Remodeling a bathroom can be an exciting project that allows you to update and customize your space. However, proper planning and preparation are crucial to ensure the renovation goes smoothly. Here is an in-depth guide on how to prepare for a bathroom remodel.

Choosing a Contractor

Selecting the right contractor is one of the most important parts of planning your bathroom remodel. Take time to research and interview potential contractors before making a decision.

Research Local Contractors

  • Search online for contractors in your area that specialize in bathroom remodels and renovations. Look for companies with plenty of experience, positive reviews, and examples of past bathroom projects.
  • Ask friends, neighbors, or coworkers if they can recommend any contractors they have used for bathroom remodels. Word of mouth from people you trust is very valuable.
  • Check ratings and reviews on sites like HomeAdvisor or Angie’s List to see feedback from past customers. Look for contractors with consistently high ratings.
  • Verify that any potential contractors are licensed, bonded, and insured. This protects you in case of issues with the work.
  • Look for memberships in trade organizations like the National Kitchen and Bath Association that require adherence to codes of ethics and standards.

Interview Contractors

  • Set up consultations and in-person meetings with three to five potential contractors.
  • Ask about their experience with bathroom remodels, typical project timelines, how they communicate with customers, and what types of materials and brands they use.
  • Ask for references from 2-3 recent bathroom remodel jobs and contact those references to ask about their experiences.
  • Ask contractors to provide an estimated outline and quote for your specific bathroom project. Compare bids and details.
  • Consider chemistry – you want to feel comfortable communicating frequently with your contractor throughout the remodel process.

Check Reviews and References

  • Carefully check online reviews for any negative feedback or concerning patterns for each contractor you are considering.
  • Follow up with references provided and ask specific questions about their experiences, such as:
  • Was the project completed on time and within budget?
  • Was the contractor easy to communicate with?
  • Did they show up when scheduled and keep you updated throughout the project?
  • Was the final bathroom remodel high-quality and done properly?
  • Would you hire this contractor again?
  • Any red flags from reviews or references should help narrow your list down further.

Planning the Remodel Design

The design plan is one of the key steps for a successful bathroom remodel. Take time to think about your goals, needs, and style preferences before planning out details.

Set a Budget

Figure out how much you can realistically spend on the remodel. Get quotes from contractors on expected costs before setting a budget. Factor in contingency funds in case unexpected issues arise.

Decide on Style Elements

Determine the overall style you want for your new bathroom. Some elements to consider:

  • Modern, contemporary, traditional, rustic, etc.
  • Tile, vinyl, or other flooring types
  • Colors and textures for finishes
  • Fixtures like sinks, tub, shower, lighting, mirrors
  • Other hardware like the toilet, vanity, cabinet knobs, etc.

Browse photos online or in design magazines to get inspiration.

Determine Your Needs

Consider how you use your bathroom and what you would like to improve to determine what functional elements to include:

  • Do you prefer a shower or soaking tub?
  • Is a double vanity needed or a single sink enough?
  • Do you need storage, medicine cabinets, built-ins, or other organizational features?
  • Would a heated floor and steam shower suit your needs?

Create a Detailed Plan

Map out floor plans to scale showing exactly where everything will go, including:

  • Sink, shower, tub, toilet placement
  • Doorways and storage locations
  • Electrical and lighting plan
  • Windows, ventilation fan
  • Flooring layout with any tile patterns
  • Heat registers or radiant heating elements

This will help you visualize the finished space and serve as a guide for the contractor.

Select Fixtures and Finishes

Browse showrooms and online catalogs to select specific:

  • Tile, stone, vinyl, or other flooring types
  • Cabinetry, shelving, and hardware
  • Countertops – natural stone, quartz, solid surface, laminate
  • Lighting fixtures, plumbing, faucets
  • Paint colors, wall coverings
  • Shower/tub surround
  • Toilet, bidet, bathtub model

Create a Shopping List

Make detailed lists of all the materials, fixtures, appliances, hardware, paint colors, and finishes you’ve selected. This ensures you purchase everything needed for the remodel.

