How to Remodel Your Bathroom

  • 9 min read

How to Remodel Your Bathroom

A beautiful bathroom can make a huge difference to your home. While you might not spend as much time in your bathroom as you do in the kitchen or the living room, this is a room that you will always need to use several times a day. It’s also a space that should be relaxing, rejuvenating, and peaceful. A long bath after a hard day is great for the soul, but only if that bath isn’t coming away from the wall!

Another reason to remodel your bathroom frequently, is that this is a room that can really show its age. Bathrooms are prone to moisture, mold, limescale deposits, and water marks – and the longer you’ve had your bathroom, the more likely you are to start noticing these signs of degradation. The longer you leave this, the worse it will get and the more likely it is to become expensive to repair. Act quickly on the other hand and you can invest in a bathroom that will take full advantage of modern design and materials in order to remain more waterproof and less likely to deteriorate. In short, this can be an investment in the long term.

Bathroom sink remodelling a bathroom

Bathrooms can also date surprisingly quickly, meaning that bathroom renovations are probably the best room to target if your sole aim is to add value to your existing home. Just think about all the bathrooms you’ve looked around in the past with green baths and flower decorations… and how quickly that dated the whole house!

For this reason, bathroom are among the most common rooms to renovate, along with the kitchen. Here’s what you need to know and how to get started. First, we’ll look at how to plan and budget for your bathroom remodel. Then we’ll look at the basics of remodelling your bathroom if you’re going the DIY route. Finally, we’ll look at five common mistakes people make when handling a bathroom remodel, and how to make sure they don’t happen to you!

Assessing Your Bathroom

When remodelling a bathroom, the first place to start is by assessing the size of the job you have on your hands. Angie’s List suggests that the average bathroom renovation will cost between $10,000-$15,000. This includes labor costs, which on average should cost around 20% of the budget, so expect to pay around $2,000-$3,000 for your workmen. There is also the option to remodel a bathroom yourself, which could help you to save that amount of money. Only you will be able to tell if this saving is worth the time and effort you’ll put into renovating your bathroom yourself.

Keep in mind that any average or estimate will be just that – and should not be taken as a “verbatim” price guide. A common mistake is to assume the price quote will be accurate and that it isn’t going to increase – we’ll discuss this more in a moment.

And of course, the size of the bathroom, the appliances you want to have installed, and time scale can also have an impact on this. It’s worth working out a budget to see precisely what you can afford. If you find that your bathroom renovation is likely to cost too much for example, then you might choose to use a shower over your bathtub rather than a walk-in shower, which can save you money and space.

Remodelling an old bathroom

Only by knowing your overall budget, and then calculating the price of each item though, can you decide what you’re able to afford and where you need to try and make savings.

You might even choose to keepsome of your fixtures. If you do this, look for cracks or pitting. Only if they are in good condition and they match the new installations should you consider keeping them in place.

The Current Condition of Your Bathroom

Before you go ahead and get stuck in, you first need to address the current condition of your bathroom. It is not a good idea to spend a lot of money renovating a bathroom if you don’t address systemic problems that might have led to the deterioration of your old bathroom to begin with.

Some things to consider include:

  • Ventilation – Make sure your bathroom is properly ventilated. If there are no windows, consider putting one in. You should also install a bathroom fan.
  • Water pressure – How is the water pressure? Try running a tap and turning on the shower or flushing the toilet – is the flow significantly reduced? If so, you may need to address some underlying plumbing issues, or take a look at your boiler.
  • Windows – How is the glass on the windows? Is it significantly distorted? Are the windows double glazed?
  • Leaks – Try pushing against your tiles. Do they feel squash? If so, this is a sign of damp and you may need to look for other issues (poor ventilation or more severe leaks).
  • Power outlets – Do you have power outlets in your bathroom? While these can be useful for electric shavers and toothbrushes, they can also pose risks. Make sure this is a ground-fault interrupter. It should have a small red rests button if so.
  • Subfloor – If you spot signs of water damage to the subfloor, you will need to replace it before you install a new shower or bathtub. You can get an idea of this early on by looking at the tiles around the fixture – if they are slightly raised or uneven, this might suggest water damage underneath.

While making these changes might be expensive, this is by far the best time to go ahead and do that. Checking these things before you go ahead with your renovation will help you to make a more accurate price quote.

Making Plans

Whether you are going to be handling a DIY bathroom remodel, or hiring a company in to do it for you, there are a few things you will now need to consider.

The first point is the dimensions. How much space do you have in your bathroom? This is important as it will determine which appliances and fixtures you can fit, and how manyof them as well. If you’d love a bidet, you’ll need to sit down with a ruler and a piece of paper to work out how you can make it fit in the same space with your toilet, bathtub, and shower.

The shape of your fixtures will also make a big different here. Do you get a long bath, a round bath, or a something entirely different? Likewise, showers come as rectangular, square, or pentangle.

If you have already found the style and brand you want and it doesn’t come in your desired shape, this can be upsetting. So it’s worth drawing your floor plan firstbefore you get too attached to any ideas!

