Once fixtures and accessories have been chosen, it then becomes necessary to make a layout or floor plan. There are six basic bathroom arrangements. At least one of these plans will fit any size room. Note that these floor layouts show only the location of fixtures in relation to each other and are not meant to indicate the amount of closet and cabinet space.
Having selected the plan best suited to your purpose, you are ready to plot your new design. To help yourself visualize what you already have in mind, make full-size, topview cut-outs of your fixtures and place them in position on the bathroom floor or in a marked-off area of the same dimensions as the bathroom.
If this method proves awkward, make a scale drawing on graph paper or a sheet you have lined yourself. A convenient scale would be to allow onehalf inch to equal one foot.
However, there is more to bathroom planning than selecting the fixtures and locating them arbitrarily. You must so arrange them that all pipes are concealed in the wall or beneath the flooring. The fixture end of a recessed or built-in tub should be placed along an inside wall. Doing this will permit periodic inspection of the piping through a removable wall panel on either the bathroom or the opposite side.
You will also want to take the relation of fixtures to windows into consideration. For the sake of health, fresh air, and natural light, all bathrooms should be provided with a window. Avoid placing a window above the tub or near a shower. If it is so placed, the wood is apt to warp as a result of its constant contact with moisture. You might well consider casement windows, which are opened by cranking, instead of the conventional doublehung window.
Anyone living in a cold climate or an area where the temperature changes suddenly, should plan to place piping between inside walls to prevent possible freezing. In milder climates where temperatures below zero seldom occur, pipes do not have to be placed along inside walls, but they should be protected by insulation. Frozen pipes burst easily; they are costly to replace; and the escaping water does a great deal of damage. You can use either bat or loose-filling insulation. For the greatest effectiveness, put the bulk of the insulating material between the pipe and the outside wall.
The proper venting and trapping of all fixtures are a most important consideration. It is necessary and must be done properly to prevent odors and sewage from backing up through the fixtures. If possible, place all fixtures so that they can be vented through a single main vent.
Allow sufficient space for cleaning around each fixture. No less than 2 feet should be allowed between the front of a fixture and the opposite wall; 1 1/2 feet should be allowed between the fronts of water closets and lavatories. Suggested minimum distances between fixtures follow: 2" between water closet tank and lavatory; 3" between closet tank and tub; 4" between closet tank and adjacent wall; and 6" between lavatory and adjacent wall. More than minimum distances are, of course, preferable.
Heating and lighting
Remember to allot space in your plans for a radiator if your home is heated with a conventional hot-water or steam system. Space can usually be gained by installing a wall-hung radiator or by recessing it under a window.
If you install an electric beater, use the wall-panel or built-in type. Place it a safe distance from towel rods and curtains and make sure that it is properly shielded to prevent anyone from getting burned.
An overhead light as well as one above the mirror is a must unless your bathroom is very small. If flourescent lights flanking the mirror are used, the correct distance from the floor to center of tube is about 5-1/2'.
For safety, use wall switches (preferably toggle switches) rather than pull chains. In the bathroom it is usually possible to touch both water and metal while using electrical equipment or switching on lights. Switches should be located beyond the reach of anyone in the tub, and away from pipes and metal objects. Include at least one outlet in the bathroom for such things as an electric razor or hair dryer.
Plan cabinets over the lavatory for storing tooth paste, toilet articles, and medicine. Be sure that the cabinet is beyond the reach of children. If you prefer, have a fixed mirror over the lavatory with cabinets on either side of it. Opening the cabinet doors will provide you with a three-way mirror. Women, particularly, like this.
The usual height for such cabinets is 62" from the level of the floor to the center of the cabinet. Readymade cabinets are of the wall-hung or recessed type. The most widely used recessed cabinet is 14" wide. If you want a wider cabinet, you will undubtedly have to cut the wall studs.
Glass makes good shelving because it is non-absorbent and easy to clean. If you have wooden shelves, cover them with linoleum or paint to protect them from dampness. Adjustable shelves allow flexibility.
Store your towels in the bathroom unless you live in a humid area. Even in a small room you can usually set a towel cabinet in the wall over the closet tank. If the wall has 6" studs, the cabinet can be recessed 5" and its front can be evened with that of the tank. Place the cabinet at least 12" above the tank top and extend it to the ceiling to provide extra storage space.
If moisture does not condense on the pipes, towels can be kept in a cabinet under the lavatory. You can build one, or buy one ready made.
A floor-to-ceiling cabinet provides plenty of room for bathroom supplies without occupying a great deal of space. The recommended drawer depth for such a cabinet is 18".
A utility cabinet placed beneath the lavatory or recessed at the far end of the tub will prove ideal for storing cleaning supplies and toilet brushes. It can be 3 3/4" or 5" deep, depending on the size of the studs. The slots at the top and the bottom of the door provide ventilation. This cabinet should not be installed over a tub that has a shower above it.
A drying cabinet is often very handy to have in the bathroom, if you have room for it. It can easily be built by, the home handyman, and its top will provide useful counter, space.
The number of fixture arrangements you can use is limited by the size of the fixtures you want to install and the size of the bathroom in which you are going to install them. In most cases, you will be dealing with standard sizes of fixtures. Keep their dimensions in mind in making layout.
The average lavatory is by 20"; the average water closet is 27" by 31"; and the average bathtub 30" wide and 5 feet long. The smallest room in which they could possibly fit would be 5 feet square. This is enough space for the three essentials and little else. If a stall shower 36" by 36" were to replace the tub, the bathroom would be less crowded but perhaps less efficient. The shower would, however, permit the installation of a lavatory with counters and storage space.
In the minimum-sized room, the door must open outward and the window must be placed above the bath. Heating elements must be recessed and storage space virtually eliminated. You should try to make your bathroom at least slightly larger than the minimum.
The larger and more popular sizes for bathrooms are much more expensive to install, but this cost is offset to a great extent by the added comfort and convenience they afford. If you are building, the size of the toilet facilities depends on the architectural plans. Making a bigger bathroom may mean cutting down the size of a bedroom, if cost is a factor.
One other factor must be considered carefully in all bathroom planning. That is the location of the central water supply and drainage systems. Rearrangement to enhance the looks of the bathroom may be bampered by the fact that the cost of extending pipe connections and the added carpentry work involved may be prohibitive.