Does your bathroom need a face lift? Be your own bathroom remodeling contractor! The job might seem
overwhelming but the key is to break it up into parts. After all, the bath is a microcosm of the entire
This small but functional space might not be big in terms of footage, but it has all the elements
to address: floors, walls, lighting, plumbing, and fixtures.
Set a Plan Before Beginning Demolition
Dont get overwhelmed! Plan, scheme, and plan some more. The two tricky things about bathroom renovation
is minimizing the time the room is out of order and hitting a construction budget. These are reasons to take the project in bites.
First Things First Take Down Fixtures
The thing to do here is to remove lights (that will be changed or are in the way), towel racks,
shower curtains, toilet roll dispensers, etc. Also, things that will be replaced such as vanities, toilets,
In the remodel I just completed, I had a pedestal sink with no vanity, so that was easy to work
around. On the toilet, I left the bowl, but removed the tank so I could have access to the wall for wallpaper removal, texturing, and painting.
This presented a golden opportunity to change out the tank gasket and the tank to bowl bolts.
Work on the Walls
Does your bath have wallpaper? This tends to get a bit dated so youre probably looking at
removing the wallpaper
and prepping the wall. Then, you can hang new paper or going with texture and paint. The drywall under the paper is
bound to be smooth.
Even so, taking the old paper down is usually a somewhat destructive process, so itll need a bit of
and floating. Its a good time to fix any wall problems or patch spots where you removed fixtures.
If youre replacing or adding any ceramic tile, the best (and currently recommended) preparation is
to use fiber cement backer board. Both James Hardie Backerboard and DuRock by USG are my favorites.
The older method is to use greenboard (moisture-resistant drywall)but building codes in most municipalities call for cement backer board today.
If youre replacing tiles in the field, chances you wont find a good match. This photo shows
how I solved the problem creatively.
The thing to keep in mind with bathrooms is that theyre wet areas. Carpet? Not such a good idea.
Laminate flooring? Also not a good idea. Hardwood is fine, as is tile; both ceramic and vinyl. Vinyl
flooring is the more economic choice and much of what is found on the market today is both attractive and sturdy.
Sea grass carpet flooring is becoming very trendy. Its well suited to the bathroom because it
comes from a wet environment, it feels good on naked feet, and its a green building practice.
Bathroom Lighting and Electrical Building Code
Your new bathroom lighting should match the look/theme of the room. Think task lighting above the
mirror. You might also need some general lighting if the space is large enough.
The main thing to remember here is to follow your local electrical building codes. Legal disclaimer: pull
a permit and get inspections if required to do so!. This is also the time to make sure that you either
have or install a CGFI electrical outlet.
This is not only mandatory by code; its for the safety of you and your loved ones!
Finally, Install the Fixtures!
Aha! The moment youve been waiting for! Now youre ready to install new plumbing fixtures and
all the doo-dads you removed before. The shower curtain, the towel racks, and all the other things
that make a bath a bath. Once youre done, you're back in business!
Do not skimp on faucets and other plumbing components. The guts should be brass and ceramic rather than plastic. Trust me; you might be spending a bit more but it will last.