How to Remodel a Bathroom: The Ultimate Guide

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This guide will combine all the information you need to know about bathroom remodeling. To make it easier for you, we’ve chosen to combine it in different subtopics that you can easily access by pressing the links underneath.

Bathroom Remodel Facts

If you are preparing to remodel your bathroom there are some facts that will help you make some important decisions. These facts may not answer all of your questions, but they may help you make good choices. The facts can make the difference between a success and a failure.

Facts to consider

Great return on investment-
When doing remodeling one of the major considerations is financial. When done properly you can expect to recoup almost 78% of its cost in a resale. To maximize your return on investment you need to think of not what you like, but what may appeal to others. The more you turn your bathroom into a one of a kind, the more you leave it open to being something others don’t find appealing. Look at the latest design trends and choose neutral type colors and fixtures that will appeal to others.

Some work can be done DIY-
While remodeling your bathroom can be difficult, doing the work yourself can save money. For this to be something that actually helps you need to be honest with yourself about your abilities. If you can’t do something, don’t. But things like painting, some tile work, even placing cabinetry can all be things the average home owner can do. Be careful about things that are better completed by professionals, wiring and plumbing are not things the average home owner should try to do by themselves.

Cutting corners is costly-
There is always the impulse to buy the cheapest option. Don’t buy cheap, or you’ll be replacing these items in a rather short period of time. Your bathroom gets a lot of traffic throughout the day. On average each person in your home will spend half an hour per day inside this room. The cheaper you go and the more corners you cut the quicker things will wear out or break.

Details matter-
When doing a bathroom remodel pay attention to the details. Things such as efficiency, ventilation, and flexibility are important. By paying attention to the small details you save yourself both problems and additional money in the long run. Also by paying attention to the small details you ensure your remodel is done right the first time.

Planning is important-
Not only is planning important, it is necessary. Any remodel is a complex undertaking. You must plan as much as possible to ensure that nothing is left to chance. A good detailed plan will take into account your budget, the goals of your remodel, and specify a timeline that ensures your project is completed appropriately.

Replacing finishes and fixtures-
Not every bathroom remodel is a gut job. Most often when you update your bathroom, you update the finishes and fixtures. This gives your bathroom a new look without having to bring in contractors and professionals. The dedicated DIY can do most of this type of remodel with very little help. However, make sure that when replacing electrical fixtures that you check codes to ensure what you put into place isn’t going to make you need permits.

Space is the most common problem-
The most common complaint people with older homes have is that of space. Homes on the whole were built smaller in the past. This means every room was smaller inside the home. Additionally, bathrooms were not built for luxury in the past. While it may seem that our homes have always been constructed as they are currently, bathrooms were considered utility type rooms until fairly recently. Most often additional bathroom space must be found by taking it from an adjacent closet. Average of 6% square footage of a home dedicated to Master Bath. Over half of houses have 2.5 baths or more.

Most difficult choice is tile layout-
It may seem strange but one of the most difficult choices facing a remodel is said to be tile design. The visual impact of tile design is one of the major considerations. The design of the tile within your bathroom can make or break your project. This leads back to planning, and thinking of others. Don’t go for the ‘cool’ design that you have to convince others works, find the most stylish design that you can find that appeals to the wider market.

Some bare bones facts to consider. The following are some bare bones facts to look at in order to make the best decisions possible.

Dollars and Cents

Here are some of the costs you can expect when you’re redoing your bathroom.

Total costs-
Average remodeling cost for a small bathroom $17,000
Average remodeling cost for master bathroom $32,000

Money destinations by type-
Installation and fees- 25%
Fixtures and pipes- 36%
Structural- 39%

Specific destinations for your money

  • Replacing the tub with a walk in shower-$$$$$ (16-24 Hours)
  • Adding a window- $(2-5 Hours)
  • Move and replace toilet-$ (2 hours)
  • Add new cabinets-$$$ (8 hours)
  • Replace faucets-$ (4 hours)
  • New flooring-$$$ (10 hours)
  • New light/fan-$ (1 hour)
  • Medicine cabinet-$ (3 hours)
  • Redo walls- $$ (12 hours)
  • Bring wiring up to code-$50-$60/hr
  • Bring plumbing to code-$45-$65/hr
  • Bring structure to code-$70/hr

Lifespan of common bathroom fixtures

Up to 10 years

  • Carpets
  • Lights/Switches Electrical
  • Water Heater

Up to 20 Years

  • Cabinets
  • Countertops
  • Shower Doors
  • Linoleum Floors
  • Tankless Water Heater

Up to 50 Years

  • Whirlpool Tubs
  • Vinyl Floors


  • Copper Wiring
  • Toilets

Final thoughts

Once you have all of the facts, and you have done additional research then it is time to begin.



How to Remodel a Bathroom in 7 Easy Stages

Remodeling your bathroom is something within reach of most home owners. Knowing how to do it is not some secret process. The necessary information can be found in many different places. To help you make the best choices and ensure your project comes out perfectly we put together this step by step guide.

Stage 1: Initial Planning

This stage is where you try to think of everything you need, and everything that can go wrong. Just like in any sort of construction project, planning is vital to a successful outcome. Tasks to complete in the preparation phase include:

  • Come up with a design for your remodel, this design will drive all other considerations as you go forward
  • Preparing a budget, and consider which of your plans fit within your budget.
    • Make sure to give yourself 10%-15% over your total costs for any unexpected expenses, more if your bathroom is older.
  • Researching costs
    • Look for wholesaler’s, online deals, and fixtures available in reuse stores
  • Selecting materials
    • Splurge and spend more money on the things you will use the most, toilets and showers are good candidates
  • Planning the layout
    • It’s a good idea to use tape to plan out your layout “full size” in your garage on the floor, or your driveway

Stage 2: Final Planning

To show how vitally important planning is, I have put two stages of planning in this guide. There is simply no more important factor in a successful remodel than preparation. In this second stage of preparation you should accomplish the following:

  • Go over all of your preparation outlined in step 1

Decide what parts are DIY and what require bathroom contractors

  • Make an honest evaluation of your ability and availability to do DIY type projects

Ensure that you know the DIY skills necessary to finish the project.

  • There are several websites and many books that can walk you step by step through a chosen project

Test the layout you have selected

  • Do the physical test again if possible

Research the necessary permits and required inspections needed.

