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Planning a Bathroom – The Devil is in the Detail

plan wall tile layoutI planned my new en-suite bathroom back in February and was just waiting for my builder to complete another job but then, for various reasons, I have had to find a new builder. That has taken several months, for one reason because all the builders seem to be very busy but also because I am looking for someone who can not only help with Phase 1 of my building works (that includes the en-suite) but also all the other work that will take place over the next couple of years as funds allow.
I did think, at one point, it might be quicker to just get a plumber in but part of the renovation of the bathroom includes knocking a hole in the outside wall and putting a window in. Surprisingly, when it was converted from part of another bedroom 30 years ago the previous owners did not consider putting in a window.

 

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I do now have a builder on board (hurrah) who can do the bathroom and one other smallish job before Christmas (hurrah again) and can do some of the more major work (knocking down walls, installing new boiler, taking down dangerously leaning chimney stack etc) in the new year.

 

Having installed 2 new bathrooms before I am fairly picky about what I want (no compromises this time) but I am also aware of what can go wrong and know how important the little details are – they make all the difference.

 

The Shower

So the old bath and overly large basin will be going (as, in fact, will everything in the room) and will be replaced by a sleek, semi-frameless shower enclosure – sadly there is no room for a lovely walk-in showering space, or at least not if I want the bathroom floor to remain dry. But I have found a lovely Mistley shower enclosure with minimal framing and fittings that doesn’t feel like a compromise. Because of the position of the waste I will not be pairing it with Mistley’s own shower tray but probably using something like a Just Trays JT40.

 

This is one of the details I am fussy about – I don’t want the waste to be positioned where my feet will be when showering – not too much to ask you would think but it’s surprising how many shower trays have the wastes in awkward positions, particularly on the long side of a rectangular enclosure.

 

I was tempted by the sleek Kaldewei enamelled steel trays that fit flush to the floor but I would end up standing on the waste – sure they have thought about this and it is flush with the surface but I am still not convinced it’s a good idea.

 

The only issue I have with the Just Trays trays (!) is that they come complete with fast flow waste – the fast flow waste itself is not the problem and I suspect they supply the waste to avoid problems with standard wastes being fitted when the tray is only 10mm deep. (Check out some of the DIY forums and you will see what a common problem this is). But no, my issue is with the look and quality of the top cover of the waste. It is chrome plated plastic, whoever thought of that one. I would gladly pay more to have a proper metal cap and really, how much more could that be. McAlpine do some lovely chrome grille-type fast flow wastes; very urban, so they are currently top of my wish list.

 

In the end I will probably choose a similar tray to the JT40 from another manufacturer where I am not paying for a waste I don’t want. But a chrome plated plastic waste cover just isn’t right when I am having an expensive thermostatic valve and shower head in solid chrome-plated brass and good quality taps.

 

Still haven’t quite decided which valve and shower head to go for (all those little details to consider) but it is likely to be either Matki, Cifial or Crosswater. The only thing I am sure of is that I want a fixed head. Having lived with one for over 10 years I know I don’t want or need a hand held hose as well.

 

Which manufacturer?

 

In many ways it would be nice to find everything I want from a single manufacturer. Simpsons, for example, do the lovely Crosswater brassware and I have chosen their Bauhaus Castellon countertop basin and their Stream II WC so I should probably just go for the Crosswater taps, shower valve and head. But then their shower enclosures and trays are not suited to my space and once you start looking at other manufacturers then the minor details start to look not so minor after all and you might as well get everything that is just right. After all I won’t be replacing the bathroom anytime soon.

 

What Else?

 

I haven’t even started to get close to making a decision on the tiles and the lovely Castellon basin need a countertop, but having someone booked in to start in 2 or 3 weeks time is certainly focussing my mind – I will make those decisions – this week, definitely…

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