11 Steps to Remodeling Your Bathroom

It does not matter in the least precisely why you are doing a bathroom remodel, the simple truth is that almost all such projects feature a similar set of steps from start to finish. Just “how” to go about remodeling the bathroom does not vary widely from the enormous upgrade with lots of square footage or the tiny closet-sized bathroom that needs to be brought into the modern era. There are 11 standard steps that you must address if you want an optimal outcome, and we have itemized them below.

Before delving into them, though, remember that kitchen and bathroom updates and improvements rate as some of the most financially rewarding, and it is important to take the time and make the right choices if you are planning on selling the home within the next decade.

With that in mind, here are the 11 steps to follow when remodeling a bathroom of any kind:

1. What’s your goal for the bathroom remodel?

Are you doing the project simply to update, resell, enjoy more space, improve the usability of the space, or something else? If you have yet to define the goals for the project, you are starting off on the wrong foot. Take some time to list the reasons for doing a bathroom improvement, itemizing them from most to least relevant, and only then move forward. As one expert said, “when embarking on a journey that will take a good chunk out of your time and bank account, you want to get it right. And you want to be happy with the end result…Before you do anything, think about what your ideal bathroom would be. Forget constraints of money and space; just imagine what you want and what the intended purpose will be.”

Only once the purpose of the project is clear can you make realistic decisions about the various features, elements, and uses for the room. Typical goals are to update, resell and improve function, but your goals may be a combination or none of those things.

remodeling blue print

2. Create a Budget

With goals in mind, you can then build the most accurate budget. After all, if you have to gut the bathroom, the budget is going to be far greater than if you had only to remove a toilet and install a new vanity. A full renovation budget, you’re looking at a minimum of $10k, but can go much higher. Factors to include are materials, labor, and any “extras”.

3. Should You Hire a Professional Contractor or Designer?

While the budget may add labor of electricians and plumbers, don’t forget that you may need a designer or contractor if you are going to totally renovate or upgrade a space. Should you hire a professional? If you are doing only limited changes, such as a new toilet rather than redesigning the room’s floor plan, or new tile instead of tearing out sheetrock, you may be able to handle the individual contractors. If the project involves managing teams, getting permits, and so on…budget in a contractor and a designer.

Click Here to Read Tips for Hiring a Contractor

Click Here to Read Tips for Hiring Interior Designers

hiring a contractor

4. Gather Ideas

Whether or not you work with experts, don’t get started with any sort of fixture or cabinet shopping until you’ve created a vision board or gathered some basic ideas together. The experts at AngiesList say that it is imperative to “dream and gather” and decide on the wants and the must haves from the different inspirational resources.

5. Finalize the Design/Layout

With clear goals, a budget, inspirational images, and experts, you can layout the perfect bathroom remodel. Don’t take a step farther without locking in on the layout or footprint of the room. This is the only way to understand how a space works, the lighting options, and more.

remodeling your bathroom

6. Choose Materials, Colors, Finishes

Once the space is fully designed and fixed, that is the time to figure out what sorts of materials (MDF cabinets or hardwood, for example), the colors, and how every surface or area will be finished. That does not mean things like light switches, but does mean things like paint or tile, and so on.

paint colors

7. Get Estimates

All of this planning is when a homeowner is in the right position to send out requests for quotes, bids or estimates. The standard practice is to get at least three from which to compare and contrast the options. It might be that one of these experts shows you a way to cut costs by changing your design or layout. Take such suggestions seriously because they have tremendous value.

estimate from contractor

8. Pull Permits

Once the plans are truly finalized and you have your experts, contractors, and workers lined up, make a schedule. That is also when you can go right ahead and “pull permits,” according to your area’s needs. As the experts at HomeAdvisor remind people, “before beginning the remodeling process be sure to secure a building permit from your local city or county government. Failure to do so could ultimately make your bathroom remodel much more costly.”

9. Prepare for Demo

If your planning stages proved that you needed to save somewhere along the way, a demo day is often where you can do some of the work yourself. If not, it does require you to find the right experts, and in both approaches you’ll need to prepare. Demo, or demolition, is the removal of existing cabinetry, fixtures, and finishes. It can be time-consuming and costly if not done properly. Take the time to figure out where electrical lines, plumbing, supporting beams, and other significant areas of the bathroom are located, and be careful of them when doing demo.

10. Final Punch List

The planning and designing, budgeting and adjusting, demo and permit pulling are all part of an essential calendar or punch list. This puts everything into the most workable chronological order and it can be done by a contractor or the organized homeowner. It will include, as the team at Houzz says, “It’s ideal to have every last detail planned, and every material picked out and ordered, before construction starts… nail down the nuts and bolts of how things will flow,” and you’ll see few to no losses throughout the renovation.

11. Decorate

Once everything is finished, you can take the time to savor the updates and then get to work decorating. While you might have professionals do painting, it can be quite enjoyable to spend time installing the plate covers, hanging art or curtains, and more. Then, it is time to enjoy your brand-new bathroom!

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My name is Julia Ritzenthaler, Founder and President of Unique Vanities, started in 2005. I started this business as an extension of our residential remodeling business, which focused on the design and build of custom cabinetry and architectural trim. I also worked as a financial advisor for 10 years at Ameriprise Financial, helping clients make sound money decisions, including budgeting for home improvement expenses. This expertise led me to start Unique Vanities, which offers a handpicked selection of high quality bathroom vanities, sinks, mirrors and more. You can find me most days sitting in Starbucks, my second office, or in my car driving my daughter across Dallas to gymnastics training.

More Great Bathroom Remodel Resources

Preparing for a Bathroom Remodel

9 Amazing Bathroom Renovations to Inspire You

How to Refine Your Renovation Vision to Fit Your Budget