A bathroom remodel can completely transform the look and feel of one of the most important rooms in your home. With proper planning and preparation, you can create your dream bathroom within your timeline and budget. This comprehensive guide will walk you through all the key steps of a bathroom remodel project.
Gather Ideas and Create a Plan
Before picking up a hammer, it’s important to determine your goals, needs and budget for your bathroom remodel. Here are some tips to help you develop a clear vision and effective plan:
Decide on your priorities: What do you hope to achieve – a full gut renovation or small updates? Focus on changes that will make the biggest impact for your lifestyle. Common bathroom remodel goals include creating more space, improving storage, upgrading fixtures and finishes.
Determine your budget: Remodel costs vary widely based on the scope of work. Expect to spend $10,000-$25,000 for a minor remodel and $25,000-$50,000+ for a full gut job. Get contractor estimates to understand realistic costs.
Collect inspiration: Look through home magazines, Pinterest, model homes and showrooms to find styles and products you love. Pay attention to details like colors, materials, layouts and accessories.
Map out new layout: Consider where to place fixtures and features to improve flow and functionality. Measure carefully to fit everything. Create a floor plan sketch as a reference.
Make a supplies list: Compile a list of all the items you’ll need – fixtures, finishes, materials and more. This helps determine accurate project costs and ensure you order everything in time.
Hire contractors: Unless you’re highly skilled, have pros do the work – especially plumbing, electrical and structural changes. Get at least three quotes to compare. Check reviews and licensing.
Confirm permits: Depending on where you live and project scope, you may need permits from your city or county building department before starting work.
Thorough planning and attention to details will help you transform your outdated or awkward bathroom into a gorgeous and functional space that meets your needs.
Order Bathroom Remodeling Supplies
Once you have a clear vision and plan for remodeling your bathroom, it’s time to purchase the necessary supplies. Advance planning and ordering will help ensure all your products arrive on time and avoid costly delays. Here are some tips:
- Choose fixtures and finishes first: Items like tubs, showers, sinks, faucets, toilets and cabinets often require long lead times. Order these 4-6 weeks in advance.
- Order tile/surfaces next: Tile can take 2-4 weeks to ship. Order flooring, countertops and wall finishes early too. Buy 10% extra in case you need replacements later.
- Leave paint and decor for last: Paint, art, rugs, towels and accessories can usually be purchased quickly. Wait until the end of the remodel to choose these finishing touches.
- Confirm model numbers: Double check that you order exactly the right make and model of each item, especially plumbing fixtures. This prevents installation issues.
- Arrange delivery dates: Schedule deliveries for days when you or a contractor will be on site to receive large items. Avoid signing for packages too far in advance.
- Store safely: Have a plan for where to store plumbing fixtures, tile and other supplies securely while work progresses. Keep them in original packaging.
Ordering ahead helps reduce delays, gives you time to test products and prevents scrambling to track down missing items mid-project. With the right supplies ready when needed, your bathroom remodel can proceed efficiently from start to finish.
Prepare the Bathroom for Remodeling
Before demolition can begin, properly preparing your bathroom for the renovation process is an important first step. Taking time for prep work will make the project go smoother and prevent avoidable mistakes. Here are some tips:
- Empty the room: Remove everything from the bathroom, including towels, toiletries, decor and accessories. Store safely or donate unused items.
- Protect surfaces: Use drop cloths or plastic sheeting to cover any furniture, flooring or walls that will remain through the remodel.
- Photograph existing: Take pictures of plumbing, wiring, walls behind cabinets, etc for reference later. You may uncover hidden issues.
- Turn off water supply: Shut off the water leading to the bathroom at the main shut off valve. This prevents leaks when removing fixtures.
- Disconnect fixtures: Remove sink, toilet and accessories like towel bars. Turn off electrical breakers for bathroom circuits too.
- Seal doorways: Use plastic sheeting to seal off doorways to the bathroom. This helps contain dust in the work zone.
