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6 trends and tips for bathroom remodeling in 2012

Bathroom remodels offer a chance to make a big impact without breaking the bank

April 12, 2012

Bathrooms offer remodelers a great space to increase homeowners’ enjoyment of their existing homes, so many new products are designed to complement or take advantage of existing bath features.

“As people move less and share existing space with multiple generations, we are designing new products that deliver personalized features and fit within an existing space or floor plan,” says Gray Uhl, American Standard’s director of design.

Showers are hot

Most older homes come equipped with tubs, but many homeowners prefer a larger shower. Sterling has introduced a 60- by 30-inch shower that fits in the same space as a standard sized bathtub, making it easy to remove the tub and replace it, notes Tim O’Connor, director of Sterling brand marketing.

“The newly launched Ensemble Curve shower is an affordable, complete solution to tub replacement,” O’Connor says. “This gives the remodeling contractor a nice, fast option because the wall set is less costly and faster to install.”

Complete with two end walls and a back wall that snap together, it assembles from the front. The Ensemble Curve snaps into the base and the flange on the wall set is nailed through to the studs and covered with finish wall material. Caulking is needed for only 8 inches in front of the joints, cutting drying time and eliminating continued caulk maintenance.

Sterling offers patterned shower doors, including five glass textures and 10 screenprinted patterns on clear untextured glass, to help spruce up the showering space. Easy-to-see through clear glass, which opens up the bathroom space, remains the most popular door, although the less expensive hammered glass texture is also popular. Doors are available both framed and frameless.

For homeowners that prefer a tub, Sterling offers a new 6-foot Lawson bath, which also comes in air massage and whirlpool models. All feature ergonomic design with arm rests molded on the inside for use while bathing and to assist bath entry and exit. Sterling tubs and showers are available in white (which is most popular), almond and biscuit.

Faucet and fixture trends

Faucets and fixtures continue to be a key part of enhancing the bathroom.

“New Flushmount Body Sprays from Moen are especially appealing to the remodeling consumer,” says Moen Vice President of Design Judy Riley. “With a modern design that fits cleanly against the wall, Flushmount Body Sprays seamlessly blend in with tile, slate or other premium shower surround materials. An adjustable spray face allows you to pivot the water up to 20 degrees in any direction for more generous water coverage, allowing you to create the exact shower experience you desire.”

Engineered with unique performance-enhancing features, including a Fibonacci-inspired spray, a spiral-shaped nozzle pattern providing full-body coverage, they also feature Moen’s Immersion rainshower technology to enhance spray delivery.

Flushmount Body Sprays are simple to install, saving time and money. An adjustable mounting bracket ensures quick and easy alignment with adjacent body sprays and fits within a standard two-by-four foot wall. They can be easily serviced from in front of the wall.

Regardless of bathroom size or function, homeowners want full faucet/fixture suites, says Delta Faucet product manager Allison McKinney.

“These full suites need to include an array of coordinating pieces so the faucet, regardless of configuration, showers, towel bars and accessories all have the same style and finish,” she explains. Delta is accommodating this trend by offering 13 of their 14 bath collections as full suites with coordinating accessories.

“People like the idea of modern design or clean lines, but also want to maintain an air of warmth in the space,” says McKinney. “With the growing popularity of warm tones, Delta Faucet continues to expand its Champagne Bronze finish onto a number of bath collections including some of the more modern structures.”

The Venetian Bronze finish is also offered on other Delta products, most notably on the contemporary Vero collection, making a “clean line” product a little warmer, McKinney says.

Technology use is increasing in the bath. In 2011, Delta Faucet introduced Touch2O Technology and Touch2O.xt Technology which allow users to activate the faucet hands-free. A simple tap on the spout or faucet handle of a Touch2O unit turns the water on.

“Faucets with Touch2O.xt Technology feature a 4-inch sensing field around the entire faucet, which means it automatically responds when a user approaches the sensing field,” says McKinney. “No infrared sensor is used.” These technologies are available on

single-handle lavatory faucets in the Addison and Lahara collections.

