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How to choose a bath
Selecting your bathtub is a big deal when planning your bathroom. A lot of other aspects of your bathroom design will depend on what type of bath you choose, and to a large extent the bathtub you choose will set the entire scene in your bathroom. There are a huge variety of tubs available, so it's worth taking the time to really see what's available before settling on one.
What do you need in a bath?
There are a few things you should think about when making your choice - the first of which is what your needs will be, both now and into the future. A family of four almost certainly needs a different tub to a retiree - although if you're determined to live in your home for the rest of your life, you might also want to consider how useful the tub will be when you get older. Tall people will need long, deep tubs to be comfortable. Elderly or disabled people may not be able to lower themselves into a standard tub, and may need either a step next to the tub, or one that's specially designed for those with limited mobility.
How much space do you have?
Another thing that will define what sort of tub you install is how much space you have available. The size and dimensions of your bathroom will directly limit your choices, especially if you live in an apartment. For smaller bathrooms, a combination of a tub and a shower may help you make the best use of the space you have available. Even if your bathroom isn't that small, doing so may allow you a little extra space to install a larger tub. Bigger bathrooms will obviously afford far more freedom, and will allow you to consider things like recessed baths, freestanding bathtubs and jacuzzis. They'll also allow more freedom with regards to where you position the bath. In smaller bathrooms, the tub is normally positioned in a corner, but in larger bathrooms you can just as easily install one in the middle of the room if you choose. The average bathtub is around 150cm x 75cm, give or take.
How big is your budget?
Your budget's clearly going to be another factor that determines what sort of bath you choose. Having said that, don’t be afraid to spend a little more on a quality bath. You won’t be replacing it in a hurry, and it will see years of use if you look after it properly, so it's worth paying a bit extra for a comfortable and attractive bathtub. Test it in the store if you want to (a dry run wearing clothes is normally the best option). Remember that in addition to the cost of the tub, you'll probably also need to factor in the cost of plumbing, installation and fittings (specifically taps and a waste). A well made and properly installed bath is a worthy investment.
How will your bath look?
Take time to consider how the bath fits in with your overall bathroom aesthetic. Since the bath will likely be one of your first choices, use it to inspire your other decisions. Consult with a bathroom designer to see what sort of options you have in terms of positioning and style in the space you have available. Even a small bath can be used to enhance the appeal of your bathroom.
Installation and insulation
Once you have chosen your tub, see if it can be insulated before it's installed. Insulating your bath can save you lots of energy and water in bath top-ups when the water gets too cold. A lot of the heat lost in a standard tub is dissipated through the walls and base of the bath. Having a bath insulated, even with cheap insulation, will go a long way to keeping the warmth in the water. To further save water, you can also consider installing hot water enhancements like cold water diverters or have temperature controllers.
How to clean a bathtub
Cleaning the bath's not something most of us look forward to. Having said that, there’s no reason that cleaning a bathtub has to take very long or get particularly messy. Most modern baths are coated with stain resistant surfaces, which mean that if they're cleaned on a weekly basis you shouldn’t have to spend more than ten minutes cleaning the tub.

Your bathtub will be easier to clean if you clean it regularly.

How to clean your bath

Make sure that you have decent ventilation before you start. Open a window, or switch on the exhaust fan to get some air circulating. It’s best to do the cleaning straight after the bath has been used, as the steam and hot water will have loosened up any residue. Use a soft, damp cloth and a non-abrasive liquid soap - preferably one that's designed for the purpose. If you have sensitive hands, you might also want to consider wearing rubber gloves.

Apply a small amount of liquid soap as directed on the bottle, and start scrubbing it in using the cloth. Begin at the top edge of the tub and work your way down, moving around the walls of the tub. Once that's done, continue to scrub the floor of the tub. Rinse the entire tub with warm water once you're finished, and use a towel to dry it down.

