What Should You Not Do When Remodeling a Bathroom?

man with tile remodeling bathroom

What should you not do when remodeling a bathroom? There are lots of ways you can make a big mistake in this important home project.

Even a small issue with a bathroom morsel can become a huge problem with potential buyers and ultimately negatively impact resale value. Knowing how to avoid these “small issues” will lead to a much better remodel that adds a lot more value to the price of your home.

9 Ways to Avoid Bathroom Remodeling Mistakes

Realtors and home buyers know that the bathroom is a huge selling point for any home, good or bad. A great bathroom can add to the resale value, while an outdated or poorly arranged bathroom can decrease the resale value.

A bad renovation will end up costing you money and decreasing your home's overall value. Avoid the mistakes that can cause you problems in the future.

1. Don't Be Afraid of Big Changes

If you're remodeling, be prepared to remodel. If something in your bathroom doesn't make sense, such as the placement of the sink or the toilet, or if you'd like to switch something to a different wall or maybe knock down a wall, whatever it is, do it.

If there's something super weird about your bathroom, something that just makes it awkward or too cramped, change it. This is what remodels are for, so you can't be afraid of the big stuff.

You can always save money on other aspects of the project. It is worth it to invest in a better layout, closet size, and other basic components of the room if these things badly need to change.

Likewise, don’t shy away from replacing bathtubs, toilets, and sinks if this needs to be done. A good rule to follow in remodeling is this: refinish and save what you can, but replace what you cannot.

plumber connecting new tub

2. Don't Lay New Tile on Top of Old

It's tempting to skip a step and place your new tile right on top of the old stuff. Who's going to know if you tile over old tile or wood paneling?

Well, it makes a huge difference. Because the bathroom is full of moisture and humidity, you create a risk of buckling, cracking, and warping in the areas where you tiled over the existing wall and floor finishes.

Start fresh. Rip out old tile, old wallpaper, wall panels, and start with a clean base for your new tile work.

Tiling on top of old wallpaper, tile, or paneling is simply shoddy work, and it will show. If not immediately, it will show after repeated exposure to moisture and humidity.

3. Don't Ignore the Heights

You need to make sure your vanity counter is positioned at the right height if you have a wall-mounted faucet. The same is true for the tub spout.

Bathroom countertops generally stand 34 to 36 inches tall. If you're using a vessel sink, however, this height will be lower.

Know exactly what type of sink and vanity you want, and make sure that the plumbing can be installed at the right height to match. Otherwise, use a faucet that is mounted directly to the vanity rather than a wall-mounted faucet.

4. Don't Pick Bad Lighting

dimly lit bathroom

The lighting is something you want to get exactly right in the bathroom. This can make or break the overall design.

If it's too bright, the room is going to feel uncomfortable and unwelcoming. If it's too dark, you won't be able to see what you're doing.

Not only do you want to choose good light fixtures, but you also want to make sure you get the right brightness. Look at lights in person, pay attention to the types of bulbs fixtures take, and take your time with this important choice.

Consider lighting placement, along with the type of lighting fixture you choose. The amount of light the fixture creates in the room often depends on where the fixture is placed.

5. Don't Fail to Consider the Space

Pay attention to the dimensions of the room and the size of the stuff you're going to put in it. Choose the toilet, vanity, and shower or bathtub carefully.

Take measurements inside the space. Mark areas off with tape and physically get an idea of the actual distance between objects.

You don't want a cramped, uncomfortable bathroom space. Choose the right bathroom fixtures and items to put into your space.

You can always choose a pedestal sink or a slimmer bathtub. Pick items that won't crowd the room because even a small bathroom can feel spacious if you choose the right items to put in it.

Take your time with this and carefully consider the space in the room and the size of the objects you put in it. There are many ways you can save a little space in the bathroom by creating storage vertically, using corners, and choosing slightly smaller fixtures and in these ways, make a little extra room.

6. Don't Choose the Wrong Materials

While some materials you can put in the bathroom look amazing, they're not always a practical or affordable choice. Be practical in the materials you choose for your bathroom remodel.

You want to choose materials that are going to be resistant to moisture and humidity. Some types of stone might be pretty, but they are not suited to these conditions.

Choose materials for tile, countertops, and other components of the room that are resistant to moisture, easy to clean, and affordable for your budget. Porcelain and ceramic tiles, while affordable, perform extremely well, and they come in a wide variety of great-looking finishes.

7. Don't Forget About Storage

bathroom storage

Always be thinking about storage. The bathroom needs a lot of storage areas.

