Got a Small Bathroom to Remodel?
Without a doubt, small bathrooms are easier to renovate than large bathrooms
—that should be pretty obvious. But what many homeowners don’t know is that they are not exponentially easier to renovate. Small baths still have the same basic services as large baths (unless we’re dealing with a powder room or guest bathroom), but just on a different scale.
Learn 3 Things About Small Bathroom Remodeling
- Q: What Defines a Small Bathroom?
A: A small bathroom is defined as being 50 square feet or smaller. This would be roughly 5 feet by 10 feet; 6 feet by 8 feet; or thereabouts. A small bathroom can either be a powder room, half-bath, or guest bathroom (all terms for the same thing, meaning that it lacks bathing facilities) or a full-bath which has either a shower or bathtub or both.
- Q: How Does a Small Bath Remodel Differ from Larger Bath Remodels?
A: Cost. Keep in mind that we do need to compare “apples to apples,” and so the cost of remodeling a powder room cannot rightly be compared to the cost of remodeling a large full bath. However, even small and large full bath will differ greatly in price mainly due to the fact that fewer materials are being used. This is especially important because bathroom materials (as well as professional remodeling services) tend to be unusually high.
- Q: Can I Remodel a Small Bathroom by Myself?
A: Yes. If you are so inclined, a small bathroom is a great place for the intermediate-level DIY remodeler to cut his or her remodeling “teeth.” But don’t feel ashamed if you do call in professionals. Because of the services involved (plumbing and electrical, mainly), it’s certainly understandable if you do call in professional remodelers.
Steps to Small Bathroom Remodeling
- Define Your Small Bath Needs and Desires
First, decide whether this will be a powder room or a full bath. Powder rooms have little more than a toilet, sink, and minor electrical work to contend with. But when you bring in the increased plumbing requirements of a bathtub or shower, you also bring in requirements for other things such as moisture protection (do you have the appropriate type of flooring?), ventilation, sizing requirements, additional bathroom cabinetry, and so on. After that, it helps to define who will be using the bathroom. If this is a full bath that will act as a master bathroom, you may need to go “all out” in terms of cabinetry and higher-end materials. After all, you will have to look at this bathroom at least twice a day for many years. But if this bathroom is for overnight guests, you can probably skimp on the quality of materials. You will most definitely not need increased storage space for guests, either.
- Plan Your Small Bathroom
One misconception we often hear about small bathrooms: “Well, if they’re so small, I can probably map the whole thing out in my head, right?” Wrong. Small bathrooms do need extensive planning. One reason is because stock bathroom cabinets come in pre-determined sizes. You’ll probably need to work around stock cabinet sizes (or order custom cabinets). Obtain home design software that will allow you to plan your bathroom in detail.
- Decide Whether to Hire a Pro or DIY
A small bathroom renovation, performed by a remodeling contractor and using contractor-quality materials, might cost you as little as $15,000. Doing the same remodel DIY might cost the cost by 50%. One option is to do as much as possible by yourself: demolition; basic drywall installation; flooring; and painting. Then, leave the rest to the pros. You’ll need to talk with the bath remodeling contractor to coordinate with him.
- Strip Down to the Basics
Strip down? We mean the bathroom, not you! The degree of bathroom demolition you do depends on the scale of your project, of course; but you can expect to strip down a small bathroom in three days, probably even less. Make sure you have other bathroom facilities available, because this one will be completely disabled. Rent a roll-off dumpster for your driveway or have a hauling company take it all away. If your bathroom pre-dates 1978, be careful for lead-based paint dangers.
- Install Plumbing and Electrical
Electrical and plumbing go in first (remember, the walls are open). Rough-in the plumbing for toilet, shower, and bathtub. Have the electrician bring in the wiring, too. You will need to have two inspections done: first, at the rough-in stage; second, after the walls have been closed up.
- Install Flooring, Cabinets, Etc.
If you are partially DIY’ing this job, you might decide to step in at this point and take over. With plumbing and electrical fully installed, you can lay down flooring, hang cabinets, paint the walls, and install towel bars, mirrors, and that finishing touch—the toilet roll holder!