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Wet Rooms

This article was written and distributed by the Federation of Master Builders, the building industry's largest trade organisation, representing over 13,000 small and medium-sized companies throughout the UK. If you'd like to know more about the FMB, or would like to find a reputable builder, try the Find a Builder web site at:

Wet rooms
The concept of wet rooms was brought to the UK from Scandinavia where they don’t have shower trays, but instead install a waterproof membrane underneath the floor and wall tiles. Even if the product sealing the tiles perishes water should not pass through the impervious membrane.

Being watertight is the key to a successful wetroom, according to FMB builder Kevin Walker: “The successful wetrooms are the ones that are installed correctly, tanked perfectly and made completely watertight by a really good tiler. The sub-base also needs to be absolutely solid.” He added that “It is quite an expensive process to go through to get it right".

Designers advise that the best rooms for this are either smaller bathrooms, where it creates the space to have a shower, sink and toilets, where it would otherwise not be possible to fit a shower enclosure, or over size rooms, which can be turned into luxurious bathing sanctuaries.

By building-in body jets, designer shower fittings, different floor levels, wet and dry areas, underfloor heating, hidden storage and using materials such as limestone and mosaic, the larger wet room becomes more like a spa and can be a stunning feature in a home.

While the overall effect is one of simplicity, it’s important to consider a number of factors when designing your wet room and choosing a builder to install it. Don’t forget to visit to find an wetroom specialist in your area.

1. Making it watertight
The whole room needs to be watertight. The technical term is tanking and this is best fitted by a professional using the right products.
The biggest problem area is where the walls meet the floor and it is vital to have a completely watertight seal here. Talk to an FMB builder about the options.

2. Floor drainage
The floor may need to be strengthened and will need to be raised by around 5 cm to accommodate the waste fittings. The sub-base must be absolutely rigid and the floor must slope gently towards the waste outlet to ensure the water drains away.
Consider your flooring options carefully and make sure that the material you choose is non-slip.

3. Power shower
The appeal of the wetroom will be lost if the shower is a dribble rather than a powerful jet, it’s therefore important to get a good power shower pump. Don’t forget to make sure your waste can cope with the flow of water from the shower.

4. Lighting
It’s important to consider how you are going to light your wet room before you start.

5. Condensation
As with all shower and bath rooms, condensation can build up very quickly and can damage paint or create dampness in the room.

6. Good adhesive
Make sure your builder uses the best quality adhesives. This small cost can make all the difference to the long-term watertightness of your wet room.

7. Wall hung sanitary fittings
It’s important to make sure the sanitary fittings and furniture for the room are suitable for a permanently wet area. Wall-hung fittings might be preferable.
© 2003 Federation of Master Builders.
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