Ask The Experts Q & A

Q) My father is moving in with us, and I’d like to add some safety features to our bathroom. What are the most important products to incorporate?

Answer: If you think about it – the bathroom is one of the most potentially dangerous rooms in the home – featuring hard and often wet slippery flooring furnished with toilets, tubs, showers and sinks made of unforgiving materials like porcelain, ceramic, chrome and tile. And while towel bars, faucet handles, and tub fillers might seem to be a good place to steady yourself – they are not solidly anchored to the wall and will not prevent slips and falls like a grab bar. Fortunately these days, grab bars come in every imaginable configuration for every size or shape of bathtub or shower stall, and can be mounted to look exactly like a towel bar – making them appropriate for any bathroom in the house. One company JACLO recently introduced a line of contemporary grab bars that can be fitted with an adjustable slider cradle for the mount of one of their handshowers. This is a good set-up if your father is wheel-chair bound as he can stay seated while moving the handshower up and down the grab bar for easy bathing.

Another must-have bath safety item is the thermostatic valve, which automatically adjusts the mixture of hot and cold water to avoid scalding in the event of pressure changes, and will shut off if the cold water supply is interrupted. The temperature limit can be preset by the installer so that a bather will never accidentally scald themselves. Thermostatic Valves also offer more features than the standard pressure balance valve at a minimal cost difference. The thermostatic valve has a more accurate temperature control, and its high-flow capability is greater, making them the ideal choice for multiple device shower systems with body sprays, handshowers and tub fillers. They also feature an integral volume control, eliminating the need for a separate valve. Again, these can be purchased through JACLO or other brands including Kohler, American Standard and Newport Brass.

Q) I have a small master bath. Do you know what products I could to make the most of my space?

Answer: Small seems to be a growing trend, but there are several products available to help you maximize space and storage. Wall hung vanities are a good option – the open floor below creates the feeling of a larger space. They come in a variety of colors, lengths, and design styles to match you décor. Some feature large drawers with organizers for storage to help keep the bathroom clutter free. For more modern spaces, wall hung toilets are another option. The tank is installed in the wall creating a clean, minimalist look. There are many that feature water saving technology making them an eco-friendly option as well.

Q) What is the current state of the spa industry…are there any stats?

Answer: Yes, there are statistics on the spa industry done every year and presented at the annual Global Spa Summit. The research presented on June 1, 2009 shows that the spa industry is going through a tough time, and especially within the high-end luxury resort spa sector. But the research also shows the industry staying strong in fast-growing in markets like the Asia-Pacific. Another bright spot in that is seen within this research is that the spa industry is beginning to really grow within the Health Care Industry, and delegates of these surveys are seeing the preventative health care segment has the biggest opportunity for their future business. Press Release on Global Spa Summit Report

Q) I’m confused about the different features available on steam bath equipment for my home? Whats are the must haves?

Answer: For a residential steam bath, the best feature you can get in your generator is by far the FastStartTM steam feature which is only available on ThermaSol steam showers. This feature provides steam in a matter of seconds, instead of other steam showers that don’t have this feature that will take minutes to provide steam. Other steam bath features and add-on’s that we recommend include:

  • Inner tank cleaning system
  • Made with stainless steel
  • Aromatherapy Steamhead
  • Digital Controls with time and temperature controls, last setting memory, clock, light and music controls.
  • Light & Music Systems – Chromatherapy & Sound Therapy Systems

Q) I’m looking for a company that creates completely customized bathtubs, any ideas?

Answer: Yes, Six Eleven. Don’t try looking it up on the web because they don’t have a website, but the owner of the company has been building customized bathtubs for 40 years. George Gruber is a bathtub mastermind. He’s created bathtubs with Wedgewood China patterns, Japanese soaking tubs that can fit up to eight people, and he often works with out-of-the-box materials too. The last time I was there, he had a real cowhide with a faux Cheetah pattern printed on it – stretched out and was figuring out a way to apply it to the outside of one of his freestanding tubs. He usually works with cast polymer, a specialized material that retains heat better than any other material on the market. For your purposes, he can design a tub that is customized to your length and width and you can pick your own specific jet locations, if that’s something your interested in. He’ll probably ask to take a mold of your body. He’s based in North Hollywood, California, but has dealers nationwide. It’s Six Eleven Architectural Bath Design: (818) 764-5810.

Q) I can’t afford a full-blown bathroom renovation. Any tips for creating the spa atmosphere for less?

Answer: First off, try using a hotel-style shower rod if you have a tub/shower combination. These rods give you a lot more usable space, and really elevate the luxury factor. Another idea is to switch your color palette, which can be done with a can of paint. Look for soothing colors or wall treatments in spa colors like blues, greens and beige. Also, don’t forget the importance of good lighting. This is as simple as installing a dimmer switch. Other nice additions include a heated towel rack, a bench with cushy seating if you have the room, and of course fluffy towels and a good supply of scented bath products.

Q) What is a prenatal massage and what are the benefits?

Answer: A Prenatal massage is a natural, touch therapy treatment used to alleviate pregnancy related symptoms. It is said to ease backaches, headaches, shoulder and neck aches that may be caused by muscle tension and shifts in posture to accommodate increasing weight. There are several documented benefits to this technique including increased circulation, decreased pain in the pelvic/ hip area, improved digestion, reduced fatigue, reduced swelling and improved relaxation and deep breathing. However, to learn more about the risks and benefits you might want to go to:

Q) I’m interested in buying a low-flow showerhead. Any tips on which model to purchase and what to look for?

Answer: Wise decision; Inexpensive and simple to install, low-flow showerheads can reduce your home water consumption as much as 50%, and reduce your energy cost of heating the water also by as much as 50%. In terms of models, you should really decide whether you want an aerating or non-aerating showerhead. Aerating models mix air into the water stream to maintain steady pressure, and an even full spray. A non-aerating is the exact opposite- air is not mixed into the water stream. This is best if you want more of a massaging effect. When shopping for a brand look out for the WaterSense label.

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