A bathroom remodel can be a worthwhile investment for homeowners. When it’s time to redo bathrooms in your home, the improvements can increase your home’s value, while also creating an attractive, newly updated space. Remodeling a bathroom can also help identify plumbing problems and address potential structural issues.
If you are in the process of planning how to redo a bathroom, it helps to understand which aspects of a DIY bathroom remodel may call for professional help. We’ll help you make smart decisions on how to tackle your bathroom remodeling project in two ways: we’ll examine the aspects of this project that you can handle yourself and when you’ll need to hire a contractor. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at how to remodel a bathroom.
DIY Bathroom Remodel Tips
If you decide to go the DIY route, here are some factors and steps to keep in mind to remodel a bathroom.
Exchange of Time vs. Money
If you are determining how to renovate a bathroom in your home, you should first compare the exchange of time versus money.
Saving money on this project's cost is usually the biggest reason why homeowners decide to remodel bathrooms on their own. In general, the average estimate to renovate a standard bathroom will cost at least $10,000 or more, but it may vary depending on costs in your area.
Even when the cost is the reason you are considering a DIY bathroom remodel, remember that this kind of project takes time, whether you plan on doing the work, or hiring a professional contractor. However, on average, when homeowners perform their own bathroom remodel, it can take as much as ten times as long as a contractor would.
Your timeline will depend on busy work schedules and other commitments, so don’t forget to factor in your personal schedule. Further, if you only have one bathroom in your home, you’ll feel pressure to rush the job. So, it makes better sense to take on a DIY remodel if you have at least two bathrooms.
When you opt for the DIY route, proper planning is important in order to complete what you likely hope will be an easy bathroom remodel.
The first item on your list is to disable the water and close off the toilet waste pipe. Otherwise, you’ll have a mess on your hands. Next, you’ll need to remove the old toilet, the fixtures and/or floor tiling you're replacing, and the tub/shower. You may want to save the removal of the shower or tub for last. They will probably be the most difficult, and you’ll be thankful for the extra space you’ve made before tackling that step.
Using a checklist is helpful so you proceed in a step-by-step manner. Before you remove any electrical fixtures, make sure you also turn off all the power to your bathroom. If you are unsure about electrical work, turn off power to the whole house.
Insulating the Walls
Once you’re down to the bare-bone wall structure, that is the time to add vapor barriers around the tub and sink to keep areas dry. Another helpful tip: cement board resists moisture well, helping to preserve drywall and tile.
In a DIY bathroom remodel, you’ll want to work with the existing plumbing structure and simply hook up new fixtures. If you plan to add an additional sink or water line to your shower, you may want to call in a plumber. Interior plumbing systems are subject to your town or state’s specifications and regulations, so it is better to leave those more complicated jobs to professionals.
Depending on the scope of your remodel, you’ll replace the toilet flange, install the new toilet, new shower fixtures, and other updates you plan to make. If you are replacing a tub, keep in mind, last out, first in. It’s usually easier to complete the other updates you are making after you install a new tub.
Whether it is the project example described in this article, or even simple DIY shower remodels, remember to handle any plumbing work with care to prevent leaks. Plumbing that leaks after being sealed behind drywall, for example, can cause damage to the rest of your bathroom.
When you’re doing a bathroom tile remodel, start with tiling walls (if you’re using it in a shower or around a tub) before adding new tile to other areas or floor tile. Caulk the corners first and then use a color grout to match the bathroom’s color scheme. (Keep in mind, tiling requires you to rent a wet saw and other tools—it is not an easy step to do in a bathroom remodel project.)
During your remodel, you may want to upgrade outlets, light switches, and other fixtures. However, you’ll want to leave any wiring job to a professional. Many bathrooms are equipped with 15-amp circuits, which struggle to support high-voltage appliances such as hair dryers. Consider replacing them with 20-amp wiring. Most building codes require that you install GFCI outlets because they have a shutoff feature, should the outlet come into contact with water.
Most homeowners choose tile for their bathroom flooring. With any type of bathroom tile remodel project, be sure to leave the floor tile for last. Caulk the corners first and then use a color grout to match the bathroom’s color scheme.
Painting the Walls
Make sure to carefully cover new flooring and tape off the new tub, toilet, or vanity you’ve installed to avoid spills and splatter. Semi-gloss or satin paint finishes handle moisture in bathrooms well.
Now you can put your bathroom back together! Reinstall any fixtures you removed, such as tower bars and light switch plates. This is generally the easiest part of your DIY bathroom remodel.
When to Hire a Pro
Sometimes hiring a general contractor or specialist, such as an electrician or plumber, is the right move. If you’re trying to decide between a DIY bathroom remodel and hiring a pro, here are some good questions to ask yourself:
- How quickly do I need to have my bathroom remodel completed?
- Are there any structural problems that go beyond the remodel?
- Are there electrical or plumbing problems that go beyond my skillset?
- Can I find easy-to-follow resources that can teach me how to build a bathroom?
- Do I really have time in my schedule to do it?
With all of this advice in mind, it's time to wish you good luck with your project! As you forge ahead, you may also find these resources helpful for specific aspects of your DIY bathroom remodel:
- Bathroom Fan Replacement: A How-To Guide
- How to Change the Shower Head in Your Bathroom
- Budget-friendly Bathroom Refresh
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