Make a Splash: How to Know If a Wet Room Is Right for Your Home

Ginny Bartolone
Written by Ginny Bartolone
Updated December 29, 2021
A spacious bathroom with bathtub and shower
Photo: ADDICTIVE STOCK / Adobe Stock

Hop in and out of the shower—with no "hopping" required

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If you've ever traveled to Europe or Japan, chances are you've opened your hotel bathroom to find a wet room. Wet room bathroom designs don't include a break between the shower area and the rest of the room—and have the drains and waterproofing to handle it. 

The bathroom trend is making waves in the U.S., particularly for homeowners looking to open up their smaller bathrooms into more wheelchair accessible and expansive floor plans

So what are the pros and cons to consider before calling in the bathroom renovation team? Let's take a look.

What Is a Wet Room Bathroom?

A wet room is a bathroom with a fully open or partially open space that includes a shower, sink, toilet, and vanity. The bathing area may include a small privacy wall or glass panel, but overall, the water does not need a shower tray or a curtain to stay in one place. A showerhead and set of knobs come from the wall in a similar style as a stall, but you don't need to worry about which way the water points.

It goes without saying that you can't simply turn any bathroom into a wet room without proper design. Bathroom design experts waterproof the entire space, from the sink to the shower, to ensure that any wandering water doesn't break through the routing. Additionally, cleverly placed drains send the shower water down into the pipes to avoid a mini-wading pool.

Wet rooms can be quite small—with a showerhead directly next to the toilet—or in large bathrooms with several areas for a bathtub, vanity, and shower area.

Wet Room Bathroom Design Pros

A close up of a showerhead
Photo: Colin / Adobe Stock

While bathroom upgrades can add value to your home, there are pros and cons to the design. So, make sure you're on board with the concept before picking out all that tile.

Here’s a look at why a wet room bathroom design could be a great choice for your home. 

Flexible, Open Floor Plans

Without the break between your shower and the rest of the room, it's much easier to transition from one activity to the next. There are no stubbed toes, shadowy shower curtains or shower doors, or bathtubs to scrub. Homeowners looking to open up a small bathroom floor plan can opt for a highly waterproofed wet room to avoid the space becoming cramped.

More Accessible

Bathroom accessibility is key for many homeowners, particularly for those with mobility challenges. Wet rooms are both easy to maneuver and they leave plenty of space to add accessibility bars and seats. 

Additionally, you and your guests never have to worry about a bit of water splashing outside the shower since the floor is ready to handle it.

Chic, Modern Design

As we noted above, the ROI of modern bathrooms is quite high when done correctly—up to 70%. The expansive and chic open floor plan design is bound to catch the eye of a new homebuyer and will likely remain timeless over the years. When done well, it adds a touch of modern sleekness that can set a home apart.

Wet Room Bathroom Design Cons

Before you start picturing yourself in your chic wet room, you’ll want to make sure it’s the right choice. 

Here’s a look at the downsides of turning your bathroom into a wet room:

Tricky to Clean

On the one hand, yes, the tile could be quicker to clean on a regular day. The block of tile is all in one piece, so you don't have to scrub in that tricky spot where the tub meets your floor. 

But on the other hand, think of all that grouting. If you do not install proper installation or control the first signs of mildew, you could be left with a much larger job on your hands when it's time to get it under control.

Water Really Does Go Everywhere

The first time you use a wet room can be a bit alarming. We're simply not used to letting water wander around the tile. While this is the point of the design, improper installation, slippery tile, or aging grouting can make the whole design go south very quickly.

Counteract this by working with your tile contractors in your area to choose a non-slip variety. Proper design should also keep the water from spreading beneath your sink and toilet so you don't have to worry about wet feet. Lastly, you may want to increase the ventilation in your bathroom to avoid mildew.

You'll Need Room for a Separate Bathtub

There isn't as much flexibility to add a tub into a wet room since it technically goes against the idea of the design. However, if you have a large bathroom with extra space for a freestanding or mounted bathtub, it could work well. Just keep the extra cost of bathtub replacement in mind when calculating your renovation costs.

Is a Wet Room Bathroom Right for You?

Wet rooms are a surprisingly flexible design option for both small and large homes. Installing a wet room costs about $9,000 on average. The decision really comes down to your desired budget—as the extra waterproofing can cost more than a traditional setup—and your desired aesthetic. A wet room quite literally tears down the materials that separate your bathroom into different spaces.

If you're daydreaming about a modern upgrade that will elevate your home and maximize space, consider the wet room with the help of a masterful remodeler.

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