Are you having a hard time deciding which flooring type is right for your wet room? Please don’t feel alone; it is not a simple task. Of course, we all want our wet room to give off a luxurious spa feel, but let’s face it, this decision requires us to exercise some degree of caution.
We must consider more than just the floorings aesthetic appeal; we must uphold the functionality and integrity of our space while also thinking about safety.
What is a Wet Room?
Wet rooms have become the newest craze in bathroom design. A HomeServe USA blog defines it as a bathroom, “except that the whole thing’s designed to get wet.”
In my extensive travel across Europe and Asia, one characteristic I especially enjoyed about the wet room design is its ability to hold in the hot steam after a shower on a cold morning.
There is more to consider than staying cozy warm on a cold day in the confines of your wet room. Let me expand on a wet room’s overall design and function before exploring various flooring types that you may consider.
As I mentioned earlier, you need to think about completely waterproofing the space you hope to turn into a wet room. To do this, first ensure that a waterproofing membrane is installed from the floor to the ceiling to prevent future water damage.
Additionally, you ought to consider adding sealant around any windows, switches, and lights in your wet room. Extra seam sealant must be carefully applied in the corners of the wet room to prevent any moisture from detecting its way underneath your flooring surface.
Wet rooms typically do away with any partition between the shower space and the rest of the bathroom. However, it is possible to have a semi-wet room with a partial glass screen divider.
Furthermore, this means that your wet room design gets rid of the typical floor transition found with either your step-up shower enclosure or shower/bathtub combination.
The Bathroom Blueprint providing design advice and inspiration offers the following list of typical features of a wet room:
- Combination hand-held and fixed shower head
- Waterproof vanity and basin
- Tiled surfaces
- Enclosed and water-resistant storage for towels and toiletries
- Glass screen divider
- Floor drainage system
When designing your wet room, allow your budget some flexibility as you consider the most critical aspects of this rather sophisticated endeavor.
As I mentioned earlier, you will first need to waterproof your wet room completely. In addition to this, proper drainage to remove wastewater is vital to allow your wet room to dry out.
Lastly, it would be best to make the proper flooring choice so that moisture degradation does not cause future damage to your brand new spa environment.
The function of a wet room will be unique to your specific needs or desires. Whether you aim to increase the value of your home by transforming one of the bathrooms of your home into a mini spa-like environment or need to accommodate a family member with mobility issues, a wet room may be the right choice for you.
Other typical factors that may lead you to select a wet room design include:
- To maximize the utility for your small space.
- To create an open-plan layout that allows for a brighter and airier bathroom environment.
- To give your bathroom a more luxurious look.
- To eliminate tight corners allowing for more effortless movement around bathroom appliances.
A Wet Dream
Let me now share more specific advantages and disadvantages associated with your wet room dream. One of the following items may persuade you to pursue or back out of your wet dream.
- Easy to clean and maintain using a mild cleaner and rubber-bladed mop (squeegee). You may use the hand-held shower as a hose, and you can also clean the water-sealed walls without fear of damage (atypical of drywall or plaster alternatives).
- A single drain with an appropriately slanted floor will direct all excess water out of the wet room.
- There is less chance of mold and mildew with proper maintenance. In addition, good ventilation like a featured window and extractor fan will help.
- Long-term accessibility if you plan to grow old in your home or want to comply with universal design guidelines as outlined by the Living In Place Institute.
- More expensive and labor-intensive than a typical bathroom build.
- You must carefully select waterproof appliances, bathroom storage options, and cabinetry solutions.
- A repair needed as a result of water damage may be very expensive. The problem source may be difficult to pinpoint.
- You will need to consider unique heating, such as an underfloor solution.
Which Flooring Type is Right?
After special consideration of the benefits and disadvantages of a wet room, you have decided to proceed with the design process. However, you are having difficulty deciding between tiles, vinyl, or microcement as your chosen flooring.
According to L’Antic Colonial, the main characteristics in selecting the flooring type for your wet room are durability, resistance to water, and anti-slip.
Your flooring choice is arguably one of the most important decisions you make throughout the design process of your wet room. It is critical to prevent structural damage to your home or space.
Ceramic or porcelain tiles are an effective and popular flooring choice for wet rooms. Although neither of these materials is known to accumulate liquid, please note that ceramic is more porous than porcelain, thus leading to a higher chance of water absorption.
During tile installation, choose a mortar and grout combination specifically designed for wet room environments. If you choose tile as your flooring material, please remember to seal the finished surface with a trusted product such as Rust-oleum’s 511 Impregnator.
According to Warmup Plc, you should seek a material rated with having a high level of thermal conductivity, rendering tile the best choice for underfloor heating.
Another tip to keep in mind if you choose to pursue this flooring material is to select an anti-slip or textured tile. The 511 Impregnator’s product description states that any “treated surface will be harder and less slippery.”
