Basics-Designing A Bathroom-Methodical Approach

There is a methodical approach to the selection process for the various elements in your bathroom. For most homeowners the finishes are the most important aspect, since they define the visual end result. However, there are very important considerations to keep in mind to ensure that the end result is satisfactory.

The bathroom, more than any other room in the home, requires the most technical savvy. Most homeowners tend to overlook that very critical fact by concentrating mainly on cosmetics.

More often than not, botched bathroom projects are the direct result of the owner’s unwillingness to spend the required time as well as the necessary funds to properly construct the room. The lack of information, attention to detail and hiring of unqualified or inexperienced people is often detrimental to the outcome.

Once you have determined your space and area allocations, the infrastructure must be installed to accommodate all of your requirements.

Make sure you consider all your electrical and plumbing needs before having your wall and floor finishes applied. One of the most important details, if not THE most important one, is waterproofing of any area which will be exposed to water — by design that applies to the entire bathroom.

Waterproofing is designed to protect your home against potential damages, but you have to also consider the consequences of serious health hazards, which can be caused by mould. Mould is produced by moisture and wetness and in turn produces allergens, irritants and potentially toxic substances.

In order to properly waterproof your walls (before installing any finishes), apply a moisture barrier, consisting of a plastic or rubber membrane. Consider tiles in the areas with direct water contact as they are the most resistant to moisture. Seal your finished wall with an appropriate product for your chosen material; there are numerous products available. Make sure you are getting the right type of sealant. For all edges and spaces, use silicone to prevent moisture from going behind your finishes and walls.

For your bathroom floor, properly sealed tile is again the best option, wood and water are natural enemies; but if you absolutely have to have wood floors, be aware they require a greater amount of planning, construction, moisture barrier application, the right kind of product, a proper sealer and continuous maintenance. In any case, it is important that your floors are properly tilted in order for the water to have a direct path to drainage, without spreading or pooling, this is especially important if one chooses an open shower rather than a shower pan or a tub/shower combination.

Now is also the time to decide on whether or not you require heated floors, as this requires special construction and must be completed before the finished floor is installed. Flooring options must be taken into consideration and should be finalised at this stage as some floor finishes require additional construction and could dramatically change your floor heights, which in turn will require adjustments in any plumbing connections installed or to be installed in the floors.

The last place we think about waterproofing is our ceiling, but it can be very simply accomplished by applying a specialised waterproof paint. Also consider installing a vent, which you can turn on when the moisture level is high. If you feel particularly creative and adventurous, you may want to create a tile mural on your ceiling.

In your selection process, you may want to avoid certain inexpensive building and decorating materials such as MDF, particle board, veneered cabinetry, laminated counter tops, plated metal fixtures and plastic panelling. These are not engineered for long lasting durability. Instead, opt for homogeneous materials like stone, tile, porcelain, glass, stainless steel and treated hardwood. Again, limit any exposure of water to wood as much as possible. For instance, raise wood cabinets off the floor or mount it on water resistant material.

I know that so far we have discussed technical (although vitally important) things and if by now I have not completely lost or scared you, we can soon move on to the fun of decorating a bathroom. Somehow, I imagine hearing a collective sigh. Smile, it is all a part of the process!

You never thought there was so much to consider for a bathroom, in most cases the smallest and most neglected room in the home, did you? Well, we still have a long way to go! Next, we will explore some safety concerns (yes, technical information again!), storage, lighting, entertainment options, patterns and much more. For now though, let’s dream again and get creative.

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