Getting Permits

Most bathroom remodels require permits from your local municipality to ensure the work meets building codes.

Building Permits

For any structural changes or modifications to plumbing, electrical, or gas lines, you will likely need building permits. The contractor usually files these permits on your behalf.

Plumbing Permits

If you are doing any drain work, installing new water lines or plumbing fixtures, or moving existing plumbing, plumbing permits are required.

Electrical Permits

All electrical work – installing wiring, lighting, fans, outlets, or switches – needs an electrical permit. Any hardwired bathroom electronics also need permits.

HVAC Permits

If you are moving or altering ductwork or ventilation for heating and AC systems, an HVAC permit is typically required.

Knowing Local Codes

Your contractor should be familiar with local permit requirements and building codes. Make sure to verify the necessary permits are filed and approved before starting the actual remodel work.

Ordering and Purchasing Materials

To keep your bathroom remodel on schedule, have all necessary materials, fixtures, and supplies purchased and delivered ahead of time.

Order Early

Check current lead times and expected delivery schedules when you start selecting materials. Things like custom cabinetry, special order plumbing fixtures, and natural stone often have longer lead times. Order those well in advance.

Coordinate Delivery Dates

Confirm delivery dates for all purchases so everything arrives when needed according to the remodel timeline. You don’t want to face delays because a certain item is backordered.

Schedule Tile Shop Appointments

Make appointments at your desired tile and stone suppliers once your design plan is complete. An in-person visit lets you view samples and visualize your whole tile layout.

Buy Extra Materials

Order 5-10% more flooring tiles, wall tiles, grout, and other supplies than measurements show. Having extras allows for cuts, potential breakage, or pattern matching needs.

Check Products Before Installation

Open packaging and verify all materials purchased are the correct items in the right colors, sizes, finishes, and quantities before installation. This prevents discovering mistakes too late.

Inspect Deliveries

When items are delivered, thoroughly check for damage, defects, or other issues. Report any problems immediately to resolve before installation.

Preparing the Bathroom Space

Taking time to properly prepare the bathroom space before remodeling is crucial for an efficient process from start to finish.

Remove Existing Fixtures

Detach, dismantle, and dispose of the current sink, toilet, cabinetry, shower or tub surround, flooring, and anything else not being reused.

Take Detailed Photos

Document the existing bathroom with photos of the layout, plumbing and electrical locations, and any underlying issues to reference later.

Arrange Temporary Plumbing

Set up temporary sink facilities and plumbing either in another bathroom or use a portable utility sink. This provides necessary functions while the main bathroom is nonfunctional.

Protect Surrounding Areas

Cover doorways, hallways, and other rooms surrounding the bathroom with plastic sheeting to prevent dust and debris from spreading.

Empty Space

Clear out all belongings, toiletries, towels, rugs, accessories, and anything else in the bathroom to keep protected and get the space empty.

Rent a Dumpster

Get a dumpster rental for removing debris as you demo old materials and fixtures. This simplifies cleanup and hauling away waste.

Turn Off Water Supply

Locate the shut-off valves for the bathroom plumbing lines and turn off the water supply before beginning demo work.

Disconnect Fixtures

Disconnect sinks, toilets, and other plumbing fixtures ahead of demolition so they can be safely removed.

Inspect Behind Walls

Once bathroom surfaces are removed, check behind walls for any hidden issues with plumbing, insulation, or structural elements that need addressing.

Demolition and Removal Phase

The demolition phase involves safely tearing out and disposing of existing bathroom materials to prepare the blank canvas for new finishes and fixtures.

Remove Sink and Vanity

Unhook plumbing, detach from the wall, disconnect drains, and lift the sink vanity unit out carefully or break apart if necessary.

Take Out Toilet

Turn off and disconnect the water supply line to the toilet. Unbolt the toilet from the floor flange and discard or reuse elsewhere.

Shut Off Power

Turn off power to the bathroom at the circuit breaker before removing any electrical elements to prevent shock hazards.