Other cleaning agents

It’s important that no abrasives are used, especially with fibreglass tubs. Abrasive cleaning agents can leave scratch marks which will catch dirt and residue, which will require further scouring to get clean in the future. For tough stains in your bathtub bleach will work, but it is a heavy pollutant so should be used sparingly. A mix of bicarbonate soda and vinegar works well too, and can also be used to clear drains.

How to clean jacuzzis or whirlpool tubs

You can use the above methods to clean out the interior of a Jacuzzi too, but you'll also need to clean the jets. To do this, fill the bath with hot water until it’s just covering the jets. Add about half a cup of dishwasher powder and around the same amount of bleach. The dishwasher powder is a low-suds soap, so it won’t cause any foaming problems. Mix the powder in thoroughly, then run the Jacuzzi for about fifteen minutes. Drain the bath, fill it with cold water and then repeat to rinse out the cleaning solution.

Flushing the jets should be done fortnightly if you are a frequent user, monthly if you are not.

How to deal with mould and rust
Mould, hard water and rust stains are all problems that are very common in bathrooms. All three of these types of marks are tough to remove properly, and if they're left for a while they can easily become permanent. While it's good to know how to remove them, knowing how to prevent them in the first place is vital to ensuring that they don't return.

How to deal with mould

Mould loves having damp areas to grow in, and because your bathroom's probably the wettest room in the house, it's very common to find it there. The warmth and moisture in the air offer ideal conditions for mould growth, particularly in dark areas like corners and drains. Poor air circulation is another big contributor, but one that can easily be countered using a bathroom fan when showering or bathing. Mould is nourished by the body oils and soap scum left behind every time the bath or shower is used. It’s tough to remove because it grows in cracks and gaps in the grouting and sealant.

To get rid of mould you can use a paste of baking soda and vinegar. Add around one cup of water, white vinegar and baking soda together. If the paste ends up too runny, add more baking soda. Smear the paste onto the affected areas, and gently scrub with a soft brush like a toothbrush until it starts to turn white and leave it to sit for around 20-30 minutes. Rinse well and repeat if needed.

For tougher infestations a 50-50 mix of water and bleach in a spray bottle will work very quickly. Bleach is a big polluter though, so use it sparingly. Make sure you have adequate ventilation and that there are no coloured fabrics around that could be spoilt by bleach marks. Use it in the manner described above.

If mould gets in behind the sealant, it may be worth stripping it out and reapplying it. Mould can be cleaned out from behind the sealant but it is highly likely to be a problem spot where mould will regrow quickly. Use a utility knife to scrape out the sealant, then clean the area with a bleach/water mix and reapply the sealant. Remember to choose a mould-resistant sealant designed for high moisture areas.

Hard water marks

Hard water stains are caused by a build-up of mineral deposits like calcium and magnesium, eventually forming lime scales. These cause an ugly discolouration where the water hits the surface in a bath, and clogging and poor performance in shower heads.

To get rid of hard water marks, anything acidic is good. White vinegar works well, but lemon juice can also be used. A paste of baking soda and vinegar can also be lathered on to good effect. Tougher stains might require a commercial descaling agent.


Rust stains can appear from numerous causes. Scratches and scuffs on fittings can expose steel which will rust if it's not treated right away. The bases of cans used in the bathrooms (like shaving cream or deodorant spray cans) leave rusty ring marks on clean white surfaces that seep in and cause stains. Seal off any exposed steel as soon as you notice there is any with a spot of clear enamel, and use a bathroom caddy to keep any cans off your surfaces.

The baking soda and vinegar paste described above can again be used to remove rust stains, but the less scrubbing needed, the better in this case, so leave it to sit for a little longer. Another easy variation is to pour table salt over the rusted area and then squeeze lemon juice on it and leave it for as long as possible (preferably overnight or longer). This will draw the rust stains up and out through the salt. There are a number of commercial cleaners also capable of removing rust spots. If you decide to use one of these, follow the instructions carefully.

