Ultimate Guide to Bathroom Remodeling

Read this before you proceed with the repairing and renovation works in one of the rooms where you start your day – your bathroom. We’ve collected the info about contractors, materials, tools and other stuff to help you out with the checklist and calculations.

It makes no difference what you’re willing to get: a cheap bathroom remodeling from scratch or an elegant looking bathroom that will not simply cost you a fortune, but add value to the place you live in. The following guide is stuffed with tips and information on how to choose materials, hire professionals and make your dream come true. Additionally, you’ll get hints on how to make the repairing works on your own.

Checklist

  • Analyze the pros and cons of your bathroom in its current state and deal with your wishes.
  • Look through the bathroom remodeling images or visit your local showrooms to get an idea of the space design in your renovated bathroom.
  • Analyze your financial position – study our bathroom remodeling tips and ideas and set your budget not to deal with unpredictable and unwanted loans.
  • Don’t try to rely only on yourself – trust the professionals. We have tips on how to pick out the best ones that will meet your needs and expectations.
  • Make it official – trustworthy bathroom remodeling companies will bear the responsibility for their work.
  • Get ready to survive – it won’t be easy. We’ll help you to beat the stress.

Bathroom Remodeling Materials and Tools

  • Storage spaces, cabinets, counters, countertops, vanities, and shelves;
  • Sinks;
  • Faucets;
  • Shower and bathtub materials;
  • Toilets;
  • Ventilation;
  • Lighting;
  • Walls & Flooring;
  • Doors & Windows.

Deal With Your Wishes

Study the following bathroom remodel questionnaire before you start…

  1. What are the pros of your bathroom right now?
  2. What are you willing to alter?
  3. How do you imagine your dream bathroom?
  4. What colors would you like?
  5. How many people are going to use the bathroom on a regular basis?
  6. How many of them will use the bathroom at the same time?
  7. What space should be private and what can be shared between several people at once?
  8. Will you have visitors in your new bathroom?
  9. What is the age and health condition of people that will use the bathroom?
  10. Do you need a bathroom remodeling for handicap accessibility?
  11. Are you willing to separate the shower and bath space?
  12. Will a shower for one person be enough?
  13. Do you want to separate the water closet from the bathroom area or not?

Decide what exact activities are going to be held in the bathroom according to your needs and the needs of your family. This will help you choose the bathroom furniture and accessories to make the space more practical. Think what you need for washing your hair and body (a tub or a shower), brushing teeth, shaving, applying lotions (a vanity, a shower, or a bath) washing kids or pets. The analysis of these activities will help you pick out the bathroom items and accessories and estimate your bathroom remodel total cost.

Space Design

You have to plan the bathroom-remodeling layout in details. This tip is the same both for beginners and for experienced homeowners.

1. 10X5. A tiny bathroom remodeling on a budget without tub

That’s a three-quarter bathroom. One of the greatest advantages of it is a possibility to save much on plumbing installation – almost everything will be installed on the same wall. You won’t have to invest in a lot of materials. Unfortunately, you’ll have to consult with bathroom remodeling contractors for a nice planning if you have no experience in it.

2. 10X8. A more spacious bathroom.

That’s a full bathroom remodel with a bath, a shower, and a separate water closet space. That’s probably one of the best choices for a family comprising several members and pets. Pay attention that the first thing you see when entering the bathroom is a sink and a window – the water closet stays hidden behind the door. There’s enough space for two sinks or for a longer vanity is you’re planning to use the bathroom together with someone else in the morning to save time. You’ll also have enough space for hooks, shelves, and cabinets to keep shampoos, lotions, hair brushes, etc…

3. 9X11. Let’s call it a posh bathroom.

If you’re planning a bathroom remodeling with significant financing in order to a return on your potential investment, this bathroom is just perfect. You have a chance to install a large bath as well as a spacious shower. Such a space allows handling a bathroom remodel without a shower door. Why? Because a walk-in shower doesn’t need it. You’ll get a framed bath with shelves on the sides, vanities and a ton of space for accessories.

4. 10X12. It has all.

Here you get a separate private toilet area, a separate bathtub, a large separate shower and a double vanity.

