Choosing Bathroom Fixtures and Materials

By Robert Robillard on Bathrooms, Interior Repairs

Bathroom Fixture GuideBasco shower door

When choosing the bathroom fixtures and materials one of the most important aspects to consider is the quality construction and finish on the product you select.

In the last ten years bathroom fixtures and materials have changed dramatically.   Energy efficiency has become a focus with companies producing more efficient flushing toilets, faucets and shower heads.

The products and fixtures you choose for your bathroom will ultimately determine how the room  will function and taking the time to research quality products will pay you dividends with longevity of you purchase.

Getting Started:

Develop a list of fixtures and furniture needed for your new bathroom.   For example; a separate shower and tub requires double the fixtures as well as a glass enclosure as opposed to a combination tub and shower enclosure.

If you are planning a remodel take the time to learn  how to plan a bathroom remodel prior to tackling a project.   This ensures you’re ready for the hidden conditions and unforeseen issues that always creep into a project.

  • Purchase and dig through consumer home magazines  as well as interior and architectural design magazines.
  • Visit design blogs and manufacturer websites to look at the newest fixtures and to read reviews on features and how they perform.
  • Visit home and plumbing centers to look at actual life size displays, check out the fit and finish quality as well as see what it costs.
  • Communicate directly with your contractor and plumber.  Many times he or she has extensive knowledge and experience with quality products.
  • Consider hiring a professional designer to assist you in the process.BASCO

Bathtubs and Whirlpools:

How much room you have will be a big factor in the tub you choose. Other factors to consider are; how big you want the tub, where the drain needs to be located, whether or not you will be installing glass doors, walls and surrounds.

Choose a tub that not only looks great but is also functional.  A modern Acrylic Tub like the American Standard Studio Collection, features the EcoSilent Combo Massage System for the ultimate home spa experience that uses 50 percent less energy and produces 70 percent less noise. The air bath system offers a variety of massage options ranging from a gentle air bubble massage to an invigorating water jet massage.

Showers:

When I think of glass doors I immediately go back to my childhood and think about the sliding glass doors that were affixed on top of tubs.   While those types of doors still exist today’s walk in showers are becoming the norm in higher end bathrooms.  Large luxurious walk in showers seem to dominate with custom glass enclosures.

Shower options are only limited to your imagination and budget.   Many folks  showers have spa like steam systems, music, lights, seating, rain-simulating shower heads, body sprays, hand held sprayers enclosed in custom glass enclosures.

Glass options such as the open look of clear glass to the distinctive patterns of rain, etched, fluted or beveled tempered glass.   I work with Basco shower Doors for my shower remodels because they custom make any style and size shower enclosure that my customer needs.

Sinks:

Sinks come in all shapes, sizes, styles and colors.  They can look like a vessel or basin or have a simple  minimalist look similar to the  American Standard Studio Under-counter Sink which is known for its unique curved basin.  Under-mount sinks are popular in bathrooms with granite counter tops and are easy to clean and offer a striking, modern look.  american standard

Faucets and Shower heads:

Shower heads can be a simple no adjustment spray heat to an elaborate rain drop head.    Many showers these days are also being plumbed with hand sprayers.  Most hand sprayers offer a selector button on the hand grip that makes it easy to change spray patterns, even with wet, soapy hands.  Each setting offers different spray patterns ― from an invigorating massage spray to a gentle aerated spray ― can be changed with the flick of a finger.american standard

don’t overlook the shower valve.  The valves are installed behind the wall but are very important to the functionality of your shower.  Thermostatic valves can be one handled or two.  Two handled vales are used with hand sprayers and and have a built-in diverter for easier, more convenient operation of both the hand shower and the rain shower head with a cleaner, more attractive installation. This type of valve is more economical to install, and the thermostatic feature prevents scalding and loss of pressure.

Sink Faucet can be sleek and modern or  incorporate iconic, turn-of-the-century design details while offering water saving, reliable performance. Today’s quality faucets are constructed of durable cast brass and ceramic disc valves to provide long term use and drip-free performance.

Toilets:

The sky is the limit with toilet selection to simple design to the elegant, standard height to tall and the ever popular elongated bowls design.  Many manufacturers offer toilets as part of a collection that match sinks, tub and bidets.  Toilets today can have dual flush or even automated features that rival robotics.

