DIY Bathroom Remodel Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

By Lyle Weischwill | Oct. 02, 2016 3:49 pm PST

DIY Bathroom Remodel Mistakes

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.

Build a Buffer into Your Budget

“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 high-end products and finishes that add dollars. There can be unexpected repairs; for example, “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. Some bathroom innovations recommended for people with mobility challenges really can make the bathroom more comfortable for anyone:

  • Higher vanities require less bending, and comfort-height toilets are easier on the hips and knees.

  • Slip-resistant flooring—something textured for traction—lessens the risk of falling on an unseen puddle.

  • A zero-threshold shower is easier to enter and exit.

Space. It’s great to dream big, but make sure the bathroom’s footprint can accommodate that dream.

For example, the double sink you covet might not fit. “In a traditional vanity configuration, you need a space at least 5 fee widet,” Stapperfenne says. There are some integrated double sinks that need less space, but they tend to be contemporary and may not fit your décor.

Maintenance. Understand how much care materials need.

For example, stains are visible in white grout, so Stapperfenne suggests a pewter or medium grey grout. And while a marble counter might be chic, it’s soft so it shows dings, and it requires sealing to prevent staining.

Ease of installation. 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.

  • Sink drains have to be properly oriented to prevent the backup of sewer gases.

  • Want multiple body sprays in the shower? You’ll need a wider supply line to deliver the necessary water volume, and you have to correctly size the drain for the amount of water.

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.”

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