An Inclusive Guide to Bathroom Remodeling

by Sam Ferris
We won?t water it down: there?s a lot to know when you?re remodeling your bathroom. Feeling overwhelmed is all too normal.

Take a deep breath. Our solution to that feeling is this all-encompassing bathroom remodeling guide. It has a lot of information, but we?ve taken the time to organize it into information you can easily digest.

In the first half of this guide, we go in-depth into our main areas of expertise. We take you through the major facets of bathroom remodeling from the ground up: flooring to cabinets and then countertops to showers. And don?t worry ? we include a section on what you can expect to pay.

In the second half, we give you a brief look at what else you have to plan for during a bathroom remodel, like lighting and plumbing*.?

And now it?s time to kick start the planning for your bathroom remodel:

*We don?t focus on DIY-centered topics like insulation ? we?re assuming you?re going to hire a professional to help you.?
The cost
Bathroom remodeling is a big investment, that?s for sure. There isn?t a cookie cutter number for the cost of bathroom remodeling ? it all depends on how much work you?re doing and the materials (flooring, countertops, cabinets, appliances) you buy.

HomeAdvisor says the average cost of bathroom remodeling for the Corpus Christi area is $14,500, while the national average is at $16,000 per the National Kitchen and Bath Association.?

For a major bathroom remodel that involves gutting the room down to the studs and nails, along with rearranging the plumbing and high end materials, prepare to write a check for more than $20,000.?
Cost and ROI
While these numbers may seem astronomical, know that the return on investment (ROI) for bathroom remodels is sky-high. Midrange bathroom remodels yield a 70 percent ROI, the fourth highest single-room ROI.

That?s one of the best things about bathroom remodeling: You?re not only remodeling to increase your comfort ? you?re also remodeling for resale value. You?ll recoup a good chunk of your change when you do decide to sell your home.

Here are the average costs for various bathroom remodeling tasks:
Bathroom Remodeling Costs
Source: HomeAdvisor
The layout
Like kitchen remodeling, you?ll need to decide early on in the process whether you want to change your bathroom?s layout or not. It?s a little more important with bathroom remodeling, though, because of what?s at stake with the plumbing.

Changing your bathroom?s layout could mean making the space bigger or moving the location of major appliances like sinks, tubs, and showers.

The scope of work may include (but isn?t limited to):
  • Bathroom expansion
  • Shower expansion or relocation
  • Toilet relocation
  • New flooring
  • New vanity cabinets
  • New countertops

Reorganizing your layout will take you closer to the $20,000 mark, so if your budget is tight, it might be best to work with what you have.
A matter of function
As you focus on function during your bathroom remodel, you might want to get rid of things you don?t use ? like a tub or small vanity.?

Most major changes to bathrooms include relocating one (or more) of the following: the shower, the tub, and the toilet. These are the renovations we see all the time in the Corpus Christi area.

In general, homeowners are opting for larger shower spaces because of the added function.?

For whatever reason, the majority of homes built in the 80s and 90s (and before) feature bathrooms with small shower spaces. Today?s shower designs place heavy value on function, and a shower with enough wiggle room is going to be easier to use, especially for elders who put a chair or bench in their shower to sit down.

Bathroom travertine flooring
This bathroom features travertine flooring in a versailles pattern. Travertine provides good slip resistance because of its grooved texture.
We recommend to start with your flooring. It?s the backbone of your bathroom design, the look that?s going to define your space?s style. If you?re keeping your vanity cabinets, start there and complement your flooring with your cabinets.?
No slippery slopes
Water is wet. So are bathrooms. We?re not trying to be sarcastic: too many homeowners don?t factor in that fact of life when they?re shopping for flooring.

Your bathroom?s flooring should ideally be slip resistant, a rating you can find on the back of the tile?s sample board or on the manufacturer?s website. Floors with grooved, textured glazes offer the most slip resistance.

For a more in-depth look at slip-resistant flooring, our outdoor flooring buying guide may prove useful. We?ll give you a quick rundown of the best and worst flooring options for bathrooms here:

The best
The worst
  • Hardwood floors. Hopefully you know by now that hardwood doesn't mesh well with high moisture environments. You're flirting with disaster.?
  • Laminate. It falls apart when it gets wet. Forget about making a splash.
  • Carpet. Believe it or not, there are carpeted bathrooms (thankfully they're practically extinct). Long-term exposure to moisture can cause mold and allergens, among a damaged exterior.?

Some contemporary bathrooms do have hardwood and laminate, but it?s more maintenance (you have to pay attention to wiping up water) and a tricky road to navigate in a room that?s wet by nature.

Vanity cabinets
Truth be told, homeowners don?t usually replace their bathroom cabinets when they remodel ? they just repaint or refinish them.

In our experience, homeowners only buy new bathroom cabinets for two reasons: 1) their cabinets are too old and don?t function or 2) they?re designing a new bathroom layout. A handful will buy new because they want a fresh design.

Though we included HomeAdvisor?s average cost to install bathroom cabinets above, that?s just the cost of installation.

