When planning a bathroom renovation, it is important to keep a few key terms in mind, especially when it comes time to select your bathroom fittings and understanding your floorplans and specifications.
Custom vs Off-the Shelf Bathroom Cabinetry
Custom cabinetry for the bathroom has been specifically designed to suit your tastes, preferences and the dimensions of the space. You have the option of selecting from any number of benchtop options, cabinetry finishes as well as handles for a unique look. Off-the-shelf bathroom cabinetry however, is available in a set range of size options, finishes and colours. These items are sometimes more cost effective than customised bathroom cabinetry solutions (this can vary of course depending on the specific brand of cabinetry and materials used).
Bathroom Rough-in and Fit off
The term ‘rough-in’ refers to the stage of your bathroom renovation where plumbing pipes and electrical components are installed in the walls prior to the installation of the plasterboard. The fit-off stage occurs later on in the process where bathroom plumbing and electrical fittings are installed and connected to the services that were previously installed within the walls of the space.
Bathroom Basins Types
Bathroom basins are available in an immense range of options, each providing its own unique style to your next bathroom renovation project. Popular options include:
- Undermount Basins: The basin is installed with its lip being concealed by the vanity benchtop. These types of basins usually cannot be installed with a laminate or timber benchtop but are an excellent fit for stone benchtops or solid surface worktops for example.
- Benchmount Basins/Above Counter Basins: These types of basins offer a decorative, feature element in the bathroom. They sit on top of the vanity benchtop and are often installed with either a tall mixer spout or a wall mixer.
- Semi Recessed Basins: A semi recessed basin includes a cutout on the rear of the basin that can be installed with its front face protruding out of the benchtop and the back end of the basin being concealed. These types of basins are usually a great solution for bathroom designs where the user’s mobility capabilities need to be addressed.
- Integrated Basins: An integrated basin is made of the same material as your benchtop, providing a seamless finish between the worktop and the basin itself.
- Wall Mounted Basins & Pedestal Basins: These decorative options are an excellent solution in smaller bathroom design schemes or in powder room spaces. A wall mounted basin is mounted directly onto the wall without any benchtop or vanity beneath it. This type of basin will often include a decorative bottle trap below it which can be matched with your bathroom’s metallic finishes for a cohesive look. A pedestal basin sits on a column and is secured in place in the bathroom.
A basin mixer is a type of tap fitting that combines both hot and cold water into the single spout. The fitting is controlled by a single lever rather than separate hot and cold fittings.
A bottle trap is an element of your basin’s plumbing that is designed to block odors from being released into the home from the plumbing system. These can either be made of traditional PVC for hidden bottle trap installations or metallic finishes (such as chrome, matte black, etc.) for exposed bottle trap installations.
The label: WC on a bathroom floorplan refers to Water Closet, i.e. the toilet.
These types of toilets include a cistern that is built into the wall. The flush buttons are installed on the wall, above the pan. The cistern mechanism is accessed by removing the buttons and face plate for simple servicing if required. These types of toilets are an excellent choice for those after a modern or contemporary look in the bathroom and are also ideal for small bathroom designs thanks to their compact size.
When it comes to selecting a new shower system, there are several different options available to choose from including hand-held showers, twin shower and rain showerheads. A hand-held shower will include a hose feature that allows you more flexibility in their use in comparison to fixed showerheads. These systems are also rather handy for cleaning the shower and shower screen! A twin shower will include both a handheld shower as well as a fixed shower rose for more flexibility while a rain showerhead is often installed much higher than traditional showers and offers a gentler water pressure to create a rain-like effect.
Shower Screens: Frameless, Semi-Frameless and Framed Options
Shower screens are available in a vast range of options, allowing you to choose the perfect fit for your needs and style preferences. Clear glazing is perhaps the most popular choice however ribbed glass and opaque or textured glass solutions are also available. Although there are many readily available shower screen options available in set dimensions, a custom shower screen provides a more specific approach to the home and allows you complete freedom in the style and size. Options in shower screens include frameless glass (the glass panel includes no surrounding frame), semi-frameless options (screens include a partial frame for support) and completely framed options.