Think about all the stuff you keep in your bathroom, everything from towels to extra toilet paper to all those products you use while you're in there. Now, think about how you would store all of that in the bathroom you're remodeling.

Consider recessed shelves in the bathroom or near the sink, think about ways to get more space out of the closet, add shelves and hooks to the room to add more storage, use the corners for storage. There are lots of ways to add storage to the bathroom, and doing a remodel gives you a good opportunity to explore them all.

8. Don't Ignore Ventilation

The bathroom needs ventilation. If you're remodeling, it's the perfect opportunity to add ventilation to the bathroom that does not have it, and you should keep in mind not to remove ventilation if the room already has it.

bathroom fan vent

9. Plan, Plan, Plan

You need a clear plan and a budget, and you need to make this plan and budget with the clear understanding that things will go wrong and you'll need extra time and money both. Yes, you even have to plan for renovating emergencies because they're going to happen.

Choose materials, fixtures, faucets, paints, and all the other materials you will need for the remodel. Or at least, get a good idea of what this stuff is going to cost you.

Shop around and look for sales, deals, inexpensive materials, items you can potentially re-purpose. Get creative and consider DIY options such as Mason jars as light fixtures or a repurposed sink bowl.

Decide exactly what you’re going to change in the bathroom and have a general idea of how you want the new stuff to look and what the newly redone bathroom will look like before you begin. It’s easy to fall into a hole where you keep endlessly shopping for items and planning more and more but remember that you have to stick to a budget and a timeframe.

What Should You Not Do When Remodeling a Bathroom?

What should you not do when remodeling a bathroom? There are many common mistakes that get made, but you won't be making these mistakes anymore.

Once you know what to avoid and what to pay attention to in your bathroom remodel, you'll know how to make the room look amazing and make sure it's also practical and functioning.

A good or bad bathroom remodel makes all the difference, and it can make or break your home when it’s time to sell your property. By avoiding the mistakes that hurt remodeling projects, you’ll end up with a much nicer finished room.

Bathroom Remodeling FAQ

man installing bathroom vanity

Where can you save money on a bathroom remodeling project?

Remodeling a bathroom can be extremely expensive. It may cost you thousands of dollars to redo your bathroom, so it's important to save money where you can.

Instead of replacing the vanity, can it be refinished? Can existing elements in the bathroom be re-used?

Refinish and repurpose everything you can to save money. If something is still in good working order and has a strong foundation, it can possibly be refinished and look amazing when you’re done.

Repaint anything you can repaint. A fresh coat of paint is highly affordable, you can do it yourself, and it makes a big difference.

Replace the towel rods and toilet paper holders. These items are relatively inexpensive and very easy to swap out to make a nice change in the bathroom.

How long does it take to remodel a bathroom?

The amount of time the project will take is a pretty big deal, especially if it's the only bathroom you have in your home. You can't go for too long with one bathroom in your home not functioning, no matter how many you have.

However, the amount of time it takes to remodel a bathroom depends entirely on the scope of the project. It could take weeks to remodel the bathroom if you're gutting the room, or just a few days if you're swapping out a couple of fixtures and painting the room.

It’s reasonable to assume two to three hours for every step of the remodel. Two to three hours to paint a wall, to tile a wall, to switch out a toilet.

Think about the things you plan to do in the bathroom and add together the time it will take, on estimate, to complete all these tasks. You know how much time you have to work on the remodel every day, so this will give you an idea of how many days or weeks the project will take to complete overall.

Are permits required to remodel a bathroom?

Depending on where you live, you might need to obtain special permits or permissions to complete your bathroom remodel. The scope of the work or a particular part of the project may require an inspection from a plumbing inspector, which requires a permit or might require multiple permits.

You may even need to obtain permission from a Homeowner's Association for your remodel project, depending on the scope of the work you're planning.

Can you do a bathroom remodel on your own?

Is it possible to do a bathroom model all by yourself as a true DIY project? That entirely depends on your skill level and your plans for the room.

Even if you do most of the project yourself, you will need to consult with a professional, even if it is only briefly, before you complete certain tasks.

If your DIY consists of refinishing some existing items, replacing hardware, and painting walls, you can absolutely do this by yourself. But if you’re changing light fixtures, plumbing fixtures, or tile, you want to consult with a professional unless you already possess the skill, tools, and expertise to complete these tasks at a professional level.

Even so, you might still need to obtain special permits if you’re changing faucets or fixtures in the bathroom, even if you have the professional skills or even a professional license to perform this type of work.

If you’re performing demolition work, such as knocking down walls or adding a window or door to a wall, have a building inspector sign off on your plans before proceeding to ensure you will not do any structural damage to the room.

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