- Ventilate space: Open windows and run exhaust fans to ventilate the room before demolition. This clears out musty smells.
Taking the time to properly empty, photograph and seal off your bathroom ahead of the remodel will make the space easier and safer for contractors to work in. The prep stage sets the project up for success.
Demolish and Gut the Bathroom
If you are doing a full renovation, one of the first construction steps will be the demolition and gutting of your existing bathroom. This involves completely stripping the bathroom down to the studs so the room can be rebuilt from scratch. Here are tips for this messy but exciting stage:
- Remove plumbing fixtures: Uninstall toilets, sinks, showers, tubs and associated plumbing. Cap water lines during work.
- Knock down walls: Remove drywall, tile or any unwanted walls to create the desired new layout.
- Cut flooring: Use a utility knife, pry bar and hammer to remove vinyl, tile or laminate flooring.
- Dispose debris: Carefully haul demolished materials out to dumpster or trailer for prompt cleanup. Don’t let debris pile up.
- Inspect studs: Check for mold or termite damage on any exposed wood studs. Address issues before moving forward.
- Check for leaks: Inspect water lines, drains and supplies for leaks and damage. Repair or replace as needed.
- Update wiring: Replace outdated electrical wiring and add circuits as needed for safety and capacity.
Taking a bathroom down to the studs allows you to inspect and upgrade critical systems like plumbing and electrical before rebuilding a safe, modern bathroom suited for your needs.
Reroute Plumbing Lines
With bathroom walls and floors opened up during demolition, it presents the ideal opportunity to reconfigure pipes and drains to match your new layout. Here are tips for smoothly rerouting plumbing:
- Review building codes: Ensure any plumbing changes meet local code requirements, especially proper venting.
- Map proposed layout: Draw out where all new plumbing fixtures, drains and pipes will be located.
- Inspect condition: Check condition of existing pipes and drains. Replace corroded or damaged sections as needed.
- Remove unused: Cap unneeded drain and supply lines back to the main line. Removing unused pipes creates space.
- Extend lines: Calculate required pipe lengths between fixtures. Dry fit and cut new pipes to proper sizes before permanently gluing.
- Add shut off valves: Install shut off valves for sink, toilet and appliance supplies for easier future repairs.
- Pressure test: Pressure test all new water line connections for several hours to check for leaks before closing up walls.
Taking advantage of opened walls and floors makes it much easier to optimize and update plumbing layouts to suit your new bathroom design.
Install New Electrical Wiring and Ventilation
During a bathroom remodel, it’s an ideal opportunity to upgrade electrical systems to enhance safety and functionality. Proper wiring and ventilation prevents problems like mold and mildew. Here are best practices:
- Meet code: Have a licensed electrician ensure all wiring meets current local electrical and building codes.
- Increase circuits: Additional circuits may be needed to support more lighting, outlets, heated floors, etc.
- Improve ventilation: Install high CFM bath fans (80-100+ CFM) vented to the exterior to reduce humidity.
- Add convenience outlets: Place outlets near countertops for easy use. Install ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets by sinks.
- Consider heated floors: Installing in-floor heating under tile adds luxury and dries floors faster.
- Improve lighting: Install fixtures like recessed lights and vanity lighting for task lighting and ambiance.
- Include exhaust fans: New or extra bath fans improve air circulation and humidity control.
Upgrading electrical and ventilation improves comfort, safety and functionality. This work is much easier with open walls exposed during a bathroom remodel.
Frame New Bathroom Walls and Subfloor
Once plumbing and electrical work is roughed-in, constructing new stud walls and subfloor provides a solid foundation for the rest of the bathroom remodel project. Here are tips:
- Review permits: Ensure framed walls meet any code requirements from local building departments.
- Frame to drawings: Measure and construct all new walls according to the floor plan drawings. Keep them square and plumb.
