Doing a bathroom can be costly. According to a recent study by the Housing Industry Association (HIA), the average new bathroom in 2015 to 2016 was worth $16 731 whilst the average value of a recently renovated bathroom was $17 779. Unless you can easily afford to throw that kind of money around (I certainly can’t), you’ll probably want to make sure your new bathrooms are done right, so you don’t need to spend more money, or time, to fix things.
Its also easy to get complacent if there are minor inconveniences after dealing with some unexpected side effects of various products. For example, have you ever bought a very pretty and effective tap or mixer, but then after installing it, you realise it makes a loud sound when you open up to a high flow? Yeah I don’t want that problem if it’s in the ensuite right next to my bedroom either. It’s a better problem to have in a designer laundry or an external bathroom.
There are a few bathroom mistakes that frequently occur, so we have listed some, as well as tips to proactively prevent problems
Getting a walk in shower? Ensure your bathroom isn’t super cold.
A walk in shower screen looks awesome and modern and it is super easy to clean. You’ve checked the space it needs against your sketches, and visualised it in the house, and you’re confident that the splashing is no big deal, you have the space. Now make sure your bathroom is warm enough so that your skin doesn’t freeze to “skiing in the swiss alps” temperatures every time you get wet.
For a home that gets cold, especially during our chilly winter nights, and without any additional heating in the bathroom, you’re probably going to have to deal with colder showers due to the exposed opening. We suggest any combination of the following:
- underfloor heating,
- heated towel ladders
- double glazed windows
- Make sure your room’s heat insulation is done to a top notch standard.
Rectified and non-rectified tiles are not the same size
The reason why the modern straight edge tiles are called “rectified” is pretty simple. Rectified tiles were introduced simply to rectify sizing issues! The conventional slightly rounded tiles that are also known as cushion- or rounded- edge have size variations such that a 300 x 300mm tile might really be 298 x 298mm. Rectified tiles are cut straight from larger tiles with smaller errors in the cut, for example a 600 x 600mm tile might also have a matching 300 x 300mm option with the same shade.
Rectified tiles look fresh and modern but a lot of people do not realise that the differences in sizes between rectified and non rectified add up over many grout lines and will cause issues with alignment between your walls and floor. Make sure if you are using non-rectified floors with rectified walls that you are careful about grout lines. Ask your tiler to choose the right gap sizes for you.
Freestanding baths are beautiful – make sure you can easily clean around yours
This falls into the minor inconvenience category, but its important. You don’t want to put in a freestanding bath that you can barely move every time you need to get in and clean that awkward little bit between the wall and the edge of the bath. To avoid issues with cleaning in the future:
- Ensure that there is adequate space to move the bath for when you need to clean near the wall
- Ensure the connecting hose under the bath is long enough to move the bath the distance you need it to move
- Or: prevent the need to move the bath for cleaning by getting a back to wall bath.
If you’re installing a shaving cabinet, recess it or get a long reach mixer;
If you don’t have a nice large and deep vanity sitting underneath, shaving cabinets use up a lot of space when they aren’t recessed. We strongly recommend getting shaving cabinets only if you are able to recess them, or at least have a mixer underneath with a decent reach. If you accidentally choose a mixer with a short reach, every time you need to wash your hands & face, shave or otherwise use the water so close to the edge of the sink, you risk bumping into the shaving cabinet.
If you have a small shower area, don’t use wall mounted side shelves.
If your shower is 900mm x 900mm or smaller, you might regret cramming the walls with things. To get shelf space, ask your renovator for a small in-wall niche inside the shower. This saves smacking your elbows into hard chrome objects whilst simultaneously giving you a cool looking place to hold shampoo bottles. If you can’t get a niche, get a corner shelf instead, this ensures more freedom of movement.
There are a few Australian bathroom brands that have almost reached household name status. Recognise the name Caroma, or perhaps Fowler? Chances are you do, because the little logo appears on many older toilets, so you may have seen one every time you needed to pee.
We all recognise the importance of a brand name, it is important that a strong bathroom brand delivers satisfaction and peace of mind. Over the last 16 years we have been listening intently to customers and seeing what bathroom brands have been consistent with their quality of product and promises. We hand-picked a few promising bathroom brands that have proven to be fantastic in their respective categories.
Baths and Showerscreens: Decina
Decina is one of the few Australian companies that still makes baths in Australia. That’s pretty neat, considering the vast majority of Aussie-sold baths are produced in China. Decina has been around since 1989, and has already become one of the most dominant players for baths, both free standing and inset. You can be sure their baths do not skimp on glazing quality and are very well built. Chances are, in 15 years, your bath will look very close to brand new. Decina is one of the bathroom brands that builds great shower screens too, particularly useful if you’re looking for a shower bath combo, as they have designed them to install almost effortlessly with their baths.
Showers and Tapware: Methven
A Kiwi brand, Methven has been making quality showers with a certain promise: They will guarantee their showers for life, and that is actual life, not “15 years”. In other words, they will swap it if there are any product issues as outlined in their warranty. Their showers are leaders in the category, and have cool features that work surprisingly well with Australia’s strict water usage standards. Their mixers are world class too, with some high end options offering innovative and unique features such as “evenflo”, a technology that prevents the shower scalding you when another tap is opened. Methven’s tapware all have a 15 year products and labour warranty, great for a set & forget experience. We’re most partial towards Methven for their showers and kitchen/laundry mixers.
Tapware and accessories: Phoenix Tapware
An ever-emerging brand, Phoenix Tapware has been a popular choice for those looking for trendy design in their bathrooms. Phoenix invests in finding out what styles, finishes, shapes and sizes the market is most interested in and caters towards the hottest trends. For example, they were one of the first brands on the market to release matte black tapware. They also have an affinity for design awards, winning several. As of writing this post, Phoenix have pioneered brushed nickel and gun metal finishes for tapware. To maximise the ROI for the look of your hot, flash, new and trendy bathroom, you need to check out Phoenix’s offerings.
Bathroom cabinetry: Timberline
Timberline does one thing really well: customisable cabinetry. Seriously, we like to say choosing Timberline for cabinets is like choosing Apple for laptops. Vanities, tall boys and shaving cabinets are their forte, but they have recently started diversifying into other product lines too. They have a pretty diverse catalogue that’s certainly worth picking up. They’re serious about their quality control, warranties and design. You’re going to be hard pressed finding any faults – minor or major – in the design, finish and workmanship of their products.
