Design trends

Wet rooms – the essential guide to creating the perfect shower space

Want a wet room, but not sure whether it will work in your home? Read on for the advantages and disadvantages of wet rooms, along with some expert design tips

Wet rooms are becoming more and more desirable, and they’re a great way to add value to your home. But how exactly do you go about designing a wet room? We’ve put together a handy guide with everything you need to know, from what tiles to choose to specialist wet room companies you can contact about installation.

Can anyone have a wet room?

Hammam-style wet room wet rooms

Water drainage

Installing a wet room is a job for the professionals, as a gradient needs to be created along the floor to channel the shower water into a drain and then the entire room needs to be tanked (waterproofed).about:blank

The most common method for creating a gradient is to install a sub-floor made from WBP Ply (a type of plywood), which is then tiled over.

Another option is to install a ready-made sloping shower former (a bit like a giant shower tray), which is also then tiled over.

A final method is to use a bespoke floor in the non-porous material HI-MACS that slopes towards a drain, and can be fitted across the entire floor without the need for tiling over.

Waterproofing

Waterproofing wet rooms involves priming the floor, the lower section of the walls and the whole of the wall area around the shower and then covering with a syrupy membrane. Once it’s set, the room is then tiled.

It’s also worth raising the bathroom door threshold by about 5mm from the floor in case the room fills with water (if someone covers the shower drain with a towel, for example). This will keep the water contained.

Luxe wet room with traditional shower wet rooms

Layout

If you have a wooden sub-floor, the way your joists run is crucial to where your drain can be positioned. You’ll also need to think about which way the gradient falls towards the waste will run, to avoid any tricky wedging effects.’

Advantages of wet rooms

Advantages of wet rooms

  • Wet rooms are super-stylish and perfect for creating a contemporary look.
  • As a second bathroom, a wet room can easily increase the value of your home.
  • Great for small bathrooms – removing the bath creates loads more space.
  • Wet rooms are, in general, easier to clean. There’s no shower screen or tray to worry about and if you go for a wall-hung sink and toilet, it’s easier still.
  • If it’s done properly, your floor (the bit under the tiles) is better protected than it would be in a standard bathroom.

Disadvantages of wet rooms

Compact wet room with built-in tiled shelves wet rooms
  • In small bathrooms, watch out for wet towels and soggy loo roll caused by spray from the shower.
  • You’ll need a professional fitter to waterproof the room – if it’s not done properly, leaking water can cause damage.
  • Wet rooms should be tiled from floor to ceiling – and that’s expensive. And if you go for porous stone tiles, they may need to be resealed every few months, which is hard work.
  • Swapping a main bathroom for a wet room could make your home less saleable – buyers want at least one bath.

How much will a wet room cost?

The cost of installing a wet room is usually between £5,000 and £10,000. If you are paying a company to tank and install a wet room, including floor-to-ceiling tiles, suite and shower, expect to pay more. Retailers such as Victoria Plum and Wickes may offer you some ideas or can sell you those little extras you need to complete your wet room.View colours

grey tiled wet room wet rooms

What type of surface materials should I use in a wet room?

Tiles are the most popular wall and floor covering, but you can opt for sheet vinyl for the floor, or even Corian, which is a seamless, non-porous material that is low-maintenance. Concrete and tadelakt (a waterproof plaster from Morocco) will lend your wet room a rough luxe look.

If you are going to use tiles, choose non-porous bathroom tiles like ceramic or porcelain. Porous tiles, such as slate, marble and limestone need sealing every few months to prevent water damage. Only use floor tiles specifically for bathrooms on the floor so they aren’t slippery.

C.P. Hart designer, Rebecca Milnes says ‘When deciding which wet room system to go for, think about what your sub-floor is made of. There are systems for both solid and wooden floors.

Forgoing a shower tray in favour of a wet room allows the floor tiles to run through to the shower, which adds visual space to a room. However, not all surfaces are safe in a wet room.

It is crucial to know the slip rating of materials. I’d recommend using a material with a structured, textured finish to give extra grip. Mosaics are a great choice for wet areas, as the grout between the tiles gives appropriate grip.’

Can I install underfloor heating?

Many fitters recommend installing underfloor heating as it keeps the tiles warm underfoot and helps to dry out the water on the floor.

Spacious wet room with double shower wet rooms

Wet room decorating ideas to consider before you start

Before you even think about getting the builders in, make sure you have thought through every element of your wet room scheme. From shelving to shower fittings, take your time in the planning stage to ensure that everything will be just as you want it.

Choose your sanitaryware

Rebecca Milnes, Designer at C.P. Hart says, ‘If you’re embracing the full wet room and foregoing any kind of screen, it is essential to think about your choice of sanitaryware, as it is likely to get wet from the shower spray or condensation in the room. Opt for ceramics that are flush to the wall and ideally wall-mounted. A wall-hung toilet is a brilliant choice in a wet room, as there are no areas for water to pool and makes cleaning easier.’

Pick your shower fittings

Wet room brown tiles wet rooms

Decide whether or not you want shower valves to be exposed or concealed. Exposed shower valves work well in a modern country scheme and are also easier to install. But if you want a super-sleek look, a fixed rainwater shower head with concealed pipework can’t be beaten. If you only install a fixed shower head, it can be hard to avoid getting your hair wet – annoying if you don’t shampoo every time, and they’re not terribly useful for cleaning the shower. The best solution is to include a handheld shower as well.

Double up

Side-by-side showers are perfect for bathrooms designed for sharing,’ says Jonathan Carter at Victoria & Albert Baths. ‘It’s often a style you’ll find in luxury hotels and allows plenty of personal space while making a bold statement. Try pairing with a freestanding tub to enjoy the best of both worlds.’

Choose sleek modern drainage

Wet room tiles and seat wet rooms

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