When it comes to redecorating a bathroom, there are a number of big decisions that need to be made. Are you prioritising a bath or a shower? How much storage will you need? What is the best layout for your bathroom suite?
If you are prioritising a shower, then there’s no doubt that somewhere on this long list of decisions is what kind of shower do you want? Now, unless you’ve had to redecorate a bathroom before, this probably isn't a topic you’ve looked into in any great depth and your wishlist will likely be limited to the simplest preferences such as the overall look you want to achieve and whether you want a power shower or a digital shower. If this feels familiar, then you might be surprised by the wide range of options out there and, eventually, you’ll have to decide whether you’re looking to buy and install a walk-in shower wet room or instead opt for a more traditional shower tray.
To help you make your decision on which type of shower to install, we’re going over the pros and cons of wet rooms versus shower trays and will be answering some of the most commonly asked questions surrounding this debate.
What is the difference between a wet room and a shower tray?
Just before we delve into which is better, and the benefits and drawbacks of each choice, let's quickly go over what wet rooms and shower tray showers are defined as.
Both wet rooms and shower trays are contemporary shower options that offer more space, comfort and style than a traditional shower cubicle, with the primary difference between them being the base. While a shower tray has, as expected, a shower tray basin that you stand in to catch and collect all the water run off from the shower head, a wet room’s base is completely flush with the rest of the bathroom floor. Instead of a basin, walk-in showers are constructed on a slight incline, with a drain inbuilt at the lowest point to collect the water.
The pictures below show the distinct differences between a wet room style and a shower tray.
Aside from this primary difference, there are a number of other features that set wet rooms and shower trays apart including style, accessibility and, of course, price. Which difference holds more weight over your decision will depend on personal preference, your own priorities in redecorating and your budget.
Significantly easier to clean than a traditional cubical shower unit, both wet rooms and walk-in showers with a tray have less components to clean. This makes them great choices for those looking to cut down on their bathroom maintenance schedule. This is especially true for wet rooms which, unless you opt to have a glass barrier installed to limit where water can splash, will only require the regular cleaning of the shower head itself, the drain and any surfaces which are likely to come into contact with suds from your soap and shampoo.
If you’re looking for more ways in which you can further limit the time it takes to clean your bathroom, then both a shower tray and a wet room can be fitted alongside PVC shower panels. Traditionally, walls in bathrooms which are likely to get splashed frequently are tiled to protect the wall itself but a common problem with this choice is that the grout lines and sealant required for tiling a wall can easily become discoloured or grow mould.
Whether you opt for a shower tray or a wet room, avoid the annoyances of tiles by opting for the easily installed, and even easier maintained, alternative; shower wall panels. Quick to slot into place and easy to wipe clean as and when required, PVC shower wall panels are a cost effective way to decorate your bathroom and, if you prefer the appearance of tiles but are drawn to the convenience of shower panels, try taking a look through our collection of tile effect showerwall panels.
When it comes to the question of mobility, there’s no doubt that a wet room is the superior choice. Compared to a shower tray, a wet room not only allows for simple access without needing a bar to support those with limited mobility to step up and into a tray, but it also enables families with young children an easier way to get clean quickly. Of course, amendments can be made to a shower tray unit in order to make them more accessible for people with mobility issues and physical disabilities, but for the most part, walk-in wet rooms allow for more customisations, such as a shower seat.
In creating a wet room that is tailored exactly to you or a household member’s needs, showering becomes an easier process that could even introduce the possibility of greater independence, particularly in comparison to a bath.
When it comes to the question of style, there isn’t a clear winner between the shower tray and the walk-in wet room. Instead, both options offer less bulky, more modern style opportunities than a traditional shower cubicle or shower and bath combination. Additionally, both shower types can be styled largely according to your own preferences as, if you’re looking to achieve a modern, spa-like feel in your bathroom, clean lines and sleek chrome finishes are a popular choice for both a walk-in and a shower tray. Perhaps one difference that should be noted, especially if you have a smaller bathroom, is that wet room showers are better at giving the illusion of more space due to the lack of walls, glass screens, or subtle change in floor height which can block out lines of sight and brightness.
Beyond these very small differences, the majority of styling comes not from your shower choice itself, but instead from how you style the rest of the room. For example, if you’re looking to achieve that sleek, luxurious look, our collection of marble effect PVC wall panels is your best option while, if you’re aiming for a more unique style, try our collection of wood effect shower wall panels.
Is a wet room cheaper than a shower room?
In any home renovation project, money and budget will always be a deciding factor alongside other considerations such as how much building work will be needed to install your chosen bathroom. There’s no doubt that it’s an inconvenience to have builders in your home, especially if your own personal circumstances depend on working from home or if you have young children, so that may also limit your options in renovating.
Because wet rooms require an entirely waterproof environment, which is created by ‘tanking’ the room by installing a plastic or rubber membrane and safe drainage in order to ensure your bathroom is safe from water damage, a certain amount of professional building work is required. This, unsurprisingly, brings its own additional costs, but these are also a part of the installation of a shower tray, so don’t think choosing the tray option will allow you to forgo building work on your bathroom.
Despite both options requiring professional installation, there’s no getting around the fact that wet rooms are considerably more expensive than their shower tray alternative, with the average cost of full, professional installation of the former costing anywhere between £3,000 to £5,000. Shower trays on the other hand give you much more flexibility on costs - as the shower tray itself will set you back around £200 to £400. This means that those on a budget may prefer to opt for a shower tray.
Whether or not the additional convenience, style and mobility allowances of a wet room are worth the higher price is entirely up to you, but there remain some options that can take the price down a little if you’re committed to this choice but would like to save some money. These include:
- Opting out of additional features such as a second shower head
- Choosing to have an entirely open wet room with no glass barriers
- Choosing waterproof PVC wall cladding instead of the more expensive tile equivalent
When it comes to sourcing waterproof flooring for a wet room, you can further reduce costs by browsing through our collection of luxury vinyl flooring which, with its sleek designs and easy installation, is perfect for wet rooms.
Which is best, wet room or shower tray?
When it comes to choosing whether a wet room or a shower tray is better, the final decision largely depends on you, your budget and your personal priorities. If you’re looking for a sleek, simple shower that will do its job without costing too much a shower tray is likely your personal winner, whereas those seeking a more luxurious feel, or those who need a shower that meets theirs or their family’s mobility requirements, a wet room is likely preferable.
Upgrade your wet room or shower tray with shower panels from The Panel Company
Whether you’re set on splashing out on a luxurious walk-in wet room or are hoping to create your own modern looking bathroom with the cheaper shower tray alternative, ensure you get the bathroom of your dreams with stylish showerwall panels and wet room vinyl flooring from The Panel Company.
From a traditional tiled look without the hassle, to a unique marble feature showerwall, find the perfect shower wall panels for your bathroom in our collection or, if you aren’t set on a style yet, draw some inspiration from our Bathroom Wall Panel Ideas blog.