Making a floor plan is a great idea for this reason. When you do so though, you should also think about practicality. For example, you need to make sure that there is space for the door to open, and you need to consider

When you make this design, you also need to think about the other elements of your bathroom that you’ll be installing. Fixtures alone are not enough to make a bathroom. You also need:

  • Storage – such as a bathroom cabinet
  • Somewhere to hang towels
  • A toilet roll/brush
  • Somewhere to stand while drying off

The Labor

If you’re going to be making your bathroom renovation yourself, then the next step will be to get stuck in and actually do some work.

To this end, you’ll need a number of tools and materials, as well as some know-how.

Essential tools:

  • Caulking gun
  • Silicone sealant
  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Pry bar
  • Bucket
  • Spackle knife
  • Spackle
  • Stud finder
  • Power drill
  • Chisel
  • Hacksaw
  • Utility knife
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Chalk line
  • Extension cord

You will also need basic safety gear, which will include a safety mask, goggles, and a gloves. Optional are power tools, such as a wet-dry shop-vac which can help you to remove spills, and a cordless drill. If you don’t have these tools already in your home, consider renting them.

Steps Involved

Only once you are sure of your plans, budget, and layout, it’s time to get stuck in.

Gutting

The first step is to gut your bathroom. This means removing all the tiles and fixtures that are currently there. This isn’t particularly difficult, but you should be systematic and ensure you have a way to get rid of all the junk – this might mean hiring a skip if you aren’t going to be using a third party.

You also need to avoid getting wet – so make sure to drain the toilet fully, and to turn off the water supply to the bathroom by using the stop cock or the isolation valve. Don’t even pick up your hammer until you’ve tested all the taps and made sure no water is coming out.

To remove your fixtures such as the bathroom, you’ll need to remove the filler along the sides and remove the tile down to the studs. This will be necessary so that you can rework the plumbing when you fit the replacement.

A tip when removing tiles: remove the baseboards and then reinstall them later.

Now make sure to clean everything up and remove all the debris so that you have a clean space to work in.

Installation

Most fixtures and fittings will come with instructions, just like flat-pack furniture. Don’t expect these to be extremely easy though. You will need to do a little bit of plumbing, as well as attaching the appliances firmly onto the ground. You might also need to do some wiring, which might require the help of a professional.

You’ll also potentially need to move the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) and any other power outlets to line up with your new layout.

Laying down floor tiles is the easy part in theory, but it can be fiddly and if you get it wrong, it will risk looking crooked and uneven. Again, some planning is necessary here, as it’s unlikely your tiles will exactly divide across the surface of the bathroom floor and walls – so you’ll probably need to do some careful cutting.

Of course, you could opt to keep your current tiles if there are no signs of damp and just apply a new paintjob!

Five Common Bathroom Remodelling Mistakes to Avoid

As we’ve seen, remodeling your bathroom is a great way to add tons of value to your home while at the same time making your own life that much more relaxing, indulgent and pleasant. And if you use the right contractor the results can be stunning even for a room that looks too far gone.

Unfortunately, it's all too easy to overlook small details, to get misled or to have oversights that result in things not going quite to plan. Read on and we'll look at five of the biggest and most common mistakes that homeowners make when they get their bathroom remodel.

Not Budgeting Enough

You may want to try and save as much money as possible but it's important to note that the average cost of a bathroom remodel is $15-$20,000 as we have already mentioned. That's a lot of money and it's not something you can really avoid spending. Sure, you can set your budget low but then you'll either end up not being able to replace the entire bathroom or you'll just have to put your prices up later on. Wait until you can afford the bathroom you want and then approach it with an appropriate budget.

Another point is that you’ll alwaysexceed the budget. This is an immutable law of DIY and renovation. The same goes for time – it will take much longer than you think. So, plan for this.

Being too Trendy

Being “too trendy” might sound like an oxymoron but it's a common mistake when it comes to DIY and home remodeling. The point is that what's cool right now won't be in vogue in a short amount of time. Remembering how much we just said it cost to remodel your bathroom, this isn't something you'll want to do every week. Choose timeless and classic décor that won't look out of place. Otherwise you'll end up with the equivalent of one of the ugly green bathrooms that were really hip in the 80s.

Cheeping Out

Or in other words – cutting corners. We've already said several times that this is an expensive job and to be successful you really need to just come to terms with that. Once you're already spending this much money, you may as well go the full hog and not try to cut any corners that will only lead to shabby items and things going wrong. Spend that little bit more and get fittings that will last.

Forgetting Clearance Distances

You might get excited by all the different things you can have in your bathroom from that whirlpool bath to the waterfall shower… but don't forget what's even more important: whether or not you can actually move about in the room. Remember that doors need to open and that you need to be able to stand somewhere when you get dried.

Not Getting Spares

The biggest mistake you can make when it comes to tiles in particular, is to work out how many tiles you’re going to need and then buy exactly that many. You should alwaysbuy spares, as this way you’ll be able to easily replace any that get broken. These are also useful to have for the future, when you never know what could happen to your bathroom!

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