Shower Base & Shower Pan
The term shower base refers to the substructure of the shower area that channels water into the drain; this is most often made using a cement mixture. A shower pan on the other hand specifically refers to the flooring of the shower itself and can either be tiled using shower-safe floor tiles or can be a moulded polymarble base.
A floor screed is a mixture of cement and sand that is laid as a bathroom floor base to provide a perfectly level and smooth finish for a neater flooring solution. The floor screed can be sloped at specific angles to lead excess water into the drain, being an ideal solution for wet room style bathroom designs or stepless shower areas.
As the name suggests, a stepless shower is a specific type of shower layout that includes no step or lip between the bathroom floor and the shower itself, creating a seamless ‘walk-in’ shower experience. This design style will require some level of preparation in order to create a perfectly smooth floor that is angled (screeded) correctly to allow water to run off into the drain.
Bathtubs are available in a wide range of options to suit different styles, budgets and bathroom configurations. The popular freestanding bathtubs for example can be found in ultra-modern styles using a range of different materials, from natural stone, acrylic or solid surface materials for example. Spa baths are another solution for use in the bathroom these types of tubs will include jets that release pressurised water for a massage-effect in the tub.
Waterproofing a bathroom adds a protective barrier that will prevent moisture from penetrating your bathroom’s sub-floor and walls. A waterproofing membrane is applied to the bathroom walls prior to tiling to ensure adequate protection of the structural elements of the walls and flooring.
Wet Room Bathroom Design
A wet room style of bathroom will usually keep the wet areas of the bathroom separated from elements such as the toilet and the vanity unit, keeping the shower and bathtub sectioned off with a partition (usually a glass shower screen). This style of bathroom can be extremely beneficial for users with mobility issues as the wet areas of the bathroom can be designed to be spacious and simple to access without any tripping hazards. A wet room layout will often include a screeded flooring that is slightly sloped to a large grate, allowing any excess water to easily escape the room. It it important to note that style of bathroom design can sometime attract a higher cost to create properly as there will be an increased amount of waterproofing and tiling required.
Bathroom Wall Tiles, Floor Tiles & Feature Tiles
When selecting your new bathroom tiles, you will find an endless selection of options available to choose from. These include: porcelain tiles, ceramic tiles, glass tiles, mosaic tiles, natural stone tiles, handmade tiles and concrete tiles (also referred to as encaustic tiles).
Porcelain Tiles & Ceramic Tiles
Porcelain and ceramic tiles are both made of the same raw ingredients: sand, clay and talc. The difference between these two tile options occurs in the kiln firing process; once each batch of tiles is shaped and any decorative finishes applied, the tiles are baked in a kiln at extreme temperatures to remove all moisture and create a hard and durable surface.
Porcelain tiles are baked at significantly higher temperatures than ceramic tiles and for a longer period of time. This intense heat and extended baking time results in a tile that is almost completely non-porous. These tiles are resistant to moisture, scratching, heat and staining, making them ideal for busy homes. Thanks to their density and strength, you will find that most porcelain tile collections are suitable for use as a bathroom floor tile and will not require sealing.
Ceramic tiles on the other hand are baked at a lower temperature for a shorter amount of time. These tiles are usually porous if left in their raw state, meaning that liquid or powder spills can penetrate into the body of the tile and cause discolouraton, staining or damage to occur. Glazed ceramic tiles however, will have a glaze applied to them prior to being baked. During the baking process, this glaze forms an almost glass-like protective layer across the surface of the tile, protecting it from moisture and staining. When glazed, ceramic tiles will not require sealing as they will be protected against staining and moisture when installed correctly. If the tiles are not glazed however, these will be porous and as such, will require sealing in order to keep them adequately protected.
Glass tiles have long been a favourite choice for use in the bathroom thanks to their hygienic qualities as well as their elegant and timeless look. Mosaic glass tiles are perhaps the most popular format as their smaller size and endless colour options allow for a range of exciting bathroom design solutions to be achieved. These tiles are most often used as a wall tile in the bathroom to add a glamorous touch however, you will find many collections of glass tiles that can also be comfortably used as a flooring solution. Enameled glass tiles for example can be used in the bathroom to create a smooth yet tactile flooring that is incredibly comfortable underfoot.