I should mention that if you happen to fall on tile, its hard surface offers no rebound. It will hurt! Lastly, note that a cracked tile may require expert repair.
Overall, porcelain tile is an excellent choice for flooring in your wet room, offering a wide variety of colors, textures, and patterns readily available in today’s market.
Since its debut, vinyl flooring has increased in popularity because of its proven resilience and versatility. Manufacturers continually strive to improve the process of its polymer composition to produce low VOCs as environmental concerns tend to be a priority of potential buyers.
Like tile, vinyl’s modern-day ‘luxury’ appeal offers a wide variety of textures, colors, and patterns. In addition, high-end vinyl can even mimic hardwood and stone finishes, almost unnoticeable to the untrained eye.
You should note that vinyl is an ideal flooring choice amongst families with children and elderly members. In addition, I imagine spaces that accommodate the mobility challenged may also prefer this flooring surface—the main reasons are attributed mainly to its anti-slip characteristics and more flexible core.
Vinyl flooring is a beautiful choice for homeowners and business owners alike. Its affordability and durability are hard to resist. If you are the DIY type like me, then vinyl flooring is relatively easy to install with the proper research.
Vinyl flooring is wear-resistant, (mostly) waterproof, and works with underfloor heating. If you proceed with installing this flooring type in your wet room, ensure to seal the joints and take particular caution that the vinyl is secured correctly around the drain aperture.
Now, let me play devil’s advocate for a moment. If scratches or other damage penetrates through the wear-resistant layer of your vinyl surface, water infiltration will damage your vinyl flooring.
Constant heating and cooling from an underfloor heating system may significantly reduce the lifetime of your vinyl product. Although vinyl heats up and cools down quickly, please take my advice, and consult with the manufacture to ensure suitability with an underfloor heating system.
Typically, “the temperature of the heating system with vinyl should not exceed 27°C.” Therefore, warmup Plc does not recommend a vinyl floor and radiant heat combination in high heat loss areas.
Vinyl flooring would be yet another attractive choice for your wet room if you strictly adhere to professional installation advice and ensure the suitability of complementary systems.
According to Australian-based Alternative Surfaces, microcement “is a cement and polymer-based coating which is thinly applied to floors, walls and in some cases joinery in residential and commercial environments to create a concrete look.”
Did you know microcement is completely hand-troweled? Professional artisans use either a rubber trowel or flexible steel trowel to produce various desired effects ranging from smooth, and subtle swirls to a more robust burnt look with darkened swirls. Here is just one gallery for your curiosity and inspiration.
The bonding power inherent to microcement mixtures gives it the bonding prowess to be applied directly over pretty much any substrate imaginable. The application of microcement involves multiple thin layers to achieve an overall thickness of between 2-3 millimeters.
Even though you should plan on hiring trained and experienced installers, the satisfaction is in the result. If you select microcement as the flooring type for your wet room, you will enjoy the benefits of continuous cladding and an entirely seamless finish.
Additionally, you may choose from various colors and decorative finishes to give that concrete aesthetic you are looking for a glamorous eye-popping effect.
Microcement is a hard surface; making falls a painful ordeal. However, remain calm knowing that microcement boasts a high anti-slip rating which promotes this flooring type as an all-time favorite in residential and commercial spaces.
Microcement is adaptable to a range of internal and external applications from wet rooms to pool surrounds. You can even use microcement for furniture pieces and planters.
I was immediately taken away by the par-excellent finish that microcement gave my newly designed two-bedroom apartment on the 14th floor of the IDEO 02 Bang-Na Condominium in Bangkok, Thailand.
Another noteworthy feature of microcement is that it creates a germ and bacteria-free space that remains easy to clean and maintain by simply using water and pH-neutral soap. In addition, it is highly resistant to scuffs, scratches, or stains and is nearly impervious to cracking.
You will be happy to know that microcement is entirely waterproof. Topciment goes as far as to say that problems associated with environmental humidity disappear completely with microcement solutions.
Since we previously discussed underfloor heating compatibility with tile and vinyl flooring, I should let you know that radiant heating is perfectly compatible with microcement flooring.
Structurally or aesthetically speaking, imperfections in a microcement solution will be mainly caused by not strictly adhering to the fundamental steps of its application, especially in regards to the priming and sealing stages.
You should also be aware that microcement requires ample drying time and is plausibly one of the most expensive flooring options on the market.
The Verdict is In
This article aimed to share several advantages and disadvantages to three very different flooring types for your wet room: tile, vinyl, and microcement.
In conclusion, if money is not an issue, the versatile and almost indestructible appeal of microcement, not to mention its aesthetic pop, is perhaps the best flooring choice for your wet room fantasy coming to life.
Please feel free to comment below with any questions or concerns you may have regarding flooring options for your wet room or other space.