Skipping This One Feature Can Ruin Your Entire Bathroom Remodel

bathroom undergoing remodel

Do you enjoy disease-causing mold, ugly odors, dangerous toxic fumes, and damaged wall treatments? Because if you don't, then don't skip the most important feature in the bathroom when you're doing your remodel.

The Most Necessary Feature in the Bathroom

So what's the one feature that your bathroom can't be without? What's the one thing that will ruin your bathroom if you haven't got it?

The exhaust fan. This might seem like a simple feature that you can take or leave but that's not the case.

In fact, the exhaust fan is the most essential element in the entire bathroom. It's time for you to find out why.

Why Do You Need an Exhaust Fan?

You know those renovation nightmares you hear about? Without a bathroom exhaust fan, that's exactly what you're facing: a nightmare.

There are many reasons why you need an exhaust fan in the bathroom and why everything will go wrong if you haven't got one.

person installing exhaust fan in bathroom


The bathroom exhaust fan serves a very practical purpose in that it helps to dehumidify the space. The warm, moist air in the bathroom creates a perfect environment for mold to grow.

You don't want mold growing in your bathroom. This actually leads to serious health complications and it's very bad for you.

Exposure to mold can create allergic reactions like watery eyes, sneezing, coughing, itching, wheezing, runny nose, headache, and fatigue. Prolonged or repeated exposure to mold can cause even more serious health complications.

Mold can thrive anywhere moisture is present. A bathroom without ventilation has a lot of moisture present.

Mold growth can also affect pets. Even if the mold is growing in the walls, the spores from the mold get released into the air you breathe and then, make their way into your lungs.

Toxic Fumes

You probably feel pretty safe and secure in your bathroom. Taking a hot shower, relaxing in a warm tub, and brushing your teeth, you feel relaxed.

But the bathroom is one of the more dangerous areas in your home. Many household cleaners that are common in the U.S. are banned elsewhere in the world because of the potentially harmful fumes they release.

Simply mixing bleach and ammonia, for example, creates a dangerous chemical mix of fumes that you should not breathe.

That's not the only source of toxic fumes in the bathroom. Sewer gases are also toxic.

Human waste and the gases released by human waste are harmful to human health. That's why it's a basic and known facet of survival to place bathroom areas away from living and sleeping areas.

A bathroom exhaust fan will disperse these dangerous fumes and pull them into the ventilation and exhaust pipes, releasing the fumes harmlessly outside so that they are no longer inside your home and becoming a breathing hazard for you.

Otherwise, those fumes and gases have got nowhere to go. They stay inside your home and get dispersed through the air.

Does that seem like something you want?


Moisture causes damage. Go take a look at the Grand Canyon sometime if you want to see what water can do.

Over time, water can erode and degrade just about every single substance known to humankind. That goes for paint, metal—all the stuff that's in your bathroom.

Humidity will cause wallpaper to peel, paint to crack, and metal to corrode. It causes more wear and tear on the entire room than a bathroom that has plenty of ventilation thanks to an exhaust fan.

Simply having an exhaust fan will extend the life of the wood, the walls, the paint, the fixtures—all the decor and materials in the bathroom.

Moisture can seep into the subflooring, break down grout, and ruin the look of finishes. Keep the room dry with an exhaust fan that will ventilate the space and keep everything dry.

Simply adding an exhaust fan will extend the life of all the finishes and paint and wallpaper in the room, which helps you do fewer DIY projects in the future. That’s not a bad trade.

How to Install an Exhaust Fan

hands drilling exhaust vent cover

Many people avoid adding an exhaust fan to their bathroom remodel list because the project seems so daunting. However, this is a DIY that can be completed in a few steps with some basic hand tools.

Start by cutting a hole in the ceiling with a small drywall saw. The fan must then be attached to the electricity in the ceiling.

Turn off the power to the entire house any time you’re doing anything that involves wiring. Unless you have a lot of skill working with electricity, you should also consult with a professional.

You must then place boards between the ceiling joists, creating a barrier between the fan and the insulation. Use wood screws to secure 2 x 4s to these joists.

You will need to cut a corresponding hole in the roof to allow the vent pipe to exit the home. You will then install the roof vent, securing it with roofing adhesive and flanges to create a secure seal around this roof opening.

Shingles will need to be replaced around the pipe. Next, secure the exhaust fan to the vent pipe once back inside the bathroom.

Wrap all the joints with duct tape, test the electrical connection and secure the fan in its hole in the ceiling. Next, you can patch and paint the drywall and the opening around the fan.

Exhaust fans made for the bathroom are designed to run on standard 120-volt household current, the same current that will light a ceiling light. You can use the same wires that would power a light to connect the exhaust fan.

