Things Nobody Tells You About Renovating Your Bathroom
Don’t assume your contractor is on the same page
When you’re functioning as the general contractor—or even working with a general contractor—you have to spell out every part of the plan, and never assume everyone is up to speed,” say the mother-daughter team behind Matriarchy Build in How to Avoid Rookie Remodeling Mistakes. “Someone we know had a contractor demo the wrong bath,” they add.
How much does a bathroom remodel cost? More than you think
Think you can remodel your bathroom head to toe for a couple thousand dollars? We hate to tell you: the average cost of a bathroom remodel was $11,364 in 2016, according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA). A basic, low-grade renovation with less expensive materials or smaller swaps could run from $1,500 to $5,000, while a top-of-the-line, tip-to-toe renovation could run up to $23,000.
You may want to rethink that statement-making bathtub
You may be tempted to upgrade your bathroom with a dramatic freestanding bath. But it might not be the most practical choice going forward, particularly if you’re petite, hate cleaning, have an old rickety house, like to take long baths, or take more showers than baths. Read more about the merits of built-in baths (and showers) versus freestanding options in 10 Things Nobody Tells You About Clawfoot Bathtubs, as well as in Remodeling 101: Romance in the Bath: Built-In vs. Freestanding Bathtubs.
Flattering lighting requires planning
Don’t think you can install a few lights and call it a day: because bathrooms are sometimes small and/or dark and filled with mirrors (which complicates how light bounces around), lighting requires careful thought and placement. The simplest way to light a bath is a single diffuse light in the center of the ceiling. Have a bathroom that’s already pretty bright? A pair of wall sconces should be sufficient. Thinking about ceiling-inset downlights? Place with care: avoid installing directly over light-colored countertops (since those will reflect the lights), and place close to the wall over a vanity to maximize light when looking in the mirror. And if you spend a lot of time applying makeup, consider vertical fluorescent light fixtures on either side of the mirror. For more pro tips, see Remodeling 101: How to Install Flattering Lighting in the Bathroom.
Don’t forget to install accessible outlets.
You don’t want to get to the end of a renovation and realize you’ve forgotten to consider the outlets. Think of these outlet errors: you have to plug your hairdryer in across the room, and can’t see yourself in the mirror from there. Or, you’d like to keep your electric toothbrush charging at all times, but neglected to install an outlet in the medicine cabinet. Or, you share your bathroom with your spouse, but only installed an outlet on one side of the vanity. To avoid these mistakes, read Remodeling 101: Where to Locate Electrical Outlets, Bath Edition.
DIY Bathroom Remodel Ideas
Renovating a bathroom is no small undertaking. So before you start tearing up the tiles and picking out the tub, get a little advice from the people who make bathroom makeovers their bread and butter.
We polled contractors, designers, and other pros for their top tips and insider tricks for getting every detail right. Whether you’re on a budget or ready to pay a pretty penny, follow these DIY bathroom remodeling ideas and you’re sure to create the bathroom you always wanted
Radiant Floor Heating
Radiant heat beneath tiles makes them toasty underfoot. But you don’t need to have it throughout your house; you can simply add an electric mat to boost a bath’s existing heating system. It can take as long as 45 minutes to warm up, so put it on a programmable thermostat to chase away the chill by the time your alarm clock goes off
Tile Flooring Ideas
If you want an easy-care floor: Go for porcelain or glazed tiles, and avoid porous natural stone tiles like limestone. Unless sealed vigilantly, they’ll absorb drips and spills and become stained over time.
How Much Room Do You Need for a Half Bath?
Theoretically, you can fit a sink and toilet into an 11-square-foot spot and still meet national building codes. But for comfort’s sake, look for an area that’s 3 to 4 feet wide and 6 to 8 feet long. Check local codes for additional requirements, and be sure to check out TOH’s details on dimensions and clearances.
Ways to Save Money on Your Bathroom Remodel
Have a Plan Before You Start
Working with a designer or architect may seem like a pricey move right out of the gate for someone wanting to remodel their bathroom on a budget, but it is money well spent. Having a plan you’ve worked out with a professional will assure you that your design, budget and timeline are realistic, and it will give you a goal with a path to get there. “Hiring a designer saves you time and money in the long run, so you don’t make expensive errors,” says south Florida-based designer Meredith Marlow.
Keep Plumbing Where It Is
Another reason to work with a designer on your bathroom renovation: Using the existing piping will save you big bucks. Relocating utilities like the toilet and the bathtub are no small task: Designer Justin Riordan says it costs about $5,000 each time you move plumbing fixtures.
