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Bathroom renovation jargon buster

There’s nothing quite like a new bathroom and the feeling of total tranquillity you get when stepping into the completed space for the first time. The journey towards this point, however, can leave you feeling lost and confused if you haven’t been properly informed about the renovation process.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is communicate with your designer; their niche and esoteric technical terms may as well be Klingon for all you know. We’ve come up with this bathroom renovation jargon buster as part of our mission to make life easier and make the home improvement process simpler for the average British homeowner.

It can be difficult to visualise the future of your bathroom space if you can’t even understand what features your designer is talking about. We hope that this verbal breakdown will get you and your design team on the same page in record time. If you are worried that you may be getting scammed by a cowboy builder (an unfortunately common occurrence in the home improvement industry) use this jargon buster to work out whether your builder is talking sense or just taking you for a mug.

Bathtubs and showers

From Victorian grandeur to contemporary chic, the humble bathtub comes in many different variants and design options. A key element of any bathroom space, these are the tools that help us to relax, refresh and rejuvenate after a long and stressful day.  Archaeologists have found evidence of bathtubs from as early as 1700BC, so it’s no wonder you have quite a few options to choose from!

Acrylic bath – An extremely versatile bath made out of acrylic that offers a cost-effective alternative to traditional models.

Bath panel – A side panel that is attached to a fitted bathtub in order to hide the underside of the bath. Usually designed to be concordant with the style of the bath itself.

Bath shower mixture – Commonly abbreviated as BSM, a bath shower mixture is a combined tap unit for bath tubs with an attached shower. The BSM gives you the option of filling the bath or running a shower through the use of a diverter.

Bath waste – Bought separately to the bathtub, these connect the plughole, plug and overflow pipe.

Double ended bath – A bath designed for two people to fit in at once; these usually have taps in the middle and slopes on either end.

Freestanding bath – An elegantly designed bathtub with the plumbing concealed in the bath unit, freestanding baths are not attached to any walls or other bathroom fittings.

Grab rail – Easily fitted to a wall and a good way provide stability and support when entering and exiting a bath or shower. Grab rails are ideal for the elderly or those with limited mobility.

Shower bath – A bathtub that also includes a shower head, these versatile units are ideal for saving space.

Single ended bath – A bathtub designed for one person, taps and wastes are usually situated at the end of the bath with a slope for shoulder and back support on the other side.

Slipper – Raised at one end to provide the optimum level of support for backs, shoulders and necks, this is the pinnacle of vintage luxurious bathtub design.


Of all the discussions you could have with your designer, the conversation about bathroom materials is possibly the most likely to leave you feeling lost and confused. With an overload of acronyms and composite materials it can be difficult to understand which materials are being considered at any moment. Here are the most common bathroom materials to look out for:

ABS – Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene, the fancy technical description of acrylic.

MDF – Medium density fibreboard, a type of engineered wood used in a range of furniture across the home and bathroom.

Thermaform – 60% more heat efficient than acrylic, this is a material that ensures your bathwater will retain heat for longer.

Mirrors and vanities

Usually featuring a mirror and a basin unit, vanities are the area of the bathroom that allow you to perform your daily beauty routine with no nasty surprises. There are a wide range of shapes and sizes for mirrors and there are near infinite options for the design and material of a basin. Of all the options for vanity features, these are the ones you are most likely to encounter:

Bevelled mirror – A mirror that is ever so slightly slanted, this helps to distribute light around the room and creates a unique visual style.

Demister – A device that allows a mirror to remain clear even after steamy baths and showers.

Full pedestal – Full pedestals raise the basin up from floor level to a usable height. Pipework for taps and waste is also hidden within the pedestal.

Inset basin – Basins which are fitted into vanity units and other bathroom fittings. Another way of concealing pipework without fitting a full pedestal.

Mirrored wall – Creating the illusion of space, this large mirror which covers an entire wall is a clever design technique for small or compact bathrooms.

Semi inset basin – A basin with the front half exposed that is only partially fitted into countertops or bathroom units.

Semi pedestal – A wall hung pedestal, the main purpose of these is to conceal pipework rather than support the basin.

Taps and faucets

Whilst a tap may seem like the simplest of bathroom appliances, there are actually a number of points to consider before installing them. These questions often revolve around the style of the faucet, the placement of the tap in the bathroom and the level of pipework visibility. Here are some of the most frequently seen bathroom taps:

Crosshead taps – A type of tap in which the leavers which operate the faucet are fitted in the shape of a cross. This style is commonly seen in traditional bathrooms.

Deck mounted tap – A popular choice for minimalist and modern bathrooms, these taps easily fit into a corner and save valuable space.

Floor standing taps – Often fitted in conjunction with free standing bathtubs, these taps are situated on the floor and lean over the bath.

Mono mixer taps – A type of tap that mixes water from both hot and cold supplies.

Tap Shroud – Used for floor standing taps, this is a cover that encases the pipework from the floor to the tap.


First created by Sir John Harrington in the 16th century, the flush toilet is amongst the most important inventions in the history of the world. With enough design options to match each year of its 5-century heritage, there’s plenty of options to choose from and terminology to learn.

Back to wall toilet – A toilet that sits flat against a wall. Only the toilet bowl is visible with the cistern and pipework completely concealed within the wall or toilet unit.

Chain flush – A style of flusher usually fitted to traditional toilets with high level cisterns.

Cistern – The back of a toilet that holds the water for flushing.

Close coupled cistern – A low-level cistern usually fitted to modern style toilets; these sit on the toilet bowel to create a single full unit. Due to this, all pipework sits within the toilet itself.

Concealed cistern – When the cistern is hidden behind a panel as part of the fitted furniture. Some contemporary toilets use this design.

Corner toilet – A corner toilet has a triangular cistern meaning it can be fitted into any corner of the room with minimal difficultly.

Dual flush toilet – Economically prudent and environmentally friendly, a dual flush toilet gives you the option of a full 6 litre flush or a half flush of 3 litres. The different levels of flush can be selected by pressing different buttons.

High level cistern – Connected to the toilet by a long flush pipe this is the traditional style of toilet cistern that usually sits high up on the wall

Push-button flush – A style of toilet flusher commonly seen on modern style toilets that operate the flush with a button instead of a pulling a handle.

Reduced projection – A toilet with a reduced projection has a toilet bowl that sticks out less than more traditional toilets so takes up less real estate in the bathroom.

Soft closing seat – A toilet seat that doesn’t slam when it is shut. Slowing down a couple of inches from the bowl allowing the seat to shut gradually and quietly.

Types of bathroom

Despite largely featuring an identical group of appliances, not every bathroom occupies a similar space. These descriptions are used to differentiate between different sizes of bathroom suite and how many people can be expected to use them each day.

Cloakroom suite – Perfect for small spaces such as an en suite, these are suites of sanitary ware and fittings that take up less space than standard fittings.

Contemporary suite – A contemporary style bathroom suite that utilises minimalist and off-kilter furnishings.

Family bathroom – The main bathroom in a home.

Speak to an expert

It’s always helpful to talk to a bathroom expert especially after you feel comfortable with all the technical language on show. Having a firm grasp of the vocabulary means you and your designer can fully understand exactly what you want out of the project. Always make sure you are on the same page and you can expect a beautiful new bathroom with no nightmarish bumps along the way.

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