Is your bathroom showing its age? Are you thinking about undertaking a bathroom remodeling project but aren’t sure where to start? Whether you’re looking to spruce up a tired space or add value to your home, embarking on a remodel can be an exciting but daunting prospect.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to plan and execute a successful bathroom renovation, from deciding what kind of remodel you want to do in the first place to choosing materials, fixtures, and finishes.
We’ll also provide insights on when to DIY and when to hire a contractor. By the end of this guide, you’ll have all the information you need to start planning your own dream bathroom!
Bathroom Remodeling: A Step-by-Step Guide
A bathroom makeover is a big project. Whether you’re planning a surface-level refresh or a complete gut job, the process takes time, money, and effort. But the results are worth it—a beautifully designed bathroom can transform your home, increase its resale value, and make your day-to-day life more enjoyable.
Keep reading to discover the steps you should take to complete a successful bathroom remodel!
Consider The Purpose Of Your Bathroom Remodel
The first step in any remodeling project is understanding why you’re doing it in the first place. What are your goals for the space?
Do you want to create a more functional layout? Are you looking for more storage? Do you need more counter space?
Or do you want a cleaner, fresher aesthetic? Do you want to update those dated plumbing fixtures and finishes? Do you want to add luxury amenities like heated floors or a rainfall shower head?
Your answers to these questions will help guide the rest of your decisions, from budget to timeline to design choices.
It’s also worth considering who will be using the space most often–if it’s just you, you may be more likely to splurge on high-end materials and finishes; if it’s your family of five, durability and functionality will be key.
Keep your purpose in mind as we walk through each step of the planning process.
Decide On The Type Of Remodel You Want
Once you know what purpose your remodel will serve, it’s time to decide what kind of remodel it should be. There are four basic types of bathroom remodels: surface level (also known as cosmetic), replacement, layout changes, and full remodels.
Let’s take a closer look at the differences between these types of bathroom renovations.
A surface-level remodel involves minor cosmetic changes such as replacing hardware or updating paint. This type of remodeling is mostly about aesthetics and doesn’t involve any major structural changes. Unlike a replacement remodel, a surface-level remodel prioritizes repairing existing fixtures as much as possible (although components that cannot be repaired should be replaced).
For this reason, surface-level remodels are typically less expensive than other types of remodels because they don’t require as much time, labor, or materials. Typically they involve relatively simple projects that can be completed in as little as one or two weekends by a skilled DIYer or small team of professionals.
As the name suggests, this type of remodel involves replacing all or some of the existing elements in your bathroom with new ones—think new bathroom countertops, toilets, bathtubs, showers, etc.—while leaving the existing layout intact.
Replacement remodels are usually more expensive than surface level because they involve purchasing new components. They can generally be completed in one to two weeks by a small team of professionals.
Layout Changes Remodel
This type of remodel is exactly what it sounds like—changing the existing layout of your bathroom. This type of remodel usually involves moving around plumbing fixtures and making changes to electrical wiring.
Although this level of remodeling will move around the major elements of your bathroom, it will not change the total square footage of the bathroom or move any walls. This makes it less intensive than a full remodel but still allows you to drastically change the appearance of your bathroom.
A full remodel is basically starting from scratch—gutting the entire space down to its studs and rebuilding it from there. Full remodels are obviously more expensive than other types because they involve more demolition, new construction, plumbing, electrical work, etc., but they also offer the opportunity to create an entirely new layout and design that better suits your needs.
Full remodels can include expanding the square footage of the bathroom, removing or moving walls, and even adding new windows. For this reason, full remodels are usually the most expensive and comprehensive type of remodels, so it’s crucial to work with a contractor who has experience managing this type of project.
Determine Your Budget
The size of your budget depends on several factors: the type of remodeling project you’re doing (see above), the scope of work to be done (i.e., how much demolition or structural changes are needed), the material quality you’re using (low-end vs. high-end ); the labor costs (if you’re hiring professionals ); and the cost of permits.
No matter what size your budget is, the most important rule is to stick to it! Since there are bound to be unforeseen circumstances no matter how thoroughly you plan, it’s also a good idea to set aside 5-10% of your total budget for contingencies. This can include anything from hidden damages to the unexpected need to change your material selection due to the unavailability of your first choice.
How Much Will A Bathroom Remodel Cost?
This can be a tricky question because there are so many factors that go into the final cost of a bathroom remodel, and every project is different.
According to the 2022 Cost vs. Value report from Remodeling Magazine, a midrange bathroom remodel averages about $35,000 in New York, while an upscale bathroom remodel averages about $101,000.
