Any home improvement project becomes a simpler prospect with a guide that provides a checklist. Since bathrooms frequently land on the list of rooms to renovate, we put together this checklist for a full bathroom remodel, from brand-new tiling to a frameless glass shower door. If you plan to completely renovate the bathroom in your home, simply follow this list. For those who only have one or two items to update, skim this list until you find the projects you want to do and complete them in the order listed.
During a renovation, you can save time and money by doing the projects in a specific order. For instance, the home contractors you will need to use can help each other without realizing it if you order the work properly. This article orders the work in such a manner that each task builds on the next to help you more efficiently complete the renovation.
1. Plan Your Bathroom Renovation
Nothing makes work move along more quickly than a good, well-thought-out plan. Write yours down. Make a list of everything you want to change about your existing bathroom from the flooring to the shelving. Consider this a free-thinking list, so there’s no order to it yet.
Next, you prioritize the list. A new toothbrush holder ranks pretty low, but updating the showerheads and toilets to low-flow models ranks high. Any task that could save you money in the long run, such as updating the windows to Low-E, energy-efficient ones should top the list.
Also, place items that transform the look of the room quickly at the top of the list, such as new flooring or wallpaper. Items like new bathroom fixtures make the middle of the list, except for a low-flow toilet. That goes at the top.
Little improvements that you could make yourself can go at the bottom of the list. Installing a shelf for towels or towel hangers falls into this category. Updating your towels, washcloths, and hamper goes at the bottom of the list.
2. Projects to Get More Use Out of the Bathroom
Before you start your renovation, also consider projects that could add utility to your existing bathroom. For example, make a large bathroom more private for a couple to use by adding a partial or full dividing wall that separates the toilet from the sink or shower area. This improvement makes it amenable for two people to use the same bathroom at one time and still have privacy.
Another option for a large bathroom enables two individuals to shower at one time. Install a corner shower unit in the far corner of the bathroom, across from the tub that uses a frameless glass shower door. Older homes, especially Mid-Century Modern designs, featured two bathing areas in one bathroom, but later designs removed it. Going retro can get more utility out of your large bathroom for much less expense than adding a second full bathroom.
Next on the checklist for a full bathroom remodel, if you need a second toilet, consider adding it when you renovate the current bathroom. Have the plumbing contractor you hire revamp a small closet into a half bathroom or powder room. You will save on labor and could qualify for materials discounts since your order will consist of materials for multiple projects.
3. Plumbing Work Comes First
Maybe you expected the plumbing work to come later on a checklist for a full bathroom remodel, but it creates such a mess that it comes first. When plumbers add new toilets, sinks, etc. they have to rip out old flooring and tiling. Removing a toilet can reveal previously undiscovered subfloor damage, requiring a new subfloor, too. All of this work creates lots of mess, consisting of some wastewater, grime, sludge from the pipes, sawdust, and other debris.
Getting this messy stuff out of the way first paves the way for other bathroom projects. Once your plumber replaces the tub, sink, toilet, or any combination of them, you can call other contractors to come in and do their work. If the plumber needs to pull up the flooring to do work, have them leave it unfloored, so it remains ready for the flooring contractor, who typically charges a fee for demolishing or removing the existing floor.
4. Ceiling and Wall Tiling
The local tile company completes its part of a bathroom renovation after any plumbing. If you had a plumber install items that required removing the previous flooring, placing this next on the list gets everything done before your nice new floor goes down. That order saves your new tile from scuffs and markings.
These professionals typically install the ceiling tiles first. The wall tile, including the shower tiling, goes up after it on the checklist for a full bathroom remodel. The bathroom renovator then adds crown molding to hide the seams of the ceiling and wall tile, creating a finished look.
5. Installing New Bathroom Flooring
Nearly every bathroom update features a new floor, so this always appears on a checklist for a full bathroom remodel or renovation. New flooring completely updates the room’s appearance and transforms its personality. Everyone who uses a bathroom notices its flooring, so replacing old, worn tile or adding epoxy or sealant to a dull, matte cement floor can instantly brighten this often-used room.
In most cases, a homeowner can have the same tile company handle the flooring installation as the ceiling and walls. Hiring a few trusted contractors works better than having many individuals or companies do lots of little projects. When you hire just one or two bathroom contractors, you ensure cohesiveness in the work. This results in a better appearance for the bathroom.
6. Adding New Fixtures
Add to the checklist for a full bathroom remodel new plumbing fixtures. If you only have a little money but want to update the appearance of your bathroom, simply replace the fixtures. Place this sixth on the list if you want to renovate the bathroom completely.
