The Ultimate Bathroom Remodeling Guide

Bathroom Remodel

TerryJ / Getty Images

Your bathroom might be in dire need of improvement or it just might need a little love. Either way, your bathroom deserves the best possible care you can take for this remodel. In addition, you will be spending a sizable amount of money and impacting your family and your home with a project that forms a permanent part of your house. Because you need to do this remodel right, it helps to have a comprehensive guide to show you just how to do it.

Determine the Extent of Your Bathroom Remodel

Not all bathrooms need to be remodeled to the same level. If your bathroom is barely functional, then you will likely be gutting the bathroom and replacing every item with a new, better item.

At the other end of the spectrum is the bathroom that functions but may not feel right, needs a style refresh, or has minor functional issues. Your bathroom remodel may be at either end of the spectrum or at any point between.

Decide on Your Bathroom Remodeling Budget

Your bathroom remodeling budget is determined by a varying set of factors including the size of the bathroom, the extent of repairs, the quality of the materials that you choose, whether you do it yourself or hire professionals, and your ability to finance the remodel.

 A do-it-yourself surface bathroom remodel using budget materials can usually cost less than $1,000. Mid-range bathroom models where the toilet, flooring, and bathtub or shower are replaced may run between $5,000 to $20,000, with high-end remodels stretching above $20,000.

Find a Good Contractor or Do It Yourself

Contractors charge a percentage of the cost of the remodel in exchange for taking all of the work of remodeling the kitchen off of your shoulders. The contractor schedules the subcontractors and will meet with you and the architect, if needed, to establish a workflow and budget that works for you.

Develop a Floor Plan

The bathroom floor plan is largely dictated by its current layout since many of the services are difficult to move. Water supply and drainage tend to be clustered on a common wall. While the toilet can be relocated, moving it often entails an expense that few homeowners want to take on. However, when the bathroom floor plan does not work and if the budget allows for it, items can be moved around.

Apply for Building Permits

Check with your local permitting agency about codes and permits for your bathroom remodel. Simple improvements like changing out the sink or installing the flooring usually do not trigger permitting. Electrical and plumbing work generally must be permitted.

Demolish the Bathroom

If the bathroom remodel is mid-range budget or greater, likely it will be necessary to remove the shower or bathtub, toilet, vanity sink cabinet, flooring, and drywall, in any combination or as a whole.

Add or Improve Plumbing and Electrical Systems

Since the heart of so many bathroom issues are focused around plumbing and electrical services, usually a plumber or an electrician will need to visit at this point and plumb or wire the bathroom according to specifications.

Install the Shower or Bathtub

The largest sub-project within the larger bathroom remodeling project is to install the shower or bathtub or shower-tub combination. The contractor's tradesmen do this job, not the plumber.

If a prefabricated shower or tub is being installed, installation is usually complete within a couple of days. When tile work is involved, the project can stretch for several days or a week to allow for the tile to cure in multiple stages.

Paint the Bathroom

With the walls exposed and most of the major elements still not installed, it is time to paint the bathroom. Walls are usually painted in satin or semi-gloss paint to protect against moisture.

Install the Bathroom Flooring

Bathroom flooring must be moisture resistant and attractive at the same time. Ceramic and porcelain tile, natural stone, luxury vinyl flooring, sheet vinyl, and vinyl tile are favored bathroom flooring materials due to their water resistance.

Install the Toilet

The toilet is installed on top of the flooring. This project happens in just an hour or so, provided that all of the hookups are in place.

Install the Bathroom Fan

All bathrooms are required by the building code to have adequate ventilation, whether in the form of an operable window or an exhaust fan. Because of the high amount of moisture in bathrooms, most homeowners opt to install a bathroom fan even if they do have a functioning window.

Install the Counter, Cabinet, and Sink

The bathroom counter and its base cabinets, along with the installed sink, are at the center of bathroom activity. As such, it pays to take your time and even spend a little extra for this area.

Premium countertops included quartz engineered stone, natural stone, and solid surface. Below the countertop may be a vanity cabinet for storage. If space is at a premium, consider installing a pedestal sink instead of the vanity cabinet.