How to unblock a drain

Unclogging a properly blocked drain (depending on the drain) isn't usually a fun job. At its worst, it ranks somewhere between finding a three-week-old bag of prawns in the back of your fridge and changing nappies in terms of unpleasantness. Blocked drains don't get that way overnight, and can often be the result of months of accumulated muck and detritus.
Once a drain is blocked, it must be unclogged or the drain is useless, and water will start backing up. Sometimes a drain just needs a little nudge along, but other times it will take more work. And when it is properly blocked, there is no other choice but to go in; you can’t decouple a bath or shower pipe in the same way as you can with a sink drain. Gloves are highly recommended.


A drain snake can be used to clear many kinds of obstructions.
Stage one: Try a plunger

Start by clearing the area of anything covering the drain, and any other bathroom gear (including bath mats, soap dishes and toothbrushes). There are a few things you can try before things get too nasty. Start by using a plunger, being careful to fully cover the drain opening. Run some water until there is enough to create suction. Plunge a few times then gently remove the plunger to see if water will run freely. Keep repeating for a while, but if it won’t run, let the water settle and move on to step 2.

Step 2: Hair removal cream

Yes, hair removal cream. Pour some into the drain, let it sit for around 30 minutes, and then try flushing the drain again. Most shower clogs are caused by hair, and even if you don't use it for anything else, hair removal cream is great to keep around for this purpose. If you don't have any handy, move on to step 3.

Step 3: Bicarb soda

If the hair removal cream didn't work, there is still one last thing you can try. Allow the water to settle as much as possible, then tip a cup of bicarb soda slowly into the drain, and follow it with around the same quantity of vinegar. Immediately place a wet rag over the top of the drain to seal it off. The bicarb and vinegar will react and create a lot of foam, which you don’t want to seep out and spread all over the place - instead, you want it to push back into the pipe where it might be able to clear the blockage. Once the pressure subsides, leave it to settle for around 30 minutes, then flush it through. Repeat a few times if necessary.

Step 4: The manual approach

If all else fails, you’re going to need to get physical. A drain snake is the ideal option here, but if you don’t have one you can also twist a wire coat hanger open, stretch it out and bend a hook in the end to create a makeshift snake of your own. Remove the drain protector if you can, but don’t force it if it won’t come out. Clear out any hair you can reach with your fingers and dispose of it. Slowly push the drain snake or hook down the drain until you encounter resistance, then slowly bring it back up. Remove as much of the clog as you can and flush the drain regularly, repeating as many times as you need to. Don’t push hard if you’re using a coat hanger; you don’t want to rupture the pipe.

If this still doesn’t clear the blockage, then call a plumber. Heavy duty drain cleaners can be used, but they can sometimes clog the pipe worse if they're not used properly. Regular maintenance of drains is encouraged to avoid this problem from arising.

How to choose a bathroom vanity cabinet
Choosing a vanity's a very important part of bathroom design. Not only does it need to look good, fit properly and suit the rest of your bathroom, but it also needs to be functional and useful. The choice you make will either leave you feeling dissatisfied with your new bathroom, or leave you feeling like you nailed exactly the look you wanted. Choice of style, choice of basin, where to locate the vanity; you’ll have to weigh all of this carefully to make the right decision. FInding a vanity that matches the rest of your bathroom is well worth spending a bit of time on. If you’re not happy with the results, the bathroom will never feel quite right.

