Musts for Every Bath

No matter how small a bathroom you're planning, it must include certain items. Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are required by code to protect receptacles in wet areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens. GFCIs quickly break the circuit, which can prevent a potentially fatal shock from a blow-dryer or electric shaver.

Low-flow toilets, which use 1.6 gal. of water per flush, are required by law in all new and remodeled baths. Pressure-assisted toilets effectively clear the bowl with one flush, but make considerable noise in the process. Gravity models sometimes require two flushes to clean the bowl properly. For maximum efficiency, choose a bowl with a large water surface. And make sure there's sufficient space around the toilet for comfortable access-ideally, at least 16 in. from the centerline of the toilet and walls or fixtures on either side. Also allow at least 30 in. from the front of the toilet to the nearest object.

Proper ventilation will prevent moisture from getting trapped in the bath, which can lead to mold and mildew growth. This moisture can also destroy wallcoverings, harm wallboard and other building components and saturate insulation, rendering it useless. Extract moisture by installing a ducted exhaust fan on a timer. Most timers allows you to set the fan for 15 to 60 minutes to remove heat, steam and condensation. Choose a fan according to the cubic feet per minute of air it moves. To find how out much you need, divide the cubic footage of the room by 7.5. Look for a fan that generates 6.5 sones or less of noise.

Adequate lighting is needed for shaving, applying and removing makeup and other grooming tasks. Include task-specific and ambient, or general, light. Multiple recessed ceiling fixtures are all but invisible and eliminate the locker-room look of a single ceiling-mounted fixture. Include a light fixture above the tub and/or in the shower. Flank the vanity or pedestal lavatory with a pair of decorative sconces or multibulb theatrical strips. And avoid fluorescent lights, which alter the color of your complexion.

You also might want to place small low-voltage lights in the vanity toekick for drama and as a night-light. And, if you like to relax while soaking in the bathtub, install some of the bathroom lighting on dimmer switches.

Finally, admitting natural light with skylights, etched glass, transom windows and glass block is an effective way to maintain privacy without taking up additional space. At a minimum, window area should equal at least 10 percent of the square footage of the room.

A properly installed grab bar in the shower should be bolted directly to the studs. Do not simply screw the bar into the wallboard or glue it to the surface of ceramic tile.

Also remember that a locking cabinet for medicines and cleaning supplies is an especially important safeguard against poisoning if you live with or are visited by young children.
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