There are fixtures to suit every kind of bathroom. To pick your way through the bathroom maze, first, identify your priorities and your personal style. Make a wish list of your ideal fittings, then whittle it down according to your budget, lifestyle and the space available. If you don’t know what style you want, gather bathroom brochures, books and magazines and mark the pictures that appeal – you’ll soon see if you lean towards. modern or traditional shapes.
Popular bathtub materials include cast iron, enamelled steel, pressed acrylic and cast synthetics. Cast iron is heavy and stable with a lustrous porcelain enamelled finish; enamelled steel is lighter, and pressed acrylic lighter still. Cast synthetics mimic cast iron but are lighter and warm to the touch.
Most built-in baths are rectangular and available in a range of standard sizes, but corner baths and tapered baths are an option in small or awkwardly shaped rooms. Freestanding baths made from cast iron or cast synthetics come in modern oval shapes as well as the traditional roll-top form. While antique-style tubs stand on decorative legs, the modern ones have chunky wooden legs and rest on the floor, or on wooden or stone stands. To make the bath the main feature in the room, consider bespoke tubs made from stone, wood or stainless steel or an antique tub in ceramic or copper.
In Europe as well as America, a shower is now regarded as an essential piece of bathroom equipment, in addition to or instead of a bathtub. A separate shower enclosure is the ideal, but if space is tight, an over bath shower is a practical alternative. Shower enclosures consist of a shower tray and a waterproof surround. Usually, the shower tray is made from steel or a rigid synthetic material. The surround can be simply an alcove tiled or faced with stone or some other waterproof material, an enclosure formed by two glass or acrylic panels or a self-contained shower cubicle. The door may be hinged, but, if space is restricted, choose bi-fold, sliding or pivoting doors that open without encroaching on the room.
The fittings that deliver the shower spray draw on stored hot water or heat the water as required. Showers that use stored water offer the greatest choice of fittings, including fixed-head and hand-held sprays. More powerful showers that incorporate body sprays, foot sprays and deluge sprays may need a pump to increase water pressure.
Washbasins are many and varied. The choice is between a pedestal basin which rests on a ceramic column that hides the pipework, a cantilevered wall-mounted basin, a vanity basin mounted under or integrated into a countertop, a console basin that rests on or is built into a decorative stand, and a countertop basin, rectangular, oval or round, which stands on a shelf or tabletop. Most basins are made from glazed ceramic but other materials such as glass, stone, cast synthetics, stainless steel and wood are becoming more widely available.
Lavatories and bidets are floor-standing or wall mounted. Ceramic is the most prevalent material for these fixtures, although stainless steel is sometimes preferred for bathrooms with an industrial aesthetic.
Taps are available in a wide range of traditional, classic and contemporary designs to match the baths and basins they fill. Finishes include chrome, nickel, gold and various antique effects and the most popular configurations are separate hot and cold pillar taps, three-hole mixers with handles to control hot and cold water and a separate spout and the monobloc or single lever mixer tap which controls the temperature and flow of the water.