When you install a toilet, you don’t want it to have issues later on. I mean, we want toilet problems out of sight, out of mind don’t we? Thats why we say “a toilet’s a toilet”, right? Our culture loves minimalism in design when it comes to toilet sanitary ware, pretty much saying “leave the fancy toilet features and functions to the Japanese”, unless of course, it helps us clean it easier. Geberit focuses on what’s important to Australians and that’s why they have been so well received. We really like Geberit. They’re so good at doing [concealed] toilet cisterns, that’s pretty much all they need to sell in Australia. The Swiss company exemplifies the attention to detail and design that the country is famous for. Our customers like Geberit so much we’re including them in this list despite the fact that they do such a niche and specific product line. Just add a pan of your choice and voila, you have an amazing toilet!
Choosing the right bathroom renovator or builder for your new bathroom is a big deal, but not an easy task. The best renovators are the ones who are reasonably priced, easy to communicate with and get the job done well, with no major issues arising in the future.
Bathroom renovator traits may be difficult to discern if you’re only briefly meeting someone when they come out to quote, so here are a few key things to look for to make it easier and to ensure your new bathroom renovation is a great experience.
A Good Bathroom Renovator Must be Reliable and Easy to Communicate With
It is important that any renovator you choose displays reliability and is easy to talk with before you ask them to commit to the work. If there is difficulty in communicating or there is a lack of consistency from the builder or renovators end, there is an increased chance that this may permeate into the project, and some things may not go as you expect. For example, if the renovator assures you that they will send a quote to you by a particular time, hold them accountable to that and let them know if they do not.
Be sure that you feel comfortable in dealing with the builder or renovator too, and be confident in both asking them for advice and asserting what you would like to see with your completed bathroom. After all, you’re the one that has to live with the results of the finished work!
Do a Licence Check with The Department of Fair Trading
Every licensed renovator or builder will gladly give you their license number, so it is simple to do a quick license search with the Department of Fair Trading. The exact process for the search may vary from state to state, but a quick google search should point you in the right direction. In NSW the check may be done here.
The license check will give you valuable information, such as any negative issues that may have arisen in the past, and you may see how these have been resolved. It might sound simple, but it’s crucial also to confirm that they are legally able to do the work that you would like to contract them to do, and the check will also give you important details about the scope of work they can perform under that license.
Ask for tips, and also be firm with what you’re looking for from your bathroom renovator
A good bathroom renovator will freely give advice on what you can do in your situation and will offer workarounds for when it’s hard to give you exactly what you would like. It is in this case that you may decide whether the cost of the workaround is worth it to you. For example, customers frequently want large tiles in the bathroom, and there are possible ways to do this on the bathroom floor, even in a tight space where the drainage is an issue. Make sure you ask for advice from each renovator you invite out for a
For example, customers frequently want large tiles in the bathroom, and there are possible ways to do this on the bathroom floor, even in a tight space where the drainage is an issue. Make sure you ask for advice from each renovator you invite out for a quote, and compare and contrast what each one tells you.
The best renovators will offer you advice that fits your most important goals, so be sure to let them know the main outcomes you want from your bathroom, whether that is a specific look you’re going for, or a specific use of the space, or something else important to you. It’s your bathroom, so at the end of the day be sure to do it in a way that it suits your goals!
Compare apples with apples
When comparing the quotes, write down bullet points about what each quote is offering and compare them at that basis. The best renovators will include a scope of works in their quotes that let you know exactly what they will be doing and make it easier for you to compare apples with apples, rather than apples with oranges.
If you know exactly what it is you want, be sure to request this in writing to each renovator and ask them to reply with an updated quote that matches exactly what you need. The less room there is for misinterpretation, the better the chances of your bathroom coming out exactly as you want and the better the chance that you are fairly comparing the different renovators before choosing the right one.
Feel free to reply to a quote asking for more specific clarification or ask for any change that you feel it needs; this will allow you to make better a comparison and choice downstream.
Ask about past work, including asking for photos, testimonials, or a chance to see the work in person
Most renovators or builders will be more than happy to show you past work, such as photos of work they have done, or refer you to some of their past customers where you may ask about their workmanship or reliability. Workmanship is of particular importance, for example, poorly laid tiles will make a noticeable difference to the look of your bathroom for many years to come.
The best renovators are found through word of mouth, and the best renovators are easily vetted through that way as well, so feel free to ask others that have worked with the renovator in the past about the good side as well as the not so good.
For example, you may ask what some of the best traits of the renovation were, and what were some of the more challenging or less desirable aspects of the renovation or of dealing with the renovator.
There have been unique trends in new bathroom design in 2016, as well as the continuation of some design styles adopted from previous years.
People’s goals have not changed, with the vast majority of people wanting their bathrooms to look modern, feel good and look larger. The majority of trends have an impact that mirror these goals. Here is a brief discussion about a few bathroom design trends for 2016.
Unorthodox Tile Patterns are a New Bathroom Design Trend (again!)
About 20 years ago, it wasn’t too uncommon for a tile to be laid in a diagonal pattern, with a square lay border going around the sides of the room. You may have seen the odd brick pattern wall, or even a herringbone pattern kitchen splash back.
Perhaps one of the more difficult designs from that era was French pattern tile lay, popular for large main floors or outdoor areas around pools. Middle Eastern and Asian influence had also led to a surge in popularity for large decorative features in the middle of a floor, which was involved and costly. These ways to lay tiles were more complex and time consuming than the simple “glue, slap down” process of regular tile lay.
It felt like suddenly these unorthodox ways to lay tiles had disappeared. But unorthodox seems to come back just as suddenly. Herringbone lay wall tiles have become increasingly popular for bathroom feature walls, the re-emergence of hexagonal tiles has led to an increase in diagonal format lay, whilst tilers are being encouraged by their clients to come up with more and more creative lay patterns.
These trends may probably have been influenced by the popularity of timber look tiles and hexagonal tiles, two types of tile that typically require being laid in a non-straight or non-aligned manner we do not typically see for the popular rectangular tiles. It looks like creative tile lay is here to stay!
