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Bathroom Remodeling: Be Your Own Contractor

Tackle Floors, Walls, Lighting, Plumbing, and Fixtures and Save Money on Labor costs

© 2008 by all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission. Author’s Google profile

Remodeled Bathroom

This article was updated on 02/12/19.

Does your bathroom need a face lift? Be your own bathroom remodeling contractor! The job might seem overwhelming but the key is to break it up into parts. After all, the bath is a microcosm of the entire house.

This small but functional space might not be big in terms of footage, but it has all the elements to address: floors, walls, lighting, plumbing, and fixtures.

Set a Plan Before Beginning Demolition

Toilet Don’t get overwhelmed! Plan, scheme, and plan some more. The two tricky things about bathroom renovation is minimizing the time the room is out of order and hitting a construction budget. These are reasons to take the project in bites.

First Things First — Take Down Fixtures

The thing to do here is to remove lights (that will be changed or are in the way), towel racks, shower curtains, toilet roll dispensers, etc. Also, things that will be replaced such as vanities, toilets, and sinks.

In the remodel I just completed, I had a pedestal sink with no vanity, so that was easy to work around. On the toilet, I left the bowl, but removed the tank so I could have access to the wall for wallpaper removal, texturing, and painting. This presented a golden opportunity to change out the tank gasket and the tank to bowl bolts.

Work on the Walls

Wallpaper Removal Does your bath have wallpaper? This tends to get a bit dated so you’re probably looking at removing the wallpaper and prepping the wall. Then, you can hang new paper or going with texture and paint. The drywall under the paper is bound to be smooth.

Even so, taking the old paper down is usually a somewhat destructive process, so it’ll need a bit of taping and floating. It’s a good time to fix any wall problems or patch spots where you removed fixtures.

Be sure to texture the walls now if you're going back with paint. Try these easy texturing methods .

Doing any Ceramic Tile Work?

If you’re replacing or adding any ceramic tile, the best (and currently recommended) preparation is to use fiber cement backer board. Both James Hardie Backerboard and DuRock by USG are my favorites. The older method is to use greenboard (moisture-resistant drywall)but building codes in most municipalities call for cement backer board today.

Ceramic TileIf you’re replacing tiles in the field, chances you won’t find a good match. This photo shows how I solved the problem creatively.


The thing to keep in mind with bathrooms is that they’re wet areas. Carpet? Not such a good idea. Laminate flooring? Also not a good idea. Hardwood is fine, as is tile; both ceramic and vinyl. Vinyl flooring is the more economic choice and much of what is found on the market today is both attractive and sturdy.

Sea grass carpet flooring is becoming very trendy. It’s well suited to the bathroom because it comes from a wet environment, it feels good on naked feet, and it’s a green building practice.

Bathroom Lighting and Electrical Building Code

Your new bathroom lighting should match the look/theme of the room. Think task lighting above the mirror. You might also need some general lighting if the space is large enough.

The main thing to remember here is to follow your local electrical building codes. Legal disclaimer: pull a permit and get inspections if required to do so!. This is also the time to make sure that you either have or install a CGFI electrical outlet.

This is not only mandatory by code; it’s for the safety of you and your loved ones!

Finally, Install the Fixtures!

Aha! The moment you’ve been waiting for! Now you’re ready to install new plumbing fixtures and all the doo-dads you removed before. The shower curtain, the towel racks, and all the other things that make a bath a bath. Once you’re done, you're back in business!

Do not skimp on faucets and other plumbing components. The guts should be brass and ceramic rather than plastic. Trust me; you might be spending a bit more but it will last.

I hope you enjoyed this article on bathroom remodeling and found it helpful in upgrading your home. If so, please share the link with friends. And if you have some related ideas please share them with our readers in the comment section below.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation and financial and energy trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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© 2008 all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission.