What is a Wet Wall?

Mary McMahon

A wet wall is a structural wall designed to house plumbing pipes for fixtures like sinks, dishwashers, and toilets. Running plumbing fixtures through the wall tends to be expensive, and consolidating them in a single wet wall can increase efficiency, cut down on building costs, and make it easier to repair plumbing problems in the future, as only one wall needs to be accessed. In new home design, architects and contractors may think ahead of time when it comes to fixture placement so they can use a single wet wall for shared fixtures.

A wet wall will be the feature spot for sinks and plumbing appliances.
A wet wall will be the feature spot for sinks and plumbing appliances.

The wall can contain piping of a variety of sizes. Below the wall, the pipes connect to water and sewer lines, or feed to a septic tank when sewer service is not available. The pipes rise inside the wall and can deliver water or carry waste away from either side. Commonly, a wet wall is built between a planned bathroom and kitchen, allowing them to share a wall, and all of the fixtures requiring water will be lined up on either side.

Wet walls may be used to house plumbing for a new shower.
Wet walls may be used to house plumbing for a new shower.

Some care must be taken when building a wet wall because it may be necessary to move or adjust joists to make room for piping. Usually, the wall is not structural and the joists are used primarily to support the wall, not the whole building. Special building materials may be used and are sometimes required so that in the event of a leak, some containment will be available. Sheet rock, for example, may be of a special design that can withstand getting wet. The wet wall will also need protective splashbacks in the room to prevent water from hitting the wall directly.

Dishwashers are usually attached to a wet wall.
Dishwashers are usually attached to a wet wall.

In a remodel, a contractor may recommend considering a wet wall design if one is not already being used. Sharing a wall can cut down on remodel costs, an important consideration for many people. It may require moving more things around than expected, but it also comes with some advantages. For example, the hot water line can be shortened, reducing the wait time for warm water when people turn on the taps.

When plumbing problems do develop and people need to access the piping in the walls, it will be in a central location, making it very easy to service. This can cut down on expenses associated with plumbing repair. In the event of leaks, costs for repairing water damage will also be reduced as the potential area for leakage will be reduced.

The pipes below a wet wall connect to either a sewer line or septic tank.
The pipes below a wet wall connect to either a sewer line or septic tank.

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Discussion Comments


@Frances2 – Your question brings up a point: There are two things that are currently referred to as “wet walls” when it comes to construction and remodeling. One is described in the article above, and the other is what you’re asking about – a decorative, protective covering for a wall that will often become wet.

Since wet walls are all about efficiency and easy access to plumbing, the trend is moving towards wet wall panels, instead of traditional bathroom tiles. The panels can be installed quite easily, and removed at a later time without all the mess created by the destruction of a tiled wall.

Wet wall panels are perfect for you, since you want elegance in your new bathroom. There are several companies that manufacture elegant panels. They can look like natural stone, polished metal, or bear intricate designs.

An expert in interior design should be able to help you choose the right wet wall panels for your project. They come in different sizes and some manufacturers offer interlocking panels for covering larger areas. An interior designer would know which company sells the panels that suit your needs.


@Vegemite – Thank you for sharing your story! We’re about to remodel our walk-in shower, and I was looking for an alternative to tile. I hate cleaning that grout! How do I choose the right wet wall covers or whatever they’re called? I want something elegant.


I have to tell you, wet walls are really efficient and cost-effective, but they're also beautiful and hygienic. I used to have tile on my shower wall, but we remodeled recently and had wet walls installed instead. Now, I never have to clean mildew-stained grout, and the smooth wall make the bathroom feel much more spacious.

All the little square tiles used to make me feel claustrophobic in the shower, but now it feels more like the rest of my house, which is very open and airy. I recommend a wet wall to anyone who is looking to remodel.

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