Fixtures include lighting fixtures, such as bulb covers, lampshades, and lamps, and the shower door, faucets, taps, and tub accents. Choose from a range of finishes, including:
- Nickel-plated brass
- White gold
- Yellow gold
- Rose gold
Pick the fixture finish that compliments your new wallcoverings, flooring, and ceiling.
7. Time for Finishing Touches
We’ve reached the task on the checklist for a full bathroom remodel that most lovers of shopping enjoy. Adding finishing touches to the bathroom remodel means buying new towels, washcloths, robes, counter organizers, etc. You start with this step if you only have about $50 to $100 to spend because you can give a bathroom an updated look by replacing these small items.
Shopping for these organizers and towels doesn’t mean traipsing all over town either. Shop for all the items on this checklist for a full bathroom remodel at online stores like Temu, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, and Home Depot. Each store offers free shipping, although the qualifying expense for the shipping varies by store.
Hiring the Right Bathroom Contractors
A bathroom remodel or renovation only turns out as well as your hiring does. When you hire bathroom contractors, their experience and capabilities translate to how well the job goes. How do you find the best contractors in your area?
Start by asking for recommendations from your friends and family who recently had their bathroom renovated or had one added to their home. Check out the websites of this short list of experienced contractors. Carefully read their services page to learn which types of remodeling and renovation work they do.
Next, study the photos and videos of their work displayed on their gallery page. If the company has no gallery page, ask your friend or family member to see before and after photos of their bathroom that the contractor redid. Studying these photos lets you know the extent of the work they typically conduct.
This process should eliminate some of the companies on your initial list. They either do not do the type of work needed or don’t have experience with the extensiveness of the renovation or remodeling you need. Phone the few who still remain to make an appointment to get an estimate.
Have your checklist for a full bathroom remodel ready when you meet with each contractor. Each company’s representative will need to see the bathroom or room you want to convert to a bathroom in order to make an estimate. Make sure that each contractor uses the same tasks, so your quotes all cover the same work.
Compare the job quotes to each other. Each one should list the materials needed and the cost, plus the charge for labor. Because of this, each quote should total up to about the same amount. If they don’t compare the line items.
If the reduction in cost comes from the materials, then the contractor uses low-quality materials. It can’t come from labor because most renovation contractors use union workers. The unions set the pay rates and contractors cannot pay their workers less than the union rate. Each job quote should come within a few dollars of one another because of this.
Pick your contractor. Choose the company that you found the easiest to get along with and whose work most impresses you. Since they all cost about the same, picking the company that does the renovations that look the most like you want your bathroom to turn out serves you best.
Make Your Personal Renovation Plan
When you renovate your only bathroom, you give it up for a few days. You cannot use the toilet or shower in it while it remains under construction, so make a plan before the contractors arrive for how you will handle toileting and showering. Let’s consider the options.
Option A: You treat your home renovation like a mini-staycation. Check into a local hotel for the duration of the bathroom workdays and the curing day. Typically, this means two nights if your renovation replaces the tub or toilet and includes a new floor installation. A new floor only requires one night away because once laid, it needs 24 hours for the tile glue to dry and cure.
Option B: You set up a temporary toilet in a walk-in closet. To do this, clear out any clothing. Place a bathroom rug in the room and set up a camp toilet on it. A camp toilet refers to the same type of toilet as used on a boat or an RV.
Use hand sanitizer to immediately wash hands after going to the makeshift bathroom. Shower just before the contractors arrive. This lets you go for 24 hours without needing another shower. Wash up using the kitchen sink if needed.
Option C: Make a trip to a local gas station or convenience store each time you need to go to the bathroom. Shower at the fitness center or YMCA. Few people enjoy using option C, but in a pinch, it works.
If your home already features two or more bathrooms, renovate them one at a time. This leaves one bathroom always available to use for toileting and showering, while the other undergoes work. Staggering the renovations makes things much simpler.
Doing Some of the Work Yourself
Most municipalities require a homeowner to use a professional, certified, licensed plumber for any plumbing work. Whether you want to install a new toilet or a tub, it requires a permit. Other items, such as installing ceiling and flooring tiles or wallpaper, you can do it yourself (DIY).
Consider your DIY experience before attempting to redo your own bathroom. If you have never used wallpaper or installed tile, practice on a small project first. Try covering an old table with contact paper or self-adhesive wallpaper. Get some practice with the materials before you try to remodel or renovate your bathroom.
Start Your Bathroom Remodel or Renovation Today
Make your list of projects. Use this checklist as a starting point. Interview contractors and hire your favorite. Vacate the bathroom for at least a full day for the contractors to work their magic.