  • Contact the building or code enforcement division of your local government to obtain this information
  • Often there are significant costs involved with permits and inspections and this needs to be in your budget

Stage 3: Preparation

Tired of doing prep work yet? Well there is more preparation needed before you begin. To ensure that you have a successful remodel complete the following preparations before you begin day one of your project. Your bathroom has the unique situation of being exposed to moisture constantly, both in humid air, and water spilled on the floor. Always keep this in mind when purchasing items, consider waterproof flooring, and wall coverings that resist humidity.

Purchase all necessary materials (including fixtures, bathroom flooring options, wall treatments)

  • By making sure you purchase all necessary materials before you begin you ensure you are not delayed
  • You can often get better deals if you are willing to have items shipped, waiting makes sure you actually get what you need

Hire individual contractors or hire a general contractor

  • A unless you have experience juggling contractors and applying for permits and inspections
    • Use a good resource like Angies List or look for yelp reviews to ensure your contractor is worth your money

Electrical and Plumbing renovations almost always require contractors to ensure you comply with building codes

  • If hiring individual contractors ensure they are inspected properly before you pay them

Request AND WAIT for approval of all required permits

  • The permitting process is individual to your location. Wait for all permits to be approved before beginning your remodel.

Make any arrangements or changes for not having the bathroom working.

If you are working on your only bathroom, this is a major consideration that must be addressed.

  • It can take weeks or even months if you are doing it on your own. Plan for this length of time

Consider ways to minimize damage to rest of the house during the time.

  • Put paper runner/drop cloths down on flooring near the bathroom and the path to and from the bathroom
  • Move furniture out of the way and take delicate items off of walls

Stage 4: Demolition

You have all your planning and preparation done. You are ready to roll, your new bathroom awaits. First, you need to get rid of the old in the demolition process. In this stage, you remove everything that you need to in order to get your project completed.

Rent a dumpster

  • Make sure it is large enough to hold your trash including showers, sinks, toilets, and flooring.

Wear personal protective clothing for safety

  • Use masks, gloves, and other clothing necessary to be safe

Be sure you can physically remove the items without injury

  • It might sound strange, but ask your physician before doing any heavy lifting or construction work to be sure it is safe for you to do so
  • Turn off breaker to the bathroom, place tape over the breaker for safety
  • Disconnect all electrical fixtures and remove them
  • Remove all electrical face plates, flashing, and put in a safe storage area if being reused
  • Remove lighting fixtures, shower heads, faucets

Turn off water to house or bathroom if there is a common shutoff available

  • This may require submitting a request to your utility, plan for this delay if necessary

The following items are then removed, the order is not set in stone, and the items should be removed from nearest to those furthest away. This will give you the necessary room for the larger elements.

  • Remove sink and cabinets
  • Remove toilet
  • Remove bathtub
  • Remove Shower enclosure
  • Take off wall coverings/drywall (carefully if you are trying to not replace the drywall)

Remove flooring (carefully if you are trying to keep the subflooring)

  • Take baseboards and moldings off carefully if you plan to reuse them, label or number them so you know their locations
  • Remove any wiring or plumbing that will be changed out
    • Have existing wiring and plumbing inspected to ensure it is up to code, replace what is necessary.

Remove subflooring if it is being replaced.

  • Often this is the best option due to water damage and to avoid having to scrape the surface perfectly flat from glue and nails

Ensure to cap all drains to avoid noxious fumes

  • Sewer gas is toxic and noxious, your drains must be capped to prevent it coming into your house

Ensure to cap all water lines to avoid leaks
*Water can be turned on to the house at any point as long as all lines are capped*

Stage 5: Renovation

In this stage you are going to do everything in reverse and rebuild your bathroom. This is the stage where it may take a general contractor, or if you are doing that role yourself it may be several sub-contractors. Inspections on completed work are often necessary before you can proceed with another part of the renovation. Contact your local building or code enforcement department and ensure you arrange for appropriate inspections.

Complete any structural work required, frame new walls etc…

Fix/Replace any plumbing under the subfloor

Put subflooring into place

  • Radiant heating options are put into place as you put your subfloor into place
  • Make sure to put a moisture proof membrane between your subflooring and the flooring option you select

Fix/Replace any plumbing within the walls

Fix/Replace wiring and ensure it is up to code

Place/replace ventilation system

  • A good general rule is to have a ventilation system that is rated for the total cubic foot volume of your bathroom
  • Remember a noisy fan turns your bathroom retreat into a noisy closet

Fix/Hang drywall

  • Consider upgrading to a waterproof drywall option for long term durability

Test fit cabinets, toilet, shower fixtures to ensure spacing works

  • Placing things where you expect them to end up ensures the space actually works as you intend
  • Shower heads, faucets, even towel racks can need to be moved a few inches for best effect

Paint/Tile ceiling and walls

  • Reminder… wall paper is a very poor choice due to the moisture issues of a bathroom.

Put flooring into place. This step may be done later if you need to tile around cabinetry, pedestal sinks, and your toilet

Place and connect tub/prefab enclosure (if being used)

Place and connect toilet

Place cabinetry

Place and connect sink(s)

Connect new light fixtures

Stage 6: Cleanup

In the cleanup phase is also the time to ensure everything was done properly. Do a very thorough cleaning of the bathroom itself to remove any residue from installation or manufacturing residues.

  • Test all fixtures to ensure they work properly, that no leaks have occurred.
  • Test all lighting, and sockets to make sure they work
  • Remove all leftover building materials
    • Arrange for donation of any leftover materials, or still useable fixtures
  • Dispose of any toxic/harmful chemicals properly
  • Have dumpster removed

Stage 7: Accessories

Now that the bathroom is complete, your building materials are cleaned up, and all work is done it is time to accessorize. Whatever remains of your budget should be used to purchase new towels, soap dispensers, waste bins, wash cloths and other finishing touches.
Often these finishing touches can have a larger impact than you may think. If you have a newly remodeled bathroom with a modern style, and all the small touches are seashell mermaids, you lose the look you are trying for. Pay attention to these small details and you will get a long lasting look.


37 Tips For How to Remodel a Small Bathroom

small bathroom
When looking at how to remodel a small bathroom the main consideration is space. As you make your choices they all must relate to making your small bathroom look as big as possible. This is not an impossible task, we have put together the best tips and tricks available to help you succeed, and we strongly encourage you to read as much about the topic as possible before you start. You may not be able to use each tip, but by using as many as possible you can maximize the space and look.


