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What are the Best Tips for Wet Room Installation?

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  • Written By: Terrie Brockmann
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 30 August 2016
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While converting a bathroom to a wet room, installers can avoid some of the problems by knowing a few builder's tips. A common drawback of having a wet room is water leakage, and this can occur in several areas. One important builder's tip is to follow the grout maker's instructions on how to seal the grout properly and to reseal the grout every year or so. Other tips include choosing the right materials and using them correctly, determining if the existing structure needs structural work to support a wet room, and consulting an expert in wet room installation to avoid unforeseen problems later.

A wet room is a bathroom design option in which the whole room is converted into a waterproof shower room. A homeowner may build one into a new construction project or add one while remodeling an existing bathroom. While each of these situations has similar construction procedures, each has unique problems. Often understanding the principles behind wet room installation can help a homeowner avoid the most common problems. Even builders who contract the work out to another party need to understand the process and potential challenges.

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The basic problem that can occur in new construction as well as remodeling projects is leakage. When a wet room leaks, the water seepage often causes major damage and may even lead to structural damage by rotting the wooden substructure. Installers should make sure that all areas are properly sealed or grouted and should install waterproof membrane on the subflooring. Another problem is mold and mildew that may build up because of inadequate ventilation. During wet room installation, it is advisable to follow the manufacturer's instructions and to ask for clarification on any parts that may not be clearly written.

When installing a wet room in an existing bathroom, a builder needs to consider the existing flooring. The floor needs to be rigid because floors that flex, such as wooden floors in older homes, may cause the grout to crack. Using a pre-formed tray usually remedies this problem, though a homeowner may want to consult a contractor who has experience in wet room installation.

There are advantages and disadvantages of both tiles and wall panels, and it is important to weigh them carefully. The tongue and groove panels eliminate the need for grout and therefore, are not as likely to grow mold or mildew. The panels are easier to install and easier to maintain. Tiles, however, offer a luxurious look and are available in hundreds of choices. Generally, tiles are more expensive to buy and install.

Homeowners need to take some precautions during wet room installation. One fundamental safety tip is to wear eye protection while using power tools. Another safety tip for people who are remodeling an existing bathroom is to watch for electrical wiring and plumbing pipes in the walls.

Generally, it is advisable to have an architect or contractor who is familiar with wet room installation to help design the room. Experienced designers often have the necessary knowledge to avoid unforeseen problems that a homeowner may encounter. For instance, a professional may suggest not applying the tile directly to plaster board or drywall. The recommended wall surfacing is tile backer board.

Another area of concern is the type of drain and the position of the drain. A properly pitched floor will drain toward the drain and normally will prevent puddling. Using a pre-formed floor called a deck may lessen the possibility of this happening. A builder should consider different drain positions and styles, including the Swedish channel drain style.

Often a wet room installation includes adding subfloor heating. This option typically prevents the discomfort of standing on cold ceramic tiles. Experts suggest that a person not use the heat for one week while the grout sets and the tiles slowly warm to room temperature. They further suggest setting the heat to low for the next week to raise the temperature gradually. This allows the grout to dry without cracking.

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