Bathroom guides

Before you start

It may seem counter-intuative, but heading for a bathroom showroom is not normally the first thing that one needs to do when planning a new or re-modelled bathroom. The reason for this that there is a vast array of products out there and trying to go through all of them would take weeks. Even the stores with the best customer service would be getting pretty fed up with you by that time!

Besides having the problem of too many products, one must also consider that not every product is going to work in the setting that you have for it. So, when you visit the showroom, you are going to need to be armed with a bunch of information which will help us pinpoint quite quickly what it is you are going to need. It's not that we want to get rid of you, but to remain engaged with the process, customers needs things to happen at a decent pace otherwise it is far too easy to switch off.

So, before you go looking at specific thing, you need to know a bit about the following items:

  • The size and shape of your room (after any walls to be knocked down or added are accounted for)
  • Location of water pipes and waste pipes at the moment
  • Wall and floor constuction - pipes often need to be routed through these to make a design work
  • Usage - how many people will be using the room? All adults? All about the same size and abilities? Are you renting the property out
  • An idea of what sort of style you like
  • An idea of budget and please, tell us what that is ... it makes life so much easier for everyone

Armed with the above information it will make choosing your ideal bathroom so much easier and quicker for all concerned, and you won't go away with your head spinning and being more confused than when you started.

Designing your bathroom

There is a lot to be said for a well designed bathroom, or any room for that matter. When much thought has been put into the design, although there may not be something specific that you can point to in order to display it, the room just looks right. Therefore, tip one for designing a bathroom, if you can, is to use a professional interior designer.

It's a common misconception that professional interior designers are only for the mega rich because they cost a fortune; they don't. Of course they are not free, but the additional price paid up front for their services will more than repay itself with the finished result.

If you don't want to get a professional in, you can of course do it yourself, but there are a few guidelines that you will be well advised to follow from the outset to make better and easier all round.

  • Don't rush it. Unless you absolutely have to, take your time to settle on the kind of design you want
  • Read. Get a handful of house magazines over a period of a few months to establish what is available and how trends are moving
  • Don't try to keep up with the latest footballer's mansions' design. You probably won't be able to, and they can and probably will change it again next year for the latest style. You will likely have your design for a few years longer than that
  • Stay relatively neutral with colours and shapes, they don't go in and out of fashion very often
  • Keep in mind who is going to use the room and how it is going to be used. For example, try not to put a hand basin on a pitched ceiling because you are likely to bang your head every time you use it.

The general rule of thumb is not to let magazines and TV shows rule your head. Take inspiration from what you see, but don't try to copy it, and keep in mind the usage of the room as well as how it will look.

Choosing products

A bathroom without products in it is just an empty room. Obviously. But a bathroom with good quality, well chosen products in it, is more than a standard, run-of-the-mill bathroom. Choosing the right products for the space you have available and the use they will get is absolutely key. They turn a bathroom into a stunning bathroom.

The most important thing to remember is that it is the products in a bathroom that you actually interact with on a daily basis. You may not notice for some time that window is not quite centered in a wall, and even if you did notice, there is very little you could do about it. However, you will notice on day one, use one, minute one, if the basin tap you have chosen looks great but squeaks when you turn it on, or the water pressure is too low or something like that, and you'll have to live with these items until you can afford to get them changed again, and that may be years.

So take your time in choosing products. Make sure you get the right ones for the task and that they can be operated easily by all those people who need to use them. If the room you are choosing for is to be rented out, make sure you choose products that are hard wearing - tenants tend not to care quite as much for the products - and can be easily maintained.