Aside from being a wonderfully hygienic option that allows for an endless range of creative design solutions to be achieved, glass tiles also provide sustainable benefits in the construction industry. Glass is a material that can be recycled again and again without limits, making it an excellent choice for use in the home. Glass tiles can usually be recycled at the end of their use to create something new. You also have the option of choosing from recycled glass tile collections for an eco-friendly approach to your bathroom renovation.
Mosaic tiles offer an exceptional choice for the bathroom, allowing for the creation of a vast range of designer solutions. Thanks to their small size, mosaic tiles can easily be wrapped around curved surfaces and laid in tight areas (such as a shower niche for example). Mosaic tiles are available in a wide variety of materials from traditional glass options to natural stone and more.
Natural Stone Tiles & Terrazzo Tiles
Natural stone tiles continue to be a timeless choice for the home, providing an ultra-luxurious, durable and long lasting finish. Natural stone tiles can be found in a variety of different options from marbles and basalt to granite and more. Being natural materials, these tiles will require a certain level of care and maintenance in order to ensure they are well protected against staining and moisture while also requiring specific types of cleaning products that are gentle enough for natural stone.
Terrazzo tiles were first created as a means of using up leftover pieces of natural stone or glass from the design and construction industry, offering these materials a second lease on life. Assorted chips of natural stones such as marble or granite as well as coloured glass pieces were embedded into a wet cement tile. The tiles would then be dried out, creating an ultra-durable and long lasting material. Traditional terrazzo tiles continue to be made in this fashion, offering a durable solution for all areas of the home, including the bathroom.
Handmade tiles include options in ceramic (both glazed and unglazed varieties), terracotta or concrete. These tiles are made entirely by hand, from the mixing process to shaping the tiles as well as applying patterns or glazes and finally, to baking them. Handmade tiles offer an irresistibly tactile element to any interior design scheme as each individual tile is unique from the next as a result of the hand-making process; Variations can occur in their colour, texture, shape and size, creating a stylish patchwork effect in your home. These tiles are often used as a stylish kitchen splashback solution, as a feature bathroom wall tile or as a decorative wall tile solution in other areas of the home such as entryways or dining spaces.
Concrete tiles (also referred to as encaustic tiles) are steepd in a long and rich history spannign hundreds of years. These tiles continue to be created using traditional methods today with artisans around the world passing down their expert skills from one generation to the next. Wet cement is coloured with pigments and then poured into stencils (or sometimes completely ‘freestyled’ with the artisan creating a completely custom and unique piece without the use of a stencil) and then passed through a hydraulic press to create a smooth and even surface finish while removing any air bubbles trapped within the tile itself. The tiles are then left to harden, resulting in a hard wearing and incredibly durable tile that can be used as a wall or floor finish throughout the home. When selecting bathroom floor tiles, it is often recommended that encaustic tiles are avoided as a shower base option as chemicals in cleansers and shampoos can damage or discolour these tiles. Excess exposure to direct streams of water are also not ideal when it comes to encaustic tiles however, these tiles can be used as a floor or wall tile outside of the shower.
Tile Slip Rating
A tile’s slip rating measures just how slippery a floor tile can be when moisture or oil is applied to its surface. In accordance with relevant Australian Standards, residential interior spaces (such as the bathroom) do not require strict adhesion to specific slip ratings meaning you have more freedom in what types of materials and finishes you choose to include in your bathroom renovation as a flooring solution. There are however, strict measurements in place for commercial and retail properties with different types of public buildings requiring different slip ratings in order to meet Australian Standards. For more information on Tile Ratings, visit Perini Tiles.
Epoxy Grout for Tiles
Epoxy grout for tiles is a modern grouting solution that is made up of pigments, epoxy resin, silica fillers and hardener. This type of grout provides a low maintenance option as it is resistant to staining, fading and moisture when applied and maintained correctly. It is important to note that harsh cleaning products should not be used on an epoxy grout (such as bleach for example) as they can compromise the product’s quality and integrity. A quality epoxy grout will allow for a virtually maintenance-free grouting solution however as it provides as non-porous solution that can easily be kept clean and tidy.