In our years of helping homeowners remodel their bathrooms, we’ve learned a thing or two about what often gets forgotten or neglected in the midst of a busy makeover. Here are eight bathroom remodeling tips that will make the whole process smoother and leave you happy at the end of it!
1. Keep the Future in Mind
Most people start major renovations to make their surroundings work for them now. That makes sense! But keeping an eye to the future can help you design a bathroom that makes your life simpler now and 10 years down the road. Ask yourself these questions as you start to plan your bathroom additions and subtractions:
- How might your family grow and change? – Do you plan to have children? Will the children you have now fly the nest soon? What about elderly parents—might they come to stay?
- Who’s likely to use this bathroom the most now and in the near future? – If it’s small children, consider these safety tips. If it’s older adults, consider these.
- Do you think you’ll sell in the future? – If so, do some research into the bathroom changes homebuyers find most attractive. Incorporating some into your bathroom remodel now will save you time and money in the future.
2. Set a Budget, Then Stick to It
Bathroom remodeling costs vary depending on the scale of the changes you’re planning. The average cost in 2016 was $11,364, but a bathroom with top-of-the-line features can run closer to $23,000. If you’re sticking to small swaps and less expensive materials, you could be looking at $1,000 to $5,000.
According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), your total bathroom remodeling project, including materials and installations, shouldn’t rise above 5% to 10% of your home’s value. Check out the NKBA’s budget breakdown:
- Fixtures and plumbing should account for about 29% of the budget
- Counters and surfaces = 21%
- Labor = 20%
- Cabinetry and hardware = 16%
- Ventilation and lighting = 5%
- Design and miscellaneous = 5%
- Windows and doors = 4%
The three major things that affect a remodeling budget are:
- The size of the room
- The quality of the materials
- The labor required (and whether you’re doing it yourself)
And, of course, the scope: If you’re only replacing windows and cabinetry, for example, the NKBA percentages would be adjusted.
Understanding the costs of what you want in a refreshed bathroom is an important start. But add a financial cushion to cover the hiccups that can happen during big remodels, like the contractor coming across outdated wiring or the plumber discovering faulty plumbing.
Build a spreadsheet with a budget breakdown, and try to stick to it throughout the remodeling project, sharing it with contractors as well.
- Before heading to the home improvement store, buy materials from individuals – People often buy too much tile, paint, etc. for their own projects and sell the extra for discounted prices online.
- Choose a low-flow toilet – It’s good for the environment too!
- If your toilet works fine but looks worn out, replace the lid and the seat instead of the whole thing.
- Rather than spending money everywhere, splurge on just a few high-end items to elevate the whole bathroom look and feel. Countertops and wall coverings make particularly big impacts.
- Keep any new plumbing close to where the old plumbing was to avoid the cost of moving it.
3. Consider the Layout
Keep two words in mind as you design the layout of your bathroom: functional zoning. That means foregoing style for a layout that’s useful to you in your lifestyle, if you have to choose between the two.
Consider these layout questions:
- Are you working on a full bathroom or a powder room (half-bath)?
- Will you have a shower or a bathtub, or both?
- Is this an en suite bathroom?
- Where will you store the most important items (toilet paper, towels, bathrobe, makeup, medicine)?
Pro Tip: Don’t put the toilet right in front of your bathroom door. Bathroom doors often get left open, and you don’t want to the first thing everyone sees to be the toilet!
4. Study the Standard Measurements
As you think about changes to your bathroom layout, it helps to understand the standard measurements of bathroom fixtures:
- Bathtub with apron fronts = 60” length x 30” to 32” width; depth can be as little as 14” and as much as 20”
- Don’t have enough space for a full bathtub? Consider a corner tub!
- Shower = 32” x 32” (1,024” sq required minimum), but 36” x 36” is more comfortable
- Toilet = at least 36” wide and 60” deep to be comfortable
- Compact toilets can help save on space.
- Single sink = at least 30” wide, but 36”to 48” is more comfortable
- Double sinks = at least 60” wide, but 72” is more comfortable
5. Visit Bathrooms, and Take Notes
It sounds like funny advice, but you’ve probably been to the bathroom in someone’s house or in a hotel and loved it. What did you like? If you can remember, write it down for inspiration in your own redesign.
And before making final decisions, keep an open mind—and even a notebook—with you as you use the bathroom in everyday life. What, specifically, don’t you like about your current space? What, specifically, do you like about bathrooms you visit?
6. Guard Against Moisture Damage
Water is the enemy of bathrooms, but moisture is tough to avoid in a room where you’re flushing, showering, and washing your hands constantly. There are a couple important ways to protect your new furnishings and fixtures from water damage:
Don’t Scoff at Grout
Grout isn’t glamorous, but it does the important work of sealing out dirt and water. It also helps keeps installations structurally stable. You can choose grout that stands out or blends in, but if grimy grout lines drive you crazy, don’t choose white. If the grout is going to get wet frequently, go for synthetic epoxy grout. If not, choose cementitious grout.
Protect the Lower Half of Your Walls
The bottom 40 to 48 inches of your bathroom walls are most in danger of splashes. Protect them with tile or beadboard coated with oil-based paint.
Ventilate, Ventilate, Ventilate!
Proper ventilation is the number-one defense against mold and mildew. Your bathroom should have two avenues for air to flow: a fan and a window. And the quality of the fan is key. Choose a high-quality fan, and place it well. Avoid putting it in a shower because the steam coming from the shower won’t allow air to circulate as well.
7. Layer Bathroom Lighting
If you can, incorporate all four of these lighting types into your bathroom renovations. They’ll give it a beautiful glow!
Lights in various places allow you to clearly see exactly what you need to. For instance, vertical fluorescent lights around your mirror can make applying makeup a dream. A skylight provides natural light where a standard window isn’t possible, and a dimmer switch gives you the most control.
Pro Tip: When planning lighting, be mindful of where your mirrors are, as they can bounce light around in unexpected ways.
8. Re-Check Your Tile
Did you know most tile is sold in European sizes? That means the size you think you’re getting might not be quite right. So always double-check your tile sizes.
The best tile to use in a bathroom is:
- Ceramic subway tile
- Natural stone
These materials are long-wearing, hardy, and timeless.
9. Don’t Neglect the Outlets
Sometimes when a full bathroom remodel is in progress, little things like outlets don’t seem important. But they are! What if you got to the end of the project and found you had forgotten an outlet near the mirror? That would make plugging in a hairdryer to do your hair pretty difficult. Put an outlet inside the medicine cabinet, so electric toothbrushes can be charged out of sight. And if you’re installing a double vanity, add an outlet to each side, so both people can use electronics at the same time.
Bathroom renovations can be a big project, but these remodeling tips will set you on a successful course. Need help with shower or bathtub installation or advice on the best faucets? We can help! Call C&W Plumbing at 972-395-2597 anytime.
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