Upgrading your bathroom is a simple way to add a little bit of indulgence to your daily routine. Just imagine getting rid of your old dribbling shower head and stepping into a spacious and luxurious shower each morning. We’ve prepared these tips and inspirational photos to help you get it right first time.
Size of shower
Try to make room for a spacious shower – a large frameless glass shower is almost invisible, and can actually make the room feel more expansive than having a small cabinet shower positioned in the corner. Think also about how different door types can help you make better use of the space – if there’s not room for a hinged door then consider a sliding door or even an open-ended screen that doesn’t require any space to operate.
Tapware and water pressure
If you’re upgrading an existing bathroom then consider whether your existing hot water cylinder will deliver the performance you’re after. Most modern shower mixers and heads require mains pressure water to function properly, so if you’re planning to reuse an older cylinder make sure you find out which fittings will work for you. And if you’re using an oversized rain shower head or you like long showers then make sure you install a large cylinder or consider an instant gas hot water system so you’re not left in the cold!
You won’t want to spoil the look of your new tiled shower by sticking on a storage caddy with suction cups, so it’s worth designing in a large recessed shelf for bottles and soaps. The best result will come from planning this early on to ensure the recess lines up perfectly with the tile joints. This sounds easy but actually requires some very careful planning by the contractor to position the wall framing in the correct place, often many months before the tiles arrive on site. Leave it to chance and you can guarantee it won’t line up properly!
Having level access into your shower not only looks great, it will make your routine much easier if you have reduced mobility in years to come. The good news is that there are some great new systems that allow us to create level access without requiring a deep recess in the floor – in fact it is even possible to achieve this on an existing timber or particle board floor without altering the floor framing, which is great news for alteration projects.
This is one of the biggest gripes people have about showers – there’s nothing more annoying than stepping into a puddle in the middle of the bathroom floor every time you leave the shower.
There are two aspects to achieving good watertightness – enclosing the shower with a well-sealed screen, and ensuring that there’s no leakage from the tray. While installing a tray with an upstand does offer a good barrier, it is still possible to achieve very good performance in a level entry shower by ensuring that the base has the required slope towards the waste.
The layout of the glass screen is important too – for example it is best not to have a door extending all the way to a corner, as the small gap required for the door to open can allow water from the side wall to dribble out.
Tile selections and grout
Nothing beats the look of a fully-tiled shower – but the choices you make can affect how well it will work for you. Think carefully before using highly-polished tiles on the floors – they can look great but can be very slippery when wet.
As an alternative there are now some honed non-slip tiles available – these are even rated for exterior use, but are amazingly smooth underfoot and much easier to clean than a traditional non-slip surface.
Think twice before picking tiles that are particularly trendy or polarising. Replacing the tiles in a shower will damage the waterproofing layer, so it’s best to pick something you know you’ll be happy with for years to come. Instead save bold tiles to be used outside the shower (e.g. as a splashback behind the vanity) where they can be replaced more easily if you wish to change the style.
Also consider the ease of cleaning and maintenance – if you’re using smaller wall tiles then it pays to use an epoxy grout that won’t absorb water – it costs a little more upfront, but it is much easier to keep clean than a traditional cement-based grout and will still be looking fresh years later.
It may not even cross your mind when thinking about bathrooms, but undertile waterproofing is probably the single most important thing to get right. Water will inevitably seep through the grout joins between tiles, so a continuous waterproofing layer is required to prevent damage to the substrate and to direct water to the outlet.
The best result is most easily obtained by using a sheet-based membrane, which guarantees that you’re getting the required membrane thickness everywhere. Liquid-applied membranes can also be used, but require care to ensure that the required thickness and coverage is achieved everywhere and that everything is fully cured before tiling commences.
Tiled showers will always require a building consent even if you’re replacing an existing one, as council building inspectors need to undertake an inspection of the waterproofing before it is covered by tiles.
Without proper lighting a shower can be a dark uninviting corner of the room. By selecting lights with an appropriate IP rating it is possible to position them right above the shower so you can ensure it is well lit.
Alternatively why not make use of natural light? By positioning a window in the shower, or a skylight above, you can enjoy taking a shower while basking in the morning sun!
Providing good ventilation is the best way to ensure your bathroom stays looking good as new for years to come. Start by picking a good quality fan – a 150mm fan size is best for most bathrooms, giving 2-3 times the airflow of a 100mm fan. Don’t forget to allow a gap for fresh air to be drawn into the room, as they won’t perform well without enough return air.
Next think about where the fan should be positioned. Keep it near the shower so it draws in the steamy air first – if it’s too close to the bathroom door then fresh air from adjoining rooms will be extracted without going past the shower, leaving most of the steam behind.
For the best performance use full-height glass screens to keep the steam contained in the shower, and an in-line fan unit so the duct can be located within the shower enclosure with the motor safely located in the roof space.
Which one’s for you?
Imagine the benefits of having a luxurious new tiled shower in your new ensuite or bathroom, and the difference it could make to your morning routine. Take a look at our House Alterations and Renovations page for more ways to enhance your home, and call us to arrange a free consultation to discuss the possibilities.