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Wet Bathrooms Are Taking Over Interior Design

If you’re among the many homeowners planning for a bathroom remodel and looking for the latest trends, it’s likely that you’ve heard the term “wet room” or “wet bathroom”. These interchangeable terms refer to a bathroom that is fully or partially waterproofed. Wet rooms typically feature a bathtub within a large shower and often there is no distinguishable curb from the shower to the rest of the bathroom floor. This European trend is quickly taking hold as a favorite design approach for residential bathroom remodeling in the states.

What Is a Wet Room Bathroom?

A wet room bathroom is characterized by a single, open area that is fully waterproofed and designed to get wet. Instead of containing the waterproofed area to only the shower, waterproofing is extended into either the entire bathroom or a large portion of it. In a traditional wet room, there is no barrier to contain the water like a curb or shower door. Water can move and drain freely from the entire room.

You may have seen wet room bathrooms before in hotels or even in spas where spaces are often integrated to provide guests with a grand and luxurious experience. Now homeowners are getting on board with wet rooms too.

Wet room bathrooms are fully waterproofed, meaning that the entire bathrooms—floors and walls—are designed and built with materials that can withstand regular water exposure. Much like the approach to breaking down walls between kitchens, dining rooms, and living rooms to make an “open concept” and connected living space, a wet room bathroom makes for a fully integrated bathroom experience.

Full wet room bathrooms are popular in Europe or places where space is limited because there is no need to account for barriers that take up valuable space. While full wet rooms are more utilitarian, partial wet room bathrooms are quietly gaining traction as the newest bathroom design trend to hit it big. In a partial wet room some elements are enclosed into a waterproof space without waterproofing the entire room.

What is a Partial Wet Bathroom?

A partial wet bathroom, sometimes called a hybrid wet bathroom, is a variation of a wet room that gives users many benefits of a wet bathroom but alleviates some of the disadvantages. Typically these spaces have a shower and bathtub combo enclosure, often made of glass to maintain the essence of the openness. The vanity and toilet are then positioned away from the waterproofed space.  If privacy is of concern a simple film can be applied to distort or conceal the view into the wet area, much like steam from a hot shower.

This hybrid approach also limits the extent to which water will be extending across the ground, which can be a more comfortable bathing experience. Another bonus of a partial wet room is that a wood vanity can be used without fear of water damage. A hybrid approach is great for those who are concerned with the full-wet bathroom approach, but want something more grand than a traditional bathroom.

The compromise between the spa-like experience of a wet bathroom and the practicality of traditional bathroom design has made the hybrid wet bathroom design a popular approach in home design. A partial wet room is also a unique home asset that can increase the value of a home.

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Wet Room Bathrooms

Like all design decisions, determining if a wet room bathroom is right for you is a personal decision that requires careful consideration of your lifestyle and visual preferences.

The Pros:

  • Spa-like Experience: When it comes to design and real estate, space equals luxury. Wet room bathrooms are all about having space or creating the illusion of space. An open area can increase relaxation and become a place in your home to escape the busy pace of life (hello soaking tub, candles, good music, and a window view to the stars!).
  • Sleek and Modern Design: Open space, clean lines, and sleek details make wet bathrooms a stylish option.
  • Easy to Clean: No curtains can mean fewer crevices for bacteria and mold, making these spaces a little easier to maintain than traditional bathrooms.
  • Space Saving: Wet bathrooms can be a great way to get more out of less space in smaller bathrooms. Without the need for a defined shower stall or bathtub enclosure, the flexibility of your space with this approach is limited only by your plumbing and your imagination!

The Cons

  • Cost: Fully waterproofed might sound like a dream, but it comes with a price tag and should always be installed by a licensed contractor to protect you and your home. Additional waterproofing materials, tile, and labor can add up.
  • Slippery When Wet: Wet bathrooms are great, but no matter where it is, water is slippery. For those with children or elderly family members using the space, it can bring extra fall risks into the mix. A shower door is recommended if you’re worried about the entire floor getting wet.
  • Drainage Issues: Wet bathrooms rely on the room’s ability to drain water properly – which is why we always suggest having a licensed and experienced contractor do the work.  You’ll want to keep an eye out for clogs in your drains more than a typical bathroom to ensure everything is in working order.
  • Two is a Crowd: If you like privacy, but multiple people (couples or families with kids) are in the bathroom at the same time, this approach may not be for you as it offers little to no privacy.

Beginning Your Bathroom Remodel

If you are considering remodeling your bathroom, and think a wet bathroom could be the right option for you, get a contractor involved early to evaluate the space and ensure it can be built properly. Once you know it can be done, look at images of other spaces, review materials and plumbing fixtures, and ensure that everything is selected to work together holistically. A design professional can be especially helpful for wet room bathroom design, since tile selection is important for both aesthetics and functionality. With careful planning, you too can have functional, modern, and stylish bathroom that add both monetary and experiential value to your home.

Written by Model Remodel

Model Remodel is a design-build, remodeling contractor located in Seattle, WA. For over 20 years we’ve been building with purpose, craftsmanship and sustainability in mind. We are proud to continually make the list of top Seattle contractors for our beautiful interior designs and homeowner-focused remodeling process.

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