Much like Buying a Car, I really do not consider a Bathroom Remodel to be very much fun. But, the end results are fun and the process is quite interesting, below is my bathroom remodel survival tips for a better experience, and a great final product!
- Have a Plan. Determine what you are willing to tackle, set a budget, then do a bit of research to make sure everything is within the budget. And, if your house is from the 1970’s (mine was built in 1979), then add another 30% “unknown” expenses to your plan. I found a great looking bathroom in a magazine, then copied the colors & styles like a paint-by-numbers picture.
- Demolition – Now this part is actually fun. For my project, we removed everything except drywall & the shower surround. Out with the old toilet, flooring, vanity cabinet, sink, faucet, medicine cabinet, mirror, light fixture, outlets, switch plate covers, toilet paper holder, and all towel racks. Under the cheap vinyl tile, was the original linoleum flooring from 1979. Both layers of flooring were removed by hand in minutes with a scraper and hair dryer blowing at the seams and under to loosen the glue. This is a great demo video from TheyMightBeHomesteading.com, the cabinet removal tip was very helpful.
- Repair any damage. Removing the cabinet revealed a bit of damage on the dry wall during the original installation (some idiot used a nail to find the stud, twenty times). Removing the mirror caused some dry-wall damage, as well. Otherwise, the walls & ceilings were in excellent condition.
- Paint the ceiling and walls. Repeat. Even primer/paint in one needs two coats, especially if you have highly textured walls from the 70’s. I used a primer coat of Kilz, then 2 coats of Bher primer/paint and it looks amazing! If you plan to reuse any lighting, outlet plates, medicine cabinet, etc remove all of these before painting the walls and give them a deep cleaning.
- Light the way. Replace the outlets, with the electricity turned OFF, we upgraded all of our outlets to GFCI. Install new light fixtures, or replace the old light fixtures that have been cleaned or refinished.
- In a previous bathroom refresh, I painted the inside of the medicine cabinet (Rust-oleum spray paint works great!) and a quick post to Craigslist on the free section, my old medicine cabinet had a new home. For this complete bathroom redo, we opted to buy matching mirror and medicine cabinet. Everything that was salvageable was posted as FREE in craigslist and had a new home in less than 24 hours.
- Flooring – Since my bathroom is small, my tile installer had leftover tile that I could buy as part of the installation for a very low price. I provided my color and size preference, then he brought 3 different tiles for me to choose from. I was able to have high quality, beautiful tiles installed for less than buying tiles (not quite as nice) from my local home improvement store. For larger projects, I may have considered buying or renting a tile saw and trying to install myself. Lay the tile before the cabinet, one of the added bonuses is any unevenness of the floor is fixed by the tile so that the cabinet is level.
- The vanity cabinet, sink and faucet installation required several trips to Home Depot,
and ACE hardware (just for kicks), then installed pretty quickly. After many research trips to every cabinet store in town, I found the color and style that I wanted for a good price, then ordered on-line (with free shipping from Home Depot to reduce the risk of me dropping and breaking during transport). Set the cabinet in place, far enough from the wall for the vanity top to fit snug. There was a bit of shifting the cabinet into place when the vanity top was placed on top. When the cabinet location was set, then we removed the vanity top and then secured the cabinet to the wall with screws to the wall studs. I selected a vanity top with a built-in sink for a cleaner look, and one less install step. The vanity top is “glued” to the cabinet with clear or white caulk. Then the vanity back splash is glued to the wall. When everything is set and dry, then the faucet can be installed. The instructions on the faucet involve screwing the hot and cold water hoses into place, and secure the bottom bolts of the faucet on the underside of the vanity top, and drain plug in the sink.
- Step by step instructions (to remove) and install a toilet. This is a messy part of the project, and not quite as easy as everyone says. Toilets are heavy and awkward shaped. Have towels and plastic bags close by for the old toilet ring & wax seal, and the new wax seal is messy, too. Pay close attention to the order of all the washers for the floor bolts.
- The existing shower is still in good condition, and looked great after a long scrub with CLR. We opted to leave the existing shower surround in place and replace the shower doors for a clean, modern style. After pricing replacement doors at the local DIY retailer and quotes from contractors it was a much better deal to buy the shower doors and have them installed by a professional.
- The old shower drain, handles, and shower head look worn and dated, so we replaced the old chrome ones to match the new accessories.
- Add the new towel bar, robe hooks, toilet paper holders and decorate!