Green still relevant

Consumers see environmentally friendly products and materials as higher priced than conventional products, discouraging those already reluctant to spend on remodels.

“Designers say their clients are more concerned about the project costs than being green,” notes Riley.

But certain categories are getting more green requests, she says. These include cabinetry, countertops and flooring using sustainable or natural materials, non-toxic, low-VOC finishes, energy-efficient lighting, and water-saving faucets and showering.

Consumers want water conservation without giving up either style or performance, says Uhl.

“The goal is to remodel with great looking new products that perform flawlessly, require less maintenance and have a quick payback time due to the reduced cost of water usage,” he explains.

Both Delta Faucet and Moen lavatory faucets are WaterSense labeled, operating at 1.5 gpm at 60 psi, approximately 30 percent more water-efficient than standard 2.2 gpm faucets.

For an enjoyable shower that doesn’t waste water, Delta showerheads with H2Okinetic Technology distribute larger droplets in an oscillating pattern to provide a drenching, yet water efficient shower experience. The most popular Delta showerhead and handshower product lines meet WaterSense specifications. Individual water-efficient showerhead and handshower components coordinate with all Delta collections.

When it comes to saving water with their toilets, homeowners especially want performance, too.

“When you think about efficiency, it’s about less hassle, more accuracy, better performance. We want the same in our toilets – less maintenance, a cleaner bowl and overall better performance,” says Brian Hedlund, senior product manager of sanitary marketing for Kohler Co.

Kohler recently introduced the Cimmaron toilet with the AquaPiston canister technology to increase performance while reducing water usage versus traditional flappers. The AquaPiston canister lifts completely off the outlet valve, releasing water from 360 degrees around it rushing into the system.

American Standard’s water conserving toilets also offer performance blended with conservation. They include the soon to be introduced Champion Pro for maximum performance and the largest available siphonic trapway at 2 3/8 inches using just 1.28 gallons per flush. They also offer the Compact Cadet 3 Flowise one-piece toilet. This elongated bowl toilet fits in the space of a traditional round front toilet, exceeds performance standards and also consumes only 1.28 gallons.

“For those looking for ‘conspicuous conservation,’ we introduced the H2Option Siphonic Dual Flush toilet,” says Uhl. “This design allows the user to choose either a water-conserving 1.1 gallon flush or a full 1.6 gallon flush depending on the need.”

Gerber Plumbing Fixtures introduced its latest HET, the Viper 1.28, at this year’s Builders’ Show. The Viper toilets are Gerber’s deepest gravity fed product line possessing exceptional bulk waste removal. Additionally, the HETs feature a three-inch flush valve for quick bowl clearing and have powerful dual-fed siphon jets which clean the bowl.

“The quality and value of our Viper product is extremely well-known in the plumbing community and we now offer new models with additional water conserving capabilities,” says Ron Mudge, marketing manager for Gerber.

Installer tips

“The time spent sitting with clients asking how they will use the bathroom space will result in a great outcome while saving on time, money and heartache,” Uhl says. “Be sure you understand what the customer wants before you begin. Our consumer research shows that the number one thing that homeowners wish they had in their bathroom is more storage.”

Riley agrees, saying the bath must be designed with users in mind. She urges remodelers to make sure there are enough towel bars and hooks to accommodate the number of bathroom users and to be sure to choose a faucet with a high enough spout for the lavatory’s size. The bathroom should be properly lit for makeup application, shaving and hair styling, with storage space for related tools.

“I always think about ease of cleaning along with style,” she cautions, suggesting larger tile for fewer grout lines.

“Any time you can use existing placements for supply line and drains it will make the project both quicker and cheaper,” Uhl points out. “It is always nice to put the money towards finished details and materials instead of the cost of moving a drain in a concrete slab.” Examples of this are Delta’s MultiChoice Universal Valve and Moen’s M•PACT common valve system. Both are designed to make future upgrades easy, as no changes in behind the wall plumbing are made after the initial installation.

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