We’ve always envied the Romans’ bathing habits; images of towelled men and women entering their local public baths for an entire day of pampering are well-documented.
But it is perfectly possible to recreate this scene in your own home, with the help of a wet room.
Essentially, these are bathrooms which do away with the shower tray, letting the water run over the floor of the room.
A great option for smaller rooms, they can bring colour and personality to a home and are easier to clean, with toilets and cabinets mounted to the wall so they appear to be floating off the floor.
Walk-in: Floor-to-ceiling tiles in a wet room look stylish and are easy to clean and maintain
They can also be a savvy option for homeowners; research has shown that wet rooms, as a second bathroom, can increase the value of a property.
‘We have seen an increase in the past few years of more open-plan bathrooms, which seems to reflect general trends as living spaces are opened up and become more connected,’ says Emma Joyce, communications manager of Victoria + Albert Baths. ‘A wet room creates a seamless flow between the different areas of the bathroom.’
But installing a wet room is not a DIY job. Here’s all you need to know . . .
Enlist an expert
Firstly, find a good builder with plenty of experience. 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 waterproofed, or ‘tanked’.
Bert & May’s Green Asquith tiles are hard-wearing and well suited to a wet room
The most common method for creating a gradient is to install a sub-floor made from waterproof boards, which are sealed and tiled.
Ventilation is key, too, in order to maintain the near-constant humid space, as is underfloor heating; this helps the floor to dry out quickly.
‘The issue with wet rooms is waterproofing the space correctly; floor-to-ceiling tiles are not a problem as they look stylish and are easy to clean and maintain,’ says Ellie Sawdy, at Bisque Radiators.
Prices generally start from £2,000, but can go up to £20,000 for bigger, high-end bathrooms with all the mod cons.
Focus on furniture
There are other hurdles to overcome, especially when picking furniture.
‘There are plenty of options for waterproof furniture,’ says Ellie. ‘But what about bathroom radiators? These must be taken into consideration fairly early on in the process, as the high levels of condensation found in a wet room can cause many towel rails to rust, or a painted model to peel away.
‘The only way to ensure that your towel rail remains in tip-top condition is to opt for a quality stainless steel model.’
Drench has a brushed brass EliteHeat ladder heated rail which is made of marine-grade stainless steel and comes with a 15-year guarantee (from £189.99).
Mirrors must be anti-fog to ensure they are not forever out of use and steamed up. Bathroom Mountain has a charming black framed round mirror with a heated demister pad which prevents the mirror from steaming up and a front touch sensor switch for the light (£179, bathroommountain.co.uk).
If you’re going for gold, Victorian Plumbing’s HIB Solstice brushed brass round mirror will add style to your bathroom (£399.94).
tiles are the best floor and wall covering for a wet room so this is where you can have fun with colours and pattern.
‘The tiling of the floor into the shower area gives visual space, making the room look and feel more open,’ says Rebecca Milnes, of C. P. Hart. ‘Have fun with tiling to create specific patterns and colourful zones for each section.’
A wet room could also be where you choose to go wild with an exotic Aztec-print or oddly shaped tiles. Or, you could make a huge impact in a big room with an all-encompassing luxurious black covering ceiling, wall and flooring.
‘The modern bathroom has become more than a space for morning preparation and evening cleansing,’ says Lee Thornley, founder of tile company Bert & May, whose organics collection is inspired by nature. ‘It can magically transform into an utopian escape at the end of the day.’
Bert & May has an extensive range of charming handmade and reclaimed tiles which are hard-wearing and well suited to a wet room (bertandmay.com).
Favourites of ours include the Luna Rose (£5.10 per tile) and Green Asquith (£7.20 per tile).