Making a Splash: Wet Rooms Offer Great Style, Greater Accessibility

Remember how much fun it was as a kid to spray your sister with the garden hose while washing the car in the driveway?

There's something very liberating about water and wide-open spaces...which perhaps explains some of the attraction of wet rooms, those trendy bathrooms in which the shower area is level with the surrounding floor. Popular in Great Britain and other parts of Europe, the wet room has been slower to catch on in the United States...but is gaining popularity among homeowners looking to make a dramatic and personalized style statement, or who want to add a shower to a small or unusually shaped space.

Of course, a barrier-free shower can offer additional benefits to people with mobility difficulties. Barrier-free showers don't have to climbed into as do traditional bathtub showers, and the wet room's more spacious floorplan can be easier for wheelchairs, walkers and wheeled commodes to negotiate. Wet rooms can also provide more room to maneuver for caregivers who assist with transferring, bathing or dressing.

While wet rooms were once thought of as fanciful luxuries, companies who sell wet room fixtures and equipment say it doesn't have to be that way. For instance, DIYwetroom.com says its site "demystifies the wet room, bringing it within reach of everyman" (apparently, the keys to wet room success are waterproofing and a good sealant). WetroomShowering.com says even a "windowless box room" or other small space can make a great wet room, as long as the room can handle the weight of the materials and can drain well.

New building materials and designs make it easier than ever for consumers to choose the dimensions and layouts that work best for their homes and families, as well for their personal senses of style.

Could wet rooms be the next big splash in the home accessibility market?

To learn more on how wet rooms are created, go to HGTV to view a wet room case study.

Learn about the features of accessible showers and view installation guidelines by downloading a pdf of Curbless Showers: An Installation Guide from the Center for Universal Design at NC State.

Tip: If you're in the United States and are looking for more information about wet rooms, try searching the Web for barrier-free showers, curbless showers or roll-in showers. The term wet rooms is still not common in the U.S.


About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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