Designing and building the ultimate wet room in Fairfax, Virginia requires careful consideration to create a space that is both functional and stylish. From layout and materials to lighting and ventilation, each aspect plays a role in your project’s overall success. In this post, we’ll look at all the ins and outs of creating a wet room in your home.

What is a Wet Room?

owners suite addition reston va bathroom 22A wet room is a fully waterproofed space within a home designed to serve as a shower area without the need for a traditional shower enclosure or tray. The entire room is sealed to prevent water from escaping to ensure that all surfaces, including the floor and walls, are impervious to moisture.

The construction of a wet room requires careful planning and professional installation to ensure proper waterproofing and drainage. A slight slope is typically incorporated into the floor design to channel the water towards the drain. Ventilation is another critical aspect, as wet rooms generate significant moisture.

Pros and Cons of a Wet Room

A wet room offers several advantages and a couple of disadvantages that homeowners should consider before deciding to install one.


  • Larger Sense of Space. A wet room can make a space feel larger, even in smaller rooms. By eliminating traditional barriers like shower walls and trays, the area feels more open and uncluttered. This seamless design creates an illusion of a larger area and allows for a more flexible layout.
  • A barrier-free floor makes it easier for individuals with mobility challenges or disabilities to navigate the space safely.
  • More Design Options. Especially for larger rooms, a wet room can allow for a more open and versatile layout. Homeowners can incorporate luxurious features such as multiple shower heads, seating areas or even a freestanding tub without the constraints of a traditional shower enclosure.
  • Increased Home Value. Modern, stylish and functional bathrooms are highly attractive features and can potentially increase your home’s value.
  • Easy to Clean. The open, minimalist design means fewer corners where dirt and mold can accumulate. The water-resistant materials also simplify cleaning routines and save time.
  • Good for Small Spaces. In a small room, every square inch needs to be efficient. Eliminating the traditional shower enclosure frees up space.


  • Everything Can Get Wet. The biggest drawback is that everything in the bathroom can get wet during use. Unlike a traditional shower with an enclosure, the wet room’s open design allows water to spread throughout the room. Towels, toiletries and even the toilet paper can get wet if not properly stored or shielded. You’ll need to ensure that water-sensitive items are adequately protected.
  • Slippery Surfaces. If improper materials are used for the flooring, such as smooth tiles, the floor can become dangerously slick when wet. Choose non-slip, water-resistant materials specifically designed for wet environments to provide the necessary traction for preventing slips and falls. Underfloor heating elements can also help dry the floor more quickly.
  • Potentially Higher Cost. Installing a wet room can cost more than a regular shower due to its specialized materials and construction techniques. Proper waterproofing is necessary to prevent water damage and ensure the room’s longevity using high-quality membranes and waterproof boarding that can be more expensive than standard bathroom materials. In addition, professional installation is necessary to ensure that the waterproofing is correctly applied and that the drainage system is properly designed and implemented.

Waterproofing and Proper Drainage are Key Requirements


The waterproofing process, known as tanking, involves creating a fully sealed environment to prevent water from penetrating walls, floors and substructures. The objective is to create a continuous barrier to contain water within the wet room and safeguard the surrounding area from potential water damage and mold growth.

The choice of materials is crucial for waterproofing. High-quality membranes are needed to ensure durability and water resistance over time. These are typically applied beneath the tiles or other surface finishes as an invisible layer of protection. All seams, joints and corners must also be meticulously sealed, along with water-resistant adhesives and grouts for waterproofing integrity.


For proper drainage, the floor must be constructed with a slight slope or gradient that directs water towards a central or linear drain. Linear drains are popular due to their ability to handle large volumes of water with a sleek, unobtrusive design.

This slope is usually around 1-2%, subtle enough to almost imperceptible, but effective in directing water into the drainage system. The drain itself must be adequately sized and positioned to handle the water volume to prevent pooling and potential overflow, and an appropriate drainage system involves high-quality drain components that are resistant to clogging and easy to clean.

Ventilation and Lighting Needs for a Wet Room


Interior Remodel Aging in Place universal design Fairfax VA mother in law suite showerEffective ventilation is paramount to prevent moisture buildup and mold growth which can compromise the space’s integrity and pose health risks. A high-quality exhaust fan should be powerful enough to efficiently remove humid air and reduce condensation on surfaces to prevent mold spores from settling. Your design-build contractor will help you select a fan with sufficient capacity for the wet room’s size and ensure it is installed correctly.

In addition to mechanical ventilation, natural ventilation can further enhance moisture control. Include in your design windows that can be opened, or add vents that allow fresh air to circulate. Natural ventilation complements the exhaust fan to create a balanced system.


A wet room’s lighting should provide adequate illumination to ensure safety and aesthetics. Natural lighting can create a bright and inviting atmosphere through windows or skylights, and make the room feel more spacious and welcoming.

