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The best way of getting suitable bathroom cabinets

The best way of getting suitable bathroom cabinets

Whatever the size and colour of the bathroom cabinets you choose, do try to get one with handles either side. You might be limber enough now but a bath is a long term investment and you have to reckon on growing older and stiffer with the years. Also, handles are essential for small children and elderly people or people with back problems.

Baths: which material? Acrylics - The cheapest and most common material for baths is acrylic, which can be moulded easily to incorporate seats, soap dishes, bath rests and so on. Water stays hotter in acrylic than metal baths and they are barely resistant to knocks and chips although they can get scratches. The best way to cope with these when they happen is to make sure the surface is quite dry and to rub the scratch down with metal polish and rinse off thoroughly. Acrylics burn easily, so avoid cigarettes in the bathroom. They can also be damaged by nail varnish, varnish remover and some dry cleaning liquids. lt is important to install them exactly to manufacturers instructions or they may not remain rigid.

Glass fibre - These baths are made of layers of glass fibre bonded together with polyester resin. They are much stronger and more rigid than the acrylic variety and come in a range of colours, including metallic and pearlized finishes.

Pressed steel - These are fairly light and rigid baths with a smooth vitreous enamel coating and good wearing properties.

Cast iron - This is the traditional and the classic, but expensive material for bathroom cabinets and still holds its own mainly because it has an excellent, fairly stain-proof and easy-to-clean finish or porcelain enamel fused onto the metal at very high temperature.

Bath surrounds

Unless your bathroom cabinets are in the centre of the room you absolutely must have a splash-resistant surround which is usually of tiles or plastic laminate. Some people choose to fix a sheet of clear or milky perspex, plexiglass or lucite over paint or wallpaper, but I have {ound that water can all too easily seep down the back. Whatever the material, the surround should be at least 5oo mm (1 ft 8 in) high and come up to the ceiling if your bath includes a shower. The gap between bath and wall - and there will always be a slight one should be well sealed with a ceramic tile trim, a sealing strip or a non-hardening mastic, otherwise water can trickle down and cause rot.

If you want to square of the bath you can either box it in yourself, using boarding, which you can stain, tile, carpet or laminate. If you are not handy, get a carpenter to do it, or buy ready-made front and. back panels. Remember to have one removable panel so that pipes and waste can be inspected and repaired.

Save with a shower

Quite apart from being refreshing and invigorating, showers save water because they use about one-fifth of the amount needed for a bath. And they save energy, especially if you connect them to an instantaneous electric water heater which heats only the water actually used. Another advantage to a shower is that since it only takes up about one square metre (1 sq yd) of floor space it can be installed in all sorts of odd corners providing that there are a water supply and drainage near to hand and the sort of instantaneous electric heater which takes water from the mains. Otherwise, the water cistern should be at least a metre (3 ft) higher than the shower head or there will not be enough pressure for the shower to work. If you have a shower built in you will need a mixer valve and spray attachment with a thermostatic valve and a ceramic, steel or acrylic shower tray. Install them in a corner or an alcove, cover the walls with tiles and Ht a glass door, glass screens or curtains according to what is appropriate to the position and your pocket. lt is also very easy to put in a shower above a bathtub, again screening it off with a glass panel if that is possible with your bath design or shower curtains. Or you can buy special shower cubicles which range tremendously in price.

Basins

You can buy free-standing pedestal wash basins, wall hung basins, basins partially supported by front legs or basins that can be sunk into countertops or vanity units. Like baths, they are available in porcelain enamel over cast iron, acrylic, glass fibre or in the popular vitreous china. They can be oval, round, square, rectangular, corner-shaped or shell shaped and range in size from the small 300 mm (1 ft) widths to around 750 mm (2 ft 6in) or more, They come in the same range of colours as baths or they can be decorated in some way. lt is often sensible in a family bathroom to have two basins set side by side in a counter or vanity unit which can be made from plywood or other wood, then either stained, polished and lacquered or covered with tiles or a laminate like Formica. More lavish counters can be made from marble or slate or stone. Choose your taps and hardware at the same time as you order your bath. Again, there is an enormous choice to suit all tastes and pockets. The cheapest place to have taps installed is at the end of the bath and above the waste. You can choose between a pop-up waste (controlled by a lever or handle of some sort) or a plug and chain. But you can, of course, buy baths without tap holes to use with wall-mounted taps, or with separate function taps - the spout at one place, the controls in another.

WCs

WCs are generally wall-hung or the pedestal variety and can come as low as 230 mm (9 in) from the ground or considerably higher and in a variety of widths. Wooden seats are popular again, or you can buy seats to match the lavatory colour.

Bidets

lf there is room, bidets should definitely be included in bathroom cabinets. They should be as near the WC as possible and, generally take up about 350 mm (1 ft 2 in). Again, you can buy them in the same colours as baths and WCs or in white. If possible, choose one with a built-in douche spray.