Don’t overdo the vanity: One of the largest objects is your vanity. Using a smaller vanity gives your bathroom more room. Select an open style vanity over a cabinet type to maximize the visual space.

Use brighter colors: Bright colors make a space seem more open and light. Avoid dark colors unless there is a lot of natural light to offset this choice. White, and other light colors trick the eye to make a space seem larger.

Use a pedestal skirt and avoid a vanity: To make even more space, don’t use a vanity at all, use a pedestal sink. This avoids the space a cabinet or vanity takes up completely. To give yourself a little storage space add a pedestal skirt.

Maximize storage: A small bathroom will have less storage space than a spa like retreat. This means you should maximize the storage that you have by being smart about what you keep. Remember to use the vertical space, a thinner but taller storage option often works well in a small bathroom.

Go upscale because it’s small: One of the benefits of a small bathroom is that you can spend more because you are using less. This allows you to purchase more expensive options since you will be using a fraction of what you would for a large bathroom. So choose the more expensive option to leave a big impression on visitors.

Use glass enclosures to give illusion of more space: Glass shower enclosures give more visible space. Use clear glass instead of frosted glass or you defeat the intention of improving the apparent space.

Use compact, small scale fixtures: In a small bathroom, think small and compact fixtures. When choosing faucets and other fixtures choose the ones that encourage a feeling of space, avoid bulky heavy options. An oversize faucet or other fixtures such as towel racks and even knobs can make it seem smaller.

Try floating storage: Floating storage options are those that don’t rest on the floor. This gives the illusion of more space since the viewer can see beneath the storage cabinet. This can be an excellent choice and it also has the added benefit of making your bathroom floor easier to clean.

Change the layout: When remodeling an older, smaller bathroom, take the opportunity to change the layout to make the room seem larger. Always remember not to have your toilet facing the door. Removing your tub and going with a shower can give you more space as well. As you remodel, take a look at the way your current bathroom is configured and see if moving things around makes the space feel larger.

Keep clutter down: A simple fix to making your small bathroom feel larger is reducing the clutter. While not technically a remodeling tip, reducing the clutter you keep laying around will make it seem as large as possible. Use smart storage options to keep clutter out of view. Consider keeping items not routinely used in a hall closet or linen closet.

Open shelving: Use shelving that doesn’t have a solid front. By not closing off the shelving and being able to see to the back wall you give the room a larger look. This often works hand in hand with setting your shelving into the walls themselves.

Only include functional elements: In a small bathroom only include what is necessary. Remove cabinetry that you don’t need and give yourself a little more space. Replace large tubs with smaller more functional options, or if you rarely use the tub remove it completely and go with a walk in shower. Consider going from double sinks to a single sink.

Use texture and pattern to create space: Tile, wallpaper, even rugs should all use textures and patters to help make the bathroom appear larger. Avoid overly busy patterns, use lines to draw the eye up or in.

Add pops of color: The general rule to use more neutral colors or sticking to a basic white color scheme can make it seem boring. To increase the visual impression and make it seem more alive add small pops of vibrant color.

Choose soft colors: If you want to avoid the white bathroom, select a softer color. These colors are almost every color with “light” in front of the name.

Use recessed lights: Removing pendant lights, or even wall mounted light fixtures will open up your space. Recessed lights provide all the light, without taking up any of the apparent space.

Mirrors can help: Judicious use of mirrors can trick the eye into thinking your bathroom is larger. This shouldn’t be overdone though, too many mirrors will quickly become something no home owner finds attractive.

Niches create space: If your remodel includes changing the drywall, use niches to make more space. By taking your storage needs and setting them into the wall more space is made in your small bathroom.

Avoid shower curtains: Shower curtains close off a section. This will make your space look smaller. If you are not using a glass or see through shower enclosure, choose shower curtains that can be tied open. This will maximize the visible room.

Maximize shower use: Just because you are trying to make the most space, doesn’t mean you can’t include some great elements. Since you can save money by having to purchase less materials, splurge on the shower. Buy a multi-head shower systems, include a bench in your bathroom remodel, go for the steam shower.

Maximize vertical space: Remember that your bathroom can use the vertical space available to great effect. Thin but tall can help your small bathroom gain some needed room.

Consider a corner sink: By using a corner sink you open up wall space in the traffic area of the bathroom. This unique design idea can pay a big dividend in the open look of a small bathroom.

Have a counter over the tank: A thin counter extending over the tank of the toilet can add additional storage space without the need for an entire counter. This often wasted space is a valuable asset. Take care that you or a plumber can still get into the toilet tank in case maintenance is needed.

Put the towel bar on the door: To free up wall space, if the sink is near the door, place the towel bar on the door itself. By doing this you reduce the items on each wall, clearing sight lines and improving the feeling of open space.

Utilize a trough style sink: These thinner sinks take up less space than a standard style sink. By hugging the wall more closely they clear up more room in the traffic area. This is a great benefit for bathrooms that are narrow and long in shape as it allows more walking room.

Mount the faucet in the wall: To get the most space possible mount the faucet directly in the wall. This allows you to use a narrower sink since the plumbing is hidden inside the wall itself. This interesting looking option can also draw the eye as a special feature.

Wall Cabinets: To get the most storage out of your small bathroom use wall cabinets. These small places are great for just a bit of additional storage without taking up floor space. Place them in the unused areas of the walls near the back of the room to avoid making the entrance feel smaller.

Free standing storage: Often you can purchase free standing storage options that are more useful than a large built in or a cabinet. These options also allow you to reconfigure your bathroom until you get the most open feeling. Storage ladders are an excellent and attractive free standing storage option.

Put storage above the door: To get some additional storage use the dead space above the door. This space won’t normally be seen from outside. Keep it open shelving and don’t overload it to keep the look open and light.

Select larger size floor tiles: Pick a larger size tile when selecting flooring. These tiles will make the floor less busy than small tiles often do.  The wider spaced grout lines help make the space look bigger.

Don’t use up the floor space: Often we have scales, laundry baskets, trash cans, and other small items that take up valuable floor space. Opt for the small trash can that fits beside the toilet in that unused area between the toilet and the wall. Keep your scale and laundry basket in your bedroom instead of in the bathroom. These small changes can recover a lot of space.