Showers are Getting Bigger
One of the truest trends of the recent past has been an increase in the demand for larger and larger homes, leading to the large swathes of suburban “McMansions” as people moved away from the tight squeeze established areas and the inner west and inner-city terrace homes. Originally these homes were really large, however as demand for limited land space has risen, the average plot and home size has come down.
The first consequence for bathrooms was that the size would proportionally come down as well, as most people did not want to compromise the space of the living areas. This led to everything in the bathroom becoming proportionally smaller, the vanities, the baths, the shower screens, etc. But whilst a toilet could take up less space if it had an in-wall cistern, or a bath could be small enough so that kids can use it, as the adults rarely did, or a vanity could sacrifice a bit of space, the shower area was a prized place, where space couldn’t be compromised.
Expectedly, the very short-lived era of small, tight squeeze shower screens has all but died, with more demand for larger shower areas. There is a strong demand for enough space to have freer movement, where it is possible to move around more comfortably, rather than accidentally knocking an elbow on the shower mixer, squatting down uncomfortably to grab the dropped soap, or scratching an ear on a shelf.
Matte Black is Still King of the Alternative Look, But More Options are Becoming Available
Matte black has been a huge hit for tapware and accessories finishes since its introduction. Iterative improvements to matte black have kept it popular despite the original “flaking issue” of the early powder coated versions. Now, wear and tear is almost a non-issue, with electro-plated matte black setting the new standard. Only cheaper versions of matte black products still have the flaking issue, as powder coating is cost-saving. Electrolyte plating the finish has proven to be more durable and established a stronger customer confidence in the alternative look (or at least alternative to the smooth gloss chrome that is prevalent in most bathrooms).
After the success of matte black, there has been growing experimentation with other finishes, including: brushed nickel, commercial look brushed steel, coloured gloss, and finally rose gold. In particular the brushed look of stainless steel and nickel have been picking up in popularity whilst the very new rose gold finish has begun as a great hit. It will be interesting to see what finishes become the next equivalent to gloss chrome, or perhaps gloss chrome will be the dominant choice for a long time yet.
It can be pretty easy and affordable to create a modern looking bathroom, and this would be without methods like “resurfacing” that are costly, and not suitable for the long term. You are limited without a full renovation, though you will be able to make a notable impact. In this article there are a few ways to modernise your bathroom in cost effective and practical ways.
Reduce the Amount You Have to Work With
The first step to create a modern bathroom without renovating is to start eliminating as much “filler” items in the bathroom as possible.
Its common for older style homes to have unusual things such as a side extension for a vanity, rugs on the toilet, a tray running along the shower (that you never seem to need or use) or a bath caddy that has never been used.
If you can reduce the amount of extra items in the bathroom that are rarely if ever used, it makes your next bit of work easier whilst also making the room more attractive.
If it can be concealed, conceal it
This bathroom needs a de-clutter.
In older bathrooms, its very common for your bathroom essentials to have little space to be stowed away in, most items end up:
- sitting on the vanity top (toothbrushes, soap, hair gels, shavers, etc)
- inside and along the bottom of the shower (shampoo products, body scrubs)
- sitting on or near the towel rails (such as blow dryers)
- or lined up along the bath wherever you could fit it.
If its possible to fit in a new small cupboard, you won’t need to renovate your bathroom to conceal a lot of these things, and this will make a big impact on the look of your bathroom. A bathroom that is less cluttered will start to look better, and it helps before we move on to the next step.
A modern bathroom needs fresh paint
A touch up on any old paint work will make a big impact. By repainting parts of the bathroom that could use it, you also get the opportunity to change up colours to a neutral or pleasant blend that is more conducive towards a fresh modern look.
Its very common for older bathrooms to have walls that might need a bit of work. It’s amazing what changing your old bathrooms ugly flaking blue walls to a fresh white colour can do to lift the look of the room.
Some parts of the bathroom, such as the vanity, might also have flaking bits that may or may not be paintable, to achieve a modern bathroom.
If you have a wall mounted mirror, you may replace it
Wall mounted mirrors are remarkably simple to remove and replace, a new plain mirror is very affordable and will make a noticeable change to the look of your bathroom.
Everyone who uses the bathroom will at some point be looking at the mirror, so its a valuable bit of real estate that may be changed up to lift the look of your bathroom and make it more modern. Mirrors that are built into the wall, flush with the tiling work, are more difficult to replace.
Deep clean the grout, or if possible, re-apply new grout
Grout is perhaps the one thing, above all others, that may make a bathroom look old and outdated. A grout touch up will make a huge impact, so the time spent doing it is certainly worth it.
If you like, you can get a professional to scrape out the old grout and re-apply the new, or you may do it yourself with a grout removal rake to scratch out the grout as well as the grout applicator tools to re-apply.
It might also be possible for you to simply do a deep clean on the grout with a strong grout cleaner, and remove any excess gunk to really lift the look.
The shower rose is often very easy to replace
Most showers, whether they are the rail shower roses with the handheld piece or the protruding shower head from the wall, or a combination of both with the overhead drencher and handheld piece are quick to replace.
You can replace your old one with a new one for a cool new modernised look and the best part is that if you were to decide to renovate down the line, its easy to simply detach the shower rose and re-attach it after the renovation.
Other steps to achieving a modern bathroom, without renovating
There are a few more bathroom fixtures that may be replaced with new updated ones. Some like the vanity or the bath may even be re-used if you do decide to renovate in a few years. Others, such as your wall mixers or basin taps, either will be impossible or impractical to change. Following the steps listed above can cost no more than a few hundred dollars, whilst substantially lifting the look of your bathroom.
It’s possible to make your small bathroom look large, it doesn’t need to be the tiny space encroaching room you’re probably used to. Here are 7 small tips you can use to make your small bathroom look larger.
Lighter Colours Make the Room Look Larger
Using a lighter colour scheme, particularly for the wall tiles, will help make your small bathroom look large. As a general rule of thumb, lighter shades make the room feel more open and inviting, while darker colours trade the illusion of space to create more of a bolder statement.
