Another of our series of Blogs called “Ask the Experts” and this one is by Wet Room Materials.
Of all the rooms in a house to be colder than the rest, it definitely should not be the brand new wetroom you installed. Nobody wants to get out of a shower or bath and be left standing in the cold. Luckily there is a huge range of possibilities you can incorporate into your wetroom designs to keep warm, even in the potential damp conditions of a wetroom.
When you think of heating a space, radiators are normally the first thing that comes to mind. But forget about the standard white squares you see throughout the modern home, there are so many more options for design and functionality, but there are a few things you need to consider first before going ahead and installing a radiator.
The first thing you need to know with any radiator is where it’s going to go in the wetroom. If the space already has a radiator fitted, it would make sense to make use of this to save time and money, instead just replacing it with an alternative that suits your client’s needs and your design can be a much easier option. However, if you are installing one fresh you need to understand where the radiator will have the most effect on heating the room effectively.
Traditionally, radiators were placed in the coldest part of a room – normally below a window or on an exterior wall. Whilst there is still some logic in this thinking, it is slightly less relevant with the standardisation of double-glazed windows in most homes. This opens up a lot more possibility for where you can place the radiator. If the wetroom you are installing is particularly small, placing it behind a door can be your best option – providing the door can still open properly. However, it’s important to consider the heat outside the door, otherwise, all of the heat for the wetroom will instead go to the outside space if the door is left open.
If money is no option, and you believe you can make better use of the space where the radiator currently is, don’t be afraid to change the pipe layout. With so many weird and wonderful radiator shapes available on the market, you might be able to fill the small alcove or impossible gap in the wetroom with a radiator, meaning you can fill the previous space with something a lot more useful than the radiator was.
It’s also important to consider the type of radiator you are going to install – because the world has progressed much beyond the box on a wall the kicks heat out. From different fuel types to style & design, even size and material need to be considered properly before making a decision as they can all impact the overall effectiveness and look of your wetrooms heating solution.
Not all homes have the luxury of central heating, which is why alternative fuels must be used in order to keep the wetroom warm. Of course, if a boiler is installed and central heating is available then this is normally the preference of fuel to use – but there are exceptions. For example, your may feel like you don’t need central heating in the wetroom but still want to have warm towels ready for when you get out of the shower, in which case a dual fuel or plain electric radiator may be more applicable.
For homes without a heating system in place to support central heating, electric radiators are normally the best bet. Alternatively, rooms that won’t benefit from being part of the central heating systems because they already have a warm nature can benefit from electric heating – just to give it a temperature boost as and when it is needed without affecting the rest of the house.
Dual fuel brings the best of both worlds, having both the regularity of central heating and convenience of electric radiators. These types of radiator can be even more practical in a wet room – you have the option to keep the whole warm toasty in winter with central heating, but can turn that off in warmer weather but maintain the benefit of warm towels after a shower with the electric heating – only turning it on when you need it.
Not all wet rooms are created equally, some are huge and some are tiny – but you design with the cards you’re given so to speak. If space is a factor that comes on a stringent budget, you need to carefully consider where the radiator will fit best. Luckily, there are hundreds of different variations for radiator dimensions. Whether you need a very large or impossibly small, portrait or landscape and even thick or thin, there will be an option that fits the size of wetroom that you are designing. Size can also have an effect on the BTU of a radiator (how much heat it can produce). If you need a higher BTU because you have a large wetroom, you’re logically going to need a larger radiator. Bear this in mind before deciding your radiator size.
Not all metals have the same heating qualities, so choosing the right material for your wet room’s radiators is a big deal. The material can also depend on your design choice if you want to create a wet room with Victorian styling, you might opt for cast iron, or more practically stainless steel designed to look like cast iron, after all, they can be incredibly heavy and expensive. Other options include mild steel, which is much lower cost and the default material for most radiators so you won’t have difficulty finding the perfect one. Alternatively, you could opt for an aluminium casing. Aluminium is a superconductor meaning that the speed they can heat up and cool down is much quicker than other metals, this has the added benefit of being much easier to achieve perfect room temperature.
Finally, the styling of a radiator can make a huge difference in a wet room. It can either blend in seamlessly, become a feature piece or stick out like a sore thumb and ruin the look of the wet room – it all hangs in the balance of design. There is a huge variety of colours, finishes and frame designs that can transform its looks. As we mentioned earlier, a Victorian-inspired wet room may require a radiator that looks like it was pulled straight from the late 1800s. For a more modern contemporary design, something that replicates a piece of modern art would be a perfect match. Or to keep it simple, flat panels that sit close to the wall and don’t draw attention to themselves are always a solid choice.
We are now in an era where a radiator is much more than a radiator. From heated towel rails to benches, radiators can become much of a functional item than just used for heat. Radiator manufacturers are really pushing extra features and uses of radiators, so you can really consider what your client will use it for.
That’s enough about radiators, there is a more modern alternative that’s increasing in popularity with each passing day: underfloor heating. Since you will most likely be relaying floor in a newly designed wetroom, in order to install the drain, it is the perfect opportunity to introduce underfloor heating. It’s commonly known that heat rises, so it makes sense to have the source of heat as low as possible so heat can disperse evenly throughout the wetroom and maintain perfect temperature easier than a radiator can. Even better though, is that underfloor heating systems work more efficiently with hard floor surfaces such as tile and laminate – often the flooring used in wet rooms! Underfloor heating can also be much more pleasant, just imagine not having to worry about stepping on cold tile straight after a warm shower!