Cabinets:American Standard bath

Vanity cabinets today are more like kitchen cabinets and pieces of furniture.  From stock cabinets at the big box stores to semi-custom and custom cabinets the choices are many.  Look for a cabinet that is well made, has solid dovetail drawer construction and high quality drawer slides.  Many of today’s vanity cabinet drawers have self closing and anti slam mechanisms built into the drawer slide which is a nice feature.

Counter-tops:

Probably the most popular counter top these days is granite but there are many, many different alternatives to look at and choose from.

Lighting:

Lighting can be as simple as a surface mounted over head light, recessed lighting or wall mounted sconces.  I’ve even seen chandeliers in large luxury bathrooms.  One thing to think about is that the bathroom should have general lighting as well as task lighting for applying make up or looking into the mirror.  don’t forget lighting over the tub or in the shower.   A combination of both is usually the best solution.American Standard

Flooring:

Most bathrooms have a masonry style flooring like ceramic tile, marble or slate.  Wood floors are popular in half baths but tend to get too damaged with water from the tub and shower.

Floor Heat:

When choosing floor heating – it’s important to know that the heating only goes in the walking area of the room so make a plan or better yet, work with a company that will do the plan for you – saves you time and you make sure that the experts are looking at your project with their critical eye and expertise. You will want to make sure that you get floor heating on any area you will be walking or standing. Trust me once you step on a warm floor, you never want to step on a cold floor again. Think about the feet!

Then think about control. The best thing about radiant floor heating is how smart it is – uses only the energy needed for that room and when you need to be in the room.   So, make sure you get a programmable thermostat and make sure it get’s programmed for the specific days and times you are in there. You’d be surprised to know that most folks just don’t bother programming their thermostat which means extras dollars going towards a heating bill that can be avoided. LAVA Warmly yours infrared heater (540x571)

Even better work with a company that does the programming for you. There are two ways it can be done – Preset at the warehouse or Home-Set where a rep comes out and does it right at your home.

Now that you’ve got the fun stuff out of the way, it’s time to get serious. Most of us need a bit of help when we are installing floor heating. Make sure you do business with a company that’s there all the time – yep 24/7 – because think about it – you are usually installing in the evening or weekend. Calling a company and getting a return the next business day is just not gonna cut the mustard.

Finally, look closely at the warranty that the company provides. Does it include replacement of the flooring if something goes wrong that’s their fault? If not, pass ’em by. Look for a no non-sense warranty and rest assured that you won’t be stuck with added costs in the unfortunate event that something goes wrong.

 

Towel warmers:Infinity

A lot of European hotels get it right when it comes to luxury in a bathroom and we can learn a few things from them here back home and get the same result by adding one simple addition to a bathroom – a towel warmer. Towel warmers guarantee that your warm shower does not have an abrupt ending with that cold air hitting you the moment you exit the shower. You can find a variety of styles and finishes that suite the look and feel of your bathroom. Usually they come in two ways – hard wired to a control or plug-in. The hard wired gives a more finished look and the plug-in versions are more flexible in location. Sizing is important too. Make sure you have the room for it on the wall – if not, look for a free standing model. 

Accessibility Options:

With more and more people deciding to stay home and “aging in place.” the idea of remodeling in order to increase accessibility  has become more popular.

Some remodels are based on changes in family life such as a parent or a child moving in, others are based on a pent-up demand for creating a dream home. Top priorities for most people today are long-lasting materials, sustainability, style and livable floor plans.

Kitchens and bathrooms are the most popular rooms to remodel in order to achieve easy accessibility and comfort.   changes such as first floor bedrooms, bathrooms, larger doorways, lever handles, grab bars and smooth floor transitions are just a few to list.

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor / Writer / Video Talent

Robert Robillard is a general contractor, carpenter and operates a remodeling company located in Concord, MA. He is the editor of ConcordCarpenter.com and ToolBoxBuzz, and a has a weekly column in the Sunday Boston Globe. Rob is a recognized leader in tool and how-to information for building professionals, he hosts the Concord Carpenter Cable TV Show, offering advice on home repairs and maintenance. On his website, Rob uses his knowledge and experience to help and educate on best practices in the remodeling industry. His motto: “Well done is better than well said!”. Contact Rob at: info@aconcordcarpenter.com

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