Avoid “breaks” in the tile design to make the tightest space look spacious
When laying your tiles, if you have a tight space, its advised to avoid using too many vertical feature lines (also known as breaks) running up the wall. Each time one is used, it breaks up the room a little more. Another common “break” is the top of the bathroom walls being painted, whilst the tiling only goes to a certain level. Especially in a tight space, tiling to the ceiling will make the room look larger. While these breaks are great for larger bathrooms, they will tend to make an already small bathroom look smaller.
Use larger tiles, this will create the illusion of a larger bathroom
There is a common myth that large tiles do not suit small spaces, this is only true to the extent that some large format tiles may cause too much cuts to be needed on a small wall. Try going with tiles as large as you can get away with before the cuts look silly, as larger tiles will make your bathroom look suggestively larger.
Tile horizontally, and to the ceiling
When tiles are laid horizontally, and to the ceiling, the bathroom looks wider and more spacious. Compare this to a vertical laid tile, which tends to make the ceilings look taller but the space tighter.
A minimalist design will make the room look larger
The more “filled” a room is, the more cramped and tight it looks. Avoid filling out your bathroom with too many things, find ways to fit less in your bathroom rather than more and the larger looking bathroom effect will be visible instantly! Some examples might include avoiding using a long tallboy in your already small room, or using a corner shelf in the shower rather than a side shelf.
Fit out your bathroom with items designed to save space
This will have a big impact, some examples of products designed to save space include: toilet pans with in-wall cisterns, freestanding baths, shower panel screens, wall hung vanities, building niches in the shower to prevent needing on-wall shelves and recessing shaving mirror cabinets. The more of these items you are able to use, the larger your bathroom will look.
Store more of your bathroom essentials in concealed places or outside the bathroom
One of the biggest culprits for an already small bathroom looking even smaller is clutter. When towels are stored on visible shelves, shampoo’s, soaps and toothbrushes are left out and the spare toilet rolls are sitting on the window sill, the small bathroom will look even smaller. You can make your small bathroom look large by concealing as much of these as possible, or even storing some items outside the bathroom. An example might be leaving only one or two towels in the bathroom and storing the rest in another room.
That awesome feeling when you first walk into a clean, fresh smelling new bathroom is pretty nice.
It’s a shame it gradually loses its “new bathroom feeling” kinda like the family car lost it..
..but it doesn’t need to!
You can keep your bathroom looking new and clean, and it doesn’t need to be time consuming. In fact, this will save you a lot of time. Keeping things fresh definitely has perks.
Ensuring your bathroom stays clean has historically not been an easy task, how many times have you spent your valuable Saturday scrubbing in the shower? For a good looking and clean bathroom feel, there’s a few steps you can consistently follow to make those Saturday scrubs a thing of the past.
Tip 1: Protect vulnerable surfaces
Keeping your bathroom clean starts with giving a little extra protection to the vulnerable parts, in particular the grout, glass and chrome parts. These surfaces are both highly exposed to stain causing things and vulnerable, staining quickly. Its nice to prevent the build up of yucky things rather than trying to remove them each time, so use grout sealers and liquid glass and chrome coating liquids to repel water, soap scum and other stain causing microbes.
Keep those nice surfaces looking new
Sealing and protecting the vulnerable parts of your bathroom won’t cost much and will often preserve the pleasant look of your bathroom for a few years before needing re-application, quickly returning the value for your small investment. If you would like to learn more about glass, grout and chrome protection, try this guide.
Tip 2: Avoid bleaches and other, strong acidic base cleaners.
Bleach is really good at getting the job done, buts its also very acidic and may make your bathroom artificially age very fast by stripping out colour as well as rusting various parts of the bathroom. The most vulnerable parts of the bathroom are the chrome items, as the acidity will often lead to rapid oxidisation of the surface and cause rust build up.
Any bathroom furniture tainted by the bleach, such as vanity cupboards or shelving will quickly discolour, causing unpleasant light shades of colour patches we do not miss from our old bathrooms. Keep your bathroom clean, and keep it looking good, by using mild detergents or hot water to wipe surfaces. Try to minimise the use of bleach and other acidic compounds as much as possible.
Tip 3: Using eucalyptus oil with disinfectant to mop or wipe tiles
Using nicely scented eucalyptus extract oil with your hot water and disinfectant will ensure mopping your tiles is more hygienic and smells good. Eucalyptus is anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral and even a deodoriser. It may also be used to clean the walls inside the shower, so you will easily get a nice clean bathroom out of one mopping bucket.
Bathroom colour schemes may have a big effect on the feel and ambience of your bathroom. The biggest impact of your colour scheme will be on the perceived warmth and the perceived size. In many cases it’s also handy to match the rest of the home, or at least avoid clashing with it. Having a nice modern look is integral to making your bathroom attractive and lifting the feeling of those who use it.
You want your bathroom to appear inviting, look larger and neatly fit in with the rest of the home, so it’s nice to see that 2016 trends are showing a better understanding of what makes a bathroom’s colour influence these goals. Here are the trending colour schemes and why.
The Concrete Bathroom Look
The industrial and polished concrete looks are big hits. Familiar, cooling tones associated with the colour combine elegantly with the smoothened tile textures to create a pleasant “big place” feel, similar to industrial warehouses we’ve seen. The colour is very neutral, and works with most homes. It’s also flexible for matching with bolder colours, so feel free to use bright and vivid towels.
This look goes very well with matte black tapware, you will make a big impact! The more grey the colour, the cooler the ambience. For a pleasant bathroom you may dress this colour scheme up with nicely matching timber-coloured accents, such as for the bathroom furniture, architraves and little features to add a bit of warmth.
Bathroom Colour Schemes That Work With White
White with some colour is one of the timeless bathroom colour schemes. Chances are its never going away! White is a pleasant and bright colour that ensures the bathroom looks large, open and inviting. White matches everything, so feel free to pick a suitable splash colour that you enjoy.
Neutral tones are typically the “safe” option and less aggressive than the bright blue’s, greens and reds that are so prevalent in older bathrooms. The most common trend sees white being used as the predominant wall tile, whilst the floor is often ran up a feature wall or used with a feature strip to break it up.
