Remodeling Tips and Reviews

Bathroom Remodeling Tips

As an experienced remodeler I am frequently asked how can a homeowner do their own bathroom remodel. While I do not recommend a homeowner move around plumbing and electrical, unless they are very experienced there are a lot of things a homeowner can do to remodel a bathroom. Of course if you are not comfortable doing things yourself you can always hire a pro. The results can be well worth the investment, having a bathroom that you will truly enjoy and it may even have such options as a steam shower with multiple jets.

Tip: Black and Decker has a great book on Bathroom remodeling that I highly recommend as a prep read.


Before beginning the remodeling process the homeowner has to consider the budget. A low end remodel will usually cost a few thousand while a high end bathroom remodel can run tens of thousands of dollars. A home improvement loan or a home equity line of credit may be necessary to make bathroom improvements in your home. Once the finances have been addressed it is time to move on to the real work.

Usually when a bathroom needs to be remodeled the complaints I hear are about the floor tile, the wall tile, the toilet and the sink. Sometimes the tub is in such bad shape that it needs to be redone. In any remodel the first thing that has to be done is all the demolition. In a typical bathroom this will mean removing the old toilet, vanity/ sink, and the tile. I recommend you cut off your water supply to the house prior to starting any of this.

The toilet is easily removed, usually being held down by 2 bolts and a bead of caulk around the edge of the toilet base. You will want to cut off the water supply and remove all the water in the tank and bowl first. A large sponge is good for this and a pair of rubber gloves. There will still be water trapped in the base of the bowl and your best bet is to remove the toilet and drain it in the tub with the help of a helper. This can be accomplished by placing cardboard in the tub to rest the toilet on and rocking it back and forth front to back. Otherwise you will have a trail of water as you move the toilet outside. Make sure and remove the wax around the toilet flange on the floor and stuff the drain pipe with a sponge or something else to prevent sewer gases from coming into the house.

To remove the vanity the first thing to do is cut off the water supply, turning off the valves that are connected to the faucet. If there are no valves then it is time to call a plumber unless you are very handy with plumbing. Next you will need to disconnect the hoses or copper tubing supply lines and the drain line. These should all be threaded and come off fairly easily. Once they are disconnected the vanity needs to be removed from the wall. Depending on the age of your home it will either be held in my a few screws or custom built in place and you will have to crow bar and demolition the vanity. We frequently have to take a large framing hammer and beat the countertop and vanity out with some muscle to remove them. If you have to do this then you will want eye protection and some good gloves to avoid nails.
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Once these 2 items are out we are left with the floor and walls to deal with. If the walls are in decent shape and you are happy with them then you can just patch any holes later on with some sheetrock and plaster, then texture and paint. The floor will either require demo or you will have to lay your other flooring on top of it. I am not a big fan of laying one floor on top of another, unless its vinyl. If you lay tile on top of an old tile floor you risk cracking the new tile if the old floor has settling issues. Demo of the old tile will require a hammer, crowbar and possibly a sledgehammer if the floor is old with a deep bed of mortar on metal lathe. Take care when demoing the floor, tile gets quite sharp when it is smashed.

The tub tile may also have to be demoed. We recommend cutting a board to fit over the top of the tub to prevent debris from getting in it. You should also make sure the drain is closed and taped to prevent debris from going into the drain line. Wall tile is no different than floor tile and sometimes it come right off and sometimes the sheetrock or cement backer comes off with it. If the wall is standard sheetrock you will need to change it out green rock or cement backer board.

Once the demo is done and the room is clean you need to start with the ceiling and walls and work your way down. If a new tub is being installed then that is one of the first things that needs to go back in since it has to be tiled in place. Wall and floor tile need to be installed then the walls need to be cleaned up and painted. At this point it is time to reinstall the toilet and then the vanity with the sink or pedestal. Make sure the water is off again will doing all of this. Check for leaks and your bathroom is done after touch up. This is a basic overview and it is recommended you research plumbing in more detail. You may also want home automation to make your home feel secure on your terms.

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