So, you’ve decided to start your bathroom remodel.
In our last post, we went into detail on the scope of your bathroom remodel project, whether or not you will need a permit and checking with your homeowner’s insurance BEFORE doing any demolition that can save you a lot of money!
Now that you’ve done your job, it’s time to get those creative juices flowing. Let’s throw the bureaucratic things away and dive deep into what goes into plumbing, plumbing fixtures, lights, tiling, finishes, counter material, vanity and so much more.
Enjoy this thorough checklist to make your dream bathroom a reality.
Table of Contents
One of the biggest costs regarding bathroom remodels is plumbing.
So think for yourself if you really want to change anything about your bathroom’s current plumbing system.
Are you changing just the plumbing fixtures or are you also changing where they are located within your bathroom?
Plumbing fixtures are the plumbing hardware that you can see. For example the toilet, sink, faucets, shower head, shower arm or the shower enclosure. Changing these bathroom fixtures is relatively easier, however may still require professional help.
However, when you change the location of one of your fixture(s) ie. toilet or sink as mentioned above you need to take into consideration that you will need to file for a permit. If you are just changing the actual fixture and not its position, you do not need a permit.
The reason that a permit is required is because when you change the location of one of your bathroom plumbing fixtures you will also need to change the plumbing system for that fixture. You may have to purchase additional pipes and valves to make sure that your bathroom’s plumbing system is not compromised. The permit also guarantees that the proper installation of this new plumbing system is sound. Unless you have plumbing experience and are licensed, hiring a professional is a must.
It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to plumbing. The last thing you want is for you to have a brand new bathroom and all of a sudden you have a pipe burst ruining all the work (and money) you just put into your home’s upgrade. Hiring a contractor to do the work and apply for the permit on your behalf in the long run could save you time and money.
Let’s go into more detail on the Plumbing Fixtures though. Like mentioned, plumbing fixtures are the hardware of your plumbing system. While the water and sewage pipes, hidden under your bathroom floor or in the wall, is your bathroom’s software. More often than not the software can prove to be more costly than the hardware. However, similar to electronics, there are different types of hardware and styles that vary in price.
There are hundreds of different styles of toilets. Some more on the traditional side, while others have a more modern sleek look. When it comes to toilets you also have the option of getting a toilet that is eco friendly. Here are The 7 Best Water-Saving Toilets of 2021.
Having an efficient toilet is not just good for the environment, but it is also good for your wallet. The Environmental Protection Agency that toilet use accounts for almost 30 percent of a household’s water consumption, the largest use of water in a home. That’s 30% of your water bill.
Today there are regulations that limit the amount of water that a toilet can use to flush at 1.6 gallons. However, older toilets still in use today can use up to 7 gallons of water with every flush. Over time an older toilet will use 13,000 more gallons of water over the course of a year and increase a utility bill by more than 140 dollars.
Some manufacturers are going even further than the 1.6 gallons standard and making advancements with dual flush toilets, and gravity assist toilets that limit the amount of water necessary to flush your toilet.
You usually have two types of sinks, an undermounted sink or a vessel style sink. An undermount sink is a sink where the counter is cut and polished in the shape of the sink. The sink is then installed underneath the counter inside of the vanity.
A vessel style sink is a sink that is fully finished and sits on top of the counter, as pictured below. The price of the two types of sink vary depending on the size of the sink itself, the material and the labor necessary to install the sink. Typically a vessel style sink is easier to install, however depending on the shape and style of the sink, you could actually end up spending more.
For faucets you have a few options. You can install a counter mounted faucet or a wall mounted faucet.
Counter Mounted Faucet
Wall Mounted Faucet
With faucets you also have to decide if you want a single handle faucet or a widespread faucet. A single handle faucet just means that there is only one handle to control the temperature of the water. While a widespread faucet has two handles, one for the hot water and the other for the cold. Typically a widespread handle is more expensive because you have to purchase all 3 separate pieces – the faucet and the two handles.
Counter Mounted Faucet
Like your faucet, you have options when it comes to where you can mount your shower when you are doing a remodel. You can mount you shower head either on the ceiling above the shower enclosure or on the wall.
I know you’ve seen the videos of those cool showers where it looks like the influencer is taking a shower and the water is falling out of the sky. Yeah, it’s not falling out of the sky, but having a big shower head and a short shower arm as pictured below can give that really cool illusion that the water is out of thin air.
The opposite is probably something that you have already seen, nonetheless if done correctly it can still look modern and give your bathroom a unique look.