- Plan blocking: Add wood blocking within walls for attaching and securing cabinets, toilet paper holders and grab bars later.
- Install moisture resistant drywall: Use paperless drywall, cement board or other waterproof panels on walls in shower areas.
- Build out framing: Frame any new window or door openings, niches and bump outs according to plans.
- Add subfloor: Install new exterior grade plywood subfloor at least 3/4″ thick on top of floor joists. This provides a sturdy base for flooring.
- Insulate: Use fiberglass batts or spray foam insulation for temperature/sound control. Don’t obstruct future access to plumbing or electrical.
Careful framing and subfloor installation establishes a structurally sound foundation aligned with all plumbing and electrical work for trouble-free installation of finishes later.
Install Bathroom Ventilation Systems
Proper ventilation is critical in a bathroom remodel to effectively control humidity and prevent mold and mildew growth. Here are tips on key ventilation systems:
- Choose ENERGY STAR models with sone rating under 1.5 for quiet operation.
- Size CFM to room size (50-80 CFM for small baths, 80-100+ for large).
- Use vent fans designed for continuous operation to fully clear humid air.
- Vent fans must exhaust to outdoors via ductwork, not just into attic.
- Open ventilation provides supplemental fresh air circulation.
- Through-wall ventilation inserts with louvers can be installed in exterior walls.
- Jumper ducts connecting bath fans to HVAC returns also aid ventilation.
- Balance HVAC system to ensure adequate fresh air supply reaches bathrooms.
- Adjust supply and return duct flows to create ideal air circulation.
Proper humidity control requires bringing in fresh air while exhausting moist air. Integrating exhaust fans, passive vents, HVAC returns and supplies creates an effective whole-house ventilation solution.
Select Bathroom Flooring
Choosing new bathroom flooring is an exciting step in your remodel. The flooring sets the tone for the whole room. Here are popular bathroom flooring options to consider:
Tile: Gorgeous, durable natural stone or ceramic tile in endless options. Has high upfront cost but long lifespan. Requires careful installation.
Vinyl plank: Affordable, waterproof vinyl plank flooring looks like wood or tile. Installs quickly by DIYers. Many realistic patterns and textures available.
Laminate: Durable laminate wood-look planks offer affordable style. Not waterproof but works well in low-moisture areas of bathroom. Installs without glue.
Bamboo: Made from renewable bamboo stalks. Provides a natural wood look that resists moisture and stands up to traffic. Costs more than some plank options.
Concrete: Stained, polished or stamped concrete floors offer industrial chic. Can feel cold underfoot. Usually professionals install new concrete.
Sheet vinyl: Budget-friendly solid sheet vinyl comes in marble, stone and wood looks. Easy DIY installation. Seams can be obvious.
Choosing flooring with waterproof properties, high durability and easy maintenance is advised for bathrooms. Sample different floors to see colors, patterns and textures in the space before final selection.
Pick Bathroom Cabinets and Countertops
An updated vanity can make a dramatic impact when remodeling a bathroom. Here are tips for selecting stylish new cabinets and counters:
- Wood – Classic material available in many stains and styles. Requires regular sealing in bathrooms.
- Thermofoil – Affordable alternative with laminated plastic surfaces that resist moisture. Many color options.
- Composite – Acrylic-coated medium density fiberboard offers durability. Resists moisture and warping.
- Soft close doors and drawers prevent loud slamming and provide a luxury feel.
- Full extension drawers maximize access to contents. Side mount drawer slides are sturdiest.
- Glass fronts, open shelving or display areas create an open, airy aesthetic.
- Quartz – Manmade stone composite resists stains, scratches and heat. Costs less than natural stone.
- Solid surface – Affordable, durable solid acrylic materials like Corian can be repaired if damaged.
- Laminate – Very budget friendly and easy to install but less durable than solid surface or quartz.
Cabinets in moisture resistant materials and countertops designed to handle water will stand up well in a busy bathroom environment for lasting beauty and function.
