Charting trends in the bathroom sector

Published:  28 April, 2014

The bathroom market, which includes a vast array of products from sanitaryware to flooring and furniture, continually adapts to changing customer requirements. This creates an exciting sector which actively encourages innovative product design. Louise Flynn, product director at PTS, discusses the emerging trends.

Each year, a number of clearly defined trends appear in the bathroom market. This year has proved no different with ‘inclusive living’ products, which support an ageing population, showing real growth. For instance, Twyford unveiled its ‘All’ range at Ecobuild 2013 in recognition of the modern family dynamic. Backed by shower seats, grab rails and level access trays, these once specialist items are now a common part of a merchant’s product portfolio.

The economic climate has unsurprisingly led to homeowners prioritising reliable products that will stand the test of time while saving pennies wherever possible. For installers, the priority remains saving time on the job and delivering a high-quality finish that will ultimately grow their customer base.

Easy-fit solutions

One innovation that we’re expecting installers to continually favour is the easy-fit shower. The market is already welcoming the next generation of these models.

The Agile range from Mira, for example, features an innovative installation system with 50mm pipe centres to make cutting simple. The mixer valves can also be fitted without a spanner. This product’s time-saving benefits are especially valuable when working on a newbuild project where turnarounds are tight and set delivery agreements are in place. The compact design lends itself to a limited or en-suite bathroom, another trend which remains relevant as second bathrooms become common to compensate for children staying at home longer.

‘Fast fit’ taps such as Bristan models featuring ‘EasyFit’ technology provide similar benefits. These products include flexible inlets with built-in isolation to guarantee easy connection to existing pipework. The top-fix connectors are also specially designed to ensure ease of access. The advantages are again clear: the installer saves time while delivering a stylish and reliable option, which is easy to update.

Fashion and function

Rimless toilets have been on the market for a while now but continue to be popular with a very niche market, namely homeowners who prioritise very high levels of hygiene. Designs such as the Rimfree from Twyford make the pan easier to clean and include innovative water streams, which retain performance at the same time as improving water efficiency. These models also offer a sleek and contemporary design, making them popular with end users looking for a stylish and clean finish.

Shower panels, meanwhile, have traditionally been used in hotels and public buildings, but are increasingly being recognised as a cost-effective and simple-to-install solution for domestic environments. For homeowners they are incredibly easy to maintain – without tiles and grout, there is no longer the need to prevent mould growth. An extensive choice of colours, modern designs and even mock tiles in gloss or textured finishes provide a bold aesthetic with a number of advantages that traditional ceramics simply cannot offer.

There are also multifunctional shower panels such as the ‘soundPANEL’ from multiPANEL, which allows the installation of an mp3 player-compatible amp and speakers. This reverberates sound through the panel core to effectively turn it into one large speaker.

Underfloor heating (UFH) continues to be popular and has seen a rise in popularity in the bathroom, where you are most likely to go barefoot and want the cold edge taken off ceramic floor tiles. Modern options such as the DEVImat (pictured bottom left) are more affordable and straightforward to install, meaning higher numbers of homeowners are no longer seeing UFH only as an added bonus if there is sufficient budget.

Bringing trends to the table

The role of PTS as a leading merchant is to make sure that all of these trends and innovative products are made available to installers nationwide. By keeping up with the latest technologies, installers can be confident that they not only source their favourite items, but also discover new solutions that may save them time or create a better result for the homeowner.

This article first appeared in the November 2013 issue of Builders' Merchants News.

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