Another thing that you can do to give your bathroom a new look is modify your shower enclosure, this is the part of the shower that has been sectioned off for showering (seems pretty straight forward, right?).
Usually the sectioning off is done by a sliding or swinging glass door or in some cases a fixed glass panel. The prices for these shower enclosures vary depending on the size of the glass panel(s) you will need. The bigger the panel, the more expensive it will be.
Glass Panel Enclosure
Glass Swinging Door Enclosure
Swinging Glass Door Shower Enclosure
The shower valve and the shower valve trim are perhaps the most important parts of the shower and where most people doing DIY bathroom remodels get confused – you need both to make you shower work!
So what is the difference between the two – the shower valve is the part of the on off of the shower that you do not see. It is the part inside the wall. While the shower valve trim is what you have on the outside that allows you to turn your shower on and off.
It is important to mention bathroom accessories when we talk about plumbing because most distributors will have the same line of bathroom accessories to match their plumbing fixtures. These accessories can include:
- Toilet paper holder
- Hand towel holder
- Bathroom towel rack (either 18” or 24” but you can also get 30” and 36”)
- Robe hook, single or double hook
If you are thinking of really upping your bathroom remodel game maybe look into a towel warmer. Yes, I know what you are thinking, “alright you are getting a little carried away”. But don’t knock it until you try it, these latest inventions are not as expensive as you think and can really up your self-care game. Here is one you can get on Amazon for under 100 bucks.
Sorry. We had to.
Similar to Plumbing, if you are to make any drastic changes to your bathrooms electrical system you need to apply for a permit and or allow a professional to take care of any of the changes as it relates to moving any electrical outlets, and the positioning of any light outlets or electrical fixtures like an exhaust system.
When it comes to your bathrooms lighting, you have a lot of options to choose from. The primary sources of light in your bathroom are your:
Overall lights, the lights that illuminate the majority of the common space
Shower lights, these are the lights usually found in your shower enclosure
Vanity light, the lighting above the vanity. This type of lighting can be wall mounted, more commonly referred to as ‘sconce lighting’, or it can be mounted on top of your vanity’s mirror as pictured below.
You can also have light fixtures in your bathroom as well, however keep in mind the traffic space and how big the light fixture is that you intend to use in your bathroom.
Overall Bathroom Lighting
A bathroom’s exhaust system is perhaps one of the most underrated parts of a bathroom. A good quality exhaust is crucial to the health of not only your bathroom, but also your home. Most people assume that the primary function of a bathroom fan is to remove odors from the bathroom. But, the more important function is actually to remove warm, moist air from your bathroom. Warm, moist air from your showers not only encourages mold growth, but also can cause damage to the fixtures and surfaces in a bathroom.
Warm, humid air, caused by running hot water for baths and showers, is a perfect environment for mold, mildew, and microorganism growth. Things like wallboard, wall paint, and trim, and even your door aren’t even safe. That’s why it is so important to get a good quality fan to protect your investment and your family.
When you are researching what kind of tiles you should use for your bathroom, you might start to notice that bathroom tiling is usually separated by where the tile will go as opposed to the type of tile itself. The rationale behind this is that regardless of the type or size of the tile technically you could use it in all three areas – the overall bathroom floor, the shower floor and the shower wall.
There are definitely certain types of tile that are better suited for each area of the bathroom, however there is a lot of flexibility as to what you can do with each tile. The important thing is to make sure that the tiles you choose for each area are speaking the same language and ultimately complimenting each other.
Statement Shower Floor
Textured Shower Floor
Overall Bathroom Floor
The cool thing about remodeling your bathroom is getting to be creative and playing around with different elements and textures. When you are picking out the tile you want to use for your overall bathroom floor it is crucial that you take into account what you are going to be using in the other two spaces.
The overall bathroom floor usually has the biggest square footage. Generally the Overall Bathroom Floor is usually a bigger, more sleek tile that highlights different elements of the bathroom without taking away from those elements. These elements can be an underlighting of the vanity or the other tiles themselves.
When it comes to the shower floor we need to prioritize safety! To do this, the Ceramic Tile Institute of America developed testing protocols to measure the slipperiness of tiles. This rating is called the coefficient of friction (COF), which measures the amount of friction between your foot and the tile surface. The higher the COF, the greater the amount of friction and the less likely you are to slip.
Glossy big tiles that have little to no texture are beautiful, but can be quite slippery when wet. This makes them somewhat of a safety hazard. Using a tile that is matted or textured can help reduce slipping.
