35 Bathroom Remodel Tips
So you have decided to remodel your bathroom and increase the value of your home. This is not a weekend project. When thinking about remodeling your bathroom, remember that it is not a fast or simple project. Keeping that in mind, with the proper planning and careful attention to detail you can transform your bathroom into a spa like wonderland.
Below are the top 35 bathroom remodel tips, and tricks to making sure your bathroom remodel goes as planned:
Permits- Permits, permits, and more permits. You must ensure you get your remodel properly permitted or risk a big problem down the road. Contact the building or code enforcement division of your local government to get the right permits. A good idea is to give yourself enough time for the process to go through. It can take weeks to submit plans and get approvals. Don’t jump the gun and start building out of impatience! It can be costly to have to rip up a half finished bathroom because a plumbing issue means a pipe must be moved.
Make a checklist- A good checklist will ensure you stay on task and budget. Sit down before you do anything and make a checklist of what you think needs to be completed. Then prepare to change it as you learn more about how to remodel a bathroom.
Plan, and then plan again- Planning is important. If you plan properly then your remodeling will go much easier. When you plan well you ensure you only have to do something once. Take the time to draw out plans to scale to ensure you have the proper amount of materials. If you have a garage or driveway use tape and plan out your future bathroom in full scale. This lets you have a true look at how much room you give elements of the bathroom.
Use the Pros- While you may be ABLE to do something, it doesn’t mean you SHOULD. Sometimes it is much more expensive to fix your mistakes than to have just hired a professional in the first place. Be honest with yourself, do you have the skills to do a certain part of the remodel? Can you learn fast enough to not delay things another month? If the answer is no to either question then look for a professional.
Look for bargains, then look again- Don’t limit yourself to the store down the street. You can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars by doing some research and footwork. Look for options from places that recycle materials from other renovations. Habitat for humanity has a line of stores named “ReStore” that sell materials donated or salvaged from their renovations
Budget for the unexpected- Remember any remodeling project is never perfectly budgeted. Leave room for the unexpected water damage, the wiring that must be replaced, or the brilliant idea your spouse has after you begin. The best advice is to give yourself around 10% extra in your budget for all of these unforeseen problems. If you come in under budget use this money for extra’s, higher quality furnishings, or new towels and accessories.
Size matters- Before you do anything else, the basic question of size must be considered. Determine if you are building a half or full bath. Remember the minimums specified by code are pretty cramped, they are not the size you likely will find comfortable. On average, you need about a 4×8 area for just a half bath.
Master your bathroom- If you are making a master bath ensure it lives up to the name. Try for a separate bath and shower, a privacy area with door for the toilet, and enough space for two people to share. For a luxurious bathroom you may want to consider using a space of about 10’x12’ to give you the room needed.
Buy everything first- Purchase all materials, plumbing fixtures, cabinetry, countertops and structural elements before starting. This makes sure you don’t run into delays with delivery. Purchasing materials in “stages” may result in delays as you wait for items to be delivered, or your supplier runs out of stock on a needed item. Buying everything first also allows you to test fit pieces to ensure clearances with the actual layout you want to end up with.
When able, replace your pipes- If your budget can support replacing pipes with new pipes do so. A bathroom remodel is a good time to take ancient pipes out and replace them with modern options. Also when relocating fixtures, a clean slate is often much easier to work from. It may also make permitting easier if you ensure your old plumbing is in line with new codes.
If you can, replace the underlayment- Sometimes it is impossible to get up every piece of glue or each nail from the underlying plywood. Instead of spending hours trying to get the underlayment perfect it is often quicker and easier to just tear up the subfloor and replace it with brand new material.
Test fit to avoid problems- To make sure that what you have purchased is going to work for your bathroom test the fit before finalizing walls. Test fit your faucets and shower heads before you put the walls up. This test fitting allows you to see any issues before it is necessary to cut up the walls to move these items. It allows you to stand under the shower head and make sure it’s the correct height, and ensure the clearance gives you enough room for the sink and toilet.
Avoid hot wiring- When remodeling from an older bathroom upgrade your system to avoid problems now and in the future. If your wiring is old enough, you will need to change it over to a GCF system to be within code. Also plan to use a 20-amp system to hold up to the wear and tear of years and accommodate more electrical items that will come along in the future.
Don’t skimp on the important pieces- Ensure that you don’t go cheap on the things you use the most. Save where you can, but the items you use most should be the most durable and useful you can buy. This rule applies to flooring, fixtures, anything that you find yourself using constantly in your current bathroom. When looking at how to remodel your bathroom you have to make some hard decisions on where you allocate your money.
Be considerate on water use- Modern fixtures can be found that provide the same luxury with less water usage. Not only is this environmentally friendly, it saves on your water bill. Older toilets can use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, modern high efficiency options use about 1.3 gallons per flush. A high efficiency shower head can save around 1700 gallons of water a year for a family of 2.
Splurge on the shower – If you aren’t putting a soaker tub in then splurge on the shower. Very few people actually use a “standard” tub anymore. The trend is to ditch the tub and make a larger shower. A large shower gives a sense of elegance to a bathroom, and can alter the look and layout for the better. Ask yourself how many baths you took in the last year, and if losing shower space is worth the tub. A small shower in a tub becomes a modest sized shower just by losing the tub itself.
Consider a wall mounted toilet- A wall mounted toilet can be a great visual option as well as making your bathroom easier to clean. In this arrangement the tank for the toilet is mounted inside the wall. This leaves the space under the bowl of the toilet open, avoiding a base for a toilet that has to be cleaned around.
Extend your flange- If you change the flooring sometimes the flange won’t fit the toilet. An extender flange is inexpensive option that saves the day. So don’t forget that if you go to place your new toilet in and it just doesn’t seat that the day is not lost. Go to the nearest hardware store and purchase the inexpensive extender you need.
