Nick Graville, Sales & Marketing Director at Kudos Shower Products, updates readers on how shower product developments are leading to increased choice for installers and customers.

There has been continual growth in the installation of wetrooms in the domestic bathroom for a number of years and, in a relatively short space of time, many new product innovations have been introduced to improve functionality and offer more effective solutions for the installer to consider in their next bathroom fit. 

We are all aware that many of the products fitted in the bathroom are hidden, especially the components within a wetroom, and that makes the functionality and reliability of them all the more important. No one wants a product to fail when it’s behind finished tiling, floorboards, or wall panels. 

I believe that the suppliers to this market have really stepped up to not only solve some of the early teething problems associated with wetrooms, but also to offer a plethora of choice, filled with innovation, for the installer to offer their customers. 

When first introduced, consumers were sold the dream of a wetroom where you could shower with no screens, with no broken lines on the floor or walls, to make what is often a small room look infinitely larger. 

This was before the days of effective low voltage underfloor heating and the result is a bathroom that wouldn’t dry naturally with warm weather, and could mean very wet socks for the next visitor to the bathroom.

Seriously though, in British weather, mildew can quickly form when a room is left wet and, on top of that, early membranes did not offer guaranteed long-term protection. The whole installation process was also very expensive, as materials had to be cured and left to dry, which took time and cost money.

Fast forward to today and most bathrooms, whether completely or partly tiled on the floor, display a glass screen to prevent the whole floor and other bathroom products becoming wet, and incorporate underfloor heating to dry the room faster and prevent the need for large radiators. 

Quite often the result is now a pleasant mix of continuous wetroom floors with clear glass screens that affix securely to the wall or a very low-level shower tray, which is almost continuous in level to the remaining floor area but offers a different zone in the room as a type of ‘broken plan’ design. This has all happened through product designers and manufacturers talking to installers and working together to offer effective solutions. 

We all remember the shower trays that stood on adjustable legs with clip on plinths, raising the tray so that the waste could fit underneath and be easily accessed. The trend for a wetroom ‘look’ has driven tray and waste manufacturers to work harder together to now offer an impressive alternative to a total wetroom. 

This has only been possible due to innovations that have created shallow wastes which take away larger volumes of water, include more effective filters to minimise blockages, and allow top waste access for regular cleaning. 

These tried and tested wastes then allowed shower tray manufacturers to develop low profile trays, standing as low as 35mm high, which can be partly sunk into the floor. At the same time, new shower tray materials and colour options have come into the market and are growing in popularity. 

If your customer wants the bathroom flooring to run seamlessly into the showering area, then a wetroom tray can be used. This would take the shape of an in-floor galvanised steel tray that fits at floor level and provides support for a high flow waste to be installed, featuring panels that are ready for tiling with no waiting times for curing or drying. 

A product like this can offer part or full wetroom protection in the bathroom, and it’s important to select a system where broken tiles can be easily replaced without compromising the wetroom system.

All showering enclosure manufacturers today offer both enclosures and a range of pure glass screens, the latter becoming the fastest growing and largest part of the market. Both options have grown in height over the last few years to cater for low profile trays and floor fixing options, so are now on average around 2m high. 

They are supplied as toughened glass of between 6-10mm in thickness and usually come with a glass coating protection for easy cleaning. Enclosures are still a very popular option and come in a range of sizes with sliding, bi-fold, or pivot door options, and it’s these mechanisms that make them a more expensive alternative to a simple glass screen which come purely with wall profile fixings. 

The current trend in enclosures and screens is for a minimal profile with hidden fixings and profiles/wall posts are largely chrome or the latest matt black finish.

If your customer is considering a fully tiled bathroom floor with no shower tray, make sure to provide 1,200mm of protected showering space; they need at least 1,700mm of space allocated in the bathroom so that the user has plenty of access. 

For a fully tiled floor, there is also the issue of grout lines and discolouration and cleaning issues compared to a traditional shower tray. The tile size will often determine the suitability of creating an attractive tiled floor in the showering area without excessive angled tile cuts and grout lines. 

Small tiles and mosaic make it easier for the tiles to follow the shape of the shower deck, but this results in lots of grout lines to clean. Meanwhile, large tiles can be difficult to cut to follow the falls built into the shower deck. Shower trays, on the other hand, are easy to clean, quick to install, and therefore less expensive, as well as providing a certain protective area for showering.

Whatever your customer decides, rest assured that suppliers in the enclosures, trays, and wetroom market have worked hard to develop innovative and reliable products, stocked by your merchant suppliers, that you can install with confidence, allowing you to get creative in the showering space.