Nationally, most homeowners spend between $6,620 and $16,709, per HomeAdvisor, but this can be a little misleading. In fact, there are several important caveats to keep in mind when considering HomeAdvisor’s bathroom remodeling cost averages:
First, it’s essential to remember that these averages are naturally weighted toward low-end remodels because those are the types of remodels that are most commonly done. If you want a luxury bathroom, you will be paying more than the average remodeling costs cited above. To put it another way, the average cost of a new car may be around $50,000, but that doesn’t change the fact that a top-of-the-line Mercedes will cost over twice that amount.
Second, customer satisfaction and experience are not addressed in these averages. For example, many low-end contractors will not take precautions to protect other areas of the home during a bathroom renovation. Others will claim a quick turnaround time but then delay the promised completion date after work has begun due to poor project management. Both of these scenarios can leave a customer with an unsatisfying and disruptive experience that isn’t captured by the average bathroom remodeling cost data cited above.
Lastly, we should note that the actual quality of the work is also not addressed in the average bathroom remodel cost data cited above. To put it bluntly, you typically get what you pay for when it comes to labor costs and the quality of work. An inexperienced “Chuck-in-a-truck” may charge you less money upfront, but they will also likely produce low-quality construction work and leave you with an overall frustrating remodeling experience.
Here at TEKRA Builders, we take pride in providing the highest quality craftsmanship and a superior customer experience. We understand the impact that a bathroom remodel can have on your daily routine, which is why we take extra measures to ensure we disrupt your life as little as possible. This includes setting up dust barriers and air scrubbers to prevent construction debris from entering other areas of the home. You can learn more about all the measures we take to protect your home during a bathroom remodel here.
Plan Your Bathroom Design
Once you have your budget and type of project determined, it’s time to plan out your design! Here are some key things to keep in mind as you’re planning your bathroom remodel design.
One important thing to consider before your remodeling project gets underway is the layout and flow of your bathroom. It’s crucial that your new layout makes sense for your needs. Some important questions to ask yourself during this step are:
- Is your current layout working well for your needs?
- Does it maximize the space?
- Is it user-friendly?
- Do you need to move some of the elements in your bathroom to a different location?
Maintenance And Cleaning
Another consideration during the design phase is deciding the type of surfaces you want to install. And while the appearance and feel of your bathroom materials are important, you should also think about practicalities like maintenance.
Showers get dirty quickly, tubs tend to build up soap scum, vanities collect dust, and floors get wet and slippery. All these things need to be taken into account when selecting materials for your space so that cleaning and maintenance are as easy as possible. Whether you opt for natural stone or a fully tiled wet room, we will help make sure you understand the level of maintenance those bathroom materials require.
Balance Of Materials, Colors, And Patterns
When selecting materials and colors for your bathroom makeover, try to achieve a balance between different elements. For example, if you’re using paint or wallpaper on the walls, try using tile on the floor. Or, if you’re using a light-colored stone for the countertops, try using a darker wood for the cabinetry.
Using different colors and textures of materials in your bathroom remodel helps create visual interest without being too overwhelming. Bathroom fixtures should complement each other without being too identical, and colors should flow together without being too monochromatic.
While we encourage you to bring your personal style to your bathroom remodel, we also understand that it can feel overwhelming to design a bathroom on your own. This is why we are happy to match you with a designer and architect who will help bring your dream bathroom to life!
Since bathroom space is often at a premium, we recommend you consider wall-mounted fixtures during the design phase. This includes floating vanities and toilets, as well as wall-mounted faucets. Wall-mounted fixtures can create a sense of openness, as well as prevent you from stubbing your toes on fixtures in compact spaces!
Last but not least, one final consideration when designing your bathroom is storage. People often underestimate how many things they need to store in their bathrooms–everything from extra towels and toilet paper to cleaning supplies and bath accessories.
No matter how big or small your space is, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to making better use of storage. For example, if you have unused space under your sink, consider installing additional cabinets, drawers, or open shelves to make better use of that wasted space.
DIY vs. Hiring A Contractor
One major decision that will have an impact on both the time frame and cost for your bathroom remodeling project is whether or not you plan on doing the work yourself or hiring a contractor to do it for you.
DIY: Generally speaking, anything that involves plumbing or electrical work should definitely be left to the professionals. On the other hand, if you have experience with renovation projects and feel like you have time to spare, you might be able to save some money by handling some tasks yourself.
However, if you are trying to save money by taking on certain aspects of the bathroom remodel yourself, keep in mind that many professional contractors will not work with you in this way in the interest of quality control. So if you do choose the DIY route, you may need to commit to doing everything yourself!