Select Bathroom Lighting
With bathroom tasks ranging from applying makeup to middle-of-the-night trips, proper lighting is essential. Follow these tips:
- Install multiple recessed cans spread through the bathroom to cast even, shadow-free general lighting.
- Wall sconces by the vanity or decorative pendants also supplement overall ambient lighting.
- Position recessed lights or pendants directly over the sink and shower. Bright focused task lighting is ideal for grooming.
- Undercabinet LED strip lighting illuminates countertops nicely without shadows.
- Small LED wall sconces flanking the mirror provide attractive accent illumination.
- Toe kick lighting strips along base cabinets give a soft glow.
- Backlit niches or illuminated art provide striking focal points.
- Motion sensors turn lights on automatically when entering the bathroom.
- Dimmer switches give tunable control over lighting levels from bright task lighting to nighttime ambient modes.
Layering multiple types of lighting ensures the bathroom is attractive and comfortably lit for any occasion or activity
Install Bathroom Plumbing Fixtures
Installing the bathroom’s plumbing fixtures is an exciting milestone during your remodel. Follow these best practices for smooth installation:
- Review codes: Ensure installations meet the latest local plumbing and building codes.
- Clean supplies: Flush supply lines and wipe fixtures clean prior to hookups. Check for damage before mounting.
- Anchor well: Secure heavy whirlpool tubs, stone sinks and similar fixtures to studs or blocking to support weight.
- Apply caulk: Use plumber’s putty or caulk to seal sink and tub drain assemblies when installing to prevent leaks.
- Connect drains: Attach drain tailpieces properly. Hand tighten connections plus 1/4 turn with pliers. Don’t over tighten.
- Pressure test: Test toilet, sink, shower and tub water supplies thoroughly to confirm no leaks. Fix any issues before enclosing.
- Seal floors: Apply tub and shower pan liner according to specifications before setting the units to contain water.
Installing bathroom plumbing correctly is critical to prevent leaks and ensure proper drainage. Taking time to anchor, seal and test thoroughly avoids problems down the road.
Add Bathroom Wall Tile
Tile makes a big impact in bathroom design. Follow these best practices for successful installation:
- Clean surfaces: Start only with smooth, clean and dry walls free of old adhesive or flaws in drywall mud.
- Prime first: Apply primer and skim coat thinset to help initial tiles adhere strongly and prevent sliding.
- Mix thinset: Prepare only as much tile mortar adhesive as you can use open time frame (usually 45-60 minutes).
- Check flatness: Use tile leveling systems to keep each tile flush and prevent lippage between tiles.
- Cut precisely: Use an accurate tile saw for intricate cuts like around pipes or outlets for precision fit.
- Space tiles: Use plastic tile spacers for consistent caulkable grout joints (1/8″ is common). Remove spacers before grouting.
- Seal grout: Apply quality grout sealer after grouting to prevent staining and make cleaning grout easier.
Proper prep work, careful tile setting techniques and sealing are the keys to creating a flawless tile finish. Take time for precision cuts and consistent spacing.
Pick Bathroom Paint Colors
Paint is an affordable way to refresh the look of a bathroom during remodeling. Here are tips for selecting a color palette:
- Stick with mold resistant bathroom paint for high humidity areas. Eggshell or satin finishes are good choices.
- Neutral colors like off-white, beige and light gray make nice backdrops that coordinate with any style.
- Add visual interest with darker paint on one focal wall or the lower half to create a wainscoting effect.
- Consider using deeper shades like navy, charcoal or forest green for a striking color splash. This works best in rooms with ample natural light.
- Tie colors together throughout the room through accents like towels, art and rugs so no elements feel disconnected.
- Use anti-mold bathroom paint designed for high humidity areas. Eggshell or satin finishes are good choices.
Test paint samples on walls to accurately judge colors and lighting effects before committing. Coordinating paint with other new finishes will give your bathroom a cohesive, polished look.