The cabinets themselves will cost anywhere from $1,000-$5,000 depending on the size of your bathroom, how many vanities you have, and whether you buy semi-custom or custom cabinets. We think it's worthwhile to splurge on bathroom cabinets.?
When you buy new cabinets
Once you decide to buy new bathroom cabinets, take the time to meet with a designer. A few considerations:
  • Bathroom cabinets aren't as deep as kitchen cabinets. Most have a 21-inch depth, while some have an 18-inch depth.
  • Linen closets provide ample storage space for your towels and toiletries, as well as easy access with pullout drawers.
  • For the beauty queen, a vanity drawer is the only way to go. It's lower than countertop height, which creates a space for you to sit while you dress yourself up for the day.?
  • Drawers, whether they're in the kitchen or the bathroom, are highly functional.?

Bathroom Linen Cabinet
Tall linen cabinets (left) and a vanity drawer (center) are two functional features to consider with bathroom cabinets.

If you missed our granite vs. quartz showdown, you need to see it. Seriously, read it ? it?s an in-depth look at the pros and cons of both countertops. It will help you narrow down your decision, or so our loyal readers tell us.?

Choosing your bathroom?s countertops is going to come down to your personal preferences. There isn?t a right or wrong choice.

Remember: you have to seal granite every year or two, especially in a bathroom, where it will be exposed to water.

Quartz is generally more scratch resistant and durable than granite. It?s also available in clean, minimal styles, whereas granite will have a lot of natural variation.

Other options include marble and tile.?
Marble Bathroom Countertops
Marble is another option for bathroom countertops.
How to save on bathroom countertops
Back in January we gave you a great insider tip on how to save on your countertops in our budget remodeling guide: check the granite lot for remnant slabs. That tip has never been as important as it is now.

Bathroom countertops are small ? in square footage and in linear feet. They aren?t like kitchen countertops, where you?ll likely use an entire slab of granite or quartz.

That?s not how it works with bathroom countertops. Often times you won?t even need half a slab.

Retailers sell granite and quartz by the full slab (some manufacturers sell half slabs, but that?s rare). That means you have to buy a full slab for your bathroom?s countertops, even if you don?t need the rest.

Buying a remnant slab can cut your countertop cost in half. The tricky part is finding a slab that?s big enough to cover the cuts for your bathroom. But find one that does and you?ve struck gold.?

Master Bathroom Shower
Photo courtesy of Sonoma Tilemakers.
Kitchens are the heart of the home, showers are the soul of the bathroom.

Homeowners are no longer buying small, preformed showers. Instead, they?re creating wide, double capacity shower spaces that hold the eyes hostage.

That said, you?ll need these three things to design the shower of your dreams:
  • Wall tile. Installing the same floor tile in your shower is perfectly fine - your space will look seamless. You can also find a wall tile that matches your floor tile.
  • A floor with grip. We love pebbles and natural stone for shower floors because they're slip resistant. That may not fit in with your design, though, so you'll need to search for a floor with a good slip resistance rating.?
  • Mosaic tile. Adding a splash of mosaic tile can kick your shower design up a notch. It's a superb accent piece.?

Other considerations:
  • Niches or shelves for your shampoos and razors
  • Glass doors vs. pony walls (walls that rise halfway up from the floor to the ceiling)
  • Railings for older or handicapped individuals
  • Wheel chair accessibility (your shower entrance shouldn't have a lip and should be ramped)

And most importantly, find a contractor who knows how to properly water proof your shower.

We can?t stress this enough. Proper waterproofing includes a correctly installed shower pan and sloping to the drain so that puddles don't accumulate after showering. It may cost more in the short run, but you?ll save money in the long run by avoiding leaks.
Shower Design
This shower design features three different types of tile, using a mosaic tile inside the niche and 2x2 tiles on the floor.
A quick list of what else you'll need
Each of the following topics could have its own blog post, so we shortened it up with these brief subcategories. Use them as a checklist rather than a comprehensive guide. ?
Vessel Sink
A vessel sink (above) sits above your vanity's countertop. Photo courtesy of Sonoma Tilemakers.
You need a place to wash up, of course. The list is countless, but there are five general types of sinks for bathrooms:
  • Undermount
  • Over the counter
  • Drop-in
  • Vessel sink
  • Freestanding sinks

Freestanding and vessel sinks are installed more often in powder rooms or guest bathrooms.

After you decide on the type of sink you want, select the color and material: white porcelain, beige travertine, vibrant onyx, and so on.
A fresh coat of paint will tie the design together. Meet with a designer who can pick a hue that complements your flooring and countertops.

Pro tip: Paint before you install flooring, countertops, or cabinets ? it?s less mess.?
Bath tub and lighting
Freestanding Bathtub
Freestanding bath tubs are both elegant and in style.
Some homeowners don?t need a bathtub. Every homeowner needs bathroom lighting. Shop around for the right fit for your bathroom. We recommend Ferguson?for both.
Planning to move things around? Prepare to hire a plumber. Some businesses may include a plumber in their contracting services (that?s something we do).

Plumbing tasks vary in cost. HomeAdvisor?s TrueCost Guide does an excellent job of breaking down these costs here.
Don?t forget to budget for shower heads, faucets, door handles, and more. They matter, too.?

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