Next to the number of bedrooms, the number of bathrooms in a house is a huge selling point. But when perusing home listings, you’ll quickly realize that bathroom math isn’t so simple. For example, you may see that a particular place may be listed as having two full bathrooms and one half-bath. But what is a half-bath, exactly? Or a quarter-bath, or three-quarter bath, or “full bath” for that matter?
In order for a room to be listed as a “full bath,” it must contain four key fixtures: a toilet, sink, bathtub, and shower (or shower/bath combo). A full bathroom off the master bedroom is one of the most desired features by today’s home buyers. Other features that are popular in a full bath but are not necessary for that designation include a linen closet, bidet, makeup station, and/or double sink.
What is a half-bath?
A half-bath, also known as a powder room or guest bath, has only two of the four main bathroom components—typically a toilet and sink. The half-bath is generally located on the main level of a multistory home, and is used by guests who come by to visit for a few hours, or by those who don’t want to run all the way upstairs when nature calls. Most real estate agents will tell you that adding a half-bath to your home is one of the most profitable home improvements you can make.
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Is this bathroom mainly for guests?
Will family (children) use the bathroom on a regular basis?
Where is the bathroom located (off of the kitchen by a mudroom entrance; near a formal foyer)?
How much natural light enters the room (if any)?
What style is the powder room today, and is there a style you’d like to experiment with in this space?
What is a three-quarter bath?
You’ve probably figured out by now that a three-quarter bathroom lacks one of the four fixtures listed above. That would most commonly be the tub. A three-quarter bathroom most often has an upright stall shower, a sink, and a toilet. But in older houses or condos, a three-quarter bath might have just a sink, toilet, and tub, but no shower. In this case, the new owner almost always converts it to a full bathroom by installing a shower head over the tub, and enclosing it with a shower curtain. That’s an easy and inexpensive way to do a quick upgrade, especially if the walls around the bathtub are already tiled.
What is a quarter bath?
And finally, what of the humble quarter bathroom? A room with just one of the four elements—typically a toilet. Quarter bathrooms are rare for good reason: Who doesn’t want to wash their hands after attending to their business? Another type of quarter bathroom is just a shower, often located out by a pool to rinse off.
Do two half-baths equal a whole?
If a home is listed as having three bathrooms and two half-baths, why don’t they just add them all together and say that there are four bathrooms? That would seem logical, but each bathroom must be listed separately, because this gives home buyers a better sense of the home’s features and their options.
If you want to convert a small space into a half bath, the general rule of thumb is that there should be a 3-foot radius around each appliance. The term “appliance” does not just apply to the sink and the toilet; it also applies to the door, assuming that it opens into the bathroom.