Updating a bathroom can be fun, but don’t get too carried away with style over substance.
Last week, I had to gut my (very 1970s avocado) bathroom sooner than expected – when the airing cupboard had to be enlarged, the whole bathroom layout had to change.
I’d bought a bath that, I thought, could be squeezed into the new space, but it didn’t take account of plastering and tiling.
My builder said the bath would have to be cut into the wall, but then decided the wall was too unstable and would have to come down – or the bath would have to go.
Whatever your views on avocado bathrooms, this episode just goes to show the problems that not thinking through purchases can cause.
And, it seems, I’m not alone in this.
A new survey for bathroom brand iflo (visit www.iflopromotion.co.uk for a chance to win a bathroom) has revealed that style is the most important factor for homeowners planning a new bathroom, with more practical considerations often overlooked.
In fact, more than 60 per cent of respondents in the south of England said they wouldn’t ask a plumber for advice when selecting bathroom products.
“Bathrooms are the most complicated room in any home,” says iflo’s Jo Axtell.
“It’s not just about choosing a look or style, but also the pipework, available space, water usage and water pressure, which can all impact on how successful the resulting room is.
“Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t realise this until they have a new shower that isn’t powerful enough or taps that look great but are difficult to turn off with wet hands.”
It can be hard to think through all the implications of purchases for a new bathroom though, especially if you’re making big changes, but remember a good plumber will come to your home and advise you.
Generally speaking, keeping the bathroom layout as it is should make replacing the suite straightforward, but changing the layout can complicate things.
Unless you have solid floors, getting water where you want in the room shouldn’t be hard, but altering the waste pipes can be more of a problem, with changes to the toilet waste often the most difficult.
Sometimes wastes have to be surface mounted, but re-jigging the layout may avoid this (again, a good plumber will talk you through the different options to get the right balance of style and practicality).
Different layouts and products may have cost implications in terms of labour and materials, which is another reason to consult a plumber.
You may not realise it, but the type of boiler your home has can also affect what you buy for your new bathroom, particularly the shower.
Many of us have a combination or combi boiler, a high-pressured system that heats mains water on demand and doesn’t require a tank or cylinder.
Pressurised/unvented systems are similar. They’re also high pressure and provide hot water on demand, but they do have a cylinder.
For the above systems, a mixer shower, unpumped electric shower or unpumped digital shower should be suitable.
However, if you have a low-pressure system, usually using a timer, tank and cylinder to get hot water, your choices are a mixer, electric, power, or pumped digital shower.
So next time you splash out on a new bathroom, bear all this information in mind. While it’s important to make sure your new bathroom looks good, you don’t want practicality to be a wash-out.