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Designing a wet room: Our in-depth 2023 guide

If you require more accessibility around the home, a wet room might be a wise choice because you don’t have to step over a shower tray as a walk-in shower would have or a bath edge like walk-in baths. A modern wet room is more spacious than a standard bathroom, providing more room for wheelchair users and carers if you require additional support.

In this article, we’ll share plenty of wet room ideas to help make your bathroom space disabled-friendly and stylish.

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How to design a wet room suited to wheelchair users

Your main concern when designing a wet room should be ensuring that the space caters to your specific needs because not every wheelchair user requires the same assistance. For example, if you require carer support or strength limitations.

Disabled wet room ideas

  1. Flooring

Slippery floors are hazardous for everyone, but it’s especially important to consider anti-slip safety flooring for those with mobility issues because the injury implications can be so much more severe. Thankfully, there are many colours and textures available for safer flooring. For example, anti-slip vinyl flooring for wet rooms offers a beautiful aesthetic while minimising falls in the bathroom.

  1. Shower curtain or door

Even though wet rooms are open spaces, installing a shower curtain or door can provide a more dignified experience and some privacy, especially if you don’t live alone or require the assistance of a carer. Furthermore, a shower curtain or door can retain the heat in the shower, which is perfect for those winter mornings.

  1. Shower seats

If you have accessibility issues, we recommend having a dedicated shower seat in the bathroom to offer some support while you’re showering. Even if you don’t feel like you require sitting down while you’re washing, having a seat permanently in position means that you’ll get peace of mind knowing that it’s there should you feel weak or lose your balance.

Whether you’re engaging in independent or assisted washing, here are some shower seat designs to consider:

  • Wall-hung
  • Cushioned seat with a backrest and arm support
  • A custom-built bench that fits across the shower section

Positions of handrails for wet rooms

Grab bars are a useful household aid for providing support when you’re moving around a room or even if you’re standing still and need to hold onto something to lift yourself up when you’re seated or to support your balance. Position them around the wet room to offer stability while you shower, use the toilet and use the sink.

If you add a shower seat, position the handrails on either side of the seat, ensuring the seat is positioned at a reasonable distance. Installing the handrails next to the seat allows you to grab onto them as you lift yourself from the seat. They can also come in very useful as you lower yourself to the seat, particularly if the muscles in your lower body can’t support your entire weight.

Install additional handrails in areas where you typically stand for longer periods or have to lower yourself, such as beside the toilet and next to the sink. The toilet can be a particularly vulnerable place because you can have difficulties lifting yourself up from a lower level if your lower body is weaker than your upper body.

The types of grab rails

Grab rails are available in various styles, shapes and colours, which allows you to find the right one to suit your bathroom design and personal needs.

1.     Straight

Straight grab rails are a popular option and can be fitted anywhere, even in a small space. They’re a great choice if you require extra support when you’re getting in and out of the bath or showering.

2.     Curved

This isn’t the most practical option, but it adds style to a wet room. The curved style assists with gripping the grab rail at some angles, as it prevents your hand from slipping down as you pull yourself up or lower yourself.

3.     Angled

Some people find that an angled grab rail offers more support than a traditional straight grab rail, as it’s suitable for when you need to raise yourself off the toilet or shower seat—any situation where there’s an ascent.

4.     Hinged

Install hinged grab rails by the toilet so you can lower and get up more easily. These rails are suitable for a communal bathroom or a household with multiple people, as you can hold it away when it’s not in use.

5.     Backrest

A backrest rail is suitable to use with a shower seat to provide extra comfort and support when you’re showering.

Toilets for disability-friendly wet rooms

Make the toilet space more accessible by installing a raised toilet. This will reduce the amount of bending required, which makes it easier to get on and off. A grab bar next to the toilet also offers additional support, so your body doesn’t have to take on so much pressure. You may also wish to install a sensor-based flush instead of a handle if you have arthritis in your wrists or memory implications. This can also be a luxury accessory to give your wet room an extra touch.

Additionally, a shower toilet offers many benefits for those who aren’t physically able. Featuring an adjustable frame, you can adjust the height of a shower toilet based on your height, so you don’t need to strain yourself when lowering and lifting yourself off the toilet. Shower toilets also include pure water, making them suitable for cleaning intimate areas.

Installing taps and basins

Taps for those who are disabled are available in a range of designs and are suitable for those less able. Disabled taps include automatic water dispensers, thermostatic taps and longer levers for more accessible use. They’re particularly ideal if you find it challenging to use a lever on a standard tap.

Furthermore, if you have difficulties reaching a standard basin, a disabled basin might be more suitable, as they feature a concave front that can accommodate a wheelchair, enabling you to get closer to the taps when washing your hands and face.

Ventilating a wet room

Wet rooms can build up a lot of moisture and humidity, so they must be properly ventilated. Otherwise, poor ventilation can lead to a buildup of mould and mildew and heat loss. The most effective way to ventilate a wet room is by installing windows and fans. Windows prevent humidity from accumulating, while fans offer a quick ventilation solution. For optimal ventilation, install the exterior vent system lower than the interior fan to provide adequate moisture control.

Choosing the location of the wet room

Most bathrooms are too small to be transformed into a wet room. Wet rooms with accessibility require more space than typical bathrooms, so an existing bathroom might need to be extended into an adjacent room or into the corridor to provide adequate space. If you’re considering an extension, bear in mind the doorway might need widening so the wheelchair can fit through with ease. If your home has two floors and the bathroom is upstairs, you might prefer the wet room to be located on the ground floor for easier accessibility.

Making a wet-room disabled-friendly

Overall, a wet room includes extra safety features, so you can shower and bathe comfortably without and reduce trips and falls. If you’re on a budget, you can upgrade by installing grab rails around the wet room for support while you lower and lift yourself.