Remove Lighting

Take down existing lighting fixtures, exhaust fans, and electrical wiring not being reused in the remodel.

Take Up Flooring

Carefully pry up and tear out existing flooring materials like tile, vinyl, or linoleum flooring. Remove any underlying subfloor too if deteriorated.

Knock Down Walls

If the plans involve relocating or removing any walls, use sledgehammers to demolish cinderblock or wood-framed walls. Wear safety goggles and gloves.

Remove Tile Surrounds

Use a sledgehammer, chisel, or tile removal bit to break up existing tile or fiberglass tub or shower surrounds. Remove all debris.

Dump and Recycle Debris

Sort recyclables like metal for recycling. Load non-recyclable waste into a dumpster using proper lifting techniques to avoid injury.

Clean Surfaces

Sweep and mop remaining surfaces to clear dust and debris. Vacuum any remaining tiny shards. Wipe down with a damp cloth.

Installing New Plumbing Elements

Upgrading or moving plumbing lines and drain pipes is often a key part of a remodel. Proper plumbing installation is vital for updated bathroom function.

Update Drain Lines

Replace corrosion damaged, leaky, or poorly draining pipes. Reconfigure drain line layouts as needed to coordinate with new fixture placements.

Install Water Supply Lines

Run new water supply lines to new fixture locations as needed, ensuring properly sized pipes and secure connections.

Add Shut-off Valves

Strategically place shut-off valves to allow shutting water partially off for repairs. Isolate water to sinks, toilets, shower, and tub.

Install Updated Fixtures

Mount the new tub, shower unit, or shower surround per the design plans. Set new sink vanities and toilets in place and anchor securely.

Test Water Pressure

Turn water back on and check pressure at all fixtures. Make sure flow rate is adequate. Adjust supply lines as needed until pressure is optimal.

Check for Leaks

Inspect all new plumbing work thoroughly for leaks at connections. Tighten fittings or re-apply thread seal tape to correct any drips or moisture.

Insulate Pipes

Use foam rubber tubing to insulate exposed drain pipes to reduce noise and prevent sweating or condensation from cold water pipes.

Caulk Joints

Apply a continuous bead of waterproof bathroom caulk around sinks, tub or shower edges, and backsplashes. Smooth neatly with a wet finger.

Laying New Flooring

The flooring provides a foundation for the whole bathroom aesthetic. Follow best practices for a long-lasting floor.

Prepare the Subfloor

Inspect, repair, or replace any damaged, uneven, or unsuitable existing subflooring. Plywood and concrete should be leveled and smoothed.

Set Tile Backerboard

For tiled floors, install cement backerboard per manufacturer instructions as a base. Fasten securely with screws and seam tape.

Lay New Flooring

Carefully lay your new vinyl, laminate, carpet, or tile flooring. Follow layout plans and installation guidelines.

Grout Tile Floors

For tile, apply grout between the joints using a rubber trowel. Wipe away excess grout with a damp sponge in smooth motions.

Seal Floors

Apply grout sealer to cementitious grout to protect from staining and improve water-resistance. Use caulk for transitions.

Install Cove Base

For vinyl flooring, install matching vinyl cove base around the room perimeter to protect walls and smooth the transition.

Threshold Transition Strips

Use threshold strips between bathroom and hallway flooring to provide a clean transition between flooring heights.

Save Leftover Materials

Keep spare tiles, flooring scraps, grout, and trim pieces to use later for repairs in case needed.

Painting and Applying Finishes

Paint, wallpaper, and other finishes give the bathroom its overall look and style. Use these tips for best results:

Clean Surfaces

Wash down all walls, ceilings, and trim to remove dust, debris, and grease before painting or applying new finishes.

Repair Imperfections

Fill holes, patch flaws, and smooth any rough spots with drywall joint compound for the best finish results. Sand between coats.

Add Primer

Apply a high adhesion primer to surfaces before painting. This helps paint stick better and minimizes the need for re-coating.

Paint Ceiling First

Paint ceilings with flat or matte paint before walls. This prevents drips onto finished walls as you cut in edges.

