10 practical considerations for an HDB bathroom renovation

PHOTO: Starry Homestead

Your HDB bathroom may not be the biggest room in the home, but the amount of complications that can arise during your bathroom renovation definitely requires planning ahead. Here are the considerations to take into account as you start planning for your HDB bathroom renovation.

1. Consider your bathroom fixtures early

It’s never too early to source around for your bathroom fixtures. This is so that your interior designer or contractor can make sure everything will be able to fit into place. Make sure you know where your plumbing is so you can get the right measurements as you shop.

PHOTO: SEDS Interior

This is a particularly important if you are looking for fixtures that need to be partially concealed or have the plumbing re-routed. These include wall-mounted faucets and wall- or ceiling-mounted shower heads or wall-hung toilets.

2. Consider if you will be going with a shower or a bathtub

If you are the sort who likes taking long soaks after a long day at work, then you may wish to go for a bathtub, which is totally possible in an HDB bathroom, as evident in our recent compilation of beautiful HDB bathrooms with bathtubs .

Under HDB regulations, you are not allowed to extend the original bathroom space to accommodate a long bathtub, so you will have to contend with the area that you have.

PHOTO: Arche Interior

For custom-made bathtubs, make sure you make an order for yours as soon as possible since they tend to require a long lead-time, especially if you are getting it from an overseas source.

3. Consider shower curtains or shower glass

There are pros and cons, whether you are going for shower curtains or a shower glass enclosure. Shower curtains offer more flexibility, are cheaper and easier to maintain since all you need to do is throw them into the washer. Shower glass is a better splashguard and looks more contemporary.

PHOTO: 19EightyThree

If you are opting for the shower glass enclosure, you will want to create enough space between the screen and your next toilet fixture e.g. sink or the toilet bowl to clean the fixtures easily.

Bathrooms, thanks to their wet environments, are some of the easiest places for germs and bacteria to grow. Alternatively, remove any space so that germs or bacteria cannot get in between the nooks and crannies.

For safety reasons, the best glass to go with is laminated tempered glass even though it is a lot costlier. Laminated tempered glass is stronger than tempered glass and less prone to spontaneous shattering.

Tempered glass is susceptible to shattering due to its manufacturing process, while laminated glass, with its use of an interlayer of plastic or Polyvinyl Butyral (PVB), makes its less prone to shattering. In the unfortunate event that laminated glass shatters, the broken pieces will stick onto that layer.

4. Consider smaller, R10 tiles for your bathroom flooring

When it comes to your HDB bathroom floor tiles, design may be important but make sure you are getting one that has a slip resistance value of at least R10 for safety.

The slip resistance scale for anti-slip tiles ranges from R9 to R13. R9 tiles are the least slip resistant with a matte and smooth surface making them suited for dry areas, while R13 tiles often have a very rough and textured surface that make them difficult to clean and maintain.

As such, R10 tiles work best for residential bathroom use.

PHOTO: LOME Interior

Smaller tiles are a better option for bathroom flooring since they offer more traction because of more grout lines. But it’s also because smaller tiles are easier to slope for drainage. You don’t want water pooling in certain areas of your bathroom.

5. Consider if you will be going for a shower curb

If you are going with a shower, here’s another consideration for you: to shower curb or not to shower curb?

Shower curbs are great for keeping water from splashing out, but they disrupt the visual flow of the space and can be a tripping hazard, especially if you have small children or the elderly living with you.

PHOTO: Zenith Arc

Besides the shower, other options include a recessed shower floor, where you step into the shower rather than over a curb. Or a flush design, which has the shower area completely flush with the rest of the bathroom.

6. Consider the lighting

While your HDB bathroom isn’t very big, it shouldn’t just have a single light source. You want to layer your lights so that every nook is lit up properly. Electrical points need to be planned early in a bathroom renovation stage so that any wiring can be concealed before tiling work.

Plan for focused, task lights in a bathroom that illuminate the areas around your vanity and shower. These could be wall sconces at the sink area and recessed lights in the shower area.

PHOTO: Aart Boxx Interior 

You will also need a main, ambient light that provides a general light throughout the bathroom. These are usually in the form of a flush mount ceiling light in HDB bathrooms seeing as our ceilings aren’t tall enough to accommodate a pendant.

Alternatively, for BTOs, consider converting the HDB-given mesh box into an ambient light box.

Accent lights can also be included to create an added vibe in your bathroom space. These could be in the form of hidden LED strips around your mirror or around your vanity area.

7. Consider if you will need extra ventilation

Because bathrooms are constantly wet, they are the perfect breeding grounds for mould. The best way to curb their growth is to keep your bathroom dry.

Save for wiping down all your surfaces after a hot shower, you will want to keep your bathroom door and window open to ventilate the space naturally. But to speed things along, you may wish to consider extra ventilation in the form of an exhaust fan.

PHOTO: Todz’Terior

Exhaust fans are typically installed over a window in HDB bathrooms. Depending on whether there are any modifications done to your existing HDB window, you may or may not require a permit.

Make sure you plan for this in advance so your interior designer or contractor can apply for the necessary permit for you.

8. Consider incorporating more storage

You may not think you need it, but you will. Planning for storage is an important step when you plan for your bathroom renovation. When planning, think about what you will be storing in the bathroom e.g. extra toiletries, toilet rolls, towels, skincare and hair care products, etc.

PHOTO: i.Poise Design Studio

The most common areas to incorporate storage include having an under-sink vanity cabinet or a mirror cabinet. But if you need the extra room, consider alternative solutions like over the toilet, around the window or ceiling-hung storage.

9. Consider your air-con piping and trunking early

It is likely parts of your air-conditioning trunking and piping will run across your bathroom. If you wish to conceal them, get your air-con installers to map them out early so you can do up the necessary partition walls to conceal them.

PHOTO: Swiss Interior Design

Do make sure to create an opening to access these pipes, as that will make it easier when you need to do repair or maintenance work on your air-conditioning.

10. Consider where you want your accessories to go

You also want to plan where the smaller bathroom accessories go, in terms of placement and location. They may be small in the grand scale of things, but they do impact how you use your bathroom. Consider accessories like towel hooks and bars, soap dispensers, shower caddies, mirror and laundry basket if you are getting them.

PHOTO: Starry Homestead

Having a picture in your head for where everything is going to be helps to forestall any problems down the road. For instance, you may be planning to have your towel bar above the toilet, only to realise that you purchased a taller toilet than anticipated, leaving you with less space to hang your towels.

Or you may be planning to incorporate your laundry basket in an area that you originally thought was spacious, only to realise your HDB bathroom’s bi-fold door wouldn’t allow it. You can then consider an alternative area for your dirty laundry or change out your bathroom door.

This article was first published in Renonation.