Roll In or Walk In Shower Wet Room Combines Sleek Design and Function
Are you worried about a family member’s ability and safety stepping over a bathtub rail or getting over the curb of a shower base? If so – you’re like many people who want a shower that will not only be functional but also a design that adds style and value to your home.
One place you can look for inspiration and practical solution to this problem is with a European designed wet room. This concept uses an open design where the shower pan is set lower than the surrounding floor for a contemporary looking fully accessible roll in or walk in shower. Intrigued by this concept? Read below to learn some basic steps to turn your current bathroom/shower space into a barrier free universal design with cool style and function the whole family can enjoy.
Step 1 – Identify what is not working today & what might not work down the road – If you’re planning to stay in your home don’t design a bathroom remodel for the short run (think about how the health and needs of your family might change in the future). Before contacting a bathroom designer or contractor think through the following:
• What bugs you about your bathroom?
• Do you have any safety concerns? Is stepping over a tub or shower curb an accident waiting to happen?
• Which areas are too big or too small?
• Do you anticipate any changes that might come down the road with your family (maybe an elderly relative that may end up living with you or a health condition that might require special design considerations)?
• Is the lighting adequate?
• Can the cabinets and sinks be used comfortably by all members of your family?
• Can everyone get through the shower and door openings safely?
Step 2 – Design with the end in mind – Let your fingers do the researching and calling – If the safety, design or looks of your current tub or shower space don’t do it for you begin with some Internet research. Consider searching under terms like wet room, walk in shower, roll in shower, glass block shower, accessible shower and bathroom remodeling to learn some of the options (look for articles on these search terms as well). If Internet research is not your thing call your local remodeling association for a professional bathroom remodeling contractor with experience in universal and accessible design.
Step 3 – Identify shower products and systems which improve function, add style and waterproof your space – Now’s the time to make your dreams come true. Bathroom and shower designs have never been cooler. If you want a sleek, contemporary, safe design look convert your tub or shower stall enclosure to a curbless wet room shower design (you’ll feel like you’re entering a European spa – but it will also have full accessibility for everyone). This open design has the bathroom floor and shower at the same level (the shower base is set below the subfloor) and can be used either in a corner or alcove. The highest quality bases are made of glass reinforced plastic (the same material used in cars, boats and aircrafts).
Design the shower and bathroom walls to be waterproof and to have added functionality down the road. You can do this by using waterproof wall and floor boards (made of extruded polystyrene) behind the tiles, using urethane grout between tile joints, and adding wood backer boards which will allow you to install decorative towel bars and grab bars (if you need them). Look into corner or bench seats to make the space more relaxing and easier to shave or shower. You may want to look into a sturdy/easy to clean glass block shower wall as well.
Look for interesting tile patterns for the shower areas and walls. Use recessed niches inside the shower to save space. Consider a hand held shower to make it easier to shower and clean the bathroom.
Step 4 – Choose cabinets, sinks, toilets, and bathroom accessories- Since a wet room design has the shower and bathroom floor at the same level you’ll want to select cool looking wall mounted cabinets, sinks and vanity tops that (if required) a wheelchair can roll underneath. Another product to evaluate are comfort height toilets. These units are set a chair height (generally 16″ to 18″ high) vs. a standard toilet which is 14″ to 15″ high – this design will avoid excessive bending.
Step 5 – Selecting a contractor or supplier – Wet rooms (while cool and functional) are not as common place in the United States yet as the standard tub or shower stall enclosure. Given the fact they need to be waterproof and well designed this is no place to work with a rookie. Look for contractors and suppliers who have invested time, money and have completed projects with universal design bathroom solutions.
Now that you’re equipped with these 5 steps you’re ready to get started designing and building a bath and shower wet room which will be safe, functional, stylish and will add to the resale value of your home.