Luckily, smaller tiles also mean more grout, and grout helps reduce slipperiness in the shower enclosure. It is common practice for tile manufacturers to launch a collection of tiles that are the same but in different sizes, not just so the shower tiles are less slippery but also to make installing a drain easier. The smaller tiles are easier to position around a drain, as opposed to having to cut a large piece.
When it comes to shower walls, texture and size don’t matter. Esstetic still does though. The important thing to think about with your shower wall is if it complements the rest of the bathroom. You can go bold while still making sure everything is speaking the same language. Check out a few styles below.
How to elevate your bathroom even more?
If one tiled wall isn’t enough, you can always do more. Today’s sleek modern bathrooms have tiled walls not just on the shower wall but all over. Yes, this does up the cost of your project however, it might be exactly what you are looking for.
A more budget friendly way of doing this can be with wallpaper. Some bathrooms will use wallpaper instead of tile on the remaining bathroom walls. This gives the bathroom a similar look while saving you a couple extra bucks. Learn more about the pros and cons of each here.
Counter Material and Vanity
Similar to your bathroom tiles your counter material and vanity should also be complimenting each other. The Counter Material includes the actual material that will run on the counter, the backsplash, and the side splash.
While a vanity is a bathroom fixture that usually includes the following features: sink, countertop and mirror. Modern vanities have more than just these three items in them such as lights or architectural styling details.
The most common counter materials used for bathrooms are natural stones, specifically quartzite, granite and marble. These three natural stones generally cost between $40 – $200 per square foot.
Yes, I know that is a really big range. The reasoning behind this is because not only is each material different from one another, but the quality and rarity of one quartzite from another can be completely different. To learn more about the difference between the three most commonly used natural stones check out this blog post.
Another option for your counter material is quartz. Although quartz countertops are made using engineered stone. Quartz is composed of about 90% loose quartzite. The remaining 10% is comprised of resins and pigments.
So what is the difference between the two?
Although technically quartzite is in the purest of form, there are some drawbacks to that. The stone does have a tendency to be more porous than its counterpart, quartz. This makes its upkeep a little bit harder. On the flip side quartz does have a tendency to scratch easier.
If we are talking price, unfortunately they are roughly the same in price range. The only thing that will make the price fluctuate is the quality of each. If you want to learn more check out this cool blog.
Today, one of the biggest trends has been the use of Porcelain for countertops. These countertops are made to look like natural stone and have been proven to be heat resistant, scratch resistant and super durable. Learn more about the pros and cons of porcelain countertops here.
A complete list of all of the counter materials you can choose from:
- Engineered Stones
It is important to keep in mind that whatever material you choose to work with you need to take into consideration the type of sink you are going to use. As mentioned above there are two types of sinks you can install in your bathroom, an undermounted sink or a vessel sink. No one style of installation is more expensive than the other, however the price will vary depending on the size of the sink and the cost of labor for installation.
When planning out a vanity it is important to take into consideration the homeowners’ needs. Will they be storing towels, medicine, makeup, and or cleaning products? At the end of the day whatever you want to store in your vanity should be taken into consideration when planning out how big the vanity should be and how the storage compartments should be structured.
Wall Mounted Vanity
Free Standing Vanity
How to decide between cabinet doors and drawers?
The most ideal bathroom storage is drawers. When you pull out a drawer you get the best visual of all the items inside the drawer because you are able to access the natural or artificial light from your bathroom that you otherwise would not be able to with just cabinet doors.
The cabinet doors however, are the cheaper of the two options. If you do opt for doors instead of drawers for your vanity you can still install pull out shelves to maximize your storage space.
We can’t forget to mention the hardware of your vanity. The doors and the drawers of your vanity cabinet will need a specific hardware in order to open and close. You have two options: touch and pull, and your regular pull out knobs.
The touch and pull hardware is a newer, more modern option that works by installing a push latch to the inside of a door or drawer creating a more sleek look where regular pull out knobs become obsolete. Touch and pull hardware is generally more expensive however, depending on what knobs you are looking to buy, a touch and pull option might in fact be cheaper.
I know this blog was long and I commend you for getting through this checklist of things that are required if you are to take on a full remodel. The goal of this blog post was to highlight some key things that you should be thinking about and making sure that you are asking your contractor or Google the right questions.
At the end of the day you aren’t alone. There are so many resources to help guide you through this process and make sure that you are going in the right direction with your bathroom remodel.
Contractors like us at ICOA Builders are also a really great resource that you can utilize. We are always happy to talk through your remodel goals and help you figure out how to make your dream bathroom come to life.
Reach out to us here at ICOA Builders at 813 – 575 – 4262 or email@example.com