You can get exhaust fans that have a light included. This way, you can swap out an existing light for a light and exhaust fan combo, or add a light to the bathroom where one didn't exist before.

If you have an existing light fixture, switching the electricity from the old fixture to the new fan will not be a difficult process.

If the idea of installing your own exhaust fan feels too daunting, you can always hire a professional contractor to complete this project for you. All things considered, adding this feature won’t add a whole lot of cost to your total bathroom remodel project.

Don't Ruin Your Entire Bathroom Remodel

A bathroom exhaust fan is a necessary feature. It promotes better health and it keeps your bathroom in better condition.

Don't ruin your entire bathroom remodel by neglecting the bathroom exhaust fan. Add this feature and make the space safer and better for you, for pets—for all humans who enter the space.

It can be a bit of an intense process to install an exhaust fan, what with all the cutting and working with electricity, but if you break it down into a step-by-step process it’s not so difficult to complete this project.

Bathroom Fan FAQ

bathroom fan with light

How long does it take to install a bathroom exhaust fan?

Installing a bathroom exhaust fan is not a difficult DIY but the steps can be somewhat intense, as it requires cutting holes and repairing them. This project will take several hours to complete but it can be finished in a single day's work.

Usually, you don’t want this project to take longer than a day for obvious reasons.

For the most part, you will want to finish this project as quickly as possible, particularly after you cut a hole through your roof. It pays to get that hole sealed up as soon as you can to prevent debris and moisture from getting into your home through the hole.

You should absolutely do this project on a clear day with little to no weather or wind, but you still want to get the roof work done quickly because weather can change and do unexpected things.

One person can complete this project in a few hours, maybe several if you’re working slowly. If you have extra hands to help with the work, it will go more quickly.

Whether working with a helper or working alone, be sure to wear proper safety equipment and work slowly and precisely to avoid making mistakes. It will take you longer to repair mistakes and this will add a lot of time to your total project.

How much does a bathroom exhaust fan cost?

The bathroom exhaust fan itself is not particularly expensive, averaging in price from around $50 to $150 depending on its size and functionality. The cost of installing an exhaust fan includes the materials that will be needed to complete the installation.

The price of an exhaust fan is determined by size but also by how fast the fan itself spins. This is measured by a specific rotational speed, which will be included in the information for the exhaust fan.

Check the specs of the fan or the box for the fan to get an idea of how fast the fan will spin. The faster the exhaust fan spins, the more it will cost even in small sizes.

The total project for installing a bathroom exhaust fan costs anywhere from $150 to $500, on average. All in all, this is not an expensive component for a bathroom remodel.

Are there alternatives to a bathroom exhaust fan?

If you do not have a bathroom exhaust fan and adding one is not an option, there are some other ways you can get the necessary ventilation for the room or otherwise reduce the humidity that is such a problem in the first place.

Start by cracking a window and cracking the bathroom door when bathing to create ventilation that will make moisture naturally evaporate, rather than collecting your walls and fixtures. Airflow is the best way to manage moisture and prevent it from creating problems.

You can also put out a tray of dehumidifier crystals, which will absorb the excess moisture in the room. These will work up to a point but you must change the crystals out often to ensure they continue to work.

Treat the bathroom with after-shower spray after every shower or bath to prevent mold and mildew growth. This will prevent mold from growing even in moist bathrooms and should always be used if there is no working exhaust fan present in the space.

Where else can you save money?

Your remodel budget may not include the funds for a bathroom exhaust fan, but you know you need it. So where can you cut costs on your remodel project in order to afford the cost of adding the exhaust fan?

Try refinishing existing fixtures, rather than replacing them. You may find that a toilet or tub can be refinished to look brand-new, and save you the cost of actually buying something brand-new.

Keep existing fixtures and walls where they are. Moving these items is pricey and adds a lot of cost to the remodel, so try to avoid this to save money when you can.

Save the vanity. Keep the existing vanity and sand and re-stain or re-paint it to give a nice, fresh look.

You can even change the vanity hardware very affordably to give it a new look. Simply doing this can create a big change in the room and make the vanity look much newer.

Try doing some of the work yourself to save money as well. You can always do your own painting and replace hardware like towel racks yourself, as long as you have a screwdriver.

There are many ways to cut costs in a bathroom remodel and add elements that are truly needed, such as a bathroom exhaust fan.

The key to a great remodel is to keep the stuff that is really necessary and truly beneficial and remember that a lot of other things are merely cosmetic.

Further Reading

The 3 Best Investments for a Bathroom Remodel

The Best Paint Colors for Bathrooms

Eco-Friendly Bathroom Remodels

Tips on Bathroom Remodeling

What Should You Not Do When Remodeling a Bathroom?