These are the basic plans – it doesn’t mean that your bathroom will be completely the same. Everything depends on the space you’ve got. Measure it, make up a plan and draw your bathroom the way you want it to look and consult the building professionals.

HINT: The best bathroom for an actively living couple should be made up of a spacious walk-in shower with two showerheads, double vanities, and a private toilet area. You’ll feel the value of it in a rush hour.

You need to keep three things in mind: comfort, safety, and functionality. There are certain standards you need to follow.

  • Doors – no less than 32 inches wide;
  • Shower – no less than 36X36 inches with doors opening into the room;
  • Tub faucet – no less than 30 inches high;
  • Shower faucet – about 50 inches high;
  • Showerhead – about 70 inches high;
  • Vanity – about 30 inches high (if you have two vanities, you can install them on different heights for anyone in the family);
  • Sink – about 16 inches from its center to the wall;
  • Medicine cabinet – no less than 8 inches up from the sink (to prevent the cabinet from the unwanted water splashes);
  • Water closet – the seat should be about 14 inches high.
  • Bars for towels – about 36 inches long for one person.

If you have specific needs or if you plan bathroom remodeling for elderly family members, you’ll have to get professional help for planning.

Safe Bathroom Hints

Invest in slip-resistant flooring

Build a platform around the tub so that you can sit on it when you get in or get out of the tub

Invest into shatterproof doors in the shower and make sure they’re firmly installed

Install valves that control the temperature

Install handgrips all over the bathroom – they’ll save you from accidental falls

Build in a bench in the shower

Don’t forget about cabinet locks if you have kids

Set Your Budget

Do this before you hire professionals and before you start your bathroom remodel yourself. Estimate the budget and follow it. Bathroom remodeling stores and showrooms may be helpful.

It’s not a fun thing to do, because it’s a lot more than picking the colors and furniture. First, ask yourself a question: “Are you willing to spend all your life here?”

If your answer is “NO”, devote some of your time and study the prices for homes in your neighborhood. You should understand that you won’t be able to get a satisfying refund from your expensive bathroom remodeling in case if your area is not popular among the buyers. Your remodeling budget should correspond to the prices in your area.

If you say “YES”, spend as much as you can on the materials and professional help. Your aim will be not to add value for the potential buyers, but to create the home you’ve always dreamt of.

Analyze your budget including your debts, count your pure income and find out the maximum sum you can spend a month on your future bathroom remodeling.

IMPORTANT! Bathroom and kitchen remodeling always cost more than you may think it will. You’ll have to face unexpected issues on the way and these cases should also be included in the budget. Home remodeling generally costs at least 25% more than you expect.

Dealing with Bathroom Remodeling for Cheap

  • Follow your goals – don’t let yourself get distracted by impractical chic products. You’ll drain your budget for attractive and useless things. Focus on the basics.
  • Find professionals ready to save your money by suggesting sensible ideas. You’ll probably exceed the budget, but you’ll get what you want
  • Keep your bathroom renovation as simple as it can be. Don’t destroy the load-bearing walls and don’t challenge yourself with plumbing replacement. You may opt for arches, curves, unusual windows, and abnormal lighting solutions. That’s not the best thing to do. Focus on the significant issues. Otherwise, you’ll have to spend twice more than you’ve been expecting on decorative issues.
  • Study the customers’ feedback to get more info about the contractors. Make sure your contractor will deal with the deadline.
  • Bathroom remodeling tools and materials should be bought beforehand. That’s highly important if you’re willing to save your time. Buying things on the go especially if they are custom tools and materials is not a good idea.
  • When you get to bathroom remodeling stores, opt for furniture, materials, and tools in stock. Don’t waste your time on special items. The best way to remodel your bathroom on a budget is to get simple prefabricated goods instead of waiting for something unique.
  • Promotions and sales are obligatory. The best deals are generally offered by bathroom remodeling companies and stores at the end of the seasons. The products include not only furniture and appliances but also building materials, tiling, flooring, and accessories. Online deals can be especially profitable.
  • Don’t make enormous plans – stick to minimum changes. Start with alterations you can’t normally live your life without. If you change bathroom-remodeling plans on the go, you have great chances to completely ruin your budget. Check your plumbing, electricity, and then pass on to the tiling and flooring not to lose your money.
  • If you need to do the work fast, invest only in the necessities. Spend less on the bathroom remodeling tools and accessories that can easily be changed for the better ones in the future. Get cheaper lighting, cabinet hardware, and doors. Concentrate on more expensive basic elements: plumbing, appliances, and cabinets.
  • Do part of a bathroom remodel yourself. This is actually the work for dummies. Besides, it will save quite a lot of your money. You can partially remove the furniture and the appliances. Surf the net for the info on wall painting and tiling installation. Do it on your own and save even more.