Dress up that builder-grade mirror with a fantastic frame, and at a fraction of the price of sourcing a huge hanging mirror. A frame will also hide any age-related wear, says Karen Gray Plaisted, a Warwick, N.Y.-based home stager and decorator. “I often tell clients to add a frame around their mirror to hide the flaking that can happen around the edges, and to give it a more updated look,” she says.
Don’t Toss Money Down the Toilet — Update It
Here’s some potty talk you won’t want to miss: When remodeling your bathroom, consider replacing your toilet seat and lid instead of tossing out the whole porcelain perch. Just changing out these two tops can give your toilet a fresh look without buying a new unit, which saves you plumber installation fees, too.
Hit the Salvage Hard
Home decor blogger Anita Joyce found a large piece of salvage barn wood to serve as a shower curtain valance. It looks like a pricey piece and serves as a focal point, but it was definitely a budget item. Salvage can be intimidating, but if you start by checking out antique stores, flea markets, resellers and auctions, you’ve already got the idea, she says. You just have to go do it to really figure it out … and that’s how you score the really great items. You can also salvage and redo cast iron tubs, light fixtures, even sinks … basically anything that fits your style and you want to put the effort in to saving and making your own!
Must-Know Bathroom Renovation Tips
When is the right time to remodel your bathroom? Any time. If you plan to stay in your home, why suffer with outdated decor, an awkward layout, or inefficient fixtures? If you plan to move soon, a remodel might pay off in a higher listing price or a quicker sale. Here are five things to keep in mind when tackling a bathroom remodel.
Start a wish list.
Evaluate your existing bathroom — what you like and what you want to change. List features you’ve always wanted. Group them according to must-haves and nice-to-haves, and number them by importance. Tour model homes and showrooms, and scan magazines and websites to gather inspiration.
Establish a budget.
Whether you want to gut your bathroom and start from scratch or just make cosmetic changes, it’s important to know how much you want to spend before you start. Also set money aside for the unexpected, such as water or mold problems.
Call an expert.
Even if you’re planning a small-scale makeover or tackling some of the remodel yourself, consult a professional. Pros know what your budget can buy, and they provide solid advice on how to save and where to splurge. They can also help you avoid costly mistakes. Be sure to call in experts for plumbing and wiring, and always get more than one estimate for a job.
Get the biggest bang for your buck
Whatever the size of your bath, keep in mind that the more walls containing plumbing pipes, the higher the price tag. Working within a room’s existing footprint might not offer the ideal design solution, but it almost always saves money. Moving the toilet or the drain for the shower or tub can be expensive. However, if electrical or plumbing systems are outdated, it can be cheaper in the long run to gut the room and start from scratch. “The most important thing is to have high-quality installers,” says Linda Welch, a certified master kitchen and bath designer from Monroe, Michigan. Welch recommends spending more on installation than on products. Also, invest in items that can’t be changed easily, such as flooring, the tub, and shower, and don’t overlook practical features such as good lighting and storage.
Here’s Your Ultimate Guide to the Do’s and Don’ts of a Bathroom Remodel
Undertaking a bathroom remodel is both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. For many homeowners, it’s a status symbol and one of the first times they can bring a substantial personal touch to their home. However, it’s a sizable investment, one big enough to make most people think twice before diving in unprepared.
If you’re ready to remodel your bathroom, but need some help figuring out how to do it right, we’re here to help. Use the tips in this post as a guide for pulling off a successful remodel and you’ll have all the tools you need to bring your vision to life.
DO: Find design inspiration first
Every great home remodeling project — but especially those that come with a hefty price tag — must start with a plan. Before you start on the physical aspects of the project, like tearing up flooring or putting in a rain forest shower, have a firm idea of what you want your final product to look like.
DON’T: Forget to consider your budget
Once you have your inspiration in mind, it’s incredibly important to be realistic about your budget. Consider how much money you have to spend, as well as how much your ideal project would cost. Though it may not be the most pleasant task to undertake, looking at your finances will help you get a sense of which aspects of a renovation are most feasible for you.
DO: Keep high-end items neutral
Since bathroom remodels are such a huge expense, one of our favorite tips is to keep your high-end purchases as neutral as possible. In particular, we’re talking about things like tile flooring or shower design. Allowing these features to be more of a blank canvas will make it easier to alter your design as trends change and ensure that they have a broader appeal if you ever sell your home.