The start of a New Year marks a time for change, with many homeowners looking to revamp their property for the better.
In 2018, kitchens and bathrooms proved the most popular rooms to renovate, with the average new kitchen in the UK costing around £11,000, and the average price of a new bathroom coming in at £5,000.
But when it comes to designing kitchens and bathrooms, one thing that often gets overlooked is the issue of hard water and the damage it can cause.
“Almost 13 million households in the UK live in hard water areas - that’s almost half the households in the country. And with hard water comes limescale,” said Stuart Gizzi, director of leading bathroom, plumbing and heating equipment manufacturer Inta.
“Having a beautiful new kitchen or bathroom is all well and good until taps, shower heads, kettles, appliances and pipes have a nasty build-up of limescale, which can lead to multiple problems - from heating inefficiency hiking up energy bills and costly system failure, to an increase in the consumption of cleaning products and a shorter lifespan for electrical appliances.”
A simple, cost-effective way of improving water quality in hard water areas is to install a water conditioner, such as the Inta ActivFlo Lite.
The ActivFlo Lite is a compact device that is fitted to one water pipe in a property, and can be retro fitted. It works by treating the water directly, using a unique alloy that changes the chemical structure of limescale-forming calcium carbonate in water, converting calcite, a form of calcium carbonate that causes hard water, into aragonite.
Suitable for domestic applications, the WRAS-approved ActivFlo Lite is available with 15mm, 22mm and 28mm connections. It comes with a five-year warranty and is priced from just £53.22. “The ActivFlo Lite has a clean ‘in-line’ design which makes for quick and easy installation in both new-build and retrofit applications,” added Stuart. “Its patented fitting system incorporates a collar at either end of the device, which can be removed without any modification to the existing pipework.
“When you consider the tens of thousands of pounds people spend on a kitchen or bathroom makeover, installing an ActivFlo Lite for an extra £53 is worth every penny if hard water issues can be resolved - it works out to less than 1% of the cost of a new kitchen!”
For more information about the ActivFlo Lite, visit www.activ-tec.com
With an ageing population and an increasing number of adult children returning to their parental homes after moving out, multigenerational living in the UK is on the rise.
Research by insurance company Aviva* shows that multi-family households in the UK grew by 50% between 2005 and 2015. Assuming the same rate of growth in the next 10 years, there will be almost half a million multi-family households by 2025.
Having two - or even three - generations living under one roof means families are required to adapt their home to meet everyone’s needs and one room where this can prove difficult, is the bathroom.
Older generations or those with limited mobility may need living aids, shower seats and grab rails, while younger people often want to create a relaxing bathroom with stylish products and accessories.
So is the industry catering for this so-called multigenerational bathroom and does a happy medium for every member of the family really exist?
“When we design bathrooms we should be thinking about longevity, rather than just looking at short-term fixes,” said Stuart Gizzi, Director of bathroom manufacturer Inta.
“Multigenerational bathrooms are not impacting the bathroom market as much as they should be and the industry needs to do more to embrace this growing trend. At the moment it is still a niche market but when you consider the rate at which multi-family living is increasing, the industry is not up to speed.
“As manufacturers we should all be striving to design products that are practical and safe for older generations, yet contemporary and sleek enough for younger people to want to install them. It’s really simple - we need to move away from thinking that bathroom products for older generations are ugly.”
Inta, which has been developing and manufacturing high-quality bathroom products for over 15 years, has designed a series of independent living products for its Ever range that put safety first but do not compromise on aesthetics - including on-trend polished copper and chrome grab rails and a slip-resistant shower seat in black and chrome.
Thanks to copper’s antimicrobial properties, the rail eliminates bacteria quickly, preventing the spread of germs. The polished finish will keep its lustre, while concealed fixings with resin fixing plates mean that it looks neat.
Meanwhile, the strong and sturdy shower seat with contemporary styled slip-resistant black seat and chrome fittings has a maximum load of 125kg, as do the slip-resistant polished chrome grab rails, manufactured from full brass construction with concealed fixings.
“Grab rails, low-level shower trays and shower seats do not have to look like they belong in a hospital,” continued Stuart. “The industry needs to promote future-proofing bathrooms to avoid families having to rip out and replace items further down the line.”
