Best Practices for Remodeling Your Bathroom

Posted by Laine Smith on 1/16/15 1:28 PM

Topics: Home Ownership

A bath remodel is not a small task. So before you start ripping up tiles and throwing away the tub, you may want to do your due diligence and know what you’re getting yourself into. According to This Old House, they polled contractors, designers, and other pros for their top tips and tricks for getting remodels done right. Here are some important things they said that you should consider when remodeling your bathroom.


When putting in flooring, do not lay tile directly over plywood, it can swell with moisture and break the tile bond. Pouring a new floor is the best approach, but if not then be sure to mortar and screw ¼-inch backer board over a level subfloor before laying tile on top. For an easy flooring option, go for porcelain or glazed tiles, and avoid porous natural stone tiles like limestone. Unless they are sealed vigilantly, the natural tiles will absorb liquid from drips and spills, which will cause them to become stained over time.  Another great addition for flooring is using radiant heat beneath the tiles. By simply adding an electric mat to boost a bath's existing heating system it allows you to have toasty underfoot for those chilly days. Some mats can take as long as 45 minutes to actually warm up, so putting in a programmable thermostat is a great way to set a time every day without having to get out of bed first. 

When choosing sinks and vanities, while an all-in-one takes up the most room, it also offers the most utility. An average 30-inch vanity has approximately 15 cubic feet of storage and about 10 inches of counter top on each side. Remember that sufficient clearance to open cabinet doors and drawers needs to be accounted for as well. If storage is not a priority, pedestal sinks offer a clean, classic look and take up much less room than the conventional vanity sinks. Choose fixtures that compliment the rest of your décor in your home as well as are the most convenient for your bathroom space.

Another great tip for storage is actually in your shower with a recessed cubby.  These nooks allow you to be rid of clunky over-the-showerhead organizers and don’t take up stall space. Size cubbies to minimize tile cuts, and line the bottom with a leftover piece of stone or solid-surface counter top, not tile, so that you won't have to scrape away scum from grout lines. If there are children in the household, you can add an extra cubby around knee height so that they can store their own bath items separately.  Use an acrylic or hybrid formula that contains mildewcide so that you can remove it without the use of harsh chemicals so that replacement is easier.

For smaller additions, like towel bars, robe hooks and light fixtures, there are no set rules about where or how high to hang them. You can help yourself by deciding early on where to put things so that you can add extra blocking before finishing the walls. Before painting or finishing the room, mark potential spots with painter's tape and then adjust for comfort before making holes that you could potentially have to caulk later.

Here is an easy checklist for you to review before you start your bathroom renovation:

  •  Measure your space thoroughly so that you know what size fixtures will fit.
  • Locate all water shutoff valves so that there are no floods when taking out fixtures.
  • Make arrangements for a backup bathroom if necessary.
  • Determine whether to donate or dispose of old fixtures, and make plans accordingly.
  • Buy plenty of plastic sheeting to contain dust if you're knocking out tile and drywall yourself.
  • Check recent references for plumbers, contractors, electricians and other pros you hire.

For more from This Old House, click here.

Have you redone a bathroom and have other great ideas?  Feel free to leave comments or, for more tips, check out our Rehab & Construction Guide or Pinterest Page to see more!

Download: Rehab & Construction Guide

Image courtesy of This Old House


Subscribe to Email Updates