Artificial lighting is important for times when natural light is insufficient. Recessed lighting fixtures are popular due to their sleek appearance and ability to provide uniform light without occupying space. Choose fixtures rated for use in wet environments. Task lighting around mirrors and above the vanity can provide focused illumination for grooming, while ambient lighting can enhance the overall atmosphere.

Combine both types of lighting to ensure your wet room is well lit at all times.

Design Elements of a Wet Room

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When designing your wet room, carefully consider the elements that create a functional, stylish and waterproof space. Key design elements include layout, materials, drainage and aesthetics, with each playing a role in the overall performance and enjoyment of your wet room.

  • Tile Selections. Non-slip tiles are essential to prevent accidents and ensure safety. Large-format tiles can create a seamless look and make the space feel larger. Porcelain or ceramic tiles are popular due to their durability and water resistance. Wall tiles should also be water-resistant and easy to clean. Use contrasting or complementary colors and patterns to add visual interest.
  • To optimize space and functionality, wall-mounted fixtures such as sinks and toilets are ideal. They keep the floor clear and contribute to a streamlined look. The showerhead can be placed centrally or at one end of the room, and rainfall showerheads or multi-function shower systems can be incorporated to enhance the showering experience. Placement of these fixtures should be designed to minimize water splashing on non-waterproof surfaces.
  • Storage Solutions. Built-in niches or recessed shelves within the shower area provide convenient storage for toiletries without encroaching on space. Wall-mounted cabinets or shelves can be used to store additional items. Choose waterproof storage solutions to protect items from moisture.
  • Glass Partition. While wet rooms are designed to be open, incorporating a glass partition can help contain water splashes and define the shower area without disrupting the sense of openness. Frameless glass panels are particularly effective to offer a minimalist and modern look. The glass should be treated to resistant water spots and allow for easy cleaning.
  • Including a tub can add a luxurious touch and cater to different bathing preferences. Freestanding tubs are excellent choices as they can be positioned to complement the open design.

Wet Rooms are Ideal for Accessibility and Aging in Place

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Due to its barrier-free layout and customizable features, a wet room is particularly suited for accessibility and aging in place needs. The open design eliminates the need for traditional shower enclosures or trays, allowing for seamless entry and movement throughout the space for those with mobility challenges or disabilities.

  • Non-Slip Materials. The use of non-slip materials, like textured tiles, provides additional traction underfoot to reduce slipping when the floor is wet.
  • Bench Seating. A built-in or portable bench provides a convenient and safe option for those who may need to sit while showering. The seating should be sturdy, waterproof and positioned in a way to allow easy access to the shower controls and necessary toiletries.
  • Grab Bars. Grab bars should be strategically placed near the shower area, toilet and any seating to provide support and stability. They can assist individuals in maintaining balance, transitioning from sitting to standing, and moving around the wet room with ease. Choose grab bars with a slip-resistant grip to further enhance safety.
  • Additional Accessibility Items. Handheld showerheads with adjustable heights can make the wet room more versatile and user-friendly. They allow users to control the direction and flow of water more easily to accommodate various needs and preferences. Adequate lighting is also important to create a well-illuminated space.

Work with a Qualified Design Build Professional for the Ultimate Wet Room

Choosing to work with a design build firm when creating your wet room is highly advantageous for several reasons:

  • Expertise and Experience. Design build professionals have a deep understanding of the technical and aesthetic aspects of wet room construction. They can foresee potential issues and address them proactively to ensure a smooth and successful project.
  • Integrated Process. The design build approach combines design and construction phases into a cohesive workflow. This enhances communication and coordination between the design and construction teams to maintain a clear vision and reduces the risk of miscommunication and errors.
  • Design build professionals can tailor your wet room to meet your specific needs and preferences, whether they are incorporating accessibility features or achieving a particular aesthetic.
  • Quality Assurance. Your design build firm has established relationships with reliable suppliers and subcontractors to ensure only top-quality materials and workmanship in your project.
  • Time and Cost Savings. Their expertise allows for accurate project timelines and budgets, reducing the likelihood of delays and cost overruns.
  • A reputable design build firm typically offers a warranty on their work, providing you with peace of mind and making certain that any issues arising from construction are addressed promptly and without additional cost to the homeowner.

Choose Schroeder Design Build for your Fairfax, VA Wet Room Design and Installation

Schroeder Design Build is your ideal choice for designing and building a wet room due to our expertise, integrated approach, commitment to quality and focus on customer satisfaction. With years of experience in the design-build process, our teams possess the knowledge and skills necessary to create wet rooms that surpass your needs and preferences.

We’ll work closely with you to understand your vision and requirements and translate them into a meticulously planned and expertly executed wet room design using only the highest quality materials and workmanship.

Open communication and transparency are at the core of our philosophy. This ensures that each client is informed and involved every step of the way. We listen to your feedback and strive to exceed your expectations. With Schroeder Design Build, your project is in capable hands.

Contact Schroeder for a Free Initial Consultation

Want to learn more about adding a wet room or remodeling a bathroom into a wet room? Contact us for a free initial consultation at (703) 449-1700.

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