Thinking of taking on a bathroom remodel? These tips could help you avoid a bathroom renovation disaster.
DIY bathroom renovations are not for the faint of heart. “Almost everything in the bathroom has a mechanical rough-in to it, and there are plumbing, space and ventilation issues to consider,” says Maria Stapperfenne, former president of the National Kitchen & Bath Association. Whether you use a professional or are making relatively straightforward DIY tweaks, like replacing a toilet or changing out a vanity for one that’s the same size, it’s good to know what lies ahead.
“Most people don’t budget enough money for their project,” says Dave Lincon, a kitchen and bath expert for Sears Home Services. “The bathroom is second only to the kitchen in costs for renovation.” And it’s not just the drool-worthy products and finishes that add dollars. Be prepared for unforeseen work. “Water can infiltrate behind walls in a shower and tub area for years, causing damage not seen from the finished sides of the walls,” Lincon warns.
Make a plan
The bathroom has to be functional, so upfront planning is crucial. Here are some things to consider.
Accessibility and safety
Consider vanity and toilet heights and the space around a toilet. While higher fixtures are important for users in wheelchairs, they can make the bathroom more comfortable for many adults. Choose slip-resistant flooring—something textured for traction. A zero-threshold shower will help to avoid tripping. If there are to be handholds or grab bars, you may need blocking in the walls. (Although there are new products that have special anchoring systems so no blocking is necessary.)
The double sink you covet might not fit. “In a traditional vanity configuration, you don’t want to go under 5 feet,” Stapperfenne says. There are some integrated double sinks, but they “tend to be contemporary in design” and may not fit your décor.
White grout will show traffic patterns. Stapperfenne suggests a pewter or medium grey grout. While a marble counter is de rigueur, it also is soft and requires sealing to prevent it from staining.
Think it’s easy to swap one fixture for another? Think again. Changing the toilet means seating it properly on the wax ring so you don’t get leaks. Installing a shower means pitching the drain pan or floor correctly. For a sink, the drains have to be properly oriented to prevent the backup of sewer gases. Want multiple body sprays in the shower? You’ll need a thicker supply line to deliver the necessary water volume, and you’ll have to correctly size your drain for the water’s evacuation.
For a truly successful full bathroom renovation, know when to call a professional. “It’s really too detailed a space to do yourself,” Stapperfenne says. “It can be overwhelming.”