Can a DIY Bathroom Remodel bring simplicity and organization to your life? Absolutely. You don’t have to have a large space to do it. I’m going to show you how we remodel our very small bathroom. Doing this has brought so much peace and order to my life.
Our house is a modest 1225 square feet. It came to us with one and a half bathrooms. The full bathroom is in the main hall and the half bathroom connects to the master bedroom.
This took a lot of pre-planning, measuring, saving and a little bit of moving some walls and adding some doors. I will be the first to admit that doing home improvement projects take five times longer than it would to hire a professional. Why? Because I am not an expert in what ever field it is (plumbing, electrical, drywall), and I have 10 other things that need my attention, like my full-time job.
For me, I consider a full bathroom to be a space that has a sink, toilet, and a way to wash my body, i.e. a shower or bathtub. The master bathroom only had a toilet and a sink. The last house owners had replaced the the sink vanity and the replacement was tiny and had no storage.
I needed a bathroom that has more storage, and had a shower. In order to make room for a shower we had to move the linen closet that was on the other side of the bathroom. We were able to take some space from one of the bedrooms closet to create a linen closet at the end of the hall so that we still had that precious storage space.
Storage space is important to me. Have you caught that yet?
I broke down the project into these steps:
- Move linen closet
- Remove toilet and vanity
- Demolish wall between the bathroom and former closet and remove drywall
- Unplanned detour to have electrical moved (Opps)
- Replace former closet door with wall, texture and paint
- Remove the flooring, studs between closet and bathroom and drywall
- Add new floor underlayment
- Hire plumber to rework and add plumbing
- Hire shower pan man and have shower pan poured
- Remove ceiling drywall and save insulation for reinstall (opps)
- Install new wall drywall
- Tile floor
- Install ceiling drywall and ceiling fan
- Install shower cubbies and the remaining tile backer board
- Repair the wall where the backer board slipped and punched through the wall (opps)
- Tape, prime, texture and paint wall
- Install lighting, toilet, vanity and mirror
- Plan tile, tile shower, and grout
- Install fixtures
- Enjoy a full bathroom without leaving my bedroom!
I know, that is quite the list. This is not going to be a post about what we did step-by-step. I am going to show you what we did, and some things we learned along the way. Usually the hard way. And how in the end, all the work was 100% worth it and today makes my life so much easier and simpler.
Getting to Work
After we moved the linen closet (that I did not document), we had to demo the bathroom. #demoday
Tearing out walls is a little nerve racking, but it also fells good to be able to envision what the final product will look like.
Starting to Take Shape
Having to re-work the electrical took more time that we thought. But once it was done we could remove the studs and have the plumbing work done. The plumbing work was the single most expensive part of