Planning a bathroom
By Liz Ransome-Croker
Article 2 of 6
This guide talks you through how to plan and buy a bathroom suite, including baths, toilets and sinks, all at the right price.
Whether you've designed for a tiny wet room or a family bathroom, you'll need to work out exactly what you need to buy to make it a reality – and how much you can afford to pay.
If a new bathroom suite is an important part of your new-look bathroom, find out which brands people recommend in our reviews of the best bathroom companies.
Read on for our top tips on getting the most bang for your buck when you're buying a new bathroom.
- Bathroom companies
- Bathroom planning
- Bathroom costs and saving tips
- Showers and enclosures
- Bathroom sinks
In mid 2019, we asked 3,745 bathroom owners how satisfied they were with their experience of buying their bathroom, and what they thought of the bathroom itself.
The top retailer scored 80% while that at the bottom propped up the table with just 58%. The highest-scoring provider of bathroom products scored an even more impressive 89%.
To show you the range of options available, we've put together a picture gallery with a selection of bathrooms from the companies we've reviewed. It includes modern and traditional designs and a mix of top, mid and lower-priced bathrooms.
Click on the links in the gallery below to find out how each brand was rated and whether it offers value for money.
Making the most of available space in your bathroom is key. Take measurements before heading out to showrooms – you don't want to fall in love with a suite only to discover down the line that it just won't fit.
- When you measure, note down the location of existing waste pipes, boiler and electrical wiring. Relocating any of these will add a significant chunk to your costs.
- On graph paper, make a scale drawing of your bathroom, including the location of the windows, door and fittings. Take it with you when you go to the shops.
- You’ll also need to think about ventilation; if there isn’t a window, installing an extractor fan will help prevent mould and damp problems.
If you can, talk to a bathroom specialist who can help you design a practical space. Tell them your budget and, ideally, try to find a company that can show you 3D images of what the bathroom will look like.
Some companies also offer online bathroom planners you can access from home, which is really useful if you want to play around with designs before speaking to anyone. Our bathroom company reviews tell you which services and tools each of the major brands offer.
If you'd prefer to use someone independent, visit Which? Trusted Trader to find recommendations of tradespeople that have been through our rigorous checks.
We've spoken to thousands of bathroom owners about how they cut the cost of their bathroom and worked with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which publishes average building work and repair costs, to bring you the average price of a new bathroom.
Which? members can log in now to unlock the average prices and money--saving tips. If you're not already a member, you can join Which? to get instant access to this and all our ratings and reviews from across the site.
Buying baths, showers, sinks and toilets
As well as asking people how satisfied they are with their bathroom and the company they bought it from, we also asked them to rate the different fittings individually.
Read on for our advice on choosing different bathroom fixtures, or visit our reviews of bathroom fixtures and fittings to discover how our survey respondents rated different brands' baths, sinks, shower enclosures, toilets and taps for quality and durability.
Depending on the space you have available, you can opt for a shower over the bath or a separate shower cubicle. Shower enclosures come in numerous shape and sizes, as do shower screens that enable you to create more of a wet-room look.
You'll also have to choose the type of shower you want. To learn more about electric, power, mixer and digital showers, explore our guide to the best showers.
We've reviewed and tested shower brands and electric showers. Check our showers brand guide to discover which brands have the most satisfied customers and avoid a disappointing trickle or wildly fluctuating temperatures by choosing a Best Buy electric shower.
Bathroom sinks come in a vast array of shapes, sizes and designs, including:
- Freestanding sinks
- Sinks that are fitted into a cupboard or storage unit
- 'Vessel' sinks, where the sink looks like a bowl sitting on top of the counter.
Other practicalities to consider are the sink's height and the material it’s made of – think about how easy it will be to clean and, particularly if you live in a hard water area, how visible water marks might be.
Remember that the taps you choose will have as big an effect on the look as the sink itself – statement taps can be an affordable way to make a feature of an otherwise basic sink.
Nothing makes a bathroom design statement more than a freestanding bath. These come in a variety of designs, from traditional claw-footed, roll-top tubs to minimalist, modern styles. While they look unabashedly luxurious, you can actually pick up a freestanding bath for as little as £200.
Fitted baths tend to be more practical if you have less space, and it's possible to buy very cheap ones – we’ve spotted acrylic tubs for just £60.
Whatever type of bath you’re buying, always get in and try it out before making your decision. You may feel silly but you’d feel sillier if you spent hundreds of pounds on a bath you’re uncomfortable in. And shop around so you end up with the highest-quality bath you can afford.
If space is at a premium you may choose to ditch a bath entirely in favour of a large shower unit. Don't forget, though, that some people love a long soak, so think about whether this could affect the resale value of your home.
It may not be the most glamorous aspect of designing your bathroom but, over the years, your toilet will get a lot of use, so it’s important to buy the right one.
A variety of shapes and styles of toilet exist: wall-hung, back-to-wall, close-coupled and corner toilets are all commonplace nowadays, and you can also buy soft-close loo seats that won’t slam down when you close the lid. Check whether your toilet comes with a seat when buying it, as not all do.
Consider the flushing mechanism – toilets can come with a dual flush, power flush or gravity flush to name but a few, and this will affect your water use, as well as how powerful and effective the flush is.
From Homebase to Bathstore and Villeroy & Boch to Ideal Standard, to find out which are the best and worst bathroom companies, as rated by bathroom owners.