Bathroom contractors always provide you with a range of choices as you select materials and fixtures, but you can still expect to pay some markup on those materials. There is no better way to reduce costs than to do your research and look for discounted materials from online sources or local retailers who might be closing out last year's product lines. If you have the time and a place to store materials, buying everything you need to remodel your small bath well in advance will make your remodeling job much cheaper and much faster.
These compact spaces are often tucked into nooks in the home, such as converted pantry closets or the cavity beneath a staircase. They’re all about economy of space, though the best examples also emphasize design. “This is not a high-traffic room, so function is not as important as the wow factor,” says says Elizabeth Goltz, owner of Design by Orion in Kansas City.
Disconnect the trap from the tub, remove any clips, fasteners or screws that hold the tub to the wall, and demolish the old cast iron tub with a sledgehammer. Remove the sink and toilet. Turn off the electricity at the main panel and remove light fixtures. Cap the wires with wire connectors. Then rip out the wall finishes and surfaces clean down to the studs and pull out any insulation. If your ceiling is in good shape, use a utility knife to cut the drywall along the edges so the wall materials will separate cleanly from the ceiling.
Interior bathroom demolition costs $1,000 to $2,300. Prices can go higher if you’re removing and moving walls to create a different footprint. For the experienced DIYer, this is a good place to save money by doing it yourself or assisting the contractor. However, demo can get expensive quickly if you take out a load bearing wall, cut electrical lines or break a water pipe. Avoid the risk by hiring a pro.
Bathroom remodels provide 60 to 70 percent resale returns as a home improvement project. However, this project isn’t cheap. It is essential to plan your remodeling ideas ahead of time. Then, hire a remodeling contractor for the job. Ask questions, set realistic expectations, get accurate cost estimates and budgeting from the start. Also spend time learning how to work with a bathroom contractor.
If your room is wider than the shower base, fur in the walls as needed to butt against the ends of the shower base (see Photo 14). Our bathroom is 6 ft. wide, so we added a floor-to-ceiling 2×6 wall at the showerhead end and a shorter 2×6 wall at the opposite end. We made that wall only 43 in. above the floor so we could use the top of the wall to hold shampoo and other shower supplies. The shower base usually comes with a special 2-in. drain fitting that you connect to the drain line (Fig. B).
Focus on durability. The surfaces and fixtures will likely get lots of wear and tear, especially if children use the room. Plastic laminate flooring and countertops are durable and inexpensive, plus the kids likely don’t care if they have high-end materials. As for fixtures, you still want high-quality construction, including all-brass parts and a PVD (physical vapor deposition) finish that resists scratches, but go with basic chrome, rather than pricier nickel or bronze. On the walls, choose an interior paint that resists mildew.
Guest bathroom: This is a full-service bathroom, with sink, toilet, and shower or shower/tub combination, but one that is used sporadically when guests visit. In empty-nest homes, a kids' full bathroom might be converted to a guest bath. Because guest baths get only occasional use, many people choose to use economy fixtures and materials, which can greatly cut costs. And because this is a secondary bathroom, you can take your time remodeling it, which also saves cost.
Tear out the existing piping (Photos 5 and 6). Then frame the 2×6 walls that will contain the new plumbing and the opposite end of the shower base (Photos 8, 9 and 14). It’s easiest to nail the bottom plate to the floor and the top plate to the ceiling, then fill in the studs one at a time by toenailing them in at the top and bottom. Stack the studs directly in front of the old ones wherever possible. Space the studs in the center of the shower about 12 in. apart to leave room for the shower valve and showerhead. The studs behind the toilet should be spaced exactly 19-3/4 in. apart for securing this toilet chair carrier (Photos 8 and 15).
Master bathroom: This is a full-service bathroom that you use on a daily basis. In homes with two or more full bathrooms, the term "master" usually designates the one used by the home's owner on a daily basis. In homes with only one bathroom, that bathroom serves as the master bath, even if it is quite small. This is typically a fairly important room, one in which owners might spend a fair amount of money on quality, durable, and attractive fixtures and materials.
Demolition. All remodeling jobs start with tearing out and removing elements that will be replaced. Depending on the level of your remodeling job, this can be a simple matter of removing old fixtures and flooring, or as complicated as removing everything down to the wall studs and floor joists. Either way, this can be hard work but it is not difficult, and most homeowners can do this work themselves to save money. Most demolition can be done in a weekend. You will need to rent a roll-off dumpster or arrange for a disposal company to take away a pile of demolition debris.
With the rough plumbing complete and the toilet chair carrier in position, finish the electrical and add blocks as needed to support the sink (Photo 15), towel bars, grab bars, etc. Then close up the walls. We recommend cement board for durable tile walls and floors, but other tile backers are available at tile shops. Here are key installation tips:
This story shows you how to make your small, cramped bathroom more convenient, elegant and easy to clean. These projects make the typical 6 x 8 ft. bathroom feel larger and more comfortable. We'll walk you through the steps for getting more natural light in your shower, replacing your dingy old bathtub with a spacious shower, and installing a toilet and sink that simplify cleaning. So stop dealing with an outdated bathroom and get to work!
Preassemble the shower valve by soldering copper nipples and the shower supply pipe to male adapters and screwing them into the shower valve before fastening the valve to the blocking. That way you won’t damage the valve with heat from the soldering torch. Mount the valve 36 in. above the floor. You can mount the showerhead at any height, but plumbers typically mount them 6 ft. 6 in. above the floor.
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