Trust the Professionals

You’ll need to find someone to handle your construction especially if it’s your first bathroom total remodel experience.

As soon as you’re reading this article, it means that you’re looking for some professional hints. It looks that you’ll also need professional help at least on certain steps of your remodeling process.
You may need:

  • An architect – the one who will deal with the design in general;
  • A designer – the one who will visualize the project in drawings;
  • A general contractor – the one who will handle the project;
  • A design-build firm – the one who is ready to deal with all work mentioned above.

Questions to ask a potential contractor:

Have you been dealing with the remodeling business long? Your aim is to get more information about the firm’s reputation. Besides, you’ll need to ask the contractor for a license and an insurance certificate.
How much time do you need to finish the project? The schedule is a must.
How do you organize your work? Find out if the contractor works in cooperation with subcontractors. Make sure that a supervisor will control the bathroom renovation process.
Have you had similar projects recently? It will be perfect if your potential contractor will be familiar with the type of renovation he’s planning to deal with. Trust the experience.
Do referrals help you develop the business? The answer to this question will help you understand whether the company fully satisfies the customers or no.
Do you have references to share? If a contractor has at least three references and a possibility to demonstrate his work, he can be trusted.

Make It Official

Study it thoroughly. It should include:

  • The contractor’s ID with the number of license and contacts.
  • The full list of bathroom remodeling tools and materials including the names of brands, styles, and colors.
  • The full description of bathroom remodeling steps including the cleanup process (if needed).
  • The time frame (at least approximate).
  • The cost and payment process.
  • The warranty.
  • An arbitration clause.

There’s always a chance to alter the contract if you’re willing to change something on the go. You just have to discuss the issue with your contractor and include the alteration in a written form in the contract.

HINT: If you’re not going to hire a contractor because you know how to do everything on your own or you have someone professional ready to help you, visit your local permitting office. The trouble is that if you replace a sink or remove a window while doing a bathroom remodel without a permit, you’ll have to pay a fine.

Get Ready to Survive

You’ll have to pull yourself together to handle the process of bathroom renovation. The construction process is sometimes very stressful. The following tips will help you out.

  • Get ready from the emotional point of view. You’ll have to survive the nasty times, but a better planning will help you stay sane. You need to have a clear picture of what you will get at the end of the renovation to hold on to it in the process.
  • Discuss what is allowed and what is not allowed at the job site: the workers’ schedule, possible mess, a place to keep tools and building waste, music, lunch breaks, etc.
  • Stay sharp about the schedule. Everything should be planned beforehand and the materials should be bought in advance.
  • Deal with the dust. Use sheets, screens, special building curtains and duct tape to protect your home from the dust getting out of the building area.
  • Take care of the kids. Keep them out of harm and try to organize their activity before you proceed with the renovation process.
  • Make sure you have a working toilet and place to wash.
  • Hang a board for messages next to the building site to leave notes about the schedule and other important comments.
  • Keep the delicate valuable objects away from the building site.
  • Find a place to store the bathroom remodeling materials and tools.

HINT: Make a punch list after the bathroom renovation project is finished. A responsible contractor will help you out with corrections and non-completed tasks.

Bathroom Remodeling Materials & Tools

Storage, Vanities & Cabinetry

There are framed and frameless cabinets. Almost all of the hardware and fixes can be left visible (traditional) or almost completely hidden (contemporary option). Custom bathroom cabinetry will cost you a lot more than the stock one. You can opt for semi-custom cabinetry that has more variability in materials and sizes and won’t drain your whole budget.

