
Stage Five The finishing touches
When accessorising your wet room, it is essential to make sure that all of the items you choose are suitable for a permanently wet area. Choose storage items and accessories for steam rooms, as these will already be pre-treated to protect them from water and condensation. There are many shelving units, towel stacks and chairs designed for steam rooms which would be perfect in a wet room.
If you are using paints on any part of the ceiling, or want to put up pictures or mosaics, check that the materials used are waterproof and suitable for use in areas with high condensation. Once your room is fully decorated and accessorised, you are ready to walk in, relax and enjoy your new wet room!
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*Figures taken from our June 2008 edition monthly newsletter which was sent to over 250,000 home owners. To receive our free newsletter, click here. You can unsubscribe at any time.
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