Bathrooms buying guide

Updating your bathroom doesn’t have to mean ripping everything out and starting again, as there are plenty of ways to transform the look and feel of the room without breaking the bank. A new set of bathroom taps, for instance, will instantly refresh the aesthetics of your space, or upgrading your bathroom lighting will help you create a restorative and energising environment.

If it’s a total makeover you’re looking for, we offer a wide range of both modern and traditional bathroom suites in several or our shops* to help you achieve the look you want, with the quality and durability you need to build a bathroom that will stand the test of time. And we also offer a fitted bathrooms installation service in those same shops where we'll take care of the whole makeover, from design to taps to tiling.

*Fitted bathrooms and our fitted bathroom service are currently available at John Lewis Oxford Street, High Wycombe, Solihull, Milton Keynes, Bluewater, Cribbs Causeway and York


The right shower is integral to any bathroom, but before you commit to buying one, we'd advise you contact your plumber, and remember to factor in the cost of labour when fitting.

Water Pressure:

Before you buy your shower, make sure your plumbing is compatible with it. There are three types of water systems in the UK:

Unvented pressure system

This type of water system uses pressurised water from the mains water supply from under your road to fill a main cylinder. This pressurises both your hot and cold water supplies.

Whilst gravity water systems suffer from low pressure, an unvented system uses pressure-limiting valves to ensure the pressure stays below 3 bars for safety reasons. The water is kept at a constantly high pressure and typically heated using a boiler.

An unvented system provides high water pressure for your shower, without the need for a pump which means you have a wider range of showers to choose from.

Gravity systems

Most UK homes have a gravity system, which use a cold water system usually located on the top floor of a building or in the attic, together with a hot water cylinder, located near a boiler or in an airing cupboard.

If you have a system like this, then the pressure of your shower will be dependent on the distance from your showerhead to the cold water system. More distance means greater water pressure. If you have a gravity system, you’re likely to experience low pressure, but may be able to take advantage of a shower pump to remedy this.


Combination boilers are usually installed in kitchens, sitting at the point where the mains cold water connects to your property. A combi-boiler heats cold water from the mains as and when you need it. Due to the water being from the mains water system, the pressure will be fairly high, meaning you have a wide range of showers to choose from without the need for a booster pump.

This will also let you consider a wider range of showerheads, as larger showerheads and those with a greater number of nozzles require higher water pressure to function properly.

Power ratings

The power ratings on our showers vary from around 8kW to just over 10kW. Generally the higher the power rating, the more powerful your shower is.


When buying your shower, it’s important to know the pressure of the water in your household to make sure you buy a shower that will offer you a consistently strong performance all year round. Your plumber should be able to assess your water pressure.

Pressure is measured in bars. This starts at 0.1 bar (low), and increases to 3 bar for a shower that requires higher pressure. Bars are measured by the vertical distance your water tank is from your shower.

Generally speaking, every 1m is 0.1 bar in pressure. So if your shower is 5 metres below your tank, it’ll translate to 0.5 bar of pressure. This can also be affected by the placement of your pipes and their condition.

Different types of showers

Electric showers heat cold mains pressure water from your boiler. A key advantage is that they’re more economical than other showers, as you only end up heating the water you use. Some of our showers also come with OTP (Over Temperature Protection) which offers a phased shut-down.

Mixer showers come in two types. The first is manual, which encompasses the majority of mixer showers available. These mix the hot and cold water to a temperature of your choice. This then flows through a connecting valve, and is heated by your boiler.

A lot of our mixer showers are thermostatic, which use a valve to regulate the temperature of your water. As water usage elsewhere such as flushing a toilet can alter the flow of hot and cold water, this stabilises any sudden changes in water temperature.

Power showers are suitable for houses with low water pressure. They use a pump to increase the pressure of the water, and mix both your hot and cold water like a mixer shower to give you the temperature of your choice. As you need separate hot and cold water sources to have a power shower, combi boilers aren’t compatible. Power showers deliver an invigorating showering experience, but they use an average of 15L of water per minute, compared to 5L with an electric shower.


Our showerheads come in both fixed and adjustable models. Swivel models offer more flexibility, whilst fixed models are usually ceiling mounted. Some have rub-clean nozzles for hygiene and convenience, whilst others offer multiple spraying modes, such as ‘massage’ and ‘scatter spray’. Generally speaking, the larger the showerhead, the greater the pressure needed for it to work properly.

Hand-held showerheads are perfect if you’re cleaning, rinsing off small children or giving your pet a bath, whilst ceiling mounted showerheads are best for an encapsulating shower.

Shower features


Digital showers offer you the convenience of turning on your shower remotely, meaning you’ll never again have to wait in a cold bathroom. It requires a data cable, which runs behind the tiles.