Change the swing: If possible, have your door open to the hallway and not into the bathroom itself. This may not work for a small hallway, or a high traffic area though. Having your door open outside of the room gives you a small amount of additional space to use for storage.

Keep the cabinetry light: Selecting a light colored wood for your cabinetry pays visual dividends. A lighter colored wood reflects more light, and doesn’t catch the eye as much as dark colored cabinets are prone to do.

Let there be light: If your small bathroom does not have any windows, the lack of natural light can make it seem even smaller. Adding a skylight or a sun lighting tube to bring in natural light can make your bathroom seem much larger. Natural light gives a space an open feel that no other source of lighting can replicate.

Storage above the tank: The area above your toilet tank can often be valuable storage space. There are many different portable storage options available the provide you with storage shelves above the tank of your toilet.  Using this vertical space can be extremely valuable. Ensure you select an open design and don’t over clutter the shelving.

Save space with a shower caddie: You can gain a little storage with a shower caddie. If your shower uses a standard head and is not a complex multi-head arrangement you can gain some storage by hanging a shower caddie. This gives you a small amount of storage that doesn’t require you to use up wall space.

Stripes add height: Wide stripes can help your room seem taller. This visual trick can help a small bathroom that doesn’t have a lot of vertical space to play with.  Don’t use thin stripes that can make the wall seem busy, this will do the opposite and make the room seem smaller.

Final Thoughts

Your small bathroom doesn’t have to be some dark closet. With the proper care and using these simple design principles, you can make it seem more spacious. Take advantage of as many of these ideas as possible. Not all will apply to each bathroom, but some of these surely will.


The truth behind bathroom remodeling costs

sink with running water
So, how much does it cost to remodel a bathroom? This cost isn’t fixed or set into stone and will depend on a lot of different factors. The decision to upgrade any part of your home is a big decision. You should never make a decision of this magnitude without having all of the information possible. No one guide can perfectly predict the costs involved with a remodel. The information provided is provided to help you make the best choices.

Average cost to remodel a bathroom:

The average cost in 2016 is $9,285. As with all numbers this amount is not what you should always expect to pay. It takes into account a wide range of bathroom remodels, from the inexpensive to the luxurious. For a modest remodel you can expect to pay between $5644 and $12,944. The smaller and less extensive projects you choose, the lower on the end of this scale. The higher and more luxurious your project, the higher on that scale you will find yourself.

The region you are in will make a difference as to the price. Those in the south will likely pay less than the average prices listed. Those in the West and Northeast will pay more than the average cost.

Summary of the price of options:

Depending on the budget of your project you can expect to pay different prices for options. These are often considered in average groupings which we will call basic, Mid to Upper, and Luxury. The prices listed below are the minimum to be expected for each type of remodel.

  • Bathtub: $400 -$2,600 – $8000
  • Cabinets: $1,200 – $4,700 – $13,000
  • Countertops: $900 – $2,800 – $6,500
  • Flooring: $800 – $2,500 – $7,000
  • Lighting: $120 – $1,100 – $4,000
  • Sink: $190 – $1,400 – $3,500
  • Toilet: $130 – $340 – $550

What to expect in each type of remodel:

Another way of looking at the price is to see what sort of options are available within a price range. These are not exact measurements, but when deciding on your budget these notes will help you realize what you may be able to expect. These estimates are for your average remodels where the home owner does parts of the work themselves.

Standard Remodel: $3000 – $12,000

  • No plumbing moved
  • Some fixtures replaced with off the shelf products
  • Countertops are low end granite and marble
  • Only the bathtub or shower area tiled
  • Walls are painted
  • Cabinets are repainted or refinished
  • Lighting changes are basic and off the shelf

Average to Upscale: $10,000 – $35,000

  • Plumbing changes such as moving a faucet or shower are possible
  • Better fixtures from more expensive companies
  • Higher grade remnant or custom granite, marble, or quartz
  • Cabinets may be custom pieces, glazed, more specialized
  • Fixtures are higher quality and longer lasting
  • Porcelain tile for most of the surfaces with more expensive accent stripes
  • Walls can be tiled or made of beadboard
  • Contractors are often contractors used for this extensive project

Luxury Retreat: $30,000 – $100,000

  • Complete remodel of all elements down to the studs
  • Solid wood cabinets with decorative accents
  • Natural marble, limestone, granite of high quality
  • High end finishes on all fixtures
  • Steam showers, radiant heating on the floors

The National Kitchen and Bath Association offers a breakdown of costs for a bathroom remodel. This is a useful guide when you have a raw number for your budget but you aren’t sure how to allocate the funds. Use these percentages to make a determination on where the best places for your money are.

  • Design fees: 4 percent
  • Installation: 20 percent
  • Fixtures: 15 percent
  • Cabinetry and hardware: 16 percent
  • Countertops: 7 percent
  • Lighting and ventilation: 5 percent
  • Flooring: 9 percent
  • Doors and windows: 4 percent
  • Walls and ceilings: 5 percent
  • Faucets and plumbing: 14 percent
  • Other: 1 percent

Other cost considerations

The costs shown above are “ballpark” figures. Certain things can make these numbers change dramatically. As you consider how much your bathroom remodel is truly going to cost you will have to look into these other aspects.

Contactors: One of the most variable costs in a remodel is the contractor. If you have little to no experience, a general contractor is the best choice. These are bonded, dedicated professionals who can subcontract out the jobs needed to be completed to have a successful project. If you have hired contractors before you may be able to do the job of the general contractor yourself. This decision can change the cost of contracting greatly.

Labor: Your labor costs will be another cost that changes depending on a number of factors. In general, the more that needs to be changed the more labor costs are going to add up. The cost of your labor also depends on the skill level of the laborers you hire to complete tasks. Unskilled day labor is much cheaper than a licensed electrician or plumber.

Permits: Permit costs are something most home owners don’t think to factor into a budget. The more radically you change your bathroom the more permits you will have to get. The permit fee may or may not include the inspection fees as well. Contact the building/inspection department of your local government to find out what the permit costs and inspection costs will be for any proposed construction. Any changes to plumbing or electrical will require a permit. As will changes to the structural components such as walls and floors.

