Determine what type of products you need according to the use and users of the bathroom.
Measure your space.
Produce a scale version floor plan.
Plot position of the products – make best use of space and include extra room around the products for moving around.
Plan out your plumbing, including water supply and waste requirements.
Plan for storage, lighting, heating and ventilation.
Get a quote – include cost of products, installation and extras such as flooring and tiles.
Appoint an installer and purchase the products, but don’t remove old fittings until the new ones have been delivered and checked for damage.
Add the finishing touches such as mirrors and other accessories to your new bathroom.
The following is a simple guide to planning your bathroom which takes you through the steps to follow if you are working on an existing bathroom and are changing the fittings you already have. If you are building from scratch, creating an en-suite or changing the function of a room, or if you are at all unsure about what you are doing, then you should seek sound professional advice before you begin.
First of all, think about what products you want to include and get familiar with all the options available so that you find a combination that’s right for you and your lifestyle; you will need to consider the space you have available and the needs of all the individuals who will use the bathroom. Include all the basics and add some luxurious extras if space and your budget allows, but don’t forget about the impact this may have on future buyers and the fact that you may not be able to take it with you if you sell your home.
Your existing plumbing may limit your choice of fittings so you should check with an expert first, and if you are extending your existing bathroom or converting a room into a bathroom, then there are building regulations which may also affect you.
There are dozens and dozens of bathroom showrooms across the country which have hundreds of products on display. Regardless of where you get your inspiration and ideas from you should always take the time to look at the fittings ‘in the flesh’ so that you can check the quality of the product and get a far better picture of what it looks like and how big it is.
Be prepared for some mess while your new bathroom is fitted. A straight refit where new products replace the old should only take 2 to 3 days to complete, but a more complicated installation, where new systems are introduced and extensive work needs to be done, can take longer. If this fills you with dread and you cannot get by without a fully-working bathroom you might want to make arrangements with family or neighbours to use their bathroom, or even book into a guest house or hotel for the duration.
Consider what you want from this bathroom, who will use it and how often – is it the main family bathroom, an en-suite to the master bedroom, a shower room for guests? If space is a real issue, are you prepared to sacrifice or compromise on one element of the bathroom in order to facilitate another? All of this can help you decide on the type and size of products you need and focus your attention and perhaps your budget on the areas which are most important.
If it is for all the family to use, you will probably want to make it as versatile and workable as possible, perhaps installing a shower over the bath and fitting 2 sinks which can help to speed things up in the morning. By including plenty of storage for all the bottles of shampoo, showergel and bubble bath which collect in there you can keep the clutter to a minimum but keep everything you need to hand. If it is an en-suite, then perhaps a hydromassage shower cabin or spa bath is what you are looking for. Guest bathrooms may just require a straightforward shower enclosure with the toilet and sink and a downstairs cloakroom may need the tiniest sink you can find to fit in that small but essential space.
Think about the type of products are you hoping to install and whether they will require any additional plumbing or electrics to operate. For example, if you are installing a new shower, think about where the inlet pipes need to be and whether you need a separate water tank to feed it. A shower can be installed over a bath, but more and more people are choosing to sacrifice the bath and use the space for a separate larger shower enclosure with a powerful shower, hydromassage body jets and steam cabin instead. Plan it in at this early stage and you can avoid spoiling work you have already completed, particularly if there is a lot of building work and tiling to do.
The first and most important step is to measure the space you have – without accurate measurements your plan will be meaningless. Don’t mix metric and imperial measurements and measure it twice just to be sure… it will be costly, waste valuable time and be very frustrating if the products you buy don’t fit when you come to install them.
Produce a scale version floor plan or layout of the room including the position and dimensions of doors, windows and walls. Don’t forget to include the position of the soil stack and where your soil pipe runs, but speak to an expert if you are thinking of moving the toilet, because it is probably the most awkward bit to change. Water pipes to sinks, bidets and baths and waste outlets are less complicated to move but speak to a professional if you are unsure.
Plan out your storage requirements – make use of alcoves or dead space in your bathroom and take advantage of the many types of vanity unit and washstands available to keep all your bathroom bits and pieces to hand. Vanity units will also hide away ugly plumbing pipes and give the bathroom a well designed and co-ordinated look, particularly if you team them with wall cabinets, shelving or other storage racks.
Lighting can also play a big part in setting the mood or providing a bright environment. You may want to replace your main central ceiling light with several spotlights, install a shaver socket or fit cabinets with lighting built-in. Obviously electrics in the bathroom are a safety concern, so speak to an expert before you begin any work on this.
Towel warmers will add a touch of warmth and luxury to your bathroom but must be planned in, whether they are electric or connected to your water system.
You will need adequate ventilation in your bathroom, particularly if it has no window, to help prevent mildew and damp from taking hold. Fit an extractor fan to the outside wall if you can, or install a heater to dry out the room.
Bathroom personal hygiene can be greatly improved by including a bidet in your bathroom design. Washing is more effective and much more soothing than toilet paper which can be an irritant to many people. A bidet requires hot and cold water feed and a waste outlet in the same way as your sink or bath.
The type of flooring you opt for is entirely down to personal choice, although there are advantages and disadvantages to everything. Tiles are perfect as floor and wall coverings since they are hard-wearing, scratch-resistant, waterproof and easy to clean. Using ceramic or glass tiles allows you to be inventive with pattern and design because they come in all sorts of shapes, colours and sizes. However, not all tiles are suitable for both floor and wall, so check this before you buy, and remember that tiles can be very slippery when wet and are cold underfoot. carpet is much softer to the touch but will get very wet if you splash too much water, so rubber or vinyl flooring is becoming a very popular alternative; it is warm and quiet underfoot, incredibly durable and available in many colours and textures but may need specialist glue or installation. You may be considering under-floor heating too, but a specialist can advise you further on your options here.
If you are installing heavy products such as a cast iron bath then you must ensure that your floor is strong enough to bear the weight. You may need to re-inforce the joists, but if this is not possible, then perhaps opting for a lighter-weight acrylic bath freestanding version is the answer.