Sky Blue Greys
We love the beautiful sky blue marble feature wall
Did you know that blue is the favourite colour of more
A sky blue gray tile close up – the faint blue is hard to see in a photo
than 1 in 3 people? Moving into 2017, expect to see a lot of greys with a very slight to slight bluish hue. Sky blue grey is noticeably different to the greenish tinge that most industrial concrete look tiles imitate and adds a little coolness that people love. Its nice to be subliminally reminded of a soft blue sky as you walk into a bathroom, so its no surprise that this is the new emerging trend.
Sky blue greys combine the flexibility and neutrality of grey with the popularity of blue to create an open, inviting and gentle ambience that may be easily matched with richer splashes of coloured accents. Combine it with a complimentary tile colour for a hot two tone look and spice it up with warmer accents, such as timber coloured.
Tiles that look like timber make a beautiful feature wall
Traditionally, timber has been difficult to use in the bathroom. It’s not as resilient to water as tiles and its certainly much easier to scratch when you knock it with your hair straightener or blow dryer. Timber has still remained a popular choice in other parts of the home, so perhaps it’s no surprise that tiles that imitate timber have been a hit in bathrooms. The possibilities for bathroom colour schemes with timber hues are seemingly endless!
The most popular trend has the rich textured timber look tiles as a floor and feature wall, whilst keeping the rest of the walls a simpler colour. Because of its strong, bold look, timber is most often combined with one or more other colour tones for a multi-tone bathroom design.
Because scrubbing your old bathroom on a Saturday is not something you enjoy.
Left: What we’re very familiar with
Right: Good looking and easy to clean!
Keeping a bathroom easy to clean can be really valuable. Saving time, reducing cleaning headaches, keeping it hygienic and ensuring you get to do better things. Modern, low maintenance and easy to clean bathroom design can be pretty simple, for both renovations and new homes. Lets start with what we need to avoid.
Reducing the yucky things with your bathroom design
It’s not fun spending time cleaning your bathroom, grout can get really mouldy in the shower, the shower screen keeps collecting grime, and getting in behind the toilet to scrub is certainly not something we aspire to do. It doesn’t help that most existing bathrooms have undesirable features such as:
- Floor standing vanities with stained, water damaged edges where the cabinet meets the floor.
- Toilets with plastic cisterns that discolour in a matter of days, becoming an unpleasant shade of yellow after so many years.
- Shower screens that seem to be a magnet for grime, moulding and stain build up, especially near and around the frame.
- Very small tiles, and thus excessive grout, another magnet for grime and stains.
Not a very pretty sight
Other unpleasantries also spring to mind whenever we think of a tired bathroom, due for a facelift, so it is a great idea to make sure you are proactive about the next bathroom having as little as possible to worry about. We all love low maintenance bathrooms, and hopefully good looking ones too. Here are 5 ways to make your new bathroom much easier to clean.
Leslie & Tony’s bathroom pictured above has a lot less to clean than most bathrooms.
- Less is More
The best way to approach creating an easy to clean bathroom is to start with the fundamentals, perhaps best summarised with the phrase: Less is more. It couldn’t be truer for clean-friendly bathroom design. The less corners, ridges, edges, seams, grout, touch-points, cluttered space, the less there is to clean! This means for modern, easy clean bath design, the first step you can take is to find and fit products that have less to worry about. As a general rule of thumb, the simpler the product and the more seamless, the better it is for cleaning. Another good rule of thumb is to avoid narrow, hard to reach spots. Here are some tips:
- Many modern toilets sit parallel to and against the back wall, these are called “wall faced” or “back to wall” toilets. The biggest benefit of these toilets is reducing the awkward narrow spaces you had to get behind and clean. To further prevent worrying about those pesky dust collecting bits, aim for straight, seamless sides for a smooth and easy glide surface, this will save you countless minutes of your life each time you clean.
The tiffany toilet sitting on display at our showroom, ridge free and seamless sides – easy for your hand to glide over. $499.09
- When it comes to keeping it easy clean, frameless shower screens, walk in shower panels and semi-frameless shower screens have less soap scum, grime and gunk collecting bits to worry about. The glass itself is much easier to clean with less chrome frames or brackets.
- The more glass you have, and the less chrome touchpoints, the easier it is going to be to wash down the shower screen.
- You can also coat glass with nano-technology such as nano4life glass-ceramic to reduce grime, dirt and gunk build up dramatically, these products will make cleaning less necessary and will preserve the new look of your showerscreen, the screen will even resist fogging. $38.90 for 5 years of protection is a pretty good investment!
Maria’s bathroom uses a walk in shower, the best type of shower for cleaning as little as possible.
- Use freestanding baths. Its a great way to avoid the extra tiles and grout that usually accompany inset baths. The catch is that if the space is small, chances are you’re going to have more tight, difficult to access spaces to clean. If this is an issue, the next point will help.
- For tight bathrooms, back to wall or back to corner free standing baths will line up nicely with your walls. You won’t need to worry about getting in between the bath and the wall in the tighter spots, so it is a great way to get the modern look of a freestanding bath while keeping it easy clean
Deanne’s freestanding bath lines up nicely with the wall, great for making the most of a tight space.
- Use larger tiles to reduce grout used
You may use larger tiles to reduce the amount of grout used. Grout is perhaps the most difficult part of the bathroom to keep clean and prevent from staining. By using larger tiles, you use less grout, ensuring it becomes less noticeable and the bathroom will hold its look much longer. It is also much easier to seal and protect grout from mold, staining and gunk buildup when there is so little of it.
- 300 x 600mm is a good size benchmark for wall tiles, larger tiles are always better for cleaning, so feel free to go a few sizes larger too.
- 300 x 300mm is a great minimum size to aim for floor tiles. If you want to go larger than 300 x 300 on the floor, ensure your builder or renovator is comfortable with sloping the floor.
- If you really want to avoid grout, you can also use engineered stone panels, stone slabs or back painted glass to reduce the grout lines.
Jovan & Vesa went with a beautiful 450 x 900mm tile throughout their bathroom, that’s a lot less grout to worry about!
