The Many Benefits of Barrier-Free Showers

Explore the nuances of and best practices for creating these trending shower spaces
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By Jeannette Fitzgerald

Types of Barrier-Free Bathrooms: Dry/Wet versus Wet

When designing a barrier-free bathroom space, perhaps the first question that will need to be addressed is whether the bathroom is intended to be a traditional dry/wet space or a full-on wet room. The traditional dry/wet application refers to a bathroom where some space is designed to get wet and manage water, and other spaces are considered dry and not equipped. The wet areas require waterproofing elements and a drain. In a wet room, the entire bathroom is equipped to manage water, which means that the entire bathroom is waterproofed and sloped toward the drain, which is often located in the center of the room or against one of the walls.

While the combination dry/wet space has certainly been the de facto type of residential bathroom designed, the wet room is gaining momentum, especially as barrier-free and open showers continue to occupy space as the hottest bathroom design trends. In a 2020 House Beautiful article titled “What is a Wet Room Anyway?” Dan DiClerico, a home expert for HomeAdvisor, explains: “A wet-room bathroom is a bathroom where all or most of the surfaces are intended to get wet. It is a very space-efficient strategy, since it allows you to cram more functionality—open shower, tub, toilet, vanity—into the same amount of space.”

Beyond space efficiency, a bathroom that is equipped to handle water everywhere also makes a lot of sense, especially for anyone who has ever dealt with an overflowing sink or toilet or other plumbing issue that so often leads to water trespassing into other parts of the house and causing damage. In fact, in many places, like Europe, it is code mandated to have drainage in certain dry areas, such as near a toilet, sink, or water heater. When a water-related emergency strikes, having a floor drain handy offers a simple fix for something that could have been time- and money-consuming to remedy.

There is also an argument that can be made for a wet room being easier to clean. In bathrooms without floor drains, cleaning a bathroom floor requires both the effective application and removal of the cleaning solution. In a wet room situation, the bathroom can be sprayed down and squeegeed. The floor drain takes care of removing the water from the room.

A linear drain is an ideal drainage solution for both dry/wet and wet barrier-free applications.

 

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Originally published in Architectural Record
Originally published in May 2021

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