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Wet Room Design & Installation Tips

November 27, 2023

Constructed Matter, Inc. is an Arizona-based design and build firm that delivers design-centric residential and commercial projects. Their services encompass the entire spectrum of a project, including pre-construction consultation, residential renovations and remodels, tenant improvements, additions and ground-up construction. A recent project involving a 1,000-square-foot addition to a residence in the Phoenix suburb of Arcadia. According to Joseph Ballard, principal and construction manager at Constructed Matter, the addition initially involved remodeling only a flex space, a bedroom, and a “jack & jill” bathroom. But it quickly expanded to include makeovers for the primary bedroom and wet room bathroom suite, as well as an office.

In selecting building products for the wet room bathroom, Ballard came across QuickDrain’s WallDrain at the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show. “The unique design of the drain caught my attention, and I immediately saw its potential for this master bathroom project,” he explains.

After an initial KBIS meeting with Matt Valore, QuickDrain/Oatey tile & flooring channel sales manager, Ballard followed up to discuss his vision for the bathroom. A demo was arranged, and it became clear that the QuickDrain WallDrain system was the ideal fit for the project.

Wet Room Solution

QuickDrain’s WallDrain linear shower drains are built into the wall, offering a sleek, concealed look. The all-in-one assembly kit includes everything needed to bring the wet room shower design to life while providing exceptional flexibility and customization. The integrated drain, pre-sloped shower panels, and waterproofing represent a total shower solution for eliminating leaks and standing water.

Ballard highlights several key features and benefits of the product that made it a good fit for this Arcadia particular project:

Wall-to-wall coverage: One of the plumbing challenges we face with slab-on-grade construction is the drain location, which can often be off by a few inches. The WallDrain’s design eliminates the need for precise drain placement, as it spans the entire wall,” explains Ballard.
WallDrain’s unique design also allows for a wider trench and increased water dispersion capacity than what conventional, centerpoint drains can offer. This not only ensures excellent drainage efficiency, but also eliminates the risk of water pooling or overflowing within the wet room.

Single-pitch shower pan: With traditional drainage systems, a four-pitch shower pan is required, which limits the tile options and can result in tile lippage. “The single-pitch shower pan allows us to use larger-format tiles without having to chop it up to do the typical, four-pitch shower pan,” explains Ballard. Additionally, the WallDrain’s slope-to-drain design, which further prevents water buildup and keeps the floor dry, reduces the chances of slips and falls.

Aesthetic appeal: WallDrain’s concealed design eliminates the need for a visible drain in the tile, which can disrupt the bathroom’s overall aesthetic. Ballard appreciates the beauty and elegance that the WallDrain brings to the space, stating that “the worst part of a bathroom remodel is ruining the beautiful tile with an ugly drain.”

Simplified installation: The installation process of the WallDrain was straightforward and streamlined, according to Ballard. The product includes pre-sloped panels that facilitate proper water flow toward the drain, ensuring a hassle-free installation experience.

According to Ballard, this system allowed for easy installation and eliminated the need for separate pan tests. Unlike conventional, pitched mud beds constructed over two days, contractors using QuickDrain’s PET shower panels and waterproofing system can complete a shower modernization job in less than a day.

“For a traditional pan method, you have to do a pre-slope, the pan liner, and another tile pre-slope,” explains Ballard. “But after you do the first pre-slope and before you do the tile pre-slope, you must do a pan test. That kills the whole day. With the QuickDrain Quickslope, we can install everything, do the waterproofing to make our pan, and it’s ready for tiling – all within a day.”

While waiting for the tile to arrive, according to Ballard, the team proceeded with the waterproofing and obtained approval from the city for inspection. “This not only saves us time, but also streamlines the management aspect by eliminating the need to follow up constantly on inspection results. Adopting this method creates a smoother and more efficient process for our team.”

Happy Homeowners

The homeowners were unaware of the WallDrain’s unique features until completion of the project. But once the tile was installed, they were delighted to see the seamless design and absence of a visible drain. One of the homeowners, expressing her gratitude, stated that she finally understood the concept and appreciated the elegance it brought to their renovated bathroom.

Although initially hesitant about switching to a new system, the subcontracted tile installer had no issues working with the QuickDrain system. They adapted well to the change, completing the project successfully.

Ballard and the Constructed Matter team were pleased with the QuickDrain WallDrain’s performance and the overall results of the project. Ballard confirmed his commitment to using QuickDrain’s system in future residential projects, citing the WallDrain as a solution to plumbing challenges and as an enhancement to the bathroom’s aesthetics.

By eliminating the need for precise drain placement, simplifying pan installation and creating a seamless and attractive design, QuickDrain proved to be a valuable addition to their construction toolkit. As Constructed Matter continues to prioritize quality and attention to detail, Ballard says they will push for the QuickDrain system to be used for future projects. “Whether it’s one of QuickDrain’s linear floor drains or the WallDrain, the simple fact that the drain goes wall-to-wall is beneficial,” he says, “because we don’t have to worry about the plumbing configuration.”

—By Matt Valore, manager, tile & flooring channel sales, QuickDrain (part of the Oatey family of companies). With more than a decade of experience in the building and construction industry, Matt has previously served as a construction manager and owner of a full-service building and remodeling company for residential and commercial projects.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Kyle Zirkus Photography