What Is a Wet Room? How to Tell If This Bathroom Design Is Right for You

Here’s what to know about the spa-like upgrade that’s more popular than ever.

Bathroom trends are taking a more streamlined approach in 2023—and we’re not talking about less is more. Picture clean lines, smart technology features, and spa-like upgrades that can truly make your bath feel like a spa staycation. One of the ways homeowners are achieving all this and more is with wet room-inspired renovations. We’re unpacking all the details on what a wet room is, how to determine whether a wet room is right for your space, and what to consider before installing one in your home.  

What Is a Wet Room?

“A wet room features a freestanding tub that sits within the tiled walk-in shower area,” says Mitchell Parker, Houzz senior editor. “There is often a curbless or low-curb entrance that may be partially or fully glass-enclosed or have a pony wall to provide some separation and contain splashes.”

Drainage in a wet room is of great importance. To ensure everything flows away instead of sitting stagnant, there are certain installation procedures and structural measures that are necessary. According to Mallory Micetich, home expert at Angi, that means creating a completely waterproof space and adding a gradient to floors to drain excess water.

With shower trends leaning toward a more seamless look and luxurious experience, it’s no wonder wet rooms are also seeing an uptick in popularity. And with an increase in demand, so too goes the return on investment. “Installing a wet room can also make your home more valuable when it comes time to sell, which makes it a no-brainer renovation project,” says Micetich.

wet room bathroom with freestanding tub and walk-in shower

TRIA GIOVAN

Wet Rooms for Small Baths

Both small and large spaces can be prime for a wet room renovation, but a small bath is where you might see the most benefit. “Designers and contractors can take a small, cramped bathroom and make it feel open, large, and accessible by turning it into a wet room,” says Micetich. Of course, more expansive baths have great wet room potential, too, as it can help them feel even more luxurious and spacious.  

Sweeten, a service matching home renovations with vetted general contractors, points out that special attention should be paid to dry areas in smaller baths with wet rooms. “Locating storage and linen cabinets outside of the bathroom is one way to deal with moisture. Another is to install water-resistant cabinets in the room.”

white tiled shower and bath combo

Ann VanderWiel Wilde

Wet Room Benefits

Before determining whether a wet room is right for you and your space, it’s important to understand both the pitfalls and benefits. 

Lots of Natural Light

Because there are no walls to block light from one part of the bath to another, each corner of the space sees more natural light, which can be a major benefit, whether you’re trying to apply makeup or just looking for a brighter, happier-feeling space. 

Accessibility 

According to Sweeten, wet-room bathrooms are ideal for all phases of life. “There are no steps or curbs keeping walkers and wheelchairs out of the shower area,” said a brand representative. “The toilet area merges seamlessly with the shower, too.”

Less Mold and Easier Cleaning

Due to their open-concept design, more air circulates throughout a wet room as opposed to a traditional closed-door shower, which means less potential for mold and mildew. Sweeten also points out that wet rooms are often easier to clean due to their lack of enclosure and because the entire floor can be hosed down.  

wet room bathroom with freestanding tub in shower

Edmund Barr

Wet Room Drawbacks

Lack of Privacy

Because of their open design, the space might seem larger, but you’ll also have more visibility from one end of the bathroom to the other. For this reason, Micetich says a wet room might not be the best choice if you share a bathroom with roommates or family members. 

Everything Gets Wet

As mentioned, moisture can be an issue, particularly when working within the confines of a smaller bath. If you don’t have a waterproof storage area, Micetich advises all items you bring into your bathroom be strictly waterproof.

Parker also points to the issue of slippery flooring, another drawback of a soaked space. “Professionals on Houzz recommend installing nonslip flooring, either with matte tile finishes or mosaic tile, which features lots of grout lines that provide a solid grip underfoot throughout the area,” he advises.

Installation Considerations for Wet Rooms

Like any renovation, making the decision to turn your bathroom into a wet room is one that requires a lot of thought and planning. It’s a complicated project that requires waterproofing, complete sealing, and adequate draining to be installed, which is why Micetich says this is a project for an experienced pro.

Sweeten also points out additional installation considerations like heating vent placement (they’ll either need to be built into walls or another heat source will be needed) and the fact that, like any bathroom, a wet room could eventually spring a leak and need repairs.

It's not all bad news when it comes to installing a wet room, though. A wet room can still be successfully installed without issue whether your bathroom is large or small or on the ground floor or an upper level as long as you call on the right professional for the job. And while it might cost you upfront, you can stand to recoup the costs. “Installing a wet room can be an expensive project, costing an average of $9,000,” says Micetich. “However, adding a wet room can increase the value of your home, making it worth it in the long run.”

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