Think of accents- Often a small bit of accenting can pay huge dividends. Consider breaking up large expanses of tile with a different style or color. The cost for these small design choices are often relatively minor, but the visual impact can be something that sets your bathroom apart.
Try Curved Shower Rods- They might be costlier, but it is amazing how much room a curved rod can add to a shower.
Pick new lighting- Change the lighting if possible to an updated style, plan for this in order to ensure you have the wiring routed according to code. Often updated lighting uses a different wiring configuration that needs to be taken into account when reconfiguring your walls. Lights should help when putting on makeup, so consider mounting them beside or directly above your mirror. Canister lights high above often aren’t useful for putting on makeup.
Caulk it up to good planning and avoid mildew- Use an acrylic caulk or select another option that kills mildew and has good durability. Skimping on the caulking for your bathroom will result in having to redo your caulking in a very short time period. Your caulk has to be able to stand up to the moisture of your bathroom as well as the harsh cleaning solvents used.
You must be this tall to use this shower- Use tape to ensure that the height and placement of your accessories fits for you. This is part of planning out your bathroom. Make sure that just because a guide online tells you a shower head should be at a certain height, that it works for you. This is especially true if you are taller than average.
Add niches- Both adults and children can use a built in niche in the shower. This gives a more finished look to a shower. Having a built in niche avoids having to buy aftermarket racks that rust or attract mildew. When thinking about different ideas on how to remodel a bathroom, think about the little niches you see in many home improvement shows. These give a shower a more upscale look.
The flush matters- Don’t skimp, get the best flush you can, do some careful research on places like consumer reports or other independent sites to get an objective rating for how well a toilet flushes. When replacing your toilet is also a good time to have a plumber come and check for good flow through your drain pipe, and that your vent pipe is clear. Both of these can slow the flush of your toilet.
Pick the right sinks- Your sink needs to support the design for your bathroom. This also includes how usable your bathroom is. Consider both look and function when selecting a sink. Pedestal sinks offer style, but no storage, if you don’t have another storage area this can make the bathroom less usable. Sinks in a vanity offer the most storage, and selecting a vessel type sink can make them look modern and luxurious.
Double sinks- While double sinks can be all the rage, consider carefully if that second sink will get much use. Ask yourself how much more use you can get from the additional counter top a double sink uses. The space may be much better used for an extra mirror and space for a vanity type arrangement.
Countertop options- Selecting the right counter tops in your bathroom can have a major impact on the look of your remodel. The options below are the most common in use, but the options are as varied as those for your kitchen.
- Natural Stone
- Expensive, beautiful, gives a high end look
- Some stone stains easily, has to be sealed periodically, moisture issues
- Resin Based
- Impermeable, durable, less maintenance
- Can look cheap, inconsistent products mean you have to check carefully
- Affordable, Available prefab, durable
- Can look cheap, can’t undermount sinks
Slip resistant flooring- Go with a moisture resistant flooring option. Make sure it is slip resistant as well as attractive. Ceramic and porcelain tile is fairly slip resistant if the tiles are relatively small, the grout lines give enough traction to be safe. Remember you won’t always be as nimble as you are now, and to choose an option that will work for years to come.
Consider radiant heating- Toasty warm floors are a huge bonus to a bathroom. When remodeling your bathroom is the best time to consider in floor heating options. Radiant heating can be put into place with your new flooring, or beneath an existing floor if you keep your subfloor.
Water Water everywhere… – When planning your bathroom remodel make sure you have enough hot water. Often when upgrading to a soaker tub, or multi-headed shower system, you will need to upgrade your water heater. If you run out of hot water in your current bathroom, any upgrade to use will make this problem even worse. When planning for water consumption the following are good estimates for hot water use per person in your household.
- Shower: 6-8 gallons
- Bath (normal size): 15 gallons
- Washing hands and face: 2-4
- Shaving: 2 gallons
Make it accessible- When remodeling put accessibility into your plan. Look to resale value and the future by adding stability bars, open showers and wider doors. This will give you more options should you keep the house forever, and more interest should you sell the property.
Wall treatments- When considering wall treatments for your bathroom keep in mind the level of moisture that it is going to be exposed to. Your choice has to be able to stand up to constant moisture and wide ranges of temperatures that change fairly rapidly. Avoid wallpaper and untreated wood, both of these will degrade in the humid environment
Flooring- When remodeling your bathroom make sure you put extra thought into your bathroom flooring. Everything from your subfloor to the floor covering needs to resist moisture and be easy to clean. Ensure you put a good moisture proof underlayment to protect your subflooring. Vinyl, some natural stone, ceramic and porcelain are you best choices.
Slip resistant flooring- Make sure your flooring choice is slip resistant as well as attractive. Ceramic and porcelain tile shower flooring is fairly slip resistant if the tiles are relatively small, the grout lines give enough traction to be safe. Remember you won’t always be as nimble as you are now, and to choose an option that will work for years to come.
Clearing the Air- For both moisture reduction, and other more pungent reasons a good vent fan is something to put money into if you have it. Purchase a fan that is as quiet and powerful as possible, it pays dividends in reducing moisture issues and how moisture impacts everything in your bathroom. The general rule is you need a fan that moves the same amount of cubic feet of air as your bathroom has. So a 10x10x10 room would need a fan that is rated for 100 cubic feet per minute flow.
Protect your pipes- A special consideration for houses in cold climates. Take care to plan for the temperatures that your pipes will be exposed to. If your bathroom is on the ground floor and your pipes are exposed to the elements ensure that you insulate them or take the proper precautions. For ground floor bathrooms do your best to plan for them to not freeze.