Precise temp control

Some showers now let you save your preferred temperature, so you don’t have to fiddle around looking for it the next time.

Smooth glide temperature control

This offers a highly precise dial, more user-friendly than a fixed version.


Some of our showers have diverters, which offer the ability to switch between shower and taps. This works well if you have a fixed showerhead but also want the versatility of a separate hand-held showerhead.

Shower pump

These provide an extra boost to low water pressure households so your shower provides a strong performance, but are only compatible with gravity-fed water systems.

And for your peace of mind, all our showers come with a 5-year guarantee.


Installing electric showers requires a connection to your cold water supply, and one connection to your electrical supply circuit. Some of our showers come with flexi-pipes, which are bent at an angle for increased flexibility when installing.

Shower and bath screens

Shower screens ensure that your bathroom remains dry when you shower.

There are various shower screen designs, such as a towel rail on the outside, framed, frameless or concertina folds. Sailed half frames are good for small showering areas.

Splash guards are designed to be used with a shower curtain and rail to help eliminate over-splash.

In hard water areas, lime salts can build up on glass. Try to squeegee off excess water after showering, and use a shower glass cleaning solution regularly.


Our range of shower curtains come in a wide array of designs made from high quality polyester, with long lasting nickel-plated eyelets.

Not all are completely waterproof, so you'll need to buy a waterproof inner liner if this is the case. Extend your shower curtain to dry fully after each shower to prevent the build-up of mould, and wash it regularly.

Taps and Wastes


Before deciding on the type of taps you’d like for your bathroom, we recommend you find out the water pressure of your house.


Basin mixers (or 'Monobloc' taps) are designed for basins with one tap hole. Hot and cold water flows through one pipe and is mixed to your temperature preference when used. Our basin mixer taps come in a high quality finish, with some offering 'anti-splash' spouts as standard and high quality copper pipes for smooth installation. Remember to check your pressure before committing to buy a basin mixer tap, as they require relatively high pressure to work well.

We also offer wall mounted mixer taps, many of which come with flexible pipes for fast and simple installation.

Pillar taps

Basin taps (or pillar taps) are designed for basins with two holes. This separates the hot and cold water. Some of our pillar taps are custom-designed for houses with low pressure, so they may be worth considering if you have a gravity-fed water system.

Bath filler

This works well for baths with two tap holes. With a bath filler, one component is fitted over both tap holes which mixes the water internally. The water is then delivered through the spout. A bath filler tap is ideal for homes with lower water pressure.

We also offer floor-standing bath fillers for bathrooms with underground plumbing, but these need high water pressure.


Clean taps with warm soapy water and a small sponge; if you use a cleaning solution because of hard water, do check that it’s suitable for chrome but bear in mind that they can still tarnish their finish.


We recommend you consult with a plumber when installing your taps, as there are rules and regulations to follow, such as a legal obligation to prevent contamination of the main water supply; you would have to fit double-acting non-return valves to both the hot and cold water pipes.


Typical wastes are better known as 'chain and plugs', or 'pop up wastes'; both prevent any objects from obstructing your bathroom plumbing.

When buying a waste it needs to be slotted, or unslotted, depending on whether your basin has an overflow or not. An overflow is the small hole at the back of your basin, usually under the tap, which drains excess water to prevent overflowing from the basin.

If you basin does have an overflow, then it needs a slotted basin waste. The slots are connected to the main waste, and helps dispose of overflowing water. If your basin doesn’t have an overflow, then odds are it requires an unslotted waste.

Types of wastes

Plug and chain

The traditional plug and chain waste is still used widely.

Pop up waste

This type of waste is integrated into the tap, and works with the use of a small lever, usually located on the back of the tap. The lever is pushed down to raise the waste plug.

Toilets and bidets

Here’s a quick breakdown of the key terms relating to loos:


The tank that stores water for when you flush your toilet.


This is also known as a ‘closet flange’, and has two purposes. Firstly, it mounts the toilet to the floor securely. Secondly, it connects the toilet drain to the drain pipe. Your toilet will be bolted to the flange, as opposed to the floor.

Flush pipe

The pipe between the cistern and the bowl.

We offer three different types of toilets:

Low level toilet sets

Low level toilets have their cistern attached to the wall, with a pipe connected to the pan. The cistern must only be fitted to a reinforced or solid wall, meaning plaster walls are not recommended. Low level toilet sets are still a popular choice, and they’re also fairly easy to conceal, as the cistern and the bowl are separated with the cistern being concealed behind a wall.