As well as designing contemporary fixtures and fittings, developing the latest shower technology is also crucial to the advancement of multigenerational bathrooms, according to Stuart.
“I think digital showers will actually lead the way for multigenerational bathrooms,” he said. “The benefit of digital showers is that they can be preset to optimum temperature and pressure. Some can even be switched on using a smartphone - so they are ideal for families who want the added reassurance of being able to control these aspects to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their younger and older relatives.”
And while aesthetically-pleasing products and digital innovation are key for the future of multigenerational bathrooms, safety still remains the number one priority at Inta.
“Multigenerational bathroom or not, I can’t reiterate enough how important the installation of a TMV-approved fitting is,” Stuart said. “A basic TMV2-compliant valve costs no more than £40 - it is not expensive when you’re talking about the difference between life and death.”
TMV2 certified valves offer the highest level of accreditation of anti-scald thermostatic mixing valves. Correctly installing and maintaining approved thermostatic mixing valves could help prevent hundreds of thousands of tragic scalding accidents.
Stuart concluded: “Ultimately, multigenerational bathrooms should embrace independence and inclusivity for everybody. To do this, manufacturers need to develop products that are accessible and safe for all ages.”
We’ve come a long way since the days of the chamber pot and the cry of “garde à l’eau!” as people chucked the contents on to the streets. (Did you know it is this phrase that led to the English word ‘loo’?)
Over the years, toilets have become rather more sophisticated - from Sir John Harrington, the godson of Elizabeth I, who invented the flushable water closet in the late 1500s, to Alexander Cummings’ revolutionary S-trap, patented in 1775 - there have long been efforts to improve bathroom technology.
It was the 20th century that saw bathroom technology develop rapidly, with the advent of flushable valves, close-coupled toilets and automatic flushing systems among other introductions.
However, the toilet of the 21st century is yet another concept and we are seeing the rise of the smart toilet. Not surprisingly, the Japanese are at the forefront of these high-tech developments.
Smart toilet? Well, yes. Seat heating, coloured lighting, automatic lid openers and slow-closing lids, built-in deodorisers (no need for a spray of VIPoo, with that particular feature), and self-cleaning features such as using UV light, which interacts with the bowl to electrolyse and then sanitise the water. Even privvies that have music playing while you’re on the throne and those that can be controlled by an app.
These are fun - OK, not absolutely necessary - advancements that we’re likely to see only in the homes of celebs and multi-millionaires who have thousands of pounds to spend on a super-lav.
Other technologies, however, such as remote-controlled bidet with adjustable washing and flushing modes, and adjustable air dryers, are proving to be hugely helpful for the disabled and the elderly. We can imagine a time when these will become mainstream.
But controlling a toilet from an app and having mood music and tunes playing? Not for us, thanks!
Older people and those with mobility problems deserve better than “institutional” bathroom products that help them lead independent lives, says British manufacturer Inta.
According to Public Health England, life expectancy for the over 65s is the highest it’s ever been and as a result, many more older people are choosing to adapt their homes to live independently for longer.
To demonstrate that living aids can still look good, Inta, which has been developing and producing high-quality bathroom products for more than 15 years, has designed its contemporary Ever range of grab rails and shower seats.
Stuart Gizzi, Director at Inta, said: “Older people want to stay in their homes for as long as possible, which means they will need products that help them to maintain their independence for longer - but that doesn’t mean they should have to compromise on style and settle for an institutional-looking bathroom.
“We’ve created a range of products that not only provide an exceptional level of support for the user, but they also still look great in the bathroom; complementing existing chrome or copper fittings.”
Inta has carefully developed a series of independent living products that put safety first but do not compromise on style, including on-trend polished copper and chrome grab rails and a slip-resistant shower seat in black and chrome.
The copper grab rail has been designed for intensive use and is suitable for domestic settings, as well as care homes and hospitals. Thanks to copper’s antimicrobial properties, the rail eliminates bacteria quickly, preventing the spread of germs. The polished finish will keep its lustre, while concealed fixings with resin fixing plates mean that it looks neat. Meanwhile, the strong and sturdy shower seat with contemporary styled slip-resistant black seat and chrome fittings has a maximum load of 125kg, as do the slip-resistant polished chrome grab rails, manufactured from full brass construction with concealed fixings.