- Open up the space as much as possible
The more open space in your bathroom, the less nooks and crannies there are to collect dust and other nasty bathroom stuff. Open space also looks fantastic and tends to create the illusion of a larger bathroom, very valuable for most people in Sydney. Here are some suggestions to keep your bathroom easy clean and looking as spacious as possible:
- Wall hung (floating) vanities, cabinets and toilets give you ample space underneath to get in there and do your thing, there are no touch points with the ground. If you want more storage space or are unable to hide the pipework, vanities & tall boys are also available on legs. Legs elevate the vanity cabinet off the ground and this prevents water pooling around the bottom edges, you won’t have issues with cracking panels or mouldy, discoloured grime collecting bits.
- Toilet pans may also be wall hung, though this might not be possible for some existing bathrooms. If you get a wall hung toilet pan, ask your installer if you can use a p-trap, as this ensures pipework does not show underneath the pan. Wall hung toilet pans are typically accompanied by an in-wall toilet cistern, making the most of space and keeping the room even more open.
- The afore-mentioned walk in showers make a room feel more open. It’s important to keep in mind the trade off with regards to water splashing and colder showers without a closed screen.
- If you can get away with not using too many cabinets and cupboards in the bathroom, it will make a big impact on the look of your bathroom, as well as adding less to clean! If maximising storage is essential, a tall boy is a great, practical way to store the “everything else” that doesn’t fit in the bathroom vanity.
Adrian & Renee used a walk in shower, wall hung vanity and a toilet pan with an in-wall cistern.
- Handheld showers, grout sealers, ceramics vs engineered stone and more
When it comes to adding extras to the bathroom, it’s going to be the combination of the little things that make the big differences. A handheld shower rose makes washing down shower screens a breeze, it also comes in handy for kids or pets in a pinch. Sealing grout will ensure that it holds its look significantly longer. An hour or so spent sealing grout will give you quite a few years of resistance to mould build up and discolouration. There are both traditional grout sealers, that reduce the porosity of the grout and newer nano-technology grout sealers, which prevent water and gunk staining at a minute particle level.
Engineered stone, such as Caeserstone, are great to use for your vanity tops. They are designed with wet areas in mind and are non-porous and easy to clean. There are also a few ways to attach your basins to them.
Teneal’s gorgeous vanity has an engineered stone top, with semi-recessed basins. Stunning, isn’t it?
- Under-mount basins. The most popular basins are undermount basins. The only bits to clean with undermount basins are right under the ridge of the cut in the stone. You may line the ridge with silicone to make it easier to clean, its easy to cut it out and re-apply when you need to in the future.
- Counter top Basins. The advantage of counter top-basins is predominately space convenience, whether that’s more storage space in the cabinet underneath or taking advantage of less depth required on your stone top. Its also not too bad for cleaning purposes, we recommend a strong silicone to line the bottom, as it will be highly visible and its best to prevent the discolouration as long as possible.
- Semi-recessed basins. These basins fall somewhere between the former two, sitting partially underneath the stone and partially above.
A fantastic alternative to engineered stone vanity tops are classic ceramic tops. Its no secret that glazed ceramics are one of the best easy clean surfaces in a bathroom. Ceramics also have a high heat tolerance, so you don’t need to worry about accidentally leaving your heat straightener on and burning it, or hot wax falling on it and causing a permanent mark. It’s a significant upgrade on the acrylic tops that are common in existing homes.
- A toilet is a toilet – except when it comes to cleaning it
The toilet is sure to be used all the time, spending less time cleaning it is a big deal. Both inside the pan, where you have to get in with the brush and disinfectant as well as outside, where it seems dust and other yucky bathroom stuff settles. We briefly mentioned how you may optimise the look of the toilet, this time lets go a bit more into other things that make it easier to clean.
- Rimless toilet suites. Toilet suites with rimless pans are much better for cleaning than the pinprick-holed pans we are used to. In a rimless toilet, the water flushes from a smaller section inside the pan, giving it a cleaner flush as well as giving you less spots to worry about cleaning.
The Resort rimless back to wall toilet has been a best seller – no prizes for guessing why. $635.45
- Removable toilet seats. There are pros and cons of getting seats that are easily removed from a toilet. The most obvious advantage is that it becomes much easier to clean around the seat as well as the seat itself. The primary disadvantage is that the mechanism is yet another thing the kids can damage!
- Hard cover & flat toilet seats. Apart from being strong and sturdy (seriously, try standing on one), hard cover and flat seats are great for cleaning. Thanks to the very little contact with the pan, you’re much less likely to have a stained toilet seat, so that means less cleaning needed and you won’t accidentally have guests see stuff they shouldn’t. They’re also pretty comfortable to sit on; you get more space when using it. Additionally, make sure you get a scratch resistant seat to preserve its new look as long as possible.
- A well glazed toilet. Almost all toilets are porcelain glazed with that smooth finish we are so familiar with. But not all glazing is equal. If the glazing isn’t great, over time the toilet may discolour with yucky things. A well glazed toilet will hold its look for longer and is more hygienic and easy to clean than one with mediocre glazing. It’s not always obvious how good glazing is, some general advice is to go with a reputable brand and trust your intuition, usually if it looks good and has a good warranty, it’s pretty good.
Easy clean bathroom design can be simple
Whenever considering the look of your new bathroom, just remember that simplicity will both make choosing things easier as well as your cleaning easier. There is no need to add too much, just make better use of what needs to be there! We made sure to keep this post simple to give you an example of how no-frills it may be.
A parting tip: For every bathroom, both n ew and old, ensure you use the right products to clean your bathroom without compromising its look and hygienic feel. As a general rule, avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach wherever possible; the harsh acidity will quickly wear any chrome or mirrors the product comes into contact with. There are some great dedicated products for keeping your bathroom looking its best, so keep an eye out for our next guide on keeping any bathroom clean, whilst preserving its pleasant look.
If you would like to get more bathroom design and maintenance tips, you may leave your email below and we will keep you updated
Key Tips for a Cost Effective, Durable and Attractive Bathroom.
A big advantage of investing in property is the passivity, you typically don’t need to be too pre-occupied with maintaining the building, or at least that’s the ideal outcome…
The Reno Should be Cost Effective
It should be easy putting together a bathroom, especially if you need a quick, convenient, pleasant cosmetic upgrade that doesn’t break the bank for your investment property. Keeping costs as low as possible helps keep more in the kitty for the next project, but how low is too low?
