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Updated: 30 May 2022

5 things people find frustrating about their bathroom – and what to do about it

Poor ventilation? Not enough storage space? Know what to look out for when designing your dream bathroom and avoid these common regrets

Your ideal bathroom may provide a haven where you can relax and unwind, but it needs to be a functional and practical space for everyday use too. Whether it’s forgetting to think carefully about storage, or making the wrong product choice, overlooking a potentially small yet significant detail may leave you feeling frustrated with your bathroom.

We asked more than 1,000 people* to tell us their biggest frustration about their bathroom, so that you can bear these in mind when redesigning or modifying your own. Half of those we surveyed had a frustration to tell us about.

Read on to find out what they are – plus use our expert planning tips for each to make sure you avoid the same pitfalls. We also look at what you can do if you’re having similar frustrations, but are not planning a redesign anytime soon.

If you’re planning to invest in a new bathroom suite, head over to our guide on the best and worst bathroom brands to find out which companies we rate highly for value for money, quality, durability and delivery.

1. Not having a separate shower enclosure

a small bathroom with a bath-shower

Around one in seven (14%) of those who were frustrated with their bathroom said that not having a separate shower enclosure was their biggest gripe.

The bath or shower is usually the focal point of a bathroom. But, for many, the limited size of the room means it’s often a choice between fitting a bath (or shower bath) and a separate shower enclosure.

Consider your daily routine, including how frequently you bathe (or would like to bathe) and whether it’s a necessity or an occasional luxury you could go without. Also think about the needs of others in your household or family – not just now but also into the future.

Many respondents to our survey who do not have a separate shower enclosure had concerns about accessibility and safety. One person said, ‘The shower is over the bath and stepping in and out is becoming more awkward as I get older.’

If you struggle to get in and out of the bath, you could consider an alternative such as a walk-in bath, with a door built into the side, or a shallow bath. There are also many bathing aids that could provide a quick, low-cost solution, such as bath boards, bath seats and non-slip mats. 

To find out more, read our full guide on bathroom aids and adaptations, or head to our guide on bath lifts, hoists and other bathing aids.

A further 6% of people said that the size of the shower enclosure was their biggest frustration. So, if you are thinking of getting one, bear this in mind before opting for something too compact. It’s a good idea to mark out the space first to get an idea of how it will feel.

2. Inadequate bathroom ventilation

The biggest frustration for some 12% was the amount of ventilation in their bathroom.

Bathrooms are responsible for much of the moisture in your home, so good ventilation is essential to reduce condensation and, in turn, to prevent a build-up of mould. Not only is mould unsightly, it can cause damage to the surfaces it forms on, such as walls, ceiling, furniture and fixtures.

Make sure you open a window or use the extractor fan while showering. If the window is the only source of ventilation, and you are noticing issues with excess condensation or mould forming, you should consider having an extractor fan installed as well. Use Which? Trusted Traders to find a local qualified electrician to install a new extractor fan.

If you’re renovating a windowless bathroom and ventilation is an issue, it might be a good opportunity to consider whether it’s possible to have a window put in. Think carefully about its positioning and the practicality of opening and closing it frequently.

Although it can feel like a chore, you should also try to get into the habit of clearing excess moisture from surfaces by wiping down the glass and tiles immediately after taking a shower or bath. A squeegee can help with the drying process.

Concerned about condensation in your home? Head over to our full guide on how to stop condensation.

3. Not enough built-in storage

Struggling to find enough space to store all your bathroom essentials? You’re not alone. One in 10 people said that a lack of built-in storage was their biggest bathroom frustration.

Updating or renovating your bathroom is a great opportunity to incorporate additional storage options into your design, such as a vanity unit. You may struggle to find extra standalone products later down the line that fit neatly with your bathroom design, or into available spaces, so it’s a good idea to think carefully about what you might need.

Consider whether you need more storage than you have currently and what will go where. Think about how regularly you use different things and how important it is to be able to access them easily. For instance, are you planning to store items such as clean towels or spare toilet rolls in the bathroom? 

Also consider whether you want everything to be hidden away, or if you’d prefer for some things to be out on display.

Visit our page on bathroom furniture for more information on planning your bathroom storage, as well as tips to help you maximise your current storage space, such as smart use of shelving and accessories.

4. The design or quality of bathroom units, products or furniture

The units, furniture and products are a fundamental part of every bathroom. Whether you’re completely renovating your bathroom or sprucing it up with some new fixtures and fittings, design and quality are both important considerations. 

For 6% of people, this aspect of their bathroom was their biggest frustration. 

We’ve heard from bathroom owners whose bath panels have become worn, whose cabinet doors have swelled and discoloured, or whose ageing taps now make it difficult to set the temperature correctly. 

If a full bathroom overhaul isn’t on the cards, replacing old fixtures such as taps can be a simpler and more cost-effective means of giving your bathroom a new lease of life. 

When it comes to bathroom furniture, poor quality may leave you with regrets before long. Cabinets and vanity units have to be able to cope with the wear and tear of everyday use, while also being able to withstand steam, condensation and water splashes.

Head over to our guide on bathroom furniture to find out how people rated the quality and durability of cabinets from big-name bathroom furniture brands.

5. Impractical bathroom layout

Some 4% said that the layout of their bathroom was their biggest frustration. 

The first thing to consider if you’re thinking about changes to your bathroom layout is the location of existing key features, including waste pipes, boiler and electrical wiring. While it is possible to move things around, relocating these features could add significantly to your costs. 

If you’re updating your bathroom on a budget, but the layout isn’t quite right, think about other smaller changes that could help, such as shallow cupboards, the size of your fixtures and fittings and the positioning of any freestanding products.

A common complaint among people frustrated with their bathroom layout was that the room was simply too small. Extending your bathroom won’t be an option for many, but our small bathroom ideas page can help with different ideas you could consider, including floating toilets and basins and clever design techniques.

It’s a good idea to talk to a bathroom specialist to help with your design and layout, taking into account your budget. If you’d prefer someone independent, use Which? Trusted Traders to find bathroom fitters near you and visit our bathroom installation page for help with choosing and hiring a professional bathroom fitter.

*We surveyed 1,174 members of the Which? Connect panel online in April 2022 to find out about their biggest bathroom regrets. More than half – 606 of those surveyed – had a frustration with their bathroom.

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