How to Remodel a Bathroom Where it Counts
Most Practical Bathroom Remodel Ideas
So, you want to remodel your bathroom. Maybe you’re sick of the yellow-stained tiles and early ‘80s faucets. Perhaps your shower wasn’t waterproofed well, and you have mold.
There are hundreds of reasons to remodel a bathroom and an equal number of ways to do it. At first, you might fixate on the “look” of it. While aesthetics are important, they shouldn’t be the main focus.
The following bathroom remodeling ideas address practical concerns. What will prevent water from seeping? Will you be comfortable in the dead of winter? How long will that smell linger?
How to Remodel a Bathroom
Having a well-thought out plan and budget is the first and most important step when redoing a bathroom. Bathroom renovations are hard, and many things could go wrong that you don’t think about.
For example, if you decide to move a shower or toilet, you must confirm that your plumbing will support it. Or, if you want to add a new shelf or vanity to your bathroom, you need to make sure it will physically fit. Discovering these answers late in the process could cost you serious time and money.
Planning also includes figuring out whether you will do the work yourself or hire a professional. Some homeowners have the plumbing, electrical, and building expertise to get the job done, while others will need help. Know your limits and factor any outside labor costs into your budget.
Having your plan will reveal what to do next. Some homeowners plan a complete remodel, in which case they need to rip everything out. Others may just replace the shower and floor, while leaving everything else intact.
If you’re not sure what to remodel, the following sections offer some practical ideas.
Waterproof the Shower
Do you ever notice a musty smell in your bathroom? Maybe the floor feels soft or the walls look warped or stained.
These are all signs of a moisture problem. Bathroom leaks can occur for a variety of reasons, but one of the biggest culprits is a shower that isn’t properly sealed. Remember, your shower pan is surrounded by drywall and a subfloor. If there’s nothing to stop the water, it’ll leak right through and cause damage such as mold growth behind the walls and tiles.
One of the best and most modern ways to avoid bathroom moisture issues is by installing a waterproofing membrane, often sold as part of a shower stall kit. After planning, this is arguably the most important part of your bathroom remodel.
Shower kits, like those made by Schluter, come with everything you need to efficiently build a waterproofed shower that is pleasing to the eye. The heart of the system is the waterproofing membrane installed in between the shower and surrounding walls, floor, and ceiling.
In addition, the kits can include a shower tray, drains, profiles, and even a shower bench. While you're at it, you can waterproof the space around the shower in case your kids like to splash around. These build-your-own shower kits are designed for a homeowner to install, but a professional can make even quicker work of them. For a relatively simple and secure shower installation that maintains a stylish look, go with a waterproofing kit. Learn how to waterproof your walk-in shower.
Heat Up Your Floors
Isn’t it unpleasant to step onto cold, hard bathroom tiles in the morning? Moments ago, you were enveloped in the warmth of your sheets. Now, you’re shivering while your body adjusts to room temperature.
Installing electric radiant heat strips beneath your bathroom floor can make the start of your day much more comfortable. The electric heat strips come in large plastic mats that are arranged under your floor and connected to a thermostat.
The heat radiates up through the floor, straight to your feet, which many people tell me is the most comfortable kind of warmth. Best of all, the installation is very simple if you’re already remodeling your bathroom, and you don’t have to touch it once it’s in place. Learn more about how radiant heat works.
Enjoy Instant Hot Water…and Towels
The only thing worse than cold tiles in the morning is an icy blast of water. Almost everyone endures that miserable wait for hot water because the water heater needs to hit the right temperature and send the hot water through the piping.
Fortunately, installing a small, point-of-use (POU) water heater when remodeling your bathroom can end the wait for hot water. It’s a mini water heater installed right next to your shower or faucet that heats the water up super-fast, so there’s hardly a wait at all. Learn more about point-of-use water heaters.
You can enhance that warm, comfy feeling even further by installing a towel warmer. Imagine stepping out of your shower into the warm embrace of a heated towel…
Using either electricity or hot water from a boiler, towel warmers are a simple add-on during a bathroom remodel that can add a world of comfort to your day. Find out more about towel warmers and how they work.
Install Proper Bathroom Ventilation
Does your steamed-up bathroom mirror make shaving difficult after a shower? Does the stench from Uncle Larry’s Thanksgiving bathroom break linger for hours? If so, you’re lacking proper bathroom ventilation and should get that fixed when remodeling your bathroom.
A bathroom fan uses an electric motor to draw in moisture and odors and vents them outside through ductwork. It’s especially important during warm weather to prevent moisture from accumulating and creating a habitat for mold.
To install a bathroom fan, you’ll need to run electrical wire and venting. You’ll also need to drill a hole out the side of your attic for exhaust. It’s one of the trickier parts of remodeling a bathroom but it’s necessary to protect your investment from damage caused by mold, or Uncle Larry.
Light Up the Room
If you’re consistently struggling with getting a close shave or applying an even layer of makeup, poor bathroom lighting may be to blame. A bathroom remodel project is the perfect time to get your lighting up to par.
There are two main types of bathroom lighting:
- Ambient lighting refers to the main lighting in a room. Make sure it has the proper brightness and tone for your bathroom. Large bathrooms may require multiple sources of ambient light.
- Task lighting is used near bathroom mirrors to help you see your face. If you have only one ambient light for your entire bathroom, it may be casting shadows on your face, which makes grooming and applying makeup difficult. Installing task lights on the sides or the mirror works much better.
The best kind of light, though, is natural light. If you have the capability to add a window or skylight, then take advantage, and let the sunshine in.
Lighting can make or break a bathroom remodel. With correct lighting, you will have a comfortable feeling in the bathroom for many different tasks and moods.
Put in Practical Storage/Vanities
Vanities and storage bridge the gap between form and function in your bathroom upgrade. While it’s important that their design accents your bathroom’s look and feel, they need to make sense from a practical standpoint.
For example, taking up too much space in a small bathroom with storage will make the room look stuffy and cluttered (some vanities won’t even fit). Decisions like having floating cabinets versus floor-mounted shelves can make a huge difference.
Open or floating shelves can make your bathroom look more spacious and make moving around easy, which is important, especially if you have a big family during the morning rush.
Your Dream Bathroom Awaits
These bathroom remodel ideas can help you frame and prioritize your plan and goals. Ultimately, remember to put practicality and function first. A stylish bathroom can be great for showing off to friends, but will it be useable on a daily basis?
If you have a question on some of the products discussed above, our comfort team would be happy to assist. Please contact us to discuss your needs.