If you’re refreshing a bathroom in your home, it pays to know what the step-by-step process is. The best order for renovating a bathroom delivers a space that looks great on completion, functions perfectly, and will stand the test of time.
Get the order wrong though and the project will take longer, cause more disruption, and bring the risk of damage to new fixtures and fittings. In other words, knowing how to work in the right order when you’re delivering on bathroom ideas is critical for a great result and one that doesn’t bring unnecessary extra expense.
We’ve asked bathroom remodeling professionals to share their years of expertise here to offer the know-how you need about any bathroom revamp.
The best order for renovating a bathroom
Whether you’re renovating a bathroom to make your home work better for all its occupants or to add a touch of luxe, understanding what should happen when is essential to the successful completion of the job.
The stages you should follow after planning a bathroom are the same that a professional bathroom contractor would follow. ‘Begin with demolition, addressing plumbing and electrical needs during rough-in work, and proceed to install fixtures, lay flooring and tiles, finishing with painting and touches,’ says Elizabeth Vergara, founder and lead designer at Vergara Homes.
Bear in mind that getting the order right is crucial. ‘Bathroom renovations are very layered, and each trade is dependent on the trade before completing the reno in proper order for inspections,’ says Andrea Seymour of Springdale Custom Builders.
These are the details you need to know about if you’re planning a bathroom renovation.
Elizabeth Vergara is the owner of Vergara Homes, a home renovation company with a passion for bespoke and quality home design. Elizabeth has been helping homeowners as a design-build specialist for the past 13 years and has experience in both construction management and architectural design.
Bathroom renovation order
While individual projects may vary, typically a bathroom renovation has five steps.
Begin with the plan and design. ‘Determine the layout, select materials, and create a detailed plan for the remodel,’ says Shlomo Cherniak, owner of Cherniak Handyman Services. Be sure about details including the bathroom flooring and the right bathroom paint finishes.
Remember that there may be a wait for what you want. ‘Place orders for long order lead time items,’ recommends Andrea Seymour.
‘You should spend a substantial amount of time on the design process so as to prevent hiccups,’ advises Thomas Borcherding, lead designer and owner of Homestar Design Remodel. ‘Ideally, your bathroom should be designed using a drafting software in which you can lay out all of your fixtures to ensure a good fit,’ he advises.
Next comes demolition. ‘Remove existing fixtures, tiles, and other elements,’ says Shlomo.
Plumbing and electrical work is next. ‘Make any necessary changes to plumbing and electrical systems,’ he says.
After this, it is time to put in fixtures and fittings. ‘Install new fixtures, such as toilets, sinks, showers, and bathtubs, as well as finishes like bathroom tiles, countertops, and cabinets,’ says Shlomo.
After this, final touches are added. ‘Paint, caulk, and add accessories to complete the remodel,’ he says.
Be aware of your responsibilities when renovating a bathroom. ‘It’s essential to consult with professionals and obtain necessary permits for any remodeling project,’ advises Tony Elliott, CEO and owner of Roseville Kitchen and Bath.
Precautions to take
If you have decided to take out the old bathroom yourself, it’s important to do so carefully.
‘Turn off utilities such as water, gas, and electrical before swinging the hammer,’ says owner and principal designer of IDC Interiors Leah Tuttleman, interior designer at Re-Bath.
‘Cover floors, nearby areas, and furniture with proper materials to prevent damage from flying debris,’ she continues. ‘Remove debris in small pieces. Keep a large construction garbage can in the bathroom to move small items out of the bathroom. Use the proper tools and techniques for demolition.’
Consult a pro
It’s always worth your while to call on professional expertise when renovating a bathroom.
‘Even if you plan to DIY, I always advise consulting with a contractor; the consult may open your eyes up to ideas or situations you wouldn’t have thought about,’ says Elizabeth Vergara.
Do you tile the floor or walls first in a bathroom?
The best order for installing tiles is disputed. However, Andrea Seymour of Springdale Custom Builders, says: ‘I prefer to install shower walls first, then shower floor, then bathroom walls and floor.’
Floor first can be easier if you’re doing the job yourself, but in this case, be sure to protect the floor well since tiles and mortar can drop from walls onto the newly tiled floor. And always allow time for the mortar on the floor to set before tiling the walls. If you call in a pro, they’ll be able to let you know which order they are going to work in and why that’s preferable.
So that you can renovate a bathroom in the correct order, it’s vital to be prepared. ‘This includes finalizing design choices early, ensuring all materials are ordered, available and arrive on time, and creating a clear plan with your designer or contractor,’ says Devin Shaffer, lead interior designer at Decorilla.
The other golden rule the experts agree on? Once you’ve made decisions about fixtures and fittings, stick with them.
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Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.
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