The average person spends 92 days of their life on the porcelain throne. That doesn’t even take into account the amount of time that is spent primping ourselves up for work or a date or to seek sanctuary from the family at Thanksgiving dinner.
Bathrooms are a highly-coveted space. You don’t honestly know who someone is until they are confined in a home with five people and one bathroom - it’s emotional. So, the question is, with the paramount importance of the quality time we spend in the bathroom, why is it not better matched with our needs?
Who Started The Insanity?
The concept of detouring waste from the home goes back about 5,000 years with urban planning in the Indus Valley, Rome, Egypt, and several other ancient civilizations. The actual swirling bowl came much later in the 1500s from the godson of Queen Elizabeth I and the elbow grease of the Industrial Revolution, back then; it was commonplace for 20 people to handle business in between flushes (Ewww).
But, when did the actual bathroom come into play? The room that sheltered our bath and bidet - to privatize our personal releases and ponder our thoughts in peace? More importantly, who started the TILE floors? Isn’t it always the bloody Romans?
Bathing publicly before entering a sacred space or socializing in large thermal baths were practiced in many places of the world; however, it was the wealthy Romans that separated the public and private bath, taking the bathroom to another level. Although they would still ritually bathe in public, Romans introduced a personal space in their home that distinguished private and public hygiene and relaxation habits.
Romans that could afford it would build a separate room containing a private heated bath, including ointment, incense, combs, mirrors, and even a working toilet system. Romans were skilled architects, and their innovations were unmatched for centuries after, which is why every bathroom positioned itself in their likeness.
Romans are credited with molding cement from the celebrated monumental masterpieces showcased in museums next to pictures of their majestic archways to the lowly bathroom floor tiles. AH-HAH, our tile villain!
Privatizing Bathrooms: Sharing Is Not Caring
Before the 19th century, disease was thought to be spontaneously combusted chaos or spawned upon you because of unfavorable, sinful acts that you participated in or it was quite possible that you were possessed by demons. During the 19th century, we explored a new theory of how germs were spread and put rhyme to the reason, basic hygiene. This was a turning point in medical history as hospitals and treatments became more sophisticated, vaccines were developed, and penicillin ensured our survival. This century survived epidemics of:
Disease transmission study, cleanliness (with soap), and hygiene were all the rage, and so were private bathrooms. Private bathrooms were becoming a prominent staple in every household (not just the wealthy ones) for good health.
The industrial revolution provided access to hot and cold running water, flushable toilets, and full-size luxurious bathtubs, sinks, and showers. Gas heaters and plumbed houses sprang up all over the country, and in 1889, the electric water heater was introduced, blowing the minds of every patron.
There was now a private restroom that all family members could use with intricate tiled patterns and spruced up accessories replacing the old wooden elements (#trending). A new world opened up and formed the foundation for the bathrooms that we know today, sort of.
The Age Of Carpeted Bathrooms
When you utter the words ‘carpet’ and ‘bathroom’ in the same sentence, people’s buttholes actually pucker and their answer is so immediate it slaps you in the face - NO! There are some really strong opinions out there about carpets in bathrooms. So, how did this start?
For the most part, bathrooms up through the 1950s looked very much the same as they do today, except for the lime green color, but all the design mechanisms and tile were there. Sanitary being the primary focus and aesthetics secondary. Then something happened, the big bang in bathrooms. When Romans aren’t to blame, it’s usually hippies.
During the 1960s and 70s, shag carpeting - or carpeting of any kind - was seen as a luxury item. That luxury crawled across the bathroom floor wall to wall. The 70s were full of opposition. Opposition to war, opposition of submissive women, the opposition of government institutions, and mostly, the opposition to tiled floors in bathrooms.
An ocean of shag carpet showed its brazen personality (mostly in green or orange) across bathrooms in America reveling in its superior urine-trapping technology, which is unsurpassed. In all fairness, the carpeted bathroom revolution really started in the 1950 post-war era when women were able to afford the luxuries that had been priorly cut off to them due to shortages, one of those luxuries being carpet.
But, it was the 70s that aced it with the thick carpet that was both on the floor and stretched over the toilet - the complete look. If you were exceptionally skilled, you had rugs on carpets.
