by Robert Sears
June 23, 2015

Because most accidents happen in and around the tub, tub-to-shower conversions are the most popular trend in remodeling. The European Wet Room is a curbless shower for tile and commercial-grade vinyl that removes the biggest physical barrier in the bath. The curbless shower opens up the room and eliminates obstacles. This new product solution is reinventing the bath. The European Wet Room was invented in London around 1980 as a product solution for health care. The UK has an extensive medical benefit program, and consumers in need were often provided with barrier-free baths and kitchens. There was a paradigm shift that nobody saw coming; the bathroom became a carwash. The bathroom was no longer compartmentalized so how the consumer showered changed. They were utilizing hand sprays in the shower and sometimes water was misdirected outside the shower zone and onto the floor. Because the entire floor was waterproof, it did not matter. The new shower gave the consumer freedom and independence. The system was brought to the United States initially as a solution for health care, the physically challenged and aging in place. It works extremely well in these environments because it is a simple solution that gives people freedom. The design community embraced the system not only for functionality, but for the styling, adding tile instead of vinyl. The tile system changed the entire look of the bathroom. The European Wet Room is now trending as a design statement. It has become a functional system that is referred to as Universal Design. For all this to work, we have to create a construction system that is curbless and reliable, but equally as important, we have to make the whole room waterproof. The European Wet Room is a construction system that is made of two primary components; a structural, load-bearing shower pan and a latex waterproofing. The wet room pan can work in conjunction with timber frame or concrete applications residentially and commercially. The most common situation residentially is timber frame construction. The key to a curbless shower is to keep the horizontal plane at zero degrees between the shower pan and the threshold of the door. This is achieved by taking the sub floor out and replacing it with a premade size wet room shower pan that mimics your shower area. The wet room shower pan is placed directly on the joists. Because it is structural and load-bearing, it is presloped to assure proper drainage. The contractor then begins the waterproofing process. Crack isolation tape is adhered to the seams and joints with liquid latex. Then the shower walls, the entire bathroom floor and six inches up the bathroom walls are painted with the latex waterproofing. Two coats are applied, in a sense tanking the room like a fishbowl. At this point, thinset and the tile are applied, creating a space that is open and tells everyone you put a lot of thought into your bathroom design. Concrete applications are just as simple and very popular. Another popular trend is people moving from the second floor to the first floor and having the primary bath on the first floor. If you don't have a basement with timber frame, your house is on a concrete slab. The wet room shower pan is templated on the concrete floor and the concrete is removed by running parallel lines with a circular saw the length of the pan. The concrete is chiseled out and the presloped pan is recessed into the concrete. After that, the room is waterproofed in the same manner. The bathroom has changed and has become a retreat for many people. The curbless shower has changed bathroom design completely, and it is a value proposition for all people.