  • Price is important but don't let it be the deciding factor. It is often best to spend a little extra for much better quality, especially on items like taps and shower valves.
  • Bear in mind the lead time of product delivery and tie that in with your intsallation schedule
  • If you are buying a suite of products, don't mix and match from different manufacturers as there may be subtle colour differences
  • Don't buy based on the number of functions of a product if they are not going to be used. For example, hardly anyone changes the spray pattern on a shower head, so why pay more for a 5-spray version?
  • Focus on and spend money on the items you interact with and move; taps, shower valves etc. more than wash basins and baths if budget is a concern
  • Remember that bathrooms are wet, and you should get products (like cabinets) that are designed to be used in that environment
  • It may sound silly, but make sure whatever you buy can get from your front door to the room and will fit through the door when you get there

These are all common sense items, but are so often overlooked by people in the heat of the moment. Remember that we are here to help you get the right products for your new room, we are not here to sell you the most expensive thing we can, so if in doubt, just ask and we will be happy to help.

Choosing tiles and stone

One of the first things that you will notice when walking into a bathroom, or for that matter, any room, is the walls; they are all around you after all. It's important for those walls - and the floor - to look nice, and to look clean, and to complete the look and feel of the bathroom.

There are a number of choice when it comes to wall coverings, but for a bathroom which is a damp environment, you are generally limited to either paint or tiles of some description. Tiles are available in a million different colours, sizes and styles, but choosing the right one is generally a combination of which material is best for the task and which colours and styles that you like.

Some things to consider when choosing your tiles or stone:

  • Tiles or slab? Slabs are used to give a "custom" feel to the room, and have far fewer grout lines visible. They are however more expensive, more difficult to handle and they have to be custom measured and fitted
  • Match the shape and size of tiles to your room. Long narrow room often works best with long narrow tiles. Small rooms generally suit smaller tiles
  • Consider perhaps a "feature wall". Standard tiles or slab on most of the wall, but one with a splash or colour or pattern for one of the walls
  • Natural stone products require sealant to be applied periodically. It's an easy and relatively quick process but it may influence your decision on whether they are right for you
  • Often half stone and half paint in a room can work very well, and is a good way to save some money if budget becomes a concern
  • Highly textured stone or tiles can cause problems with mould and dirt build-up over time, so they need additional cleaning
  • Remember that natuaral stone is just that: natural, so, if you are looking for a uniform appearance, go for a manmade product instead
  • Often overlooked is the weight of wall coverings. If you have stud walls you may need to go for a lighter product
Natural stone is generally a little more expensive than man made, but can last considerably longer. If you are planning to re-model your own house and intend staying there for some time then it is often the most practical solution.

Whichever coverings you choose, make sure that they don't over-power the room, and give the products their own chance to shine.

Choosing an installer

The hard work is done on your part, and the products are chosen. Now you need to find yourself someone compitent to fit them and show them off in their best light. It's time to find yourself some installers.

It is important when choosing an installation team that they have experience of fitting the type of product that you have. All shower valves for example are not the same; they can be very different, and knowing the nuances of the one being fitted will save lots of time and result in a better job.

Installers should never be chosen on price alone as there are many things to look out for, as follows:

  • Experience with the types of products you have chosen, ideally products from the same manufacturers
  • Recommendations from friends who have used the same people
  • Make sure you can trust these people, they may be left alone in your house at some stage. If something doesn't "seem" right, find someone else
  • Look for official qualifications (if applicable) such as Gas Safe Register
  • Choose people that give you a proper address and a landline number
  • Make sure you can understand each other perfectly
  • Look for tradesmen that ask a lot of relevant questions when they come to visit
  • Avoid tradesmen who can start immediately or have a sudden "cancellation" - it normally means they have no work on at all
  • Never pay upfront for everything, insist on a small deposit and staged payments with at least 30% left until the job is complete and you are COMPLETELY SATISFIED and only make the stage payments when the agreed upon and scheduled work has been completed to YOUR SATISFACTION.

Most important of all: Get multiple quotes, and if there is one that is significantly lower than the others, it shows that they have not fully understood the nature of the work involved. These people should be avoided.

We have our own teams of installers who will happily quote of any work that you would like to have done. All come with references that can be viewed upon request and have portfolios of work from previous satisfied customers. Although you are under absolutely no obligation to use our teams (even if they quote for you), you can be assured that they have worked with, and fully understand most, if not all, of the products we supply and in many cases have been on the manufacturers' own training courses for installers.

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