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Bathroom Remodeling - Switch Toilet and Sink?

It Can't Be All That Difficult, Right?


Q. "My bathroom is backwards! The toilet is three feet from the doorway, and the sink is tucked away in a nice quiet corner. How hard can it be to reverse them?"

A. At first glance, switching your toilet and sink when remodeling your bathroom looks like a fairly easy project. How hard can it be to move the sink and toilet and plop them down in opposite places? In fact, while it looks deceptively difficult, toilet installation is a very easy do-it-yourself job.

Two Issues to Bear in Mind

The problem, though, lies in not the surface elements--sink and toilet--but in the underlying plumbing. Moving plumbing drives up bathroom remodeling costs in a big hurry.

Specifically, there are two issues to look at. First issue is providing hot water to the new sink location. The second issue, it moving the toilet drain/vent system and its wastewater system.

Concrete Slab Foundation Adds Difficulties

If your house is on a concrete slab foundation, you'll have to break up the concrete to install the new drains. If it's a raised foundation, you can run the new pipes under the floor joists. Plumbers can access this through the crawl space or basement. That's the easiest option. If the bathroom is on a second floor, the same floor-joist rules apply. The only difference is you'll have the added expense of demolishing sections of the first floor ceiling and then rebuilding it. Not impossible, but messy and costly.

And Even More Costs...

Also think of the building materials that surround the toilet and sink. We're talking flooring tiles, sink surround, walls. Ceramic and vinyl tile, engineered wood floor, and laminate floor might be able to be patched (though there will be a color difference between old and new materials). Sheet vinyl is difficult to patch, so the entire floor might need to be replaced. Saving grace here is that sheet vinyl is easy to replace.

The Bottom Line

Switching your sink and toilet is an expensive proposition on its own. However, if it's part of a larger bathroom renovation that involves new flooring and walls, and you truly feel motivated to switch, there is no more opportune moment than this to do it!

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