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Wet Rooms

Designer magazines are filled with stylish bathrooms and many advocate the installation of wet rooms, yet this is not a new phenomenon in Bulgaria; most old houses do not contain baths and shower cubicles; the bathing area is simply tiled from floor to ceiling with a shower point protruding from the wall and a drain on the floor for excess water.

Wet Rooms are ideal for any size bathroom all you need is a well tiled room with a shower, basin and toilet and a skilled builder to boot!

 

Constructing a Wet Room

It all sounds so simple, so much so that you may decide to tackle this job yourself. However there are a number of things to watch out for in the construction of your wet room and it is best to use a well-qualified builder with plenty of experience in this area. Firstly the room must be absolutely water-tight with adequate drainage. It must also be sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the materials.


Most importantly the floor must slope gently towards the central drain so that when water flows from the shower it has an outlet otherwise it will sit on the floor and could lead to damp problems. The most common technique for creating a gentle yet accurate incline is to construct a sub-floor made from special WPB plywood and this can then be tiled over. Alternatively, check the work of your builder when he has plastered the floor by rolling a marble towards the drain from various points in the room. If the work has been done correctly the marble will land in the drain no matter where you roll it from. Do not let your builder tile the room until you are satisfied that the gradient is sufficient.

Many Bulgarian builders simply slap the floor down without checking the gradient and it is not until you have your first shower that you realise that you will have to live with constant mopping.

The whole room must be thoroughly waterproofed and this is done by priming the walls and floor then covering them with a water-proof membrane and leaving it to dry thoroughly. Only when this is done can the room be tiled.


Before you invest in the ultimate power shower, you need to check your water pressure and buy a boiler, which can provide you with enough hot water. You can use any form of shower in your wet room, many Bulgarians have little more than a spout poking out from the tiles, but these days' bathroom stores sell everything from power showers to multi-jet body sprays, where you install jest along the length of the wall for the ultimate water massage.


The Benefits

Installing a wet room can add value to your home by giving it a stylish, contemporary look. You can also save money on materials because there is no need to purchase a shower tray or cubicle. It is also a great way to make a small bathroom appear spacious and it cuts down on cleaning time as water simply runs off into the drain meaning that there are no shower tray or glass panels to scour. Well-constructed wet rooms provide better protection to the flooring beneath the tiles than in a standard bathroom.


Disadvantages

If your bathroom is small you may find that just about everything in the room becomes wet including the towels and toilet roll! One solution to this problem is to install a tiled wall to segregate the area and contain the spray from the shower. Wet rooms must be tiled from floor to ceiling, which can be expensive particularly if you choose to use porous stone tiles as these need to be sealed every few months.

Choosing your Tiles

It is best to ensure that you use non-porous tiles made from ceramic or porcelain. There is lots of choice in Bulgaria with stores like Mr Bricolage and Praktika having whole sections dedicated to a wide choice of bathroom tiles. Avoid tiles made of limestone, slate or marble as these are porous and need constant need re-sealing to prevent damage. The average price for ceramic tiles is 17 lv. upwards per sq. m. A waterproof grout and adhesive must be used to lay the tiles. Tiles are not the only material suitable for the wall and floor covering in your wet room. Sheet vinyl and Corian also work well and are seamless, non-porous and low-maintenance. One point worth noting is that it is still possible to install under floor heating when building a wet room and it actually works well by drying out the tiles as well keeping everything warm underfoot.

Adding the Finishing Touches

The best part about any remodeling or new build is surveying the finished product and choosing accessories to match. With wet rooms it is essential to ensure that any accessories are appropriate for a perpetually wet area, so choose items which can withstand a lot of steam - items made from ceramic and plastic are much better than those made from wood or chipboard as these are easily damaged by condensation.
Another point to note when looking at fixtures and fittings, which include the hand basin and the toilet is that it is sensible not have too many items in contact with the floor because this is going to be wet for the majority of the time and anything permanently ion the floor could become musty or mouldy particularly around the joints. It is possible to purchase wall-mounted toilets and hand basins and these work best in a wet room, but you must ensure that your wall is strong enough to bear their weight.

Chrome is a great material to use for taps and towel racks and toilet roll holders, but beware of imitations, chrome finish accessories will tarnish very quickly with the damp atmosphere in a wet room leaving a peeling grey mess, which will spoil the look of your new room. Consider splashing out on a heated towel rail to keep your towels dry whilst you splash around in your shower. Again it will help to dry out the room once you've left as well as keeping the towels fresh and dry.

If you want to put up pictures in the wet room use waterproof materials - a good frame centre like the ones located in Mr Bricolage stores will be able to advise you on glass and frames suitable for high condensation areas.

Finally, once your new bathroom is complete and fully accessorised, you can turn on your shower, relax and take pleasure in your new wet room!