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Remodel a Bathroom

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Bathroom is one place that home owners love to remodel even more than their kitchens. This is due to the face that bathrooms, as such, have become places for relaxation and luxury after a day of work. Find out what you need to consider before you undertake to remodel a bathroom. Consider cost and design aspects of remodeling a small bathroom.


Bathroom remodeling project


  • Remodeling a bathroom is not the same as a bedroom. In the case of the latter, one may move a cupboard here or push back a wall there without much strain. With bathrooms one is not dealing with visible elements but with underlying structure of plumbing and electrical system.The layout changes in a bathroom such as switching the toilet or the shower could cost a fortune. These have to be weighed and considered carefully before embarking on the job. A general timetable for bathroom remodeling should come in handy if one is planning in terms of structural changes and surface alterations.

  • Plumbing drives up bathroom remodeling costs. The issue of providing hot water to the new sink location is another issue. The next issue is moving the toilet drain/vent system and its wastewater system.

  • The chances of moisture levels in a bathroom could be quite high. One may have to replace drywall. In most bathrooms, special moisture resistant drywall commonly known as 'green board' is used. In wet areas such as showers and baths, it is preferable to use moisture-proof backer board. But if wall stud and joists are rusted, they either need to be sistered or completely replaced.

  • The heart of the bathroom is its shower, tub or a combination of the two. Many think of remodeling a bathroom only for this purpose. In case of a few cracks in the tub, it would be possible to self-repair with acrylic or fiberglass which is quite economical. If the case is beyond a repair or refinishing, it is possible to install a bathtub liner, a sort of overcoat for the icky tub. The only other option would be to build a tiled shower if other methods are ineffective.

Some prefer installation of a pre fabricated acrylic or fiberglass shower tub which needs no on-site building as these units are fabricated in the factory. While buying them ensure that one does not buy a unit too big to fit through the doorways.


Bathroom flooring options should be carefully dealt with as moisture is the main culprit here. Ceramic tiles are perennial favorites but laminated flooring and engineered flooring are also good enough. Hardwood flooring does not tolerate moisture well and these need to be avoided. Porcelain tile or stone tiles have replaced lame linoleum and glazed tiles of yesteryears. Glass tile is also gaining in popularity.


If the house is on concrete slab foundation, the more difficult it is to break the concrete and install new drains. In case of a raised foundation, new pipes can be run through the floor joists. If the bathroom is on the second floor, the plumbers can access through floor-joists. But it involves added expenses of demolishing sections of the first floor ceiling and then rebuilding which can be messy and costly affair,though not impossible.


Cost considerations for bathroom remodel

Since the space for remodeling is smaller in a bathroom when compared to other rooms in a house, it is often construed that bathrooms cost less than any other remodeling project in a house.


Several bathroom remodeling projects run the risk of emptying one's wallet. Typically a bathroom remodeling can range from $ 15000 to $ 18000 even for a basic functional remodel.


Most of the expenses involved in remodeling a bathroom come from the intensive amount of sub contracting, plumbers and electricians. Fixing of fixtures and cabinets are expensive elements in bathroom remodeling. Perhaps one can opt for a home equity loan to get financing and meet bathroom remodeling costs.


Some choose to remodel their bathrooms themselves without hiring a professional. This can be done if only surface alterations are necessary. While installing a new toilet should be a simple affair, building a tiled shower should be left to the professional.


Licensing and permits

And while hiring a contractor,the first thing to check is whether he is properly licensed. Although licensure need not be a mark of quality workmanship, nevertheless it shows that he has fulfilled at least the minimum requirement of the licensing agency. Similarly, before embarking on any major remodeling, it is mandatory to obtain electrical, building and other permits as may be required.


Bathroom remodeling tips

Additional storage is a big need in bathroom remodeling; big deep drawers which work well in kitchens do not look good in bathrooms. Small drawers with dividers should be used. Vertical storage is fast catching up in bathrooms as these work well while saving space.For those who prefer a traditional look, built-ins such as recessed soap dished, medicine cabinets and toilet roll holders can be adopted.


White to cream color palette tend to make the bathroom appear bigger. A dimmer switch adds mood to the bathroom. It should be perfect for late night relaxing baths. However, it is recommended to fix additional lighting behind the bathroom mirror so that faces and hair are more clearly visible in an otherwise dull lit room.


In case there is extra space available in the bathroom, it would be ideal to use free standing decorative pieces such as a chair or cupboard as a design element. The decorative piece can also double up for practical use to place a towel, soap or other small items.


