As a design company with over 30 years of experience in bathrooms, we are often asked to specify products for clients wishing to future-proof their homes.

A concern is always the impact some of these changes may have on the value of your property; however, I always advise clients that they are altering their bathroom to suit their lifestyle and if someone wants to change it back in the future it should not be their concern. You are altering your bathroom for you, not the next purchaser, for your benefit, not theirs.

There are many ways that you can adapt your bathroom to suit all users, manufacturers have produced many products that although suited for the more infirm do not look out of place in a modern bathroom setting.

Wet rooms are often requested but in most instances, they are impossible without major plumbing and structural work, so here below are alternative options to make your bathroom more friendly.

One of the most requested products is a comfort height toilet; these have evolved over the years and are no longer considered to be a disabled only product. By increasing the height of the pan and altering its appearance they have not only made it easier for an infirm user to sit down and get up but for tall people and those with back issues or knee problems as the extra height is a real advantage, not so far to bend down, but be aware those of us short in stature they can be unhelpful. The vast majority of manufacturers produce comfort height pans but be careful as some are now considered to be semi comfort height as they are higher than standard pans but by only about 30mm. Also, there are a number of rimless versions on the market now, easier for cleaning and water consumption. The same height effect can be produced with a wall hung pan but this is more involved in design and space.

Another product that is easy to use for all abilities is the digital shower, companies like Aqualisa have produced a number of digital showers with very simple controls, push to start and easy to alter temperature settings, especially in the Quartz range, enabling users of all ages and abilities to safely control a shower or fill a bath. Also having thermostatic controls, which guarantee safe temperatures, provides extra confidence in using the product, coupled with a 5 year warranty, you can feel very safe and secure purchasing these products.

Being able to control the bath and basin taps is also very important for some people, taps that have valves can become stiff and difficult to turn off compared to those with ceramic ¼ turn valves which make that process really easy. The choice of the handle is really important and lever action taps are the most popular as the lever makes it easy grip to control the flow and mix of the water. Even the method of draining a basin or a bath is important as sometimes it can be difficult to operate a pop up and also complicated to maintain. Clicker wastes are easy to use and maintain.

If you want to retain your bath but are finding it difficult to step in or get out then there are options as well, you can purchase low level baths with a reduced depth internally meaning the bath is up to 120mm lower than a standard bath meaning that you can continue to use the bath albeit with a shallower tub.

Non slip surfaces in shower trays can be quite harsh and uncomfortable however a new breed of textured trays are available and are becoming increasingly popular as they are also available in some colours. Together with the majority of shower trays being no more than 45mm in height, dependant on your plumbing, most replacement installations are reducing the step into the shower making entry much easier.

Shower enclosure manufacturers have also considered this market and introduced enclosures that have no bottom rail again leading to easy access and no tripping hazard. Also with the growing trend of removing baths and replacing them with walk in shower arrangements, they have manufactured both short panels and deflector panels to make for easier access and also complete folding shower enclosures in bathrooms where the access is really difficult.

Lighting is always something that has been overlooked when designing any bathroom and good light is imperative when a client is infirm so the advances in LED lighting have enabled clients to have bright economical lighting which is very much ‘fit and forget’.

Not to forget a cold bathroom is an unfriendly bathroom and heat can be introduced into a bathroom in two main ways. Electric underfloor heating, subject to the flooring used, and towel warmers.

Electric underfloor heating can be controlled manually or remotely and can be arranged very simply with minimum temperatures set and also times, exactly like your central heating.

Towel warmers give out a lot of heat as it is based on the surface area and so a towel warmer with multiple tubes have a great surface area, however, consider that the chrome rails, although the best looking, give out up to 25% heat than coloured towel warmers.

Generally these are connected to your central heating and it is a good idea to have thermostatic valves fitted so you again have control. They also come in electric only and these again are best thermostatically controlled, as most of us have experienced a chrome towel warmer that is red hot to the touch, and their controls can either be at the base of the radiator, not so easy to use, or by wireless control mounted on the wall for easy access. The same options apply to those towel warmers connected for dual fuel usage, but don’t forget to close off the central heating valves when the heating is off for the electric element to work properly.

Let’s not forget the flooring, getting out of a bath or a shower with wet feet can be a real hazard and so having a flooring surface that is textured and provides you with a real grip is of vital importance.

There are many surfaces available, you can have ceramic or porcelain tiles, however, they are cold, unless you have underfloor heating, vinyl flooring in a number of variations, sheet flooring, stick down vinyl or the latest addition of luxury vinyl tile, a floating floor, all are waterproof however tiles need to be installed correctly to prevent cracking and sealed correctly to prevent grout discolouring.

Finally, there are many accessories that are available to make your life easier in your bathroom, shower seats that fold away when not in use, grab rails in different sizes and finishes to help you get in, out or up, corner baskets to store your shampoo etc. at heights that are accessible, mirrors with charging points and lights, cabinets to store all those bathroom products and many many more.

For more information contact us we are always happy to help.

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