Splash-Proof Screens

The key component in any entertainment system is, of course, the television. And while the pros say that any of the latest flat-screens can be safely used in the bathroom—as long as it is splashing distance away from the shower, tub, or sink—a consistently steamy and damp environment will surely cut its life span.

One way to protect your investment is by recessing the screen into a niche in the wall and then covering it with a silicone-sealed, fog-proof glass frame. Austin Lowery of California-based Jetson Systems designed just such a watertight enclosure for the inside of a client's shower stall, placing it on a wall that shared space with the medicine cabinet. "We designed an access panel in the back of the cabinet for the TV," Lowery says. "If something happens to it, all you have to do is undo the screws, remove the panel, and pop it out." In this case, because the homeowner's audio and video equipment was all connected through a home-automation system, components could be controlled wirelessly via a waterproof remote, making it possible to channel surf, play music, and watch DVDs in the shower. If your house isn't so high-tech, another option is Samsung's new wireless plasma TV, which can pick up streaming cable or satellite from up to 300 feet away. While it still needs a power source, there are fewer connections to muddle with, which means less chance for the damp environment to take a toll on wires.

If you don't want your screen to be the star of the space, you can cover the niche with a two-way mirror. That way, when the TV is on, it's clearly visible, but when it's off, all you'll see is your reflection. Ready-to-go units, like Seura's small vanity HDTVs, look like mirrors and can easily be hooked up to your satellite, cable, or video system.

Another easy retrofit option is a marine-grade flat-panel, like Jensen Company's 15-inch LCD screen. Its circuit boards are made to withstand the humidity and salty air on boats at sea, so it can be mounted on the wall with standard brackets—no drywall destruction needed.

For optimum aesthetics (and viewability), try to keep the screen proportional to the room's space. If you'll be viewing from a distance of about 5 feet, a 26-inch wide-screen should do the trick. If your bathroom is especially large and you'll be watching from as much as 10 feet away, you can handle a 42-incher.

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