Final thoughts

The cost is something that is made up of a lot of different elements. Balancing these elements and coming up with a budget is not a simple task. Taking the time to look at your costs and find ways to get the most out of your money will pay off though. Careful research will ensure the success of your project.


7 things to know about small bathroom remodeling costs

well-lit bathroom
The cost to remodel a bathroom is tied to the size of the room. As the size increases, the cost increases along with it. A smaller bathroom means less materials necessary. Also, it means that there will be less labor involved. The question of how much does it cost to remodel a small bathroom is not a hard and fast number. Many different things go into determining this cost. We have broken it down into the 7 things.

No amount that you can find online is going to be the one that will be the cost for your specific project. If you do more than a standard one to one replacement, the costs can go up significantly. Every fixture you move increases the cost too. Changing out the lights for ones that are greatly different increases the cost as well if it requires any electrical changes.

1. Materials

Costs are also pinned to the type of material that is chosen. The difference in a project that is low cost and one that breaks the bank is all about the things that are chosen. The price difference between hand carved marble from Italy, and laminate purchased at your local hardware store is the difference between low cost and high cost. When figuring out the cost, first determine the materials that you are going to put into the new space.

2. Contractors

When deciding to remodel, the basic decision must be made to serve as your own general contractor, or to hire one. If you hire a general contractor they will manage the entire process, but you will need to add that cost into your estimate. If you do all the coordination and some of the work yourself, you can find a lot of savings. If you use a contractor, get a written schedule and ensure you also get an itemized list upon completion. There are benefits and drawbacks to both ways of remodeling your small bathroom.

3. Region

As you compare costs remember that the cost for your particular project may not be the same as what you find online. The costs you will encounter will be less in the south and more in the west and northeast. Always check local stores or regional distributors for the most current prices. Even then, if you explore local stores, antique shops, and second hand stores you can often find the best value.

4. Extent of the remodel

The costs that are given below, and that you can find in other places online is the price for what is considered a standard project. A standard project is when it is doing the minimal amount of work in the bathroom, putting in a toilet, a tub with a tile surround, a solid surface double sink, a new vanity, redoing the floor, and refreshing the wall treatments. The approximate costs that you will find are based on the assumption that your remodel is standard. This includes the assumption that the materials you choose are average in cost, and that labor is at the normal rate for each type of contractor.

5. Labor costs

Labor is a considerable expense, by doing as much of the work possible yourself you lower the overall cost. This is only true up to a certain point, and you have to be careful not to lead yourself into much greater costs if you make mistakes. Making a fair and objective evaluation of your own skills is an important part of deciding what labor you can do yourself. Also remember that in all remodeling projects there are building codes that must be adhered to. Even if you do the work on your own, it is usually better to have a licensed professional review all work to make sure it is within code.

6. Age of the home

Another consideration is the age of the bathroom. The older it is, the more expensive the remodel is going to be. When dealing with older ones, the pipes and wiring are often things that must be dealt with. Old plumbing and old wiring must be brought up to code. Depending on the age of the home the walls and floors must be brought up to code as well. All of these fixes add considerable expenses to your remodel. Even in a normal situation you should always prepare for the unexpected by adding 10% to 15% to your budget. In the case of an older home, increase this to 20% to 25%. If possible, find out what pipes and wiring lead into the bathroom for a clue on what is going to need to be upgraded.

7. Cost Breakdowns

The average cost in 2015 for a small bathroom ran between $3500 to $7000. The cost breakdown of a standard bathroom remodel is as follows:

  • Bathtub $400-$1500
  • Cabinets $1200-$3500
  • Countertops $900-$2000
  • Flooring $800-$2000
  • Lighting $120$-900
  • Shower $450-$2000
  • Sink $190-$900
  • Toilet $130-$250

These totals are not hard and fast rules, prices change, labor costs change. As things change the following can be used as a general guideline when determining costs.

  • Labor: 20 percent
  • Cabinetry and hardware: 16 percent
  • Fixtures: 15 percent
  • Faucets and plumbing: 14 percent
  • Countertop: 7 percent
  • Floor: 9 percent
  • Doors and windows: 4 percent
  • Walls and ceiling: 5 percent
  • Lighting and ventilation: 5 percent
  • Design fees: 4 percent
  • Other: 1 percent

How to remodel a bathroom on a budget?

modern bathroom
When looking at how to remodel a bathroom on a budget the step-by-step guide still applies to the actual work you must do, this is no matter if  you’re dealing with a small or large bathroom. The main considerations are obviously price and how to accomplish the task. Remodeling can be done on a budget, all it takes is a bit more research and effort.

Tips for the budget conscious bathroom remodel

General Tips:

Do it yourself: The best way to control the cost is to do almost everything yourself. When you are operating on a budget you normally don’t have to rewire or do much plumbing. This means almost everything is within your reach. It might take some study and effort, but learning how to tile and do most of the other work cuts thousands from your costs.

Refinish instead of buy new: To save some money, if you have antique or uncommon faucets or a unique showerhead, consider refinishing them instead of replacing. This isn’t such a good idea if you have standard off the shelf low end fixtures, but if you have antiques this can save you a lot of money.

Use less tile: Tile is a more expensive option than paint. To keep the budget low use less tile. Instead of tiling every wall, paint some and tile others. Or decide to tile only the area by the mirror/vanity and paint the other walls. To use even less tile, avoid it altogether. Select a good paint that can resist the humidity in your bathroom.

Buy used: A great savings can be found through purchasing used materials. There are online outlets that sell used or discount toilets, sinks and vanities. Habitat for humanity runs a chain of “reStores” that sell gently used materials from houses they demolish. Both of these options can be a place to save money.

Go green and save in the long run: Another cost saving option is to go green. While the initial cost may be as much or more than a standard option, green options can save you money over time. The water and energy savings through using low flow shower heads and economical flush toilets can save you a lot of money over the lifespan of your remodel.

Do your renovation in stages: While not something that will actually save you money, doing your renovation in stages allows you to tackle it one step at a time. This spreads the overall cost out over time and allows you to not break your bank account.

Walls and Floors:

Redo the grout and caulk to freshen the look: Another low cost high impact option is to redo the grout and caulk. Often your bathroom can get a great lift just from removing aged grout and caulk. Fresh looking grout and caulk removes the dull, grey, stained and brightens the room.