You don’t want to get the cheapest floor tiles, only to have to replace 4 cracked pieces in 5 years and have the PM tell you it’s $750 for the fix up because it needs two days work! After checking out the how-to guides on YouTube, you decide to spend your long weekend having a shot at tiling (hoping that you do the job right and the new tiles don’t crack). That Thursday you take off the day from work to check out every local tile store for similar tiles and cannot find a match better than a tile that is about 5 shades too light!
That long weekend is better spent on the family trip you originally planned – before things went south.
Cost efficient bathroom design, if done right, can also be very rewarding over the long haul. This guide will cover some best practice tips on avoiding ruined long weekends, and wasted days off work. Some brief examples of what can be done:
Durable porcelain floor tiles
Even if your tenants threw a house party every other Friday, these are great value to resist cracking, chipping and scratching.
Stiff, toughened, safety glass shower screens
The wildest children, pets or slips and falls will struggle to damage these screens
Water resistant vanity cabinets
No one will look after your vanities like you do, these vanities are a great way to avoid damage from long-term pooled water.
Sealing and protecting the grout, glass, ceramics and chrome in your bathroom
The grout is perhaps the most valuable to seal, but there’s also perks to protecting your glass, ceramics or chrome.
We know investors are looking for ways to save money, save time and ensure they are providing a pleasant environment for their tenants. It’s been such a hotly requested need by our customers, we put together “The Perfect Return on Investment”, a package of bathroom items catered to the investor.
The Cost of a Bathroom has a Time Aspect
Just like many other products, the true cost of a bathroom is its lifetime cost. What does it cost you today? But also, what will it cost you overall? A bathroom may be built today with no issues tomorrow, or in 5 years, or 10 years, or 25 years. In that case, the lifetime cost of that bathroom is pretty consistent with the upfront cost, and probably what we’d first expect it to be.
In some cases however, things may happen which need to be attended to. A leaking shower, a tap replacement, changing the toilet seat, there are many issues that may spring up at you. These problems that need solving downstream will not come with a free solution, usually your time and money is on the line, and it is yet another concern you have to add to all the other problems you need to solve… Wasn’t property investment supposed to be passive?!
You don’t want to keep going back to fix it, or diminishing your yield by spending money again and again on property management fees, whether that’s in 5 months, 5 years or even 15 years.
The Long Term View
As an investor, you would be familiar with running calculations before you bought your property. You need to run calculations on total expected lifetime cost of your bathroom too!
The primary cost is the cost of the new bathroom, for example $20 000. But its also necessary to consider other associated, downstream costs. Every time the bathroom has a bit of a hiccup, and something needs to be fixed, that will cost you either money (paying the PM) or your time (going out there and fixing it yourself) or some combination of your time and money.
Some of the smallest issues a bathroom may have, will still cost at least $100. Let’s look at some common issues tenanted bathrooms may have over the course of 20 years. They have been sorted into groups based on how urgently the solution would be needed.
- A leak in the bathroom, be it via the vanity, shower or bath. If the leak is past the tiles and waterproofing, then everything needs to be replaced. Expect to spend the cost of a new bathroom renovation, estimated cost: $15 000+
- A faulty wall mixer/wall taps or poor wall mixer installation, where water is now running behind the tiles and the tiles have to be cut out for the repair. Expect to retile a wall, fix plumbing and apply a new mixer, estimated cost: $1 000+
- A burst basin mixer hose and/or water is accidentally left running in the vanity. Either scenario causes the bathroom floor to flood, and causes water damage on the vanity, requiring vanity replacement and potentially some other fixes. Estimated cost: $850 – $2000+
- An accident happens with the shower screen, causing the glass to break. Hopefully no one is injured! Estimated cost of clean-up and new screen: $1 500+
Less Dramatic Problems
- A basin mixer or taps needs to be replaced on a vanity. Estimated cost: $200+
- The shower rail/head no longer stays fixed on its own, it keeps drooping down and its very difficult to have a shower. Estimated cost to replace: $150+
- Cracked, chipped or broken tiles are showing, definitely need replacing. Estimated cost to fix: $500+
- Vanity has had pooled water discolour what was once a nice sheen, or parts of the cabinet have chipped/peeled and it now looks ugly. Replacement cost including installation: $500+
- Bath has a few cracks/marks/scratches, you can cover them up pretty easily: Estimated cost to resurface: $50-500+
- Toilet has discoloured, and there seems to be parts of it that won’t go back to its original white, no matter how much gumption you use.
- Toilet seat and/or its hinges are broken, and you’d be lucky to even find a suitable fit! Estimated cost to replace: $75+
- Shower screen and inside the shower area is really really grimy and dirty! Its so bad you need to spend some significant time cleaning it for the next tenant. Estimated cost each time you get a new tenant: $200+
Costly issues that may affect the bathroom are not always predictable, especially when you aren’t the one using it. When it comes to putting together an investor friendly bathroom, the best things you can do are :
- Damage Control – if something were to happen, minimise the damage that could be done.
- Risk Mitigation – reduce the likelihood of a problem happening
- Absolving Responsibility – In some cases, the supplier of a product will cover any costs associated with their faulty product as part of their warranty.
- Prevention – Prevent the need to fix/replace something, entirely!
Everything has a price, of course, so you may need to weigh up the pros and cons of the different ways you can reduce the frequency and costs of future contingencies. You also want the bathroom to look nice to attract the best possible tenants, so it would be handy to have some strategies in place to keep the bathroom feeling fresh as well. We briefly mentioned a few tips at the start of this guide, here is a more comprehensive list, sorted by category:
The Build / The Renovation
- It is usually safest to organise someone who is responsible for the whole ordeal. If there is a leak down the line, you want to hold one person accountable, the licensed builder or renovator. To be fair, there are cost savings associated with project managing the professional trade work yourself.
- The plumbing, waterproofing and the tiles are the most important aspects that need to be quality controlled, if something goes wrong with any of these, it will be very expensive to fix.
- Save on wall tiles by using plain, popular or simple colours, such as white.