Back to wall (BTW) toilet sets

Back to wall toilet sets are fitted against bathroom furniture and you can also fit them against false walls, with the purpose of concealing the cistern inside. This gives your bathroom a clean finish, as all the piping is hidden. When installing your back to wall toilet, we advise that you call a plumber, as the pipes will still need to be accessible after the installation.

Close coupled (CC) toilet sets

A closed coupled toilet set is where the cistern is attached directly to the wall, and sits on the pan which is fitted to the floor. They’re also very easy to install, as the plumbing doesn’t have to be concealed.

Flush types

Push button cistern

The majority of our toilets come with an easy to use push button cistern, usually positioned on top of the cistern.

Dual push button cistern

Some of our toilets have dual push button cisterns, which are designed to be more economical when using water. They have two buttons, with one outputting 3 litres of water (liquid waste), and the other outputting 6 litres (solid waste). If used correctly, this feature can cut water use by up to 50%.

Single flush

The more traditional type of flush, universally recognised and easy to use.


We offer standalone bidets, which are more suited to larger bathrooms, but also have attached bidets for bathrooms where space is at a premium.

Most bidets are best fitted next to the toilet, so when fitting it remember to factor in spacing requirements and leave ample room for those using it.


As well as blending into the rest of the bathroom, size is a key consideration with basins, plus how much splashing about there’s likely to be – we’d probably advise you go as big as you can, meaning you’ve more space for basin-related toiletries. Measure up carefully before you choose.

Full pedestal sinks

This type of bathroom sink stands on a ceramic or stone pedestal. It’s designed for bathrooms with room to spare, and are also handy for concealing pipe work.

Countertop basins

A stylish choice on top of a plinth or cupboard. If the countertop basin you select doesn’t have an internal overflow fitted, you’ll need to install an unslotted waste. Our countertop sinks come in both circular and angular styles.


Wall-mounted basins

These sinks are without a pedestal, and are fitted directly onto the wall; perfect for smaller bathrooms, with space created beneath the basin. If you’re installing a wall mounted sink on to a partition wall, we’d recommend you seek advice from a plumber first.

Semi-recessed basins

A semi-recessed basin is fitted into a storage unit so that only the lip protrudes, giving a spacious feel. This is a clean solution, with all pipe work hidden within the vanity unit.

Don’t forget…

Remember to buy an unslotted click waste if you find that your sink doesn’t have an overflow fitted, as it will prevent spillages occurring.


Most of the bathtubs we sell are freestanding baths with legs included, but we can also arrange to install an inset bath to match your décor, if you wish.

Measure up carefully. We offer baths for small and larger bathrooms, with capacities between 200-240 litres.

Shower bathtubs


P-shaped bathtubs are a great space saving option, and also feature a smooth recess for showering.

Most of our P-shaped baths are left undrilled, meaning you can install the type of taps you see fit. As most people use p-shaped baths for showering, several of them also come with a shower screen, and they come in both left hand and right hand builds to suit the arrangement of your bathroom.


L-shaped baths are more angular, but offer the same function as p-shaped baths for both showering and bathing.

Bathing bathtubs

Duo bath

A duo bath has taps on the side rather than at the end. Our duo baths also come with a convenient pop-up waste.

Mono bath

Mono baths with taps at one end are spacious on the inside and compact on the outside. Mono baths are easy to fit and can also be used as a shower bath too, as long as a shower screen is used.


You’ll want function as well as form when you choose bathroom lighting, but before you choose, here are some things you should know.


Bathrooms are split into zones, due to safety regulations when using electrical items:

  • Zone 0 – Inside the bath or shower
  • Zone 1 – Up to 2.25m above the bath or shower
  • Zone 2 – For bathrooms with the same height as zone 1, but can extend to 0.6m around the bath or shower basin.

IP rating

Bathroom lights are subject to strict rules, which are graded on an IP rating scale. IP stands for Ingress Protection, and the system uses these letters followed by 2 or 3 digits to ascertain how effective the light is.

The first digit goes up to 6, and indicates how protected your hands are from touching moving parts, and also how dust tight the light itself is.

The second digit goes up to 8, and indicates how protected the components inside the enclosure are from liquid contact, whether that be from moisture, dripping or spraying.

Generally speaking, the higher the ingress rating, the more protected your light is.

Bathroom Ceiling Lights


Ranging from single spotlights to ceiling bars which include several lights, spotlights are great if you want to accentuate any area of the room to create a certain ambience, or avoid shadowing. And because they’re individually adjustable, how your bathroom’s lit is up to you.

There’s no rule of thumb on how many spotlights to install in your bathroom, as it depends on the size and shape. You may find that a recessed spotlight is sufficient, or you may prefer a ceiling bar if you want to direct light on to areas such as the wash basin and mirror.

