Cold and damp bathrooms

A bathroom which has a cold floor – both to the touch and appearance – not only makes the room look clinical, but also shocks the senses when early morning bare feet come into contact with it. A floorcovering which is soft to the touch and easy on the eye will make the bathroom a more comfortable place and create a feeling of cosiness and warmth.

The idea of carpeting a bathroom is often dismissed as being impractical, both because of the expense and because of the amount of water likely to be splashed around. However, synthetic fibre carpeting – in materials such as acrylic and nylon – is sold by a number of manufacturers. This has a synthetic or rubber backing which does not absorb water – and consequently does not rot. For a luxurious look, the carpeting can be extended up the sides of the bath.

Vinyl floorings – sold in both sheet and tile form – are relatively soft underfoot and come in a wide variety of patterns and colours. They, too, can be extended up the sides of the bath to hide the back and side panels. The greatest advantage of vinyl flooring is that it is easily cleaned and does not require polishing.

Sealed cork tiles add a warm touch to a cold-looking bathroom and like other tiles, can be taken up onto the walls and surfaces around baths and wash hand-basins.

Where a bathroom has a solid flooring such as ceramic tiles, it can be ‘softened’ by the addition of a cotton, tumble-twist rug. These are available in a variety of shades to colour co-ordinate with your bathroom décor and can be taken up and machine washed.

Condensation is often the biggest single problem in a bathroom, especially where gloss paint and ceramic tiles have been used on the walls. An extractor fan copes effectively with this by carrying the water-laden air away before it condenses. It has the added advantage of keeping the room fresh, dispensing with the need to keep the window open. But because it carries out a lot of warm air, an extractor fan is not suited to a bathroom which is already cold.

Condensation can also be minimized by keeping the bathroom warm and if you have not got central heating, a wall fire or heated towel rail combined with warm furnishings should help. Wall fires must be operated by a pull switch and should be fitted high comply with the regulations in your locality.

The limitations set by your heating and ventilation should be considered when you are choosing decorations. An attractive stone floor will be unbearably cold without underfloor heating. Likewise, metallic-papered walls will create endless condensation problems without proper ventilation.

Where bathroom walls have been tiled, they may be chipped and cracked. Or, if they have been used only for splash surfaces and window ledges, they may leave random shapes.

If you decide to replace the tiles you must remove the old ones and make good the wall underneath. However, removing old tiles often involves more work than is anticipated and you may prefer just to replace individual damaged tiles.

An economical way of disguising tiles which are basically sound but look dingy is to paint them with two or three coats of vinyl gloss in a shade to match the décor.

Alternatively, you could stencil patterns on individual tiles at regular intervals. Stick-on plastic tile covers, in a variety of patterns, easily and effectively hide less-than-perfect tiles.

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