You might envision a dreamy oasis, complete with a claw-foot bathtub, spotless countertops and sparkling grout, but keep in mind there are plenty of ways renovating your bathroom can go awry.
The truth is it’s a complex, time-consuming job that should cost you at least $10,000. So make it worth your money and energy by doing it right the first time. Now, grab a pen and paper; here are the do’s and don’ts of renovating your bathroom.
Do: Improve air flow
While adequate air circulation is important throughout the entire house, it’s especially important in the bathroom. Because the bathroom is one of the most moisture-rich areas of the home, extra effort is required to keep the relative humidity between 30 and 50 percent. Doing so will help prevent mold, cupping wood floors, rotting building materials and other irksome effects of excess moisture.
If there’s always condensation on the mirrors, windows and walls pre-renovation, there’s too much moisture and not enough air flow. Improving ventilation should then rise to the top of your list of priorities, which means
- – having your current HVAC system inspected and repaired (if necessary);
- – installing a window if you don’t already have one, assuming it’s a feasible option;
- – keeping the window open during warmer months and steamy showers;
- – and either adding an exhaust fan or using the one you already have.
Do: Choose water-resistant flooring
To choose flooring that can withstand some water is only practical, when you consider how much water flows in and out of your bathroom every day. Puddles form when you step out of the shower. Water splashes out from the sink. Even without standing water, the bathroom is a generally moist environment that can be hard on your floors. A few water-resistant flooring options:
- – Concrete (covered with a water-resistant sealer)
- – Ceramic tiles
- – Vinyl
- – Linoleum
- – Laminate
Avoid carpet. It retains moisture and harbours bacteria, dander, dust and other nasty air pollutants.
Do: Replace the toilet flange
Professional plumber Dave Smythe, of DS Plumbing in Ottawa, says the toilet flange deserves your attention, as it’s one of the most important parts of your bathroom. The toilet flange is the pipe fitting that mounts the toilet to the floor and connects it to the piping that runs into the sewer.
Flange breaks and toilet leaks are two of the most common plumbing problems homeowners face, according to Dave. Common, and serious. If the toilet flange doesn’t fit properly, water will seep out and damage flooring, causing it to rot and/or triggering black mold growth, especially around the toilet.
He notes, too, that if the height of the floor changes during the renovation, the flange’s seal might loosen. Because an ill-fitting toilet flange can wreak havoc on your newly renovated bathroom and its brand new floors, take care to replace it and have it properly fitted.
Do: Maximize storage space
Installing deep cabinets, shelves and hangers will allow you to keep clutter off the countertop, yet keep everything you need—wash rags, shampoo, lotion and toilet paper—within arm’s reach.
Reducing clutter certainly makes the space look better, and it also allows you to keep an eye out for leaks and other problems.
Improving air flow, choosing water-resistant flooring, replacing the toilet flange and maximizing storage space are all definite do’s when remodeling your bathroom. And let’s not forget the equally important don’ts. The following are no-nos for those who want to get the most out of their reno.
Don’t: Cut costs
If you’re neither equipped nor trained to rework the plumbing, have a professional plumber take care of it. You take big risks when you try to handle it on your own, not connecting pipes properly being one of the biggest, according to Dave.
The same goes for HVAC and electrical work: hire a certified professional. When the job is done right, you ultimately save time and money. It’s also less stressful knowing you didn’t compromise quality of work or safety by cutting costs where you shouldn’t have. In other words, you win.
Don’t: Block windows, fans or vents
Again, it’s so crucial that there’s adequate air flow in your bathroom to prevent the build up of moisture and potentially hazardous indoor air pollutants. While it’s fantastic to have a fan or a big, breezy window, make sure nothing stands in the way of air flow.
Don’t: Ignore unpleasant surprises
Dave says that during a reno many homeowners will discover that water has stained the wood beneath the tiles or the interior of cupboards. If you notice water damage, don’t carry on without first getting to the root of and eliminating the source of the problem. This means finding and fixing a leaky pipe or crack in the window frame.
Similarly, don’t paint over visible mold. If you do, it will only continue to grow, compromising your indoor air quality and your health. If you suspect there’s mold, don’t take chances; book a mold test.
Ignoring problems that perhaps you didn’t budget or plan for is neither effective nor safe. What better time is there to correct what’s wrong in your bathroom than during a reno?
The bathroom should be a retreat in your home. It should be comfortable, functional and beautiful. Remodeling your bathroom can be so rewarding, but only when you take great care–when you prioritize and address problem areas before you begin.