Inta also manufactures a safe touch thermostatic basin mixer tap with easy-to-grip lever option that enables it to be operated by hand or elbow. This stylish design, with anti-scald technology, a safe touch body and self-draining spout, is suitable for domestic bathrooms as well as sheltered accommodation and care homes.
Stuart added: “As a trusted brand, we’re keen to ensure that our products meet the highest of standards for both functionality and style. It’s important to offer a solution for people who want to maintain their independence and fit aesthetically-pleasing bathroom aids.”
When it comes to showers, there has never been so much choice on the market. While it is fantastic to see such a wide array of products available, it can be difficult to know which to choose. Stuart Gizzi, Director of British manufacturer Inta, looks at the advantages and disadvantages of electric, digital and thermostatic showers and explains why he thinks the key is to keep it simple with fit-and-forget products...
“The three most popular types of shower - electric, digital and thermostatic - each have unique qualities that suit different end users so it’s important to understand the differences.
“Electric showers - often regarded as the most ‘traditional’ choice - have been around for many years and are great for energy saving as the water is only heated when in use.
“However, electric showers tend to be a single feed that is commonly installed in the loft - which can cause problems with water freezing during colder months - and they typically have the worst flow rates when compared with digital and thermostatic. Not to mention they are undoubtedly the most dated shower products out of the three and an electrician is needed to install the wiring.
“Then we have digital showers. There’s no denying these are the future; we are living in the digital era after all. The benefit of digital showers is that they can be preset to optimum temperature and pressure - and some can even be switched on using a smartphone - so they are the obvious choice for tech-savvy users who have more money to spend.
“I think in the next 10 years digital showers will be leading the way but at the moment there are definitely still some teething issues with the technology. Digital showers are also complicated to install because they need to be concealed - which makes for more difficult and expensive servicing too - and there is an increased risk of callbacks if users can’t get to grips with the programme.
“Last but not by no means least are thermostatic showers. While digital showers might seem to have all the frills, the thermostatic valve is also a very intelligent product - and better yet, they are much easier to install and use.
“Thermostatic valves mix hot and cold water to the selected temperature and react instantly to any changes in the pressure or temperature of the water supply and re-adjust accordingly. If a failure in the cold water supply occurs, the thermostatic valve is designed to automatically shut down.
“These types of showers are piped up ready to go and have two easy-to-use handles; one that switches the shower on and off, and one to select the temperature. There’s nothing overcomplicated about a thermostatic shower - it’s the perfect fit-and-forget product for the installer.
“I think the industry needs to keep it simple and focus on what the function of a shower actually is.
“However the most important thing to consider when choosing a shower is of course the safety and quality of the product. Unfortunately it’s all too often that we see lower quality products that have not been put through rigorous testing lead to serious incidents, including scalding accidents and even deaths.
“All manufacturers should be looking to achieve the highest approvals for their products. All of our showers at Inta are TMV2, TMV3 or WRAS approved and our Trade-Tec and Puro thermostatic ranges both feature our proven anti-scald technology too.
“To be TMV approved means the product offers vital protection to people against scalding by controlling the mix of hot and cold water which comes out of the shower. TMV2 identifies valves that are suitable to prevent scalding in domestic settings, while TMV3 offers an even higher level of protection that make the products suitable for NHS and healthcare settings.
“WRAS approval, meanwhile, demonstrates compliance with requirements of regulations that mean the products should not cause waste, misuse, undue consumption or contamination of the water supply.
“There may be more choice on the market than ever before, but the true focus needs to be on quality. More manufacturers need to strive to achieve TMV and WRAS approval so that we have better quality products available.”
Inta’s Trade-Tec range has been specifically designed and engineered to meet the exacting requirements of the professional installer, offering quick, easy fit-and-forget solutions that are stylish, affordable, reliable, compliant and more importantly, each valve has Inta’s proven anti-scald thermostatic fail-safe protection built in.
Meanwhile, the Puro collection from Inta is defined by the unique contemporary styling of the handles, oversized soaker and multi-function eco-air handset. The Puro range is the ultimate combination of form and function featuring safe touch surface valve bodies and Inta’s proven anti-scald thermostatic technology. Eco-air handsets deliver a reduced flow rate by up to 60% whilst increasing showering performance.