Make sure you choose a vanity that looks good, which contains adequate storage, and which has enough basins and bench space.
Decide on a look
To start with, you will need to have a firm idea of the kind look you want to achieve. Be it classical, period, modern, Japanese or anything else, the kind of vanity you select will need to fit the 'theme' and tie in with the rest of the bathroom. Don't make the mistake of choosing a vanity for your bathroom on the grounds that it looks good sitting on its own in a catalogue or showroom. Approach your selection with a coherent idea of how you want the whole bathroom to look, and what sort of style will suit your tiles, your bath and your shower. The taps you use should complement those you want to use with your bath and shower. If you have any doubts, consult a professional bathroom designer.
•When deciding on the look of your bathroom, consider the long-term appeal of the look you're going for. A highly stylised bathroom might look great in the short term, but what's trendy now may well look terribly out-of-date a few short years down the track. Sometimes less is more. Likewise, while looks are definitely important, they shouldn't come at the expense of the bathroom's functionality!
Available space and size
Measure up your available space after the bath and shower have been accounted for, as well as the toilet if you’ve decided to include it in the same room. Leave plenty of space in front of the vanity and enough room for opening doors and drawers. Decide if you need a double sink, or if a single basin will do. The width, height and shape of your mirror may also be affected by the amount of space available too - and how you want to accentuate it.
Plan for plumbing and electrics
When deciding where your vanity should go, you need to keep the plumbing and electrics in mind too; a beautiful vanity is no good if you have to stand elsewhere to use the hair dryer. Likewise, installing the vanity on the same wall as the shower and bath taps may help you to cut down on unnecessary plumbing costs. In Australia, there are rules governing where you're allowed put electrical outlets in bathrooms, so it's worth checking with a bathroom designer or electrician before settling on a design.
Choose a type of vanity
Wall mounted vanity cabinets are currently very popular. Keep in mind that they need added reinforcement in walls.
Once you have a firm idea of what kind of look you're after, how much room you have and where you want to install the vanity, you need to think about what particular style of vanity you'd like. Wall mounted vanities are currently trendy, but cabinet varieties will always have a place too. Think carefully about what material will best suit you for the counter top and even the unit itself. Where do you want your basin to sit in relation to the surface? Do you have enough room for a full vanity or would a shelf system near a basin do? Would you like a mirror that sits flush with the wall? Perhaps a medicine cabinet? The possibilities are endless, and if you can't find one that suits your needs, you can just get something made to your specific requirements.
Get some more ideas
The best way to find out what's available is to ask your retailer or designer for ideas. People with a bit of experience will be able to make suggestions you'd have never considered on your own. Look around; check out home improvement websites to see what’s being used in other bathrooms so you can get an idea of how different vanities look as part of a completed bathroom. This will help you visualise your own space and make your decision.
Provided that you approach the task with a view to how the vanity will fit into the rest of the bathroom and how it'll be used, you should easily be able to find one that suits your needs.
How to clean mirrors
A clean mirror can brighten your bathroom, and make it look bigger.
Mirrors, even more than glass, will show up flaws and smudges as they are reflected. Mirrors are often well lit too, highlighting dirty areas even further. A dirty mirror can easily let down an otherwise good-looking bathroom, while a well-polished mirror will add depth and light.

