As we try to recreate a boutique inspired bathroom in our home – this has posed us with the question, are people now replacing baths with wetrooms? We decided to look at the facts and do some digging about on wetrooms, to find out whether they are in fact main stream, and where this leaves the bath…
Wetrooms have become an increasingly sought after look for the bathroom. However ‘true wetrooms’ – those which are totally tray-less, installed into a waterproofed space, still remain somewhat niche. This is due to a fear surrounding wetrooms that they may leak. Alongside this the skill set needed to install wetrooms is not widely available amongst bathroom installers, who prefer to install the traditional Shower Enclosure and Shower Tray combination. This has seen ‘Simulated Wetrooms’ become the more main-stream option.
Manufacturers and designers of showering equipment have worked to take the mystery out of the wetroom, and have created products that simulate the wetroom look without the worry, or specialist skills required to install a ‘true wetroom’. Key products include;
- Low level shower trays, and in particular Solid Surface Shower Trays which can be installed down to joists so that when tiled up to, they give genuine level access.
- Preformed shower floors, which sit directly underneath the tanking (water-proofing) to reinforce it and to give added peace of mind.
Wetroom panels and Walk-in Shower Enclosures can then be installed directly onto the low level tray or tanked floor, to create the look of a wetroom.
Where wetrooms are installed, we have found that rather than replacing a bath with a wetroom, these tend to be installed as a direct replacement to an existing shower enclosure, or into a new bathroom facility all together – where the homeowner is adding an en-suite or downstairs shower-room. In new build housing, 70% of properties have 2 or more bathrooms, so those homeowners and developers updating older housing stock, are working to keep up with this trend and adding an additional showering facility.
Easy Access Bathrooms
So why are wetrooms, or simulated wetrooms becoming popular? One of the key drivers for this is the usability aspects. It is well documented that within the UK we have an aging population, and according to the latest UK census, it is the highest it has ever been, with one in six people aged over 65. Alongside this, the Department for Work and Pensions highlight that in Great Britain there are over eleven million people with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability. This is driving a trend towards making the home and the bathroom easier to use and more functional. However creating a stylish living space is also important. Wetrooms eliminate the step up into the enclosure and give door-less entry, whilst also offering a style statement.
Easy access bathrooms are set to become more and more prevalent with the National Strategy for Lifetime Homes and Lifetime Neighbourhoods. This has been devised by the Department for Work and Pensions, following their own statistics on our aging population. It is designed to ‘future-proof’ our homes and society so it does not “alienate or exclude; and to allow everybody, regardless of age, to participate and enjoy their home and their environment for as long as possible.” (Lifetime Homes, Lifetime Neighbourhoods report, Department for Work and Pensions). In the bathroom this means easy access bathing, such as wetrooms and simulated wetrooms. The point of the strategy is to allow people to live independently in their own homes for longer.
Showers vs Baths
Although research shows that people like to shower on a daily basis, the bath is still very much a significant part of the UK home. People use showers more regularly to clean themselves, but the bath has very much become a place we use to relax and escape – enjoying a book, or simply unwinding in. As the role of the bathroom has changed to a place of relaxation, this has reinforced the need for a bath in the modern home. New housing stock continues to include bathrooms centrally within the main family bathroom, as they remain an important part of the UK home.