Contractor: If DIY isn’t something that appeals to you, then hiring a contractor is probably the best way forward. While a contractor will cost more than doing it yourself, there are many other advantages to leaving remodeling tasks to licensed bathroom remodeling contractors:
- Contractors can handle any permits that may be required by local laws as well as any inspections during construction.
- Contractors will make sure things are done correctly and are up to code.
- Contractors will ensure tasks are completed efficiently and on schedule–no more wasted weekends trying to learn how to waterproof a shower!
- Contractors have the skills and experience to create a luxury bathroom that most DIYers just can’t replicate.
Typical Bathroom Remodeling Process
Now that you’ve thought about the design of your bathroom and decided whether you are going the DIY or professional route, you may be wondering what the typical bathroom remodeling process looks like. And while every bathroom remodeling project is unique, it usually follows the sequence of steps outlined below:
Depending on the scope of your project, you may need one or more permits from your local building department. If you are using a contractor, they will typically handle this step for you.
Once you’ve got your permits in hand, it’s time to rip out the old bathroom and make way for the new bathroom. This is when all of your old fixtures and finishes are removed to make way for new ones.
Once demolition has been completed, framing will begin. This involves constructing walls as well as adding structural support where needed in order to accommodate new fixtures or features such as a shower stall or bathtub.
Plumbing And Electrical Systems
After framing has been finished, plumbing and electrical systems will then be installed according to code requirements specific to your area. This is an incredibly important part of the renovation process because these systems will dictate how water flows through pipes and electricity runs throughout the room–both crucial components for daily use in any home. It’s best to hire a professional who knows exactly what needs to be done in order to ensure everything is up-to-date and safe for use by occupants living in the house.
Drywall helps insulate against heat loss while providing soundproofing between rooms if there is an adjacent one nearby (like a bedroom). Drywall also serves as a base layer upon which other materials, such as tile or paint, can be applied later on in the renovation process.
Waterproofing And Tile Underlayment
Once the drywall is up, it’s time to waterproof and install tile underlayment (if applicable). This step is critical because it will help prevent water damage in your bathroom.
If you’re not comfortable doing this work yourself, hire a professional—you don’t want to take any shortcuts when it comes to waterproofing your bathroom. Improper waterproofing can lead to water getting behind your tile or drywall and causing costly hidden water damage.
Bathtub Or Shower Installation / Tiling
After the tile underlayment and other waterproofing steps are complete, it’s time to install the bathtub or shower and tile around it. Again, this is a task that we recommend you leave to the professionals. Tiling is tricky, and you don’t want it done incorrectly, which can cause bigger issues down the road.
Once the tiling is complete (and after any applicable waiting periods), it’s time to prime and paint your bathroom. When choosing paint for your bathroom, be sure to select a color that will complement your fixtures and tilework.
Flooring And Baseboards
Now that everything is painted and dried, it’s time to install your flooring and baseboards. Baseboards are not only decorative–they also protect against water damage by helping keep moisture away from walls at their edges where they meet floors.
The toilet is one of the most important fixtures in any bathroom, so it’s essential to choose one that fits your needs and budget. There are many different styles and designs on the market today, so be sure to do your research before making a purchase.
Vanity, Countertops, And Sink
Now it’s time to install the vanity, countertops, and sink. The vanity is often the focal point of any bathroom so it’s important to choose one that fits both your style and functional needs.
There are many different sizes, shapes, and materials available, so be sure to take your time when making a selection. Countertops and sinks come in many different materials as well, so be sure to explore all of your options before making a decision.
Lighting, Fan, Mirrors, And Accessories
The final step in the bathroom remodeling process is installing the lighting, fan, mirrors, and any other accessories. Again, be sure to choose products that fit both your style and needs. Fans should be selected based on both room size and noise level.
Mirrors can be found in many different shapes, sizes, and finishes, so be sure to find one that complements your overall design aesthetic. Lastly, accessories such as towel bars, toilet paper holders, and soap dishes should all be installed.
Let TEKRA Builders Bring Your Dream Bathroom To Life
After reading through this step-by-step guide, you should now have a better idea of what is involved in remodeling your bathroom. No matter which type of remodel you decide on, the most important steps are to first determine your budget, think carefully about the purpose of the remodel, and plan an effective design.
If you’re ready to start planning your bathroom remodeling project, we’d love to help! Just fill out our contact form, and one of our bathroom remodeling experts will reach out to you soon. Thanks for reading!
ABOUT THE SERIES
The TEKRA Homeowner education series consists of 1-3 minute videos, published on instagram, Facebook and Youtube aimed at simplifying the construction process so you can make more educated choices and feel more confident during your next project. A more in depth article of each topic can be found right here at tekrabuilders.com/blog.