In general, a bathroom is a room that may serve several functions. Defined literally, a bathroom is "a room with a bath." A bathroom may be defined in some cultures as "a room where one bathes." This space may or may not include a bathtub and feature instead a conventional or steam shower in a stall. In North America, a full bath may have three or four fixtures, depending upon market location.
In some U.S. markets, a room containing a toilet, sink and shower is considered a full bathroom. In other real-estate jurisdictions, a full bathroom must have a toilet, sink, tub and shower. Many real-estate agents unwittingly complicate the definition of bathroom by using numbers, fractions or decimals in listings. Accordingly, a three-piece, 3/4 or .75 bathroom would contain a toilet, sink and shower. A four-piece, one or 1.0 bathroom would also include a bathtub.
In some areas, a full bath contains a toilet, sink and bathtub. A 3/4 bath has a toilet, sink and a shower, and a half-bath is a small room with a toilet and sink only. Some homes and hotel rooms may also feature a powder room consisting of a small alcove with a sink. Real-estate agents consider this a quarter or .25 bathroom.
In some instances, a bathroom is more than a full bath. This is where numbers increase in real-estate listings to include such high-end fixtures as steam showers, saunas, whirlpool baths and bidets. It is not unusual for a high-end home to have more bathrooms than bedrooms and for some master bathrooms to include more than four plumbing features. An example is a luxury bathroom equipped with a two-piece alcove; computerized, multi-nozzled shower and tub; independent whirlpool bath; sauna or steam room; bidet; toilet; and multiple sinks.
North American bathrooms have come a long way since the days of outhouses and wooden washtubs filled with water warmed on the fire, parlor stove or stove. Hot and cold running water made bedroom-based chamber pots and washbasins obsolete and gave rise to rooms designed specifically for toileting and maintaining cleanliness. The number and quality of bathrooms found within the modern North American home has become a symbol of wealth and status and a selling feature for real-estate agents.
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