Cut In Edges

Use a brush and steady hand to carefully paint borders and trim edges where rollers can’t reach. Work top to bottom.

Apply Paint Finish Coats

Roll on two finish coats of premium bathroom paint for maximum protection and washability. Allow proper drying between coats.

Add Wallpaper or Paneling

For wallpaper or decorative panels, apply a skim coat before installation to ensure a smooth surface for best results.

Use Caulk

Fill gaps between trim, mirrors, light fixtures, and tile with flexible silicone bathroom caulk for a watertight seal.

Add Sealant

Apply grout sealant to cement tile surrounds and backsplashes to resist moisture and staining.

Electrical and Lighting Work

Proper lighting and bathroom ventilation keep the space functional and code compliant.

Install New Wiring

Update old wiring or run new electrical lines to new fixture locations per code. Use water-resistant conduit near sinks or showers.

Add Can Lighting

Can lights add ambient lighting. Cut holes for recessed fixtures and connect wiring securely. Seal air gaps.

Install Extra Outlets

Having ample outlets, including GFCI outlets by sinks, allows using hairdryers and other plug-in devices conveniently.

Update Vent Fan

A high CFM bath fan is key for moisture control. New fans are much quieter too.

Add Dimmer Switches

Dimmers allow softening bright task lighting as needed. Use LED compatible dimmers.

Ensure Proper Grounding

Verify ground wires are properly connected on all outlets, lights, and fans for safety. Check with a circuit tester.

Install New Fixtures

Anchor new lighting fixtures like attractive vanity lights, hanging pendants, or sconces per the design plan locations.

Connect Smart Features

If incorporating smart technology like voice-controlled lights or a digital shower system, ensure proper setup and connections.

Installing Bathroom Cabinets and Drawers

Storage is key in a functional, organized bathroom. Follow best practices for optimal cabinet installation:

Assemble Cabinets

Construct new cabinetry units following manufacturer instructions for assembly. Make adjustments to fit the space as needed.

Level and Plumb Cabinets

Use shims under cabinets to level evenly. Verify plumb with a level vertically. Proper alignment prevents issues.

Anchor Securely

Attach cabinets to studs in the wall using appropriate screws. This provides a sturdy base that won’t shift or sag over time.

Attach Countertop

Place the countertop on top of base cabinets. Secure tightly from underneath using bracket clips, rails, or adhesive.

Caulk Seams

Apply a smooth bead of caulk around the seam where the countertop meets the wall. This prevents moisture intrusion and pests.

Install Drawers

Insert drawer units, ensuring slides are smooth. Confirm doors and drawers open freely without rubbing. Adjust as needed.

Add Cabinet Hardware

Attach knobs, pulls, or handles to doors and drawers. Position at a standard comfortable height for easy access.

Install Internal Storage

Add pull-out trays, sliding shelves, and other storage accessories to maximize usable space.

Complete Backsplash

Cut any final edge tiles needed and set the last row of backsplash tile near the ceiling.

Installing Bathroom Fixtures and Accessories

The fixtures and hardware provide important function and tie the whole design together.

Mount Medicine Cabinet

Anchor recessed or surface-mount medicine cabinets securely to a wall stud according to height guidelines.

Install Mirrors

Affix bathroom mirrors to the wall with adhesive or clips at proper heights for best use. Ensure no gaps between wall and mirror.

Attach Towel Bars

Position towel bars to align with vanities or toilets for convenient access. Follow standard height guidelines.

Mount Toilet Paper Holders

Place toilet paper holders around 18 inches above toilets within easy reach. Check local codes for placement.

Add Robe Hooks

Install robe hooks on the back of doors at comfortable heights. Having multiple hooks prevents crowding.

Set Out Essentials

Put out fresh towels, soap dispensers, wastebaskets, rugs, shower curtains, and other necessities for bathrooms to be fully functional.

Verify Water Temperature

Check water temperatures at all faucets to avoid scalding. Adjust hot water heater as needed.