Pay special attention to the choice of the vanity. Make sure it has all the necessary storage areas for your makeup and towels. Add wire shelves, hooks and towel holders. Built-in electrical outlets would be a perfect solution. Don’t forget about a medicine cabinet that can stay fixed on the surface of the wall or recessed (this option will cost you more, but it will minimize the mess and simplify the cleaning process).

HINT: If you’re willing to save on bathroom remodeling and get something unique, take your time and visit the local thrift stores to find antique mirrors and vintage shelves. Use moisture resistant paints and coatings on wooden elements of your bathroom.

Walls, Floors & Countertops

The countertops can be made of:

  • Natural stone (marble, granite, limestone). It’s durable and elegant but needs proper insulation.
  • Cement or concrete in the base. Resistant to scratches and presented in almost all colors. Look seamless after the installation.
  • Quartz. Resistant to scratches and has almost no pores.
  • Laminate. Cheap and resistant to water and scratches. Laminate can look whatever you like t to look. It can even imitate wood and natural stone.
  • Cultured marble. Engineered as a mix of natural marble with resin. Fabricated in sheets. Due to the plastic resin used in the process of manufacturing, it’s a lot more resistant to negative impact.
  • Glazed porcelain or ceramic tiles. Scratches are possible, but they are almost not visible due to the pattern.
  • Glass. Such countertops demand proper maintenance and professional installation.
  • The basic bathroom remodeling flooring options are:
  • Vinyl (water resistant and comes in a variety of colors and designs);
  • Stone (elegant, but slippery without proper installation);
  • Hardwood (classy and beautiful, but needs special coatings to protect it from water);
  • Engineered wood (resistant to humidity);
  • Laminate (practical, cheap and released in any color and shape you may desire).
  • Cover your walls with:
  • Tiles. Porcelain, glass, stone or ceramics. Make sure you install the tiles professionally. Properly installed tiles need no special maintenance and they will serve you for many years.
  • Paint. The cheapest option. Paint can be glossy or semi-glossy. Keep in mind that you need to prepare the walls before you apply the paint. Otherwise, you’ll make the irregularities visible.
  • Tough Vinyl covers & Plastic panels.

HINT: If you want your vanity or sink look elegant and stylish, don’t use the tiling around it. Get a sheet out of cultured marble. It will be durable, you’ll save money and time, and you’ll get easier maintenance.

Sinks

  • Vanities. They can be simply placed on a countertop, installed below the surface of the countertop or be the part of the countertop. The last option should be installed professionally for a seamless result. Vanities are easily installed and considered to be the cheapest and most practical option for any bathroom.
  • Consoles. They are usually styled to match your bathroom cabinetry. They have legs made of metal or wood and countertops. It’s nice, but you’ll have to find the way to hide the pipes if you don’t want them to be visible (or leave them exposed for a cute vintage look).
  • Pedestals. These classic sinks are perfect for a small bathroom remodeling. They don’t need a lot of space and they are presented in a variety of styles and colors.
  • Vessel sinks. They are fabricated out of different materials. These sinks are installed above the counter, which makes it difficult to use it for kids and people with disabilities.
  • Wall-mount sinks. They are fixed to the wall with the help of special brackets. Sinks like these give you quite a lot of storage space underneath.

HINT: China is cheap and needs low maintenance, but unfortunately, it’s fragile. Cultured marble will look classy, but it’s fragile too. The glass is fragile as well, but if it’s tempered, it’s stronger. Iron, porcelain, and stone are long lasting, but heavy. Fiberglass is long lasting as well, but you’ll see the scratches on it. Stainless steel is probably one of the best materials in matters of longevity and cost.

Bathtubs

The focal point of your bathroom can be cast iron, composite, acrylic, marble (natural and cultured), fiberglass, porcelain. The bathtub can simply stand on its own without any fixtures. It can be undermount or on the platform depending on your aesthetical preferences.

HINT: A large bathtub needs a large water heater. If you’re willing to use a large tub regularly, invest in a heater that will be used only for the tub.