One Reddit user even put it like this:
“My parents’ house came with a carpeted half bath. And laundry/utility room, kitchen, and dining room. This meant that the door to the backyard had carpet next to it. Even better, it wasn’t regular carpet, it was ‘outdoor’ carpet where the pad is attached and the whole shebang is glued to the floor. The 70s was a dark time for some people. I imagine drugs were involved. Don’t carpet your bathroom.”
The age of carpet was short-lived, by the early 1980s tile had returned to the bathroom; there isn’t much information as to why. We could say that people started to come out of a drug-induced stupor, but it is more likely that carpet ended because of mold or the high-maintenance of keeping a carpeted bathroom clean. When the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) gets involved and says, - stop carpeting your bathrooms, it’s a health hazard - people generally take notice.
If that’s not enough, Bob Villa, the grandmaster himself of home decor, put on his website:
“Carpet is a magnet for moisture and its by-products. Between steamy vapor from the shower and water dripping off your body, bathroom carpet is bound to get wet—and soak up the moisture like a sponge.”
A word of caution, don’t Google ‘moisture by-product’, lesson learned. If you see wall to wall carpet in a bathroom now, it is usually residue left from the 70s. What was doubly cool about the 70s were those monster space heaters with the red hot coils and sufficient space to get the finger through the grate, plugged in near the water, and set on the carpet to keep the entire room toasty, good times. So, here we are, back where we started, taking our chances with tile flooring.
Bathroom Tile Evolutions
Did you know that every single year approximately 235,000 people over age 15 are in the emergency room because of injuries in the bathroom? Or, more importantly, are you aware of how unsettling it is to step barefoot on an ice-cold floor and be stunned for a few seconds with the searing uncomfortableness of it all?
To plenty of people, ‘roughing it’ is stepping out of a hot shower onto a cold tile floor; the struggle is real. We have explored how tile came to be the choice bathroom floor covering, but how are we to solve the cold footie problem?
Radiant Floor Heating
I know, I know, it sounds a bit posh, but it isn’t as expensive as it sounds. Radiant flooring is energy-efficient, and as long as you say energy-efficient before a dollar sign, it’s okay to spend the money-that’s the rule.
Radiant floor heating is like having the warmth of that 70s space heater on your feet and resonating throughout the room. There are two different types of energy-efficient floor heating:
Electric - Wiring under the floor is heated.
Water-based - Hot water runs through pipes creating heat under the floor.
The science behind this is pretty simple; heat rises. So, we use this knowledge to harness the power of heat by heating from the floor up and optimize the heat flow in your house. Boom.
What makes radiant flooring so energy efficient is that radiators generally need to reach the heights of 149-167 degrees Fahrenheit to heat a room. Radiant floor heating, on the other hand, only needs to sit at 84 degrees Fahrenheit or less depending on your floor finish. Guess what that does to utility bills? Lowers them 15%, I looked it up.
Have you ever sat across a room waiting for the heat to get to you from the radiator? Or moved the couch to the perfect place under the heating vent to comfortably watch TV while your kids freeze on the other side? You can’t even go pee for fear of losing your spot. When you have radiant floor heating, the entire floor service is heated, so there is even heat distribution throughout the room.
Other radiant flooring benefits are:
Have a 30-year warranty
Requires virtually no maintenance
Works with both Smart Wifi thermostat or standard
Works with all floor coverings: carpet, wood, tile, vinyl - there is no limit
Better air quality than other heating methods
So, how much does it cost? It depends on the material and vendor you select. You can expect the cost to be from $10-12 per square foot (about $600 for a remodeling project). The more custom you make the job, the more the price will go up or down.
The average bathroom is about 20-146 square feet, so let's take the mid-size of a 50 square foot bathroom. Depending on what you select, the cost could be from $265, and a larger master bathroom of 120 square feet would be about $600-800. Redoing your entire house with radiant flooring may take a bit of disciplined budgeting if you're into that sort of thing. The dividends that you see on the utilities may have just converted you from bathroom rugs to elegant, energy-efficient, radiant heated floors.
It’s something your grandma did; stop it.