We're about to remodel our bathroom, but we're not up on the latest trends and gizmos. My elderly mother also lives with us, so what she we keep in mind for her? (Suzette from Plano, TX)
Suzette, thank you for writing in to us. We asked DeAnna Radaj of Bante Design in Milwaukee, WI to respond to your question because she just got back from an industry trade show and saw all the latest and greatest from bath vendors. (And for specific information on DeAnna's favorite toilet picks, go to her Harmony2Share column.
The main theme at KBIS 2009, the Kitchen/Bath Industry Show & Conference in Atlanta, was eco-friendly and water conservation. The trend was definitely towards hands-free faucets or sensors. With these faucets you can set the temperature to a pre-determined temp (perfect for a guest bath/powder room/kid’s bath), for universal design (great for your elderly mom, Suzette), and for water conservation as the water shuts off automatically. That auto shut-off is also great for a kid’s bath. Here are some of what was “hot” at some of the booths and what you’ll start seeing this fall for bathrooms:
From TOTO Bath Fixtures
- Concealed EcoPower Electronic Flushometer Valves convert potential energy into kinetic energy that is stored in a capacitor to power the valve. The faucet powers itself to provide economical and ecological returns on your remodeling investment. No charging of batteries, no wiring, 2 cover-plate sizes and pistons instead of less durable rubber diaphragms are just a few of the advantages.
- Wi-Touch Wireless Faucet Controller is a simple, easy-to-install add-on that allows you to turn on any faucet hand-free. The wireless remote can be placed anywhere within a radius of 3 feet from the control box and can be added to any manual bath or kitchen faucet. This is a handy device for the elderly, too, and much less hassle than turning faucet knobs.
- Ethos High-Efficiency Faucets gives your family significant water savings plus a dash of excellent design. The new 1.5 GPM (gallons per minute) increases overall value by helping to save water and featuring a new aerator design to optimize flow. It can save about 31% on water usage.
Brizo has a strong commitment to GREEN design through water conservation, water purity, and environmentally-friendly manufacturing processes. They work with the EPA and have several WaterSense labeled products which use about 20% less water and perform as well or better than their counterparts.
- The Vesi Channel Faucet replicates the sound of a babbling brook while reducing water consumption by 36%.
- They use H2Okinetic Technology which is the study of water in motion. By controlling the water’s shape, velocity, and thermal dynamics, Brizo’s showerheads can make a 1.6 gpm flow rate feel like a 2.5 gpm.
- Diamond Seal Technology leads the way in helping to save water and maintain high water quality. This technology uses a valve with a durable diamond coating to create a faucet that lasts up to 5 MILLION uses...10x longer than industry standard. Inno-Flex waterways with PEX-C tubing are also featured in the Diamond Seal Technology. This lead-free solution helps to safeguard water purity.
Moen is another company that has made a commitment to the environment by instituting a strategy to address all aspects of environmental management. They have partnered with the EPA, the US Green Building Council, and the National Association of Home Builders to advance their GREEN initiatives. Moen recycles more than 90% of all metal scrap, return product, and manufacturing by-product (oils and solvents) and has reduced water consumption by reusing up to 70% of water usage.
- Moen is the #1 brand of faucet in North America.
- Bathroom Faucets optimize water flow without sacrificing performance by featuring a 1.5 fpm flow rate.
- Flow-Optimized Showerheads use 30% less water with a single and 3-function option to outperform the single 2.5 gpm flow rate.
- Hands–Free Faucets are activated by infrared sensors and control water flow for maximum water and energy savings.
- Flow Optimized Aerators help to force air into the water stream to maintain pressure and restrict flow from 2.2 gpm to 1.5 gpm, saving you 32% less water. These are a simple add-on to any faucet.
- One of the neatest items is the M-PACT Common Valve System which is patented by Moen. This allows you to change your faucet style easily without replacing the plumbing!
Besides have the BIGGEST faucet I’ve ever seen as part of their booth (literally 10 x 20 feet AND it worked!), they had some really nice new designs coming out. Delta is also using the Diamondhead Technology that Moen is using to reduce water flow to 1/5 gpm.
- Delta’s DIAMOND Seal Technology offers no leaks and no lead. Delta also uses the Inno-Flex PEX tubing to help in the creation of innovative designs.
- The Pillar Kitchen w/Touch2O Technology makes for turning on the faucet with messy hands a breeze; just touch with your wrist or forearm.
- Delta has expanded its offering of water-efficient showerheads featuring H2Okinetic Technology by creating larger water drops while using 36% less water.
Another other great trend in bathroom design is the incorporating of more Universal Design elements and making them aesthetically pleasing. The idea is not to make your home bathroom looking like a hospital bathroom. As the population ages, even if you aren’t retiring in the near future, incorporating Universal Design features into a bathroom remodel will add value to your home if you're selling in the near future and will ensure that your bathroom is ready if and when you or your family may be needed fixtures that are more universally friendly.
Universal Design features aren’t only for the elderly. They're also for anyone who has been in an accident, suffering from arthritis, or healing from a broken bone. In fact, they make sense for everyone.
Universal Design Features
Let’s look at showers first. One of the coolest design options I saw was for shower drains (I know, I need to get out more!). Quick Drain won the “Gold Award -- Best in Competition” at the 2009 KBIS show. This is a low-profile channel which can be retrofitted easily into an existing shower stall. There is NO height added to the existing floor or change of slope around the drain. The 1-way slope and channel drain allow for large tile use on the shower pan. Although Quick Drain can be installed anywhere water drainage is required, the most popular is a “wall” installation at the far side of the shower, opposite of the entry, in case you need to wheel a wheel chair in or use a walker. There would be no transition to impede entry.
- Quick Drain can be installed in bathrooms, laundry rooms, pools, or garage floors.
- Quick Drain is easy to install and can be used with all flooring materials.
- The drain cover/strainer is height adjustable to work with any flooring thickness.
- Use Quick Drain to form a continuous floor with no breaks.
- Eliminates the need for a shower pan.
- No more stepping on the drain!
Look into AKW MediCare for barrier-free showering and bathroom safety accessories. This is a wonderful site to check out products like the Tuff-Form Pan which creates a wet-floor shower with the benefit of a true zero-threshold entry. The pan can be cut to any shape or size within 6 inches of the drain. The other featured shower pan is the Mullen Shower Pan. The Mullen doesn't require the use of a water “retainer” to keep water from running out. It can also be used on wood or concrete. Other products from AKW include shower seats, grab bars, and half-height shower doors that will be good for your elderly mother and other family members.
Who knew grab bars could be made stylish? Well, one of my favorite new companies is HealthCraft out of Canada. They're an eco-friendly company (they recycle paint and metal to use in other products and try to recycle whatever else they can in the manufacturing process) and they've designed products that make you WANT to install grab bars in your bathroom! First off, WHY do you want or need a grab bar? They help increase independence, reduce caregiver strain, and help to provide for personal safety.
HealthCraft offers a SuperPole system that can be used in the bathroom and other rooms to help you get up from your favorite chair or maneuver over a bathtub threshold. This system can be installed anywhere in a matter of minutes. A variety of accessories are available. Other products include the Dependa-Bar w/5 locking positions, a Bath Board which works in conjunction with the Dependa-Bar for easy storage, the SerenaSeat (a really stylish wood folding seat for the shower), and easy-mount grab bars and rails that can be installed in a variety of positions and angles. The Invisia Collection is the “designer” line of grab bars, and they're also multi-use. Grab bars in circular shapes and that can hold soap, toilet paper, or over a tub faucet. It’s great and so simple! These fixtures would be wonderful additions to any bathroom.