Repair drywall don’t replace it: Rather than tearing out every piece of drywall and putting new in its place, consider repairing it instead. Even cutting out sections and patching it with new drywall will be cheaper than replacing the entire structure.

Repurpose dressers as sink cabinets: A great trend in modern design is to use an old dresser and repurpose it as a cabinet. This is great for those on a budget. Taking an old dresser, refinishing it, and using it as a cabinet can save you a lot on furniture.

Keep the rest, replace the vanity: A slightly more expensive but still viable option for the budget conscious is just replacing the vanity. Leaving the other fixtures and just changing the vanity will make a vast difference in the look.

Change the hardware on your cabinets: One of the cheapest fixes is just to change out the hardware on your cabinets and doors. While a small change, it can often give your bathroom just enough of a change to make it updated.

Add hooks or custom storage instead of a new cabinet: To save the cost of purchasing and having to demo the cabinetry that you already have you can add custom storage or hooks. This saves you the cost of purchasing whole new cabinets, and the cost for redoing the floor or walls that are exposed by the different size and shape.

Paint the cabinets instead of replacing them: To keep the cabinets and save yourself money you can simply keep the cabinets and repaint them. This can often be done in place, avoiding the need to remove anything else. Ensure that you choose a paint that can stand up to the humidity of normal use.

Upgrade vanity with glue on embellishments: Another low cost option for your vanity is to add glue on embellishments when you repaint it. This can take your average vanity and make it both stylish and reflect a new style. These can be found both in home improvement stores and in craft stores. Often the craft stores are your best options. Utilize a heavy duty glue and ensure to clamp them if possible.


Update just the fixtures: For a quick fresh look you may be able to just replace the fixtures. The showerhead, the faucet, knobs and handles can all be changed out for a quick change. While this won’t give a huge change it is often enough to make your bathroom just different enough.

Keep the enclosure, update the showerhead: Another very low budget option is just to change out the showerhead. If your shower enclosure is still serviceable buying a dual showerhead can give it an updated look without the cost of changing out everything.

Use mostly low cost tiles with bands of more expensive tile for accent: If you choose to tile your walls or floors, but wish to keep it as low budget as possible don’t use all expensive tiles. By using mostly inexpensive standard tiles you keep the costs down. To give yourself some sense of style or luxury accent this standard tile with more expensive options.


Keep the toilet, change the lids: Often there is no real benefit to buying a new toilet as long as the one you have is functional, and not broken or run down. Most of the time just purchasing a new seat and lid can bring your toilet up to standards.

Counters and Things

Consider economy counter tops, or ones with imperfections: Your counters can be a major source of cost. To reduce this consider using either premade laminate counters or if you really want the look of stone think about using imperfect stone. Often you can find stone countertops that have imperfections, with the savings increasing with the amount of imperfections you can handle.

Update exhaust fan: Sometimes, all you need for your bathroom to be a bit better is less noise. It’s hard to have your bathroom be an oasis of peace and calm when your exhaust fan sounds like a helicopter. Changing out the exhaust fan can bring a quieter more pleasant experience and make the space seem better without any other changes.

Replace lighting: Changing out the lighting can be cheap, and change the look of the entire space. Taking old light fixtures out and finding newer more modern alternatives gives your bathroom an updated look without having to tear out the walls.

Frame your mirror: To give your bathroom a more artistic look, frame your mirror. By adding a frame around your mirror you give your bathroom more of a finished look. The frame can be made to reflect your individual style.


45 Tips on How To Save Money On Your Bathroom Remodel

minimalistic bathroom
Remodeling your bathroom can be an expensive proposition but can also increase your home’s value. From materials to labor the cost can quickly spiral beyond what you first thought. Don’t give up though, there are a lot tips on how to save money on your bathroom remodel that you might not have thought of. We’ve put together the best tips and tricks to keep your costs down and your project successful.

Plan, plan, plan: This is probably the most important way you can save. By researching, making, and keeping to a plan you avoid putting money into a bad decision. Coming up with a good plan means you have explored your options and made decisions to allocate your funds to the right places.

Keep the footprint: One of the biggest tips to save money is to keep the current layout of your bathroom. Some of the largest cost you will encounter are in moving plumbing, wiring, and structural elements. So keep things where they are and save big time.

Use accessories: When you can’t afford a total remodel make wise choice on your accessories. You can often pick more standard choices for toilet or showers and jazz it up with good accessories to distract the eye from these choices.

Paint not tile: One of the easiest ways to save money is to use paint on the walls instead of expensive tiles. This doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice looks though. You can make paint decorative by using patterns and styles instead of a single color schemes. Make sure you use a paint that can stand up to the humidity in the shower.

Change the showerhead: Often a good cleaning and a new showerhead can make a shower look brand new. The money you save by cleaning the shower to like new can be put into an upscale shower head that makes your shower seem brand new.

Shop around: Taking the time to look around for the best deals will pay off. Consider both big box stores and your local building store. Either of them may have the best deals. Look into discounts and coupons that may be available through special offers.

Use remnants: To save a bit more money see if you can find remnants that will work. Often building supply stores will sell remnant material at a fraction of the cost. Countertops of remnant material can be a great buy, this works well for smaller countertops.

Limit tile: An easy way to save some costs is to not use tile in everything. Even if you tile halfway up a wall, you have saved half the cost you may have incurred. Look at the style you are shooting for and see where you may be able to scale back tile use.

Repurpose old furniture: A great way to reduce costs, that fits with current design trends is to reuse old furniture. This design trend lets you take an old table or cabinet and refurbish it to turn it into a cabinet. Sticking with this idea can save thousands of dollars in the cost of cabinetry.

Remodel only what is necessary: If there is only an aspect of your bathroom you feel needs to be updated, or something breaks, only remodel that part. By only remodeling one area, you can put higher quality material into it. Take care not to make it look patchwork.

Use a curtain instead of an enclosure: On average a glass shower enclosure can run around $1,500. You can avoid this cost entirely by deciding to use a shower curtain instead. A shower curtain can also add style to a bathroom by coordinating it with other design elements.

Choose chrome not nickel: To save a bit of money choose chrome instead of nickel. While not always considered a high end finish chrome still gives a great look. Brushed nickel may not be in your price range, but a good chrome still gives a clean sharp look.

