Wet Room vs. A Traditional Bathroom

While a traditional bathroom is designed to get a little bit wet, a wet room is a space that’s designed to handle a lot more water. These rooms are evocative of a spa-like setting and can give your home a high-end feel. Unlike a traditional bathroom, wet rooms include specific materials that are specially designed to get wet and come in contact with constant moisture. If you’re not sure about the differences between a wet room and a bathroom, read on to learn more about these unique spaces and how you can enjoy one in your own home.

wet room

The Layout and Construction of a Wet Room

All of the materials in a wet room should be designed to handle excessive moisture. When designing your wet room, consider the layout and how you want to utilize the space. A large open shower is a terrific option for this room, and it can be separated by a glass wall to make the room feel airy and open. You can also install a luxurious freestanding tub in the room to create a spa setting.

wet room large format marble tile
Salerno Porcelain Tile – Statuario Marble in Statuario Extra / SKU: 15191920

To really enhance your wet room, consider installing tile on the floors and on all the walls from floor to ceiling. This design isn’t required, but it’s a good way to protect the drywall from getting wet or damaged. Tile also makes any space feel more luxurious and inviting. Consider large format tiles for this room. They will give you plenty of coverage, and they require thinner or fewer grout lines, which makes the room easier to keep clean.

In terms of size, your wet room can work well in small spaces or as a beautiful large master bathroom. It’s easy to fit a wet room in an average-size bathroom, or you can go big and create your own private spa complete with a range of features and amenities. To make this space more luxurious, add a sculptural freestanding tub. Place it near a window to give yourself a fabulous view whenever you bathe. Install gorgeous slate tile on the floor and walls for a dramatic impact. If you really want to add the “wow” factor to your wet room, marble tile is also an excellent choice. Install your shower next to the tub or across the room depending on the amount of space available and your needs.

Plumbing and Material Notes

wet room sink
Cabot Cabots Slate Tiles in Montauk Black / SKU: 15270660

Your wet room may require a different plumbing setup than you’d find in a traditional bathroom. Most importantly, make sure that the drainage in this space can accommodate the amount of water that will flow in a wet room. The floors and walls should be sealed with a waterproof membrane before installing tile to keep everything safe and dry. A sloping floor or an additional drain may be needed to ensure that the water flows into the drainage system and doesn’t sit on the surface of your floors. Waterproof subflooring under the tile on your shower floor will protect the structure of the floors and keep things safely sealed. The volume of surface moisture is much higher in a wet room than in a bathroom, so adequate waterproofing is a must. This may be more costly to install, but it can also increase the resale value of your home in the long term.

Important Tips

When converting your bathroom to a wet room or adding a wet room to your home, make sure you follow these crucial tips to ensure a successful project.

Susan Schwab, Design by company kd, image via hgtv.com
  • Use waterproof boarding under all tiles, including the wall tile to keep everything leakproof and dry.
  • A raised bathroom step installed at the threshold is a great way to ensure that water stays contained in your wet room and doesn’t flow to the rest of the house.
  • Consult with a professional plumber before converting your bathroom to a wet room. They can ensure that you have the correct plumbing setup and will make recommendations for drainage as needed.
  • If you install natural stone, be sure to apply a quality sealant to keep it protected, especially if the stone is porous.
  • Order several samples for floor tile and test each individual sample to ensure they have proper water resistance. You can do this by exposing them to standing water overnight, then check for signs of damage.

Wet Rooms Offer Easy Mobility

Aside from their sleek and modern look, wet rooms can also be helpful for those with mobility issues. Since wet rooms don’t require a shower tray, it’s much easier to get in and out of the shower without having to step over a raised surface. You can install additional accessories like a grab bar or safety rail to keep balance and provide support when it’s needed. Make sure that the drainage is working properly to keep the floors as dry as possible. The open floor plan of a wet room also makes it much more accommodating for wheelchair access.

Materials and Design

Cabot Porcelain Tile – Riverbank Stone Series / SKU: 15271011

As you think about the materials you want to use in your wet room, try to stick to waterproof tile to keep the space safe and dry. Ceramic, porcelain, and natural stone tiles are all excellent options. As mentioned above, be sure to seal natural stone regularly to protect it from damage. If you love the look of travertine but don’t want to worry about constant maintenance, look for porcelain tile that features the same design but a much more resistant material. A glazed porcelain tile can be used for floors, walls, and even the ceiling if you choose.

To create a modern aesthetic, mix and match different color tiles for a bold two-toned look. Alternatively, you can use the same exact color and type of tile on the walls and the floor for a uniform look if you prefer. Feel free to mix and match designs, such as wood-look tile along the borders of the room and fun mosaic tile on the shower floor or in the center of the room. Subway tile is a classic choice that will give your wet room a clean, contemporary feel. Combine colors like black floors and white walls for an eye-popping design.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Salerno Porcelain Tile – Stonework Series in Silver / SKU: 15269036

Keeping your wet room clean is fairly similar to a traditional bathroom, except that you won’t need to worry about scrubbing a shower door track. Wet room showers can be divided by a glass or tiled wall, but they don’t require a shower tray which gives the floors a smooth, seamless design. On the other hand, since you’ll likely have tile throughout this space, there will be a lot more grout to scrub and keep clean. Use a pH-neutral grout cleaner, and gently but thoroughly scrub grout lines using a small brush. Rinse all of the grout lines clean using a mop or splashing them with clean water. If you want to avoid the hassle of cleaning grout, consider installing large format tiles that tend to use thinner grout lines or no grout lines at all.

If your wet room has a glass door, you’ll need to clean it regularly. A squeegee can be an easy way to wipe away excess water and soap scum every time you use the shower. Use a glass cleaner and a soft microfiber cloth to keep your glass clean and clear. Avoid using harsh cleaners or rough brushes, which can create scratches on the surface of the glass. If your wet room has sufficient drainage, you shouldn’t need to worry about cleaning the floor too often. However, it’s best to clean the floors weekly with a bucket of warm water and a mop to wipe up any leftover dirt or visible marks.

The Benefits of a Wet Room

If you’re still not sure whether or not a wet room is right for you, let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits:

wet room with bathtub
Image via architecturelab.net
  • Wet rooms add a modern component to your home and create a relaxing, spa-like experience.
  • Many homeowners prefer wet rooms, which means having one can increase the resale value of your home if or when you plan to sell.
  • Since there’s no shower tray required, wet rooms offer easy mobility for those with disabilities or troubles getting around. The lack of a shower tray also makes this space easier to clean.
  • You can create a unique design in a wet room by mixing and matching different types of tiles and various colors.
  • Installing a glass wall in lieu of a shower curtain will bring more light into the space, creating an airy and open feel.
  • Sloped drainage prevents the buildup of soap scum and debris from forming at the bottom and corners of your shower. This makes a wet room easier to clean than a standard bathroom.
  • You can combine a freestanding tub and shower in one single area to make it easy to jump from the tub to the shower and back again if you choose.
  • If you’re short on space, a wet room can be a great option for smaller bathrooms since you won’t need to take up additional space with a shower cubicle.
  • With the right plumbing and waterproofing materials under tiles, a wet room is completely waterproof which will prevent structural damage to walls and floors as a result of moisture exposure.

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