Choosing Bathroom Fixtures
Plumbing fixtures are the main event in the bathroom: toilet, sink, shower and tub. In each of these categories, you can splurge and take the bathroom (and your budget) to resort proportions. Or you can stay within a slim budget and choose value-engineered fixtures that will get the job done.
The best way to begin selecting these essentials is to visit a bathroom showroom where you can see and try—and ask questions. Your designer will guide you through the selection process and make recommendations, as will a professional in a plumbing showroom who is well-versed in the latest technologies. If you can dream it, you can have it—televisions in the shower, gas fireplaces built into tub walls, therapeutic lights that cause water to change colors.
Revisit that priority list as you make fixture selections, and also consider the practical: do you like faucets with separate knobs for hot and cold water or a single hand control?
Dual-Head Shower System
Today's faucets are available in a wide range of styles, from timeless and traditional to sleek and modern, such as this faucet from Delta's Vero collection. New faucets are also more water efficient than previous models and can come with highly functional features, such as integrated ceramic disks within the fixture that help grind away buildup that causes leaks.
High-Tech Faucet Features
Thanks to advancements in technology, homeowners can now equip their bathrooms with bacteria-killing faucets, motion-activated faucets and laminar flow faucets, which create a solid-looking stream that doesn't splash. This electronic touchless faucet by Kohler features Tripoint technology that is more accurate than infrared sensors.
On the style front, faucets can be fastened on the lavatory deck, integrated or even mounted on the wall. Wall-mount faucets have gained popularity along with freestanding or vessel-type sinks that require longer spouts that extend well over the top of the bowl. Image courtesy of Native Trails
Bathroom Fixtures to Consider
Here’s the low-down on bath fixtures:
Shower fixtures. Body sprayers placed throughout the shower can massage the body or produce a relaxing mist. Rain shower heads give you the feeling of standing underneath a water fall. And there’s no need to limit yourself to just one shower head. Dual fixtures mean more than one person can enjoy the shower at a time. These luxury fixtures aren’t limited to the master bath. “Manufacturers are making more cost-effective products that you can use in a standard bathroom,” says Ken Perrin, president, Artistic Renovations, Cleveland, Ohio.
Salvaged Shower Door
Seamless glass shower partitions are popular for bathroom remodels in any style of home. Since the glass allows 100% of all natural light to flood the space, it aids in making bathrooms feel larger in size. This custom factory window made of tempered glass and raw steel adds an industrial vibe. Design by Brian Patrick Flynn
Here is a round-up of various types of shower heads you’ll find on the market today:
- Wall-mount unit: This is the basic fixture, nothing fancy but highly functional.
- Hand-held unit: The ability to remove the shower head for cleaning and bathing is a true convenience. “A hand-held can offer multiple functions, such as a very targeted strong spray for cleaning and a soft spray for bathing children,” Conroy says.
- Rain shower head: You’ll get full coverage and a waterfall experience with this unit, but be careful that it has an engine and is pressurized, Conroy warns. “You don’t want rain shower droop,” she remarks.
- Body sprays: You can purchase drill-less slide bars with flush-mount body sprays and you won’t damage your shower if you decide to try the technology. “It’s like a first date,” Conroy compares. “It’s a commitment to drill a fixture into your wall. You can try the [body sprays] without destroying or damaging tile or the work you’ve done in the bathroom.” The slide bars on which body sprays are fixed are mounted to the shower with suction cups on this Moen product.
Sinks. The vessel sink is ideal for a powder room and serves as a focal point, but in a full or master bath, some find this configuration is less functional than a deeper, undermounted sink with a nice, arching faucet that is easy to operate with a single handle. So, what’s more important: how the sink looks, or how it works? That’s up to you.
Pedestal style sinks are timeless space savers, and their bowls are available in oblong, rectangular or traditional oval shapes.
Meanwhile, a range of materials options opens up avenues for creative bathroom design. “Where people often thought of vitreous [china] as the main material for bath sinks, now we are manufacturing our own glass sinks, and what we are doing with glass has expanded,” says Diana Schrage, senior designer for Kohler. Glass sinks can be dropped in and undermounted, or installed with an integrated glass top. “Taking it a step further, cast iron allows users to have more finishes like a black-and-tan, sea salt or ember,” Schrage adds.
Faucets. Aside from water efficiency [link back to water conservation], today’s faucets are highly functional with features like integrated ceramic disks within the fixture that help grind away buildup that causes leaks. The idea is less leaky sink repair and greater durability. On the style front, faucets can be fastened on the lavatory deck, integrated or even mounted on the wall. “If you want to have a cabinet right up tight against the wall and have a wall-delivery [faucet], the effect is just beautiful,” Schrage says. “It’s a nice statement in powder rooms because it’s a little bit of a surprise.”
An Eco-Friendly Faucet
TOTO has created a line of single-handle high-efficiency faucets that allow you to wash your hands effectively while still saving water. The contemporary Upton faucets are available in a standard model, which is perfect for undermount and self-rimming sinks, and a tall model, ideal for vessel sinks.
Texture Adds Interest
Today's faucets come in a wide range of colors, textures and styles. This single-handle fastened Delta faucet is a part of their Addison line, which offers a rich brushed copper finish. Whether used for a pop of color and interest in a minimalist bath or to blend with a more earthy, deep color palette, brushed copper creates a look all its own.
Kohler's wall-mounted Karbon line of faucets is just as useful in the bath as in the kitchen. The Karbon bath faucets allow users to position the spout exactly where they want it and then have both hands free for other tasks. This unique hands-free feature, along with the industrial-looking design, sets the Karbon collection apart.
A self-rimming sink is the easiest to install and can be replaced without destroying the countertop. It has a rolled and finished edge or rim and seems to sit on top of the counter. This self-rimming bathroom sink has a traditional porcelain finish and a silver faucet. Image courtesy of Toto USA
A pedestal sink is a basin that is supported by a freestanding pedestal leg. Pedestal sinks take up very little floor space and are easy to clean around, making them a great option for both large and small bathrooms. The pedestal sink is perfect for this bathroom since there isn’t much square footage. Image courtesy of Kohler
Toilets. Taller toilets that are 16 to 18 inches high rather than the standard 14- to 15-inch height are more comfortable for most homeowners, except for children. Taller commodes are also accessible for those who require assistance (walker, wheelchair). The lineup of toilets available in a full range of colors and designs can make the decision more difficult than you might think. You can spend a couple hundred dollars or several thousand, especially for one-piece toilets that are sleek looking but require more labor on the manufacturing end, which drives up the price, Schrage explains. “I ask people if they’ve ever taken a pottery class,” she says, relating the expertise required when working with porcelain. “To have something with that low of a tolerance for air come out as this magnificent, high-performing piece at the end is quite a task.” (Bet you never thought of a toilet that way before.)