Lighting & Ventilation

Efficient lighting should be practical and create atmosphere. Powerful ventilation will keep the air fresh and save your fresh bathroom-remodeling project from excessive humidity.

Start with task lighting. It is situated in the areas where most part of your daily grooming activities takes place: shower, tub, and vanities. The second step is ambient lighting. This is general lighting situated in the center of the ceiling. The last thing is optional. It’s accent lighting. Generally installed to attract attention to the certain areas of the bathroom.

Don’t forget about proper ventilation system to save your bathroom from mold and fungus. One fan is OK for a tiny bathroom. But if it’s more than a hundred square feet, you’ll have to install separate fans for every tub, shower, and toilet.

Bathroom Remodeling Mistakes

  • Moving the plumbing in order to replace a vanity or a toilet. You’ll have to spend a fortune to replace the existing fixtures.
  • No bathroom remodeling plan and doing everything on the go. You don’t want to replace doors or crash the walls in unpredictable places by mistake, do you?
  • Hiring a contractor without a fixed price agreed in the contract. You need to officially set the list of tasks, materials and other issues beforehand.
  • Planning accessories before the installation of basic elements. Think about safety, comfort, and accessibility first. If your bathroom is elegant but completely impractical and dangerous for your kids and elderly relatives, it isn’t worth the effort.
  • Low-quality building companies. If the service is dirt cheap, there’s a great chance to spoil even the most expensive top-notch materials. Forget about illegal labor if you’re willing to get a high-quality bathroom remodeling.
  • No budget in reserve. That’s one of the most common mistakes. You have to add about 25% to the planned cost of your bathroom remodeling before you start.
  • Wrong materials. They have to be water resistant and long lasting. Besides, you’ll have to invest in strong ventilation not to spoil your fresh bathroom renovation project.

Typical Questions

How much does bathroom remodeling cost?

It fully depends on the style and budget. The minimum bathroom remodeling total cost is $3,500. This way you’ll be able to renew the walls and flooring including some of the accessories. If you’re an owner of a very small bathroom and you’re satisfied with the walls and floors, this sum will be enough to replace only the essentials.

Commonly, homeowners spend more than $5,000 on a typical renovation. It all depends on the accessories and additional furniture and appliances. The highest price you may pay for a sensible remodeling is $15,000.

The best way to estimate your budget is to consult with the professionals. You’ll have to point out your needs, the size of your bathroom and your overall monthly income.

When to start bathroom remodeling?

After you’re done with the project, plan, and budget. If you’re worried about delays, choose winter and summer for the remodeling. These seasons are not popular among homeowners.

How long does bathroom remodeling take?

The full remodeling including the replacements of furniture, appliances, plumbing, and electricity will take more than a month and a half. Therefore, it’s generally 4-5 weeks. Not all of the processes can be done at once. There will be days of preparation when you’ll have to just watch your bathroom look like a complete mess. You’ll have to wait even more if you deal with the demolition of walls and floors.

Will bathroom remodeling add value to my home?

Your home value will be boosted if you refresh your bathroom with new tiling, better lighting and practical usable elements like:

  • A double vanity or sink;
  • A seat in the shower;
  • Additional storage options;
  • A jacuzzi.

It will be perfect if you have enough money, time and patience to turn the unused corner of your home into a bathroom or a separate water closet. Most potential buyers are fond of convenient bathrooms. Remember that remodeling bathroom and kitchen you add the most value to your home.

Who can remodel my bathroom?

It’s either you or a pro. If you’re willing to get a sweet return on the investment, you’d better trust a pro. He will make your bathroom look expensive even if you use cheap materials. You may be a very attentive person with certain abilities in making plans and creating designs, but there’s a big chance to end up your bathroom renovation with unpleasant small oddities and drawbacks. A professional contractor will deal with all of his mistakes according to the contract.

You will spend more on professional help than if you do the renovation on your own. But the point is that a professional won’t stretch your budget in the process. Everything will be estimated beforehand. However, there’s always something you can do on your own – buy the fixtures, remove the furniture and appliances, deal with repainting and retiling.

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