- Most bathrooms have a lot of wall space to cover. Due to their popularity and subsequent mass production, large white wall tiles are very well priced, we do these 300 x 600mm ones for $14.50pm2! Assuming you need about 20m2 of wall tiles, its only $290.
- White is also a very easy colour to work with, tends to make your room look more spacious and hygienic and generally pretty easy on the eyes for most people. If you really want to ensure the bathroom looks as great as possible, and holds its look for longer, premium white wall tiles will make a noticeable difference, and go for $26.50pm2, only $240 extra for a typical 20m2 wall space.
- Use porcelain tiles on the floor.
- Porcelain tiles are a good investment. They go for a price about $10 or more above what you’d expect to pay for a ceramic tile, but considering a typical floor is only about 5-7m2, you can invest as little as $50 extra! For a small bathroom area, its also not unheard of to find some leftover clearance tiles at bargain prices too.
- The difference between porcelain tiles and ceramics are mostly in the strength of the tiles and the resistance to chipping, scratching and cracking. A vitrified porcelain will also not show a different coloured biscuit if it is chipped.
- Avoid tiles that are not “first quality”, seconds and auction clearance tiles are often irregular, may warp easily and are at high risk of water absorption, discolouring, “orange peeling” and other types of damage, especially in the bathroom where water is everywhere.
NINA 900mm Finger Pull Waterproof Vanity
- Consider a water resistant polyurethane coated vanity.
- These vanities have a great economical cabinet that is sure to last. We have tried leaving pooled water in our display NINA 900mm vanity for many days in a row and noticed no visible signs of damage, warping or discolouration. The NINA is even guaranteed for 10 years!
- As an alternative, investing in an Australian made vanity could make a difference.
- It will set you back at least a few hundred dollars more, but most Australian made vanity brands are reputable and offer very attractive warranties, such as a 10 year warranty from Timberline or a lifetime guarantee on anything from Marquis.
Flexispray Krome 1 Function Rail Shower $180.91
- We recommend saving on the shower, replacing one in a pinch isn’t too difficult!
- A fixed Shower arm and shower rose will go a long way towards minimising risk of needing to replace your shower, as there’s not too many ways it can be played with, and hence damaged. They go for as little as $110 or so.
- If you’d like a rail shower, with the adjustable handheld piece, you can get a decent one for pretty good prices. For example the Krome 1f rail shower is only $79 and comes with a lifetime replacement guarantee!
- Get good wall mixers, it can be expensive to replace these as tiles may have to be ripped out.
- Good wall mixers with 15 year cartridge warranties (the functional part that may have an issue) go for as little as $95, such as this Enflair Prisa Wall Mixer.
- If you are happy to invest for it, getting wall mixers from a brand where the cost of a faulty mixer is fully accommodated for will save you a lot of hassle if something does go wrong. An example of such a brand would be Methven, who offer a 15 year parts and labour warranty on their wall mixers.
Blaze Basin Mixer $199.00
- These are easier and less costly to replace than wall mixers, so it’s a great opportunity to save on these. Most of the time you will want basin mixers to match the wall mixers though.
- The main thing that matters in a basin mixer is the cartridge, you don’t want it leaking. Get a nice cost effective one, such as the Enflair Prisa Basin Mixer, with a 15 year cartridge replacement warranty.
- One word: Safety Glass, we strongly advise that you ensure you are installing a shower with glass that will not shatter in 1000 pieces if something goes wrong. The last thing you want is someone getting hurt. Luckily most shower screens are now made from safety glass.
- If you want a frameless shower panel or screen, 10mm toughened glass is extremely sturdy.
- Framed showers are the other option, a simple chrome frame with a pivoting door is a low cost investment that will keep the room looking fresh.
- There’s not much to worry about with baths, so choose between the classic inset/drop in baths or a free standing one. Acrylic coated fibreglass is a fantastic lightweight and strong material.
- If you’re getting a freestanding bath, make sure you get one with nice glazing. There are many cheaper free standing baths that are more likely to discolour, have “orange peel” effect or just generally depreciate in look faster than a Mercedes that just came out of the dealers depreciates in price.
Stan Back to Wall Toilet Suite
- Make sure you use a full china suite, no plastic cisterns! We also recommend choosing a toilet with a fairly standardised seat and detachment mechanism, as that is the part that will most likely need to be replaced in the future. A good, full ceramic and modern looking back to wall toilet can be as little as $250!
- We suggest not gimping on accessories. Good, chrome accessories are not much more expensive than those budget $70 packs we see every time we walk through Bunnings. When you consider the fact that they’re much more likely to be set and forget, the extra $60 or so you pay now will quickly be a distant memory.
- If you’re keen on a cheap set of accessories, they’ll set you back as little as approx. $40, great if you need to penny pinch.
100m Bermuda Smart Tile Waste $79.00
- For an extra $25 or so, you can get stainless steel floor grates, which will resist rust and corrosion much more than the standard chrome plated brass floor grates.
- Tile insert wastes, also known as smart tile wastes, may also be pretty cheap, definitely worth considering if you’re going for that modern look.
Preserving the Look
Nano4 Glass Ceramic 100ml $78.90
- Yes, we know its an investment property, but a few key sealers and coatings will go a long way towards preserving the look of your bathroom and minimising your time spent cleaning every time you get a new tenant.
- Sealing the grout will ensure it resists mould & grime build up while slowing down the rate of discolouration. This is particularly valuable inside the shower!
- Coating your shower screen with a nano technology product such as nano4life glass & ceramic care will ensure your tenants do not leave behind a nasty, grime covered shower screen with months of build-up.
- Chrome, ceramics and other parts of the bathroom may also be coated to preserve their look for as long as possible.
What About a Catered Package?
If you’re interested in getting a whole bathroom package, delivered to your garage on a date of your preference, then you may check out our “Perfect Return on Investment” package. We have catered it to investors in particular and we are temporarily offering free delivery to anywhere in metropolitan Sydney.
Investor Friendly Bathrooms Ultimately Bring Peace of Mind
How awesome would it be to have a true set and forget experience. You have put together a nice bathroom and are attracting the best tenants. Rather than using up your precious time worrying about the next fix, you are able to strategise at a higher level. You free up your time and head space to plan out your next investment and put your savings towards that rather than another maintenance issue.