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What You Need to Know Before Renovating Your Bathroom

Build a dream bathroom that won't break your budget with these six tips from the pros

Clawfoot tub with gold feet in a bright washroom next to a plant in the daytime

You’d think renovating your bathroom wouldn’t be such a big deal. It’s likely the smallest room in your house, and you can’t really take liberties with what’s included in the space. So we were surprised to hear that revamping one isn’t so straightforward. “The difficulty with bathrooms is that they’re small spaces but need the careful coordination of so many trades—demolition, possibly framing, plumbing, electrical, tiling, carpentry, painting, cabinetry, counters, and so on,” says Virginie Martocq, a Toronto-based designer and the owner of Virginie Martocq Designs. Here’s what you need to know before starting. 

1. A bathroom remodel will take longer than you think

Man works caulking gun at the top of his tub beneath the faucet

For an average four-piece bathroom, allow about two to three months to get your supplies ordered and delivered and for the design to be completed, and about a month for the work to get done, Martocq says. 

“Availability of material is another big one. You need all your fixtures picked out and ordered, and ideally your tiles and cabinet, ahead of time,” she adds. Changing your mind after work begins is a no-no, as it can lead to ripping things out and re-plumbing and re-wiring. And if your general contractor doesn’t have the trades lined up to work when they’re needed, expect delays. 

2. Go for non-slip tile

Large tiles are more modern and are easier to clean, but because you can slip on them more easily, pick something honed or textured. “A small tile with a lot of grout lines will be more slip resistant than a big tile, although grout is hard to keep clean and should be sealed after installation,” Martocq says. 

3. Consider bathroom vanities and storage in advance

Double bathroom sink with two drawers of storage beneath

Mirrors with recessed storage are a great idea—manufacturers make shallow ones that fit within the depth of a joist. “Nooks are great in showers," Martocq also says, "and can be designed to be cool and interesting—think contrasting tile, for example.”

4. Know what to spend on

Budgets vary from low to extravagant, but there are some things everyone should be investing in. “Don’t skimp on anything that goes in the wall behind a tile. A faulty diverter down the road is a nightmare,” she says.

5. Research fixtures

Black faucet for a white tub

First, start with the type of fixture you want, before narrowing down aesthetic specifics. “Know what design you’re after and if there are certain functions you want. For example, a single-handle faucet is great in a kids’ bathroom so they don’t have to set the water temperature each time,” she says. Put some thought into finishes—antique bronze is trendy, as is matte black or white—but if you’re going for longevity, you can’t go wrong with polished nickel and chrome. 

6. Get creative with your accessories 

The fixtures you choose will often come with coordinating accessories, but Martocq advises staying away from coordinating mirrors and lights because they can make a bathroom void of personality. Instead, opt for something that will really stand out, like a vintage towel hook, for example—don’t worry if it doesn’t all match as long as it works with the overall look. 

Looking for more renovating tips?

Learn what you need to know before starting a kitchen renovation and discover how these handy gadgets can improve your home. 

Plus, see how you can protect your house with CAA Home Insurance. And, don’t forget that Members earn up to 6% back in CAA Dollars on online purchases at Home Depot. 

Image credit: istock/asbe, istock/MyrKu, Courtesy of Virginie Martocq