Practically speaking, you also have to be aware of where your ceiling joists run. If you’re unsure about this, speak to an electrician. You also need to make sure that the spotlight runs between 0.9 to 1m away from the wall, as a close range light may highlight imperfections in your wall.

Flush fittings

We offer an array of flush fitting lights in different finishes. These include chrome, glass, metal and plastic, and for your peace of mind, they all come with a 2-year guarantee too.

If you’d like to mix and match, then semi-flush fittings might be right for you. Semi-flush lights combine the versatility of a spotlight with the simple look of a flush fitting to deliver an elegant solution.

Bathroom Wall Lights

Over mirror lights  work well positioned above the basin. Shaver lights combine simplicity with convenience, offering a shaving socket integrated into the plastic housing of the light. This must be kept at a radius of 60cm from any taps for safety reasons.

Cabaret bars include 4 or 5 bauble-shaped bulbs, and can be positioned either above or to the sides of your mirror.

Illuminated bathroom mirrors

These offer a beautiful solution to centralising light and illuminate shadowed areas to give you the best view possible of yourself.

They can also be very heavy, so don’t attempt to install one without help. Many of our illuminated mirrors can also be installed in both portrait and landscape orientations – your choice.

Some mirrors are designed to be mounted on a flat surface on the basin, whilst others can be recessed within a wall.

Although they all work in a similar way, some have added features:

  • Demisters - inbuilt demisters work by using an integrated heat pad. This means your reflection will be crystal clear even in a bathroom full of steam
  • Infrared on/off switch - this state-of-the-art feature blends seamlessly into the design; just give the switch a quick tap
  • Edge-lit/backlit - both types of lighting offer great results. Edge-lit illuminated mirrors have bulbs positioned on the sides, or just on top, whereas backlit mirrors have the lights running around the edge, illuminating your reflection evenly.


Heated towel rails

Heated towel rails useful in any bathroom, offering you the comfort of warm towels with the convenience of a standard radiator. We’d recommend a plumber installs one for you.

All our towel rails come in stainless steel, which does not rust or corrode with time, making them easy to cleaning and maintain. Not only is it suitable with all plumbing systems, it’s highly robust, meaning it will last a long time, and is also 100% recyclable.


There are three types to choose from when you buy your heated towel rail. These are central heating, electric heating and dual fuel heating.

Central heating is when the towel rail is plumbed into your hot water system, much like your radiator is. The pipes it connects to will come from either the wall, or the floor. An important point to note is that your heating towel rail should be fitted with valves so that it can work well with the central heating system in your home.

Electrical heated towel rails work a little differently, in that they are filled with a fluid which is heated electrically. This component will need to be connected to your home’s electrical system by a qualified technician.

All our heated towel rails are available in an ‘electric only’ model. A standard electric towel rail is made from stainless steel, meaning it won’t rust or corrode. It’s also IP55 rated, and has an internal thermostat which not only saves you money, but intelligently adjust itself to ensure your towel rail doesn’t get too hot.

The dual fuel type combines the best of a central heating towel rail and an electric one, too. For colder months, the towel rail can be run via the central heating system, but it can also be used electrically for when heating is turned off in the summer months. This offers you the convenience of being able to heat your towel rail even when the central heating is turned off.

The standard dual fuel format gives you the convenience of choosing whether to heat your towel rail via the mains or electrically. This comes with a standard heating component and a chrome plated t-piece, which allows the heating component and central heating valve to be connected to one side. Valves are sold separately, so remember to pick them up if you buy this type of towel rail.

The adjustable dual fuel type is the same as the standard one, except that the heating component has 5 different heat settings, giving you greater flexibility on how warm you want your towel rail.

Remember, for this type of towel rail you will need to purchase a specific central heating towel rail and a dual fuel kit, too.


BTU stands for ‘British Thermal Unit’. It’s a unit of energy about the same as 1055 joules. It’s based upon the amount of energy needed to heat one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.

The recommended heat output from your central heated towel rail is shown in the table below:

Please note that BTUs will be reduced when your rail is covered with towels. Due to the nature of towel rails, it will be unlikely to overheat your room. If in doubt, we would recommend fitting TRV valves (thermostatic radiator valves), allowing you to control the temperature when using the towel rail on a central heating system.

Please note: All figures are approximate.

Floor area(m2) Average insulated bathrrom with double glazed windows (based on a height of 2.2m)
m2 BTU required
2 From 611 BTUs to 733 BTUs
3 From 916 BTUs to 1099 BTUs
4 From 1221 BTUs to 1465 BTUs
5 From 1526 BTUs to 1832 BTUs
6 From 1832 BTUs to 2198 BTUs
7 From 2137 BTUs to 2564 BTUs
8 From 2442 BTUs to 2930 BTUs