How to clean bathroom mirrors
To begin, wipe your mirror down with a tight weave rag and some warm water. Try to get rid of any of the large dirt marks and obvious smears, then dry it off using a dry cloth.
Next, prepare a solution of one part white vinegar to six parts water in a spray bottle. Using this solution, dampen a scrunched newspaper sheet and start cleaning the mirror using circular movements, working your across from one side to the other. Immediately use another sheet of newspaper to dry the mirror off to prevent it from streaking as it dries. In most cases, this method will leave the mirror dazzlingly clean and smudge free.
This method can be applied to any glass in your home for excellent results. If you find the smell of the vinegar a little overpowering or unpleasant, you can also substitute it for a regular window cleaning solution - the main thing that makes this method so effective is the paper.
How to clean vanities and cabinets
Keeping your vanity unit and shelves clean and properly maintained will help preserve them over the long term, and keep them looking fantastic. There are many different surfaces and materials that are used for counter tops in bathroom vanities, but they can all be cleaned using the same basic method.
Keeping your vanity clean is not only hygienic, but will also help it to last longer.
How to clean your bathroom vanity bench
To begin, remove any bottles, soaps and other bathroom accessories from the counter top. It's very important to use non-abrasive cleaners when cleaning your bathroom surfaces, no matter what material they're made from; scratches can build up dirt and allow water into previously watertight areas. This can cause staining, waterlogging and provide fertile grounds for mould.
Wash the area down using a tight weave cloth and warm soapy water, and then dry it immediately using a dry cloth to prevent streaking. Pay particular attention to areas where soap scum builds up and clean off any obvious rings left by bottles and cans. In most cases this is about as much cleaning as is required for a bathroom benchtop.
How to remove stains from your benchtop
How you deal with stains will depend on the type of surface you have. Wood stains are a bit complicated - these may require some light sanding and refinishing, but to keep the finish on your wood consistent you may have to cover much more than just the stained area. For bigger stains or stains on expensive wooden benchtops, it may be a good idea to hire a trained professional to come and do the job for you.
Stains to porcelain, laminate or resin can usually be removed with a spot of bleach. If not, you can try making a paste consisting of 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and 1/4 of a cup of baking soda. Rub this paste into the stain and leave it for around half an hour before trying to clean the stain off again.
Stains on stone counter tops are a different matter, because you will need to get into the pores of the rock without scratching the surface. Though it sounds unconventional, a mix of bleach and moulding plaster left on for half an hour can draw stains out, though there are also specialist commercial stain removers available for getting rid of stains on stone surfaces.
How to choose a shower
How much you invest in a shower will largely depend on how you intend to use it. If you're only need a basic, no-frills place to get cleaned up, a shower head over the bath is a quick and easy solution, but if you’re looking for something a little more luxurious, then the possibilities are only limited by the space you have, the style you like and the amount of money you can afford to spend.
Location, location, location
When planning the location of a shower, you need to think about plumbing and drainage. To cut down on costs, try to keep all your plumbing in a central area near other water outlets (like your wash basin). This will mean that hot water also has to travel less distance, so it will lose less heat and be more energy efficient.
Another important aspect of choosing the right position for your shower is access. What looks good on paper may not work so well when you actually install it. You need to be able to enter and exit the shower easily and safely, so it's important to ensure that the shower door doesn't interfere with the bathroom door. If you really need to install a shower near a bathroom door, consider a shower curtain or sliding shower door.
Shower screen styles
The next step is to decide what styles of shower stall or shower screen appeals to you. Framed, frameless and semi-frameless are all possibilities, and each has its own unique look which can enhance the visual appeal of your bathroom. When choosing a shower screen, budget and aesthetics are important, but they're not the only thing you should consider. Spare a thought for maintenance; what will happen if a panel gets chipped or cracked? Is the manufacturer able to replace a single panel with relatively little hassle? Is there anything that will make cleaning difficult? Thinking about these things can save you time and money in the future. You may of course, opt to have no screen at all (as is the case with a wet room). This requires additional planning though, to ensure that there is no possibility of water getting into any electrics.
The inner walls of your shower will need to be waterproofed and this can be accomplished in a number of ways. Tiling is by far the most common surface option and can allow for any amount of personal expression and flair. Another creative option is to use a glass splashback affixed to the wall - literally as a window from your shower stall straight into your garden. This can work extremely well with a feature wall but can also be utilised to let in natural light and act as a sort of window. Just make sure you have plenty of privacy if you're considering this option!
Shower heads
Consider the type of shower head you want too; this is the business end of the shower after all. Shower heads range quite widely in terms of function, design and energy efficiency, so you will need to weigh up what your priorities are. A six-head pulsing massage shower setup may redefine your showering experience forever, but it is completely inefficient and (some might say) a little excessive. At the same time, standing underneath a weak trickle while the shampoo runs into your eyes is no picnic either. Where possible, read some reviews or ask your retailer for advice on specific shower heads.
The right choice of shower setup can mean a lifetime of rewarding experiences, so think about it carefully!
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