Get more space with smaller cabinets: Grab some additional square feet of floor space by selecting smaller cabinets, or getting rid of one completely. This can give you more room without the cost of pushing a wall further out.

Use light tubes not a new window: A window can cost over a thousand dollars to put in. A light tube can cost 500 dollars and bring some natural light into your bathroom. A skylight may be another option as well instead of a costly change to the exterior of your home.

Find recycled material: An interesting way to save money is to find recycled materials. Habitat for humanity and even contractors often have materials that they retained from other remodeling jobs. Finding your sink or toilet in these places can save you a lot of money.

Donate: While you won’t save thousands by donating your cabinet or toilet you can save around $100. This small cost could be the difference between a low end shower fixture and a more upscale version.

Do the demo: Even if you have no handyman skills you can save money on the demo. By doing the demo work yourself you can often save almost $500 dollars. Don’t be afraid to do the demo yourself, there are many online guides to help you accomplish it safely and quickly.

Look to the long term: Instead of looking for a cost saving in the short term think long term. Low flow faucets and showers may be as or more expensive than other fixtures at the time of purchase. The savings you gain over the long term can more than make up for this initial cost.

Find new sources: Be inventive when looking for materials. Do you have a friend or relative that is or has remodeled recently? Is there a friend who is a contractor that might sell you that sink at cost? Think outside of the normal place and you may be able to find amazing deals.

Limit recessed lights: Although recessed lights can be great they are a more expensive option. Using wall mounted lights is a more economical option. If your design just must have recessed lights, try to limit them and use both recessed and wall mounted lights.

Consult an architect don’t hire him: When you are not doing a full scale remodel that requires a completely new architectural design don’t hire an architect to plan out the entire project. Some architects will give design sketches for a few hundred dollars that a drafting service can turn into the required planning documents.

Don’t hire a contractor, consult: Along with not hiring an architect consider if you can do some of the work with some help. Not all contractors will provide this sort of over-the-shoulder assistance but if you can find one you can find a significant savings. The contractor will explain the work, give a step-by-step guide and you do the hard work on your own.

Make your time count: Even for those who aren’t up to demo work, and are too dangerous to do work yourself you can save some costs by doing things yourself. Even doing the simple cleanup work at the end of your contractors workday, and doing the final cleanup yourself can save hundreds of dollars over the time of the job.

Transport the materials yourself: Another way to save some money is to do the transportation of material and debris yourself. Taking the time to do this picking up and dropping off can save hours of labor. If you don’t have a truck, rent one and you can still end up saving some precious room in your budget.

Consider wall prep: When you keep your current drywall it can often have significant work that needs to be done to it before you can repaint or place tile. The time that you spend doing this may be able to be avoided. There are several wall covering options that are made of fiberglass and adhere to the current walls. These coverings can save hours of work, and hours of cost for that labor.

Use look-alikes: Marble is great, and also expensive. Porcelain can give you the look of marble, at a much lower price point. When looking for materials for your bathroom take a look and see if you can select a look-alike. Modern manufacturing and materials can give you a wide range of options that give you the look of much more expensive options.

Time it right: If you have the option wait for off season to do your bathroom remodel. By selecting a part of the year when contractors are more in need of work you can save. Some contractors give up to a 5% discount for jobs they get in the off season. This will vary depending on location but is often the months after the new year.

Don’t move the toilet: To save on plumbing keep your toilet where it is. Moving the toilet often reroutes your entire plumbing system. The toilet is usually directly connected to the sewer vent, which is shared by the rest of the plumbing in your bathroom. Keeping your toilet where it is avoids the large cost of relocating the whole plumbing system.

Plan with available sizes in mind: Save money by trying to plan spaces that use widths that are easy multiples of your materials. If your flooring comes in 6 inch squares, try to have your bathroom a width that either is a full foot, or on the half. This saves you from using extra tiles to make up the difference.

Buy supplies at auction: Occasionally you can find an auction where they are selling building supplies. This can be a great place to pick up some materials for the lowest price possible. Take care to look at the material closely to ensure it is useable.

Make a builder grade mirror better by framing it: A standard inexpensive builders grade mirror can be made to look much more expensive by putting it into a frame. A custom built frame doesn’t have to be expensive.

Only replace the seat and lid of the toilet: Another way of saving money is to keep the toilet. Unless it doesn’t match the color, or is obviously of a different style your toilet doesn’t need to change most of the time. By replacing the seat and lid you can make your toilet look new again.

Open shelves can save you money: Open shelves have two advantages. They are usually less expensive than full cabinets, and they make your bathroom look larger.

Choose wisely for best impact: Carefully consider your options when it comes time to select material. Spend money where it will have the most impact. This doesn’t always mean visual impact, spending more money for fixtures that are more durable will save you money in the long run.

Use inexpensive tile with expensive accents: Save money by using more inexpensive tile for the large expanses of your bathroom. This can be broken up with more expensive tile in accents. This makes your tile work less expensive than using your expensive tiles throughout the room.

Consider one sink: Two sinks seemed to be a great idea the last time you remodeled. Yet how often do you actually use both sinks? If you only use one of the sinks regularly get rid of the one you don’t use. This saves the cost of a sink and offers more counter space as well.

Go green for long term savings: While it might be the same cost or even slightly more expensive initially to go with a green option, long term savings make up for it. Also this decision can may help the eventual resale value.

Shop online: Don’t forget that you can sometimes find great deals online. Before you make any final purchases look through online sources to see if you can find any last minute deals. Traditional big box stores will also occasionally have online only deals, that you can pick up at the store.

Consider size: Be realistic about your needs. Buy what you will use, and save yourself the extra cost. If you never use a tub avoid the cost and don’t purchase one. Do you truly need the spa tub when a soaker tub is enough? Buy the sizes of the fixtures that you need.

Refinish don’t replace: Depending on your fixtures it may be more economical to refinish them rather than replacing them. This applies to your sink and bathtub as well. There are professionals who can come in and refinish these in place, saving the cost of demolition and installation.

Gain space through non-load bearing walls: If you are looking to gain some floor space, try to do so through non load bearing walls. Moving these walls is much less expensive and easier to do.

Replace only the drywall that’s bad: It is not always necessary to replace every scrap of drywall. Inspect the drywall and take out the sections that are damaged. Replacing only these sections will save you not only the cost of the drywall, but the labor involved with removal and replacement.

