A practical guide to waterproofing legislation

In 2018, the British Standards Institute (BSI) introduced changes in regulations for tiling in wet areas. Under the new revision, whenever you’re tiling any bathroom, shower or other wet area, a suitable tanking membrane should be fitted first, even in domestic locations to prevent damage or unreasonable nuisance due to water or moisture migration. Not following the BSI guidance can become costly.

Here, CCL Wetrooms aims to help installers solve the issue of waterproofing in bathrooms and wetrooms alongside new regulations and in line with best practice examples.

Building Regulations keep bathrooms consistent in health, safety and comfort. They also make sure the space is accessible, serviceable and built to a high standard.

Failure to meet these guidelines will cause problems for users, designers and fitters alike. It could result in the removal of a bathroom or wetroom and potential damages.

The latest regulation changes place the onus on fitters of domestic wet areas to tank the space whether it’s a wetroom or not. Here is a practical guide to the latest legislation and how it fits into the wider bathroom building sphere.

BS 5385-1:2018 clause

This is the latest regulation change. In July 2018, the British Standards Institute (BSI) introduced changes in regulations for tiling in wet areas. Under the new revision, if you are tiling a wet area, a suitable tanking membrane should be fitted first.

British Standards already support waterproofing in commercial wet areas. But under the new regulation, it is now recommended that domestic locations be waterproofed as well.

A wet area is considered to be any wetroom, bathroom, shower area, steam room or any other location that is subjected to frequent water contact. This means that it isn’t just wetrooms that must have tanking membranes.

Tiles alone are not enough to stop water from getting through to the substrate. That’s why wetrooms have tanking membranes in the first place.

Common adhesives and grouts are not 100% waterproof. Over time, water is absorbed through the grout joints and adhesive bed, and then into underlying substrates.

If the substrate is unprotected, it can lead to damp and mould issues. The longer this goes untreated, the worse the damage becomes.

Tiles can become de-bonded and the damage can even spread to adjoining rooms. The result is costly damage to properties.

With the new standards in place, contractors could be as accountable for repairs in domestic areas as they are for commercial locations.

Design & Build Regulations

The Building Regulations Act 2010 provides guidance for compliance with building regulations for building work carried out in England.

Part A, section 1.3: Any structural work of composite steel and concrete must comply with general rules and rules for buildings. The same is the case for structural work of timber.

Section 1.6: Design of timber structures – including floors – should comply with common rules and rules for buildings.

Bathroom/Shower Room Renovations

If you are renovating a bathroom and converting it into a wetroom, it’s unlikely you’ll need to apply for building regulations approval.

If you’re making significant structural changes, consult a building regulations officer before installation.

Part A, section 1.10: Structural appraisal of existing buildings for change of use.

Ventilation Building Regulations

When installing a wetroom as part of a bathroom renovation, it should ideally need to be fitted with an electrical extractor fan vented outside.

This can be connected to the light switch for timed operation, but continuous ventilation is preferred.

Part F: Ventilation systems must be installed and commissioned to a certain degree of accuracy to ensure appropriate airflow performance and energy efficiency.

Drainage Regulations

Part H: All foul water drainage systems should have a large enough capacity to carry the expected water flow from the shower at any point.

The size and gradients of the pipes should be adjusted to meet this capacity. All points of discharge into the system should be fitted with a water seal trap or approved alternative.


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