Wet Room Bathrooms – Popular Design for Small Spaces & Accessibility

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Wet rooms are gaining popularity in the bathroom design world. Improved bathroom accessibility, enhanced space utilization, and a more spacious, curbless shower are just a few benefits driving the wet room bathroom trend. These advantages are desirable to people with mobility issues who want to age in place. When you’re thinking of renovating your bathroom space, consider future needs and how a wet room design may help you achieve your goals.

Wet rooms have waterproofed flooring, walls & sometimes ceilings.

What is a wet room bathroom?

A wet room is a style of bathroom design where there is no separation or shower enclosure between damp and dry areas. The entire room is waterproofed compared to only the bathing area of a traditional bathroom. The shower space leads into the rest of the room without a barrier, such as a shower curb step or shower curtain, or door, between them. Sometimes a glass panel acts as a partial room divider.

A special drain system and a gradually sloping shower floor keep water out of the rest of the bathroom. Waterproofing of the entire bathroom reduces potential damage from possible shower spray splashing outside the shower region.

What is the history of wet room bathrooms?

For quite some time, luxury resorts have utilized wet room showers for spa-like experiences. Wet rooms have been a popular bathroom design in Europe. In the United States, they are becoming increasingly popular as people desire spa-inspired and high-end bathrooms in their homes.

What fixtures are included in a wet room?

Wet rooms include typical bathroom elements such as a sink, toilet, and possibly a bathtub in addition to a shower.

How is a wet room different from a walk-in shower?

A wet room floor is waterproofed throughout the room using a watertight membrane. A walk-in shower is generally waterproofed only in the bathing area.

What are the benefits of wet rooms?

More spacious

A wet room can provide a larger bathing space than a standard shower since space can be shared with the area just outside the shower.

The wet room design also opens up visual space in the bathroom and can make it appear larger with a greater sense of space.

Flexibility

Usually, bathroom layout options and space usage are more efficient and flexible in a wet room since the shower space combines with other bathroom areas.

Improved accessibility

It is easier to get into and out of a curb-free shower (also called a walk-in shower and roll-in shower). A barrier-free shower is ideal for accommodating someone with a disability, who uses a wheelchair, or who has restricted mobility. Improved accessibility makes a wet room design ideal for universal design and an aging-in-place bathroom.

Increased safety

Without a step into the shower area as a potential trip and fall hazard, wet room design may help to reduce accidents.

Easy maintenance

Wet room bathrooms are easier to clean because of the waterproof space. The floor is continuous, with fewer areas for dirt and grime to accumulate.

Reduce water damage

Moisture is universally problematic in bathrooms, but water damage is less likely since all surfaces are waterproofed in a wet room.

Additionally, because there is waterproof material throughout the space rather than just in the shower stall, a wet room may last longer than a traditional bathroom.

Increase home value

Updated bathrooms usually improve property value. In recent years, luxury bathrooms with spa-like features have gained popularity among home buyers. Wet rooms are often found in high-end baths and may improve home resale value.

What are the disadvantages of wet rooms?

Wet floors

Without a door, shower screen, or curtain, there is a risk of shower water escaping causing wet bathroom flooring outside the bath area. Splashing outside the bathing area can be minimized using a variety of techniques.

Higher material costs

Waterproofing material used from floor-to-ceiling accounts for much of the higher expense of wet room construction. A popular wet room feature, especially in a colder climate, is underfloor heating, increasing materials cost. 

Increased labor costs

More involved installation to create a watertight environment with adequate drainage results in higher labor costs.

Ability to find qualified contractors

It can be difficult to find contractors who know how to properly install wet rooms, including the unique waterproofing and drain system needed. To avoid expensive water damage issues, so you’ll want an installer who is highly skilled in the process of wet room construction projects.

Higher humidity

Water may condense, creating wet bathroom surfaces that cannot dry completely. The floor and walls can become slippery, posing a risk of fall injuries. Often enclosed bathroom storage is needed to keep towels and other items dry. Additional ventilation is often necessary to control humidity. 

Limited privacy

There is a reduced sense of privacy without an enclosed shower utilizing a door, glass screen, or curtain with an open, wet room shower design.

How much does a wet room bathroom cost?

According to fixr.com, wet rooms cost about 20 to 30 percent more than a traditional bathroom, with most of the additional cost associated with waterproofing expenses. The cost of a wet room is dependent on the room’s size and the materials used. Ceramic tile is frequently used as the primary material for tiled walls and floors. Wet rooms can be installed in new construction or during a bath remodeling project.

A regular bathroom renovation costs $125 per square foot on average, while a wet room bathroom costs $150 per square foot. Wet rooms are more expensive to install than standard bathroom renovations. Still, they may save you money in the long run because of their adaptability and numerous advantages.

How can a wet room be used for aging in place?

Wet rooms are a good option for aging in place design because of their flexibility and accessible bathroom features with an eye toward future needs.

A barrier-free wetroom may help make bathing in the shower easier for seniors or persons with disabilities, especially those who use a wheelchair. Individuals who have more independence with showering, personal hygiene, and enhanced shower safety may need less assistance from caregivers.

Wet room design offers flexibility, especially in small bathrooms. The wet area could be used as an independent space for bathing or additional space for accessing the toilet with a mobility device such as a wheelchair. There is easy access between wet spaces and dry areas of the bathroom, depending on the need at any given time.

While many bathrooms lack enough space to have a caregiver help someone who needs assistance, a wet room may provide additional room for both people to maneuver comfortably.

A wet room is a good design choice for anyone. But, when accessibility is a priority, as when aging in place, it is often the best choice for senior bathroom design.

Can a bathtub be added to a wet room?

A wet room can have a bathtub and shower to offer more bathing options, but it will require adequate floor space. To keep water in the same bathroom region, place the bathtub and shower next to one another.

What water drainage & waterproofing is needed for a wet room?

Wet room showers require larger drainage areas beyond a shower tray to ensure that water drains quickly and doesn’t flow outside the shower area. Rectangular linear drains or trench drains are a popular shower drain option because they are reliable to ensure water drains quickly. A linear drain runs horizontally along the shower wall and guides water straight into the waste system.

Showers may require more than one horizontal gutter or trench drain, especially in oversized wetroom showers that use multiple showerheads. The wet room floor has a gentle slope to allow water to drain through these troughs. 

Popular bathroom style + the perfect choice for a future-ready home

Wet room bathrooms are a practical choice yet bring a sense of luxury to the most frequently used room in the house. It’s no wonder wet rooms are leading bathroom design trends. Whether you’re already working with a bathroom designer on an upcoming remodel or are planning for the future, take some time to explore wet room ideas and all they have to offer.  

Want to learn more about creating a future-focused home? Get my free Age Fearless Home Starter Guide and begin today!

About the Author

As a home health Physical Therapist for over 20 years, I help clients solve home dilemmas so they can live their best life.

I'm here to use that same problem-solving expertise and training as a Certified Aging in Place Specialist to help you create an optimized home that's forward-thinking and future-ready to support you and your loved ones well for a lifetime.

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