Bathroom Interior Designadmin
Conberg Ehitus was asked about bathroom finishing materials. Ert Soasepp, our CEO, gives some answers.
What kind of bathroom finishing materials are popular among clients and what do you think their choices are based on?
In general one of the main trends when constructing or renovating bathrooms is to use tiles as finishing material for floors and walls. Glazed tiles are dominant and natural stone is used minimally to create the effect. The construction of wet rooms has become more creative over the years. Quite often people order additional design elements, for example, plasterboards, niches, special planes, which are later finished with tiles. Most clients want to achieve optically more spacious rooms and therefore light-colored tiles are used, which can be combined with different colors and grout tones.
Based on our clients’ feedback, we have understood that finding the best-suited tiles for their bathrooms is very difficult. It means that the purchase of materials is often emotion-based and the price is secondary when trying to find the best solutions.
Environment-friendly and alternative materials are used very little because people worry that materials will not last in wet rooms or require too much maintenance. Innovation in material use is seen when the client gives interior designer freedom in making choices. Alternative finishing materials include wood, structural plaster, paints, glass, natural stone, marble, photo wallpapers, epoxy coatings, etc.
What rules and specifics should we know when we are choosing traditional/alternative materials for bathroom construction and what are the most common mistakes?
When using alternative materials, we should first find out whether the manufacturer allows the use of materials in their untreated form in wet rooms. We have to be especially careful with organic materials because moisture damage promotes the growth of fungi that feed on organic substances. We should also take into account that there are no one-design-fits-all solutions. We should not blindly follow the advice of self-proclaimed advisors, forums, freelance contractors, or customer assistants in the construction trade. The final solution has to be integral and take into account building structures, water barriers of the room, ventilation, other utility networks, building design, usage of the room, appliances, and manufacturer’s requirements for materials.
All special designs have to be approved by materials manufacturers, who provide warranty for their products, and construction workers should not make decisions on their own. We should not forget instructions on maintenance. Some materials require annual maintenance, special cleaning agents, or should not have direct contact with some substances. For example, we had a case when a client spilled red wine on untreated light marble and by the next morning, dark stains had seeped into the stone. The removal of those stains was very expensive.
In case of traditional water resistant finishing materials we should follow the manufacturer’s instructions on installation to ensure quality results.
There are various ceramic tiles, glazed as well as porcelain tiles, and of different sizes. What are the aspects we should pay attention to achieve expected results?
When choosing tile size, we should follow this rule: small room, small tiles, large room, large tiles. The size of the tile should be agreed upon before the installation of sewerage because tile size determines the drainage solution. With larger tiles, it is very difficult to tile required slopes and in that case, channel drainage design is needed. It is possible to combine different size tiles and use smaller tiles around the drainage. Also important is the roughness of the tile surface in order to minimize the risks of slipping on a wet tile.
When we compare glazed and porcelain tiles, then the main advantage of porcelain tiles is their resistance to wear. At the same time, private clients do not use wet rooms so heavily. In my experience, during 12 years of work, there has not been a case of tile glaze being worn away. Clients are most likely to renovate when they want to renew interior design, or there has been a change in interior design trends, also when they reconstruct their rooms or tile grout is soiled.
Cement-based grouts as compared to epoxy are short-lived and they soil more quickly.
When choosing between porcelain, handmade and natural tiles we recommend the client to determine the production deviation of the materials in order to achieve expected results. We had a case when natural stone tiles, with 2 and a half months of delivery time, had more than a 10mm thickness difference. The tiles were diamond-shaped instead of rectangular shape and due to tile contours, the joint areas had sharp raised edges which could be dangerous when stepped on with a barefoot. Installation of named tiles was very costly, as each piece was reshaped in thickness and shape, the top layer was cut and joint areas were ground smooth. The result was beautiful, but if the Client had known the final price of the work, he would not have ordered that product.
Clients expect symmetrical and flawless results. When working with special materials we have to consider that each piece might be different and installation is not as easy as putting pre-cut wallpaper on the walls for the continuous pattern. Working with special materials is craftsmanship for the construction worker. The work itself could be of very high-quality and impressive, but it cannot be judged by the same standards as the traditional glazed tile surface.
What kind of non-traditional solutions have you worked on and what are the limitations of a wet room? There are homes with hardwood floors or wallpaper on walls in bathrooms, is it a viable solution, and would you accept these projects?
Today we have a large variety of materials available on the market. Therefore, when combining the right materials and solutions, all innovative bathroom design ideas are feasible. Special solutions require expert-level knowledge and practice, in order to avoid permanent mistakes.