Consider premade shower stall: Unless you are going for a luxury remodel you should consider a premade shower stall. This option is often easy to install and much more economical than the tile needed to put a shower stall into place.

Double check the need to rewire: If your contractor says that your house needs to be rewired treat it as if it was a bad diagnosis from a doctor. Get a second opinion from a non-involved contractor, while this may seem insulting it is your money in the end.

Get multiple bids: Obtaining multiple bids for such a large job is the best idea. Competitive bidding can bring your contractors in at a lower cost overall. Use care to not simply take the lowest bid, properly research contractors to ensure they have good reputations.

Now you know how to save money on a bathroom remodel!


Bathroom remodel ideas that increase home value

For most home owners the goal, at least partially, is to find bathroom remodel ideas that increase home value. If you are planning to sell your home within the next five years this is more than likely the major concern. Your home value will increase with most things that you update. Some choices have more impact than others, however.

As you consider bathroom remodel ideas, the main thing to keep in mind is that you should keep in mind that you are trying to increase the value of your home. This overall consideration should be reflected in all of your structural and design choices. As you make choices investigate how much of their value that you recoup for each option. If adding a whirlpool tub in your part of the country only recoups 10% of the cost then you are not adding much overall value to your home.

Ideas That Increase Home Value

Be prepared for the fact that you aren’t going to fully recover the cost. On average, a bathroom remodel will only recoup approximately 86% of the money that you put into it. So while you will add value to your home, avoid thinking that you will instantly get not only your money back, but add more to your bank account.

There is often an urge to take all of your available funds and sink it into one project. Without the project being part of an overall remodel of your house you can quickly make your bathroom look like the only “finished” room in your home. With this in mind you should not normally put more than 12-15% of your home’s value into any bathroom remodel.

Aside from any bathroom remodel, the first consideration is how many bathrooms you currently have. If you live in an older home with a single one, the best choice you can make is to add another. A new bathroom can add approximately 20% to the value of your home. Adding another one to your home can really provide the best return on investment. While putting a new one into place all of the general guidance below applies to this new construction as well.

Look and Style

When considering bathroom remodeling ideas, it’s always best to look to the future. The selections that you make should reflect a style that appeals to a wider market than just yourself. By making design choices that appeal to many you increase the value of your renovation. The more specific you make the overall design the fewer people that will agree. So, while the underwater themed bathroom with the custom mural, seashell faucets and dolphin light fixtures seems amazing, it is not good in the long run.

Often you can get a large visual change by refinishing the tub and shower with premade options. This keeps costs down since you are not replacing the entire tub or shower. Apart from buying premade coverings that simply go over your existing tubs and walls you can reglaze your tub. Reglazing your tub strips off the current color and shine of your tub and completely refinishes the tub. This is done in place by a trained technician.

Deciding on the look and style can be a very difficult decision. There are a lot of different considerations to keep in mind. To remodel your bathroom that in a way that increases the value of your home does not always mean you have to pick the most expensive options. You can have a lot of visual impact by making careful decisions and doing research into what is looked for in your area.

Never make it the only room that looks upgraded or different. Making it look out of step with the rest of your home often devalues your renovation. If the rest of your home is rustic and you remodel your bathroom into a marble and chrome spa, buyers will be confused. Ensure that the look fits with the other rooms in your home, a bathroom should fit into the look, not stand out as something completely different.

Structure and Layout

The structure and layout is something that you can alter to increase the value of your home. You can keep the same look that fits in your home, and by increasing the size, you turn a small cramped bathroom into a space that feels spacious enough. Take care not to “steal” space from something else that will lower the value of that area though. Removing a walk in closet to add square footage to your bathroom isn’t a good design choice.

As you determine the layout, keep in mind the usability of the space. If you are making a master bathroom, enclose the toilet, separate the tub and shower, make sure there is enough room to walk side by side. If you are remodeling a smaller bathroom make sure the toilet doesn’t face the door, consider storage, use the available space well. Check the current design trends in your area for best practices.

Structurally, ensure that you provide for the support that your new elements might require. Double check the subfloor to make sure that you have the appropriate moisture barrier. Don’t put the heaviest possible tub on flooring that won’t support it. Carefully look at how the plumbing is put in and ties into the rest of the home. Even though it is not flashy, fixing the structural elements of your bathroom as you remodel can improve the value of your home as much or more as a steam shower.

Small details, big impact

It’s not always the big things that make the most impact, the small details can improve the value of your home as well. Simply by adding a curved shower rod you can make the shower seem larger without changing the tub out. When redoing the tiles on the wall add a few shower niches to add some storage in the shower. Changing the light fixtures can alter the whole look without tearing out walls. These small details can add to value by making it look more finished and modern without much effort, nor costing you too much.

Don’t forget the feel of the bathroom is usually based on these small details. Often the small details are overlooked and only the large, flashy items are considered. The hardware on cabinetry, the look of the faucets, the shower head, the lighting fixtures, each of these things should be thought of in the larger context of your design goal. All these things combine to give your home a consistent look and feel which will increase the value of your home. Pay attention to these small details so you don’t make your bathroom look like three different people designed it.

Final thoughts

Taking the time to think about the value added to your home by the ideas that you throw into your bathroom remodel will pay off in the long run. If an idea fits within the rest of your homes décor then it will add more value. Avoid sticking in things that sound expensive thinking it will improve the value of your home. It’s not always just adding up the value of things you put into your bathroom as you remodel.

Whirlpool tubs, steam showers, waterfall faucets, all of these sound expensive and they may indeed increase the value of your home. However, if you don’t back them up with the necessary infrastructure they may not. Large capacity water heaters are often necessary to make your expensive shower/tub work as advertised.

Your bathroom can increase the value of your home if done right. Taking the time to research and find the best deals can also pay off for you. The best price you can find will mean a better increase in the value of your home. Don’t rush the purchase and grab the first one you find, look for the best value to increase the impact on the value of your home.


35 Bathroom Remodel Tips

Bathroom with lots of tile
So you have decided to remodel your bathroom and increase the value of your home. This is not a weekend project. When thinking about a project of this magnitude, 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 everything 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.

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 dealing with 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, 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 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 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, 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. 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 the space 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 countertops in your bathroom can have a major impact on the look. 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. When you are remodeling, it 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, 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, 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, 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. 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.


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