The surface area of a bathroom is added by using hooks. These can be used to hang clothes, bathrobes and towels. Experts recommend that the toilet be positioned ninety degrees to the door and several feet away from the door. However, feng shui tip is never to have a toilet positioned facing the door. Privatization of the toilet is preferred by most home owners.


Mirrors in the bathroom add up to the design elements, expanding the room visually and adding light to the bathroom. In addition, they also serve the purpose of checking makeup or doing up hair.


Bead boards render an antique look to the room and also protect the lower section of the walls from inevitable splashes of water from the tub or the shower. And a good coat of oil based paint ensures that the bead board is impervious to moisture as well.


Practical bathroom remodeling solutions


  • Always explore the possibility of expanding the bathroom through walls that do not bear weight.

  • In most bathroom renovations, the drywall must be completely replaced. This is due to the high moisture content in the drywall.

  • In case the bathroom sink, tub and shower fixtures have become ugly but operable, they can be replaced easily at a later time. Alternatively a liner can be installed over the tub or shower. Those who do not like the idea of a liner can always refinish the bathtub.

  • In case of replacing an old shower, a pre-formed, one piece shower stall rather than a tiled shower can be considered. This is by far less expensive.

  • Normally toilet installations are normally do-it-yourself projects and contractors should not be charging high labor costs on these.

  • Outdated electrical systems need be completely rewired in a bathroom. Electrical systems need to meet current electrical codes and it is better to get advice from the local permitting office on latest electrical systems.

  • Switching sink and toilet in a bathroom is always an expensive proposition. However, if this is a part of a more spacious bathroom renovation plan involving new flooring and walls, then the switch has to be done.

  • Grab bars or hand bars usually found in nursing home can be bolted to walls in showers and above tubs in a bathroom and this can help people from falling. Grab bars designed to appear like jewelry add glamour to the bathrooms other than providing a firmer grip.

Small bathroom remodel

A bathroom that is 50 square feet or smaller is defined as a small bathroom. Such small bathrooms usually lack bathing facilities or a full bath which has either a shower or a bathtub or both.


It is commonly thought that remodeling a small bathroom is considerably easier than larger ones.Practically it is not so as remodeling a smaller bathroom is not exponentially that easier. In fact, small baths still have the same basic services as large ones with just a difference in scale.


However, in all likelihood the cost of remodeling a small bathroom should be less than that of a larger one as fewer materials are used in the former. Professional remodeling services should also be less costly than for larger bathrooms. A small bathroom is a great place for do-it-yourself (DIY) remodeling but services such as plumbing and electrical should be left to professional remodelers.


Small bathroom remodeling steps


  • First and foremost, it is necessary to decide the scope of the bathroom, whether it is powder room or full bath. While powder rooms have very minor electrical work to contend with, in case of full bath, increased plumbing requirements of a bathtub, shower and moisture protection are called for. In addition, a large bathroom requires ventilation, appropriate flooring, sizing requirements, and additional bathroom cabinetry and so on.

  • If the bathroom is to act as a master bathroom then one needs to go all out in terms of bathroom remodeling. But if the room is meant only for overnight guests, one can skimp on the quality of materials and need not have increase storage for guests either.

  • Small bathroom need extensive planning. One needs to either work with stock cabinets that come in pre determined sizes or go for custom cabinets.

  • DIY remodeling cost at least 50% less than remodeling by contractors. The option is to do as much as possible by oneself. Demolition, basic drywall installation, flooring and painting can be DIY job scores. The rest can be left to professionals.

  • Make sure that other bathroom facilities are available as even to strip down a small bathroom may take about three days time. A roll off dumpster or a hauling company should be able to take away the demolished objects.

  • Electrical and plumbing works are normally carried out initially as the walls are open. There should be two checks done, one at the rough-in stage and the next one after the walls have been closed up.

  • After plumbing and electricals, flooring can be laid down, cabinets hung and walls painted. Later towel bars installed, mirrors and other decorative items contribute to the final touch.

  • In small bathrooms there is often a tendency for home owners to tear out the tub and expand the shower. Some home owners even take out shower walls partially or entirely and make the entire tiled bathroom a shower.

  • The modern bathroom is configured to include a sloping ceiling to drain condensation, a seat, a floor drain, tiled surfaces, and a vapor tight door.

In keeping with sustainability and green ethics, there are several ways to improve the bathroom remodel energy wise. For instance heated floor can be attached to a timer. Low flow toilets that aim to release less water when very little is needed can be installed. And on-demand water systems that heat water almost instantaneously eliminating the need for water heater are becoming popular.


As more and more people want brighter and sun-filled master bathrooms that are airy and spacious, the design of adding windows and even sky lights to the bathroom is the growing trend.



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