Light up your bathing experience

PHUKET: Many of the villas I have inspected have had one light for a good size bathroom, no wonder we guys miss the toilet so often.

If you’re updating, there are many wonderful options. When you visit a lighting supply house you may get a headache from the mind-numbing task of looking at all of the delightful lighting fixtures.

To make matters worse, most lighting supply houses only display five or 10 percent of the light fixtures that are available. The best success stories I can share come from both personal experience and many of the jobs I have inspected over the years. New bathroom configurations and layouts create new bathroom lighting opportunities. The trick is to approach each bathroom with a new attitude.

The first thing to consider is that you have two lighting sources, and both should be considered. Windows and skylights that pipe sunlight into a bathroom should be used whenever possible. There is no substitute for brilliant sunlight streaming into a bathroom space in the morning. Windows will let light in no matter which direction they face.

Artificial bathroom lighting is what most of us are used to. Standard light fixtures that use any number of different types of incandescent light bulbs can be found in tens of thousands of bathrooms across the island. But newer LED and energy-efficient fluorescent bulbs should be considered, as they create a different palette of color. Be aware that different bulbs produce noticeable color spectrums ranging from a warmish golden hue to a blistering white. The biggest mistake you can make in bathroom lighting is to have too little.

My experience has shown that you need 300 watts of incandescent lighting per 15 square feet of bathroom (5 square meters). A combination of different lighting fixtures almost always produces a magical effect. In my son’s bathroom, I installed two recessed halogen lights over the vanity that are operated on a separate switch. Two other recessed lights, one in the center of the room and one over the tub, are operated by a second switch. When just one switch is on, the bathroom has a nice welcoming glow. When both are on, the bathroom lighting is just right for bathing or brushing your teeth.

Indirect bathroom lighting is another trick that many people seem to ignore. This form of lighting forces the builder/developer and the electrician to hide the actual light fixture, and bounce light from it onto a wall or a ceiling. Indirect bathroom lighting is ideal if you are going for a dramatic look.

Almost all electrical lighting fixtures mount to the same electric boxes in walls and ceiling. Plan ahead to make sure you have enough side walls and ceiling clearance for larger fixtures.

Visit model homes while you’re here on Phuket, to get real-time bathroom lighting ideas. You can also look at many of the home design and decorating magazines. Be sure all moving doors in wall cabinets are able to operate fully and not hit lighting fixtures. Some lighting fixtures can be mounted too closely to mirrors and cabinets creating huge problems.

Also take into consideration the overhang as many homes here on Phuket are designed to have 1 or 1.5 meter overhangs, which can greatly reduce the amount of natural light.

Follow these simple tips and there’s no excuse for the boys to pee on the floor again.

Mark K Dietrich is a professional inspector and property builder with a Master’s degree in building engineering. He came to Phuket after working for 25 years in the custom home and inspection industry in the USA, and has been working in Thailand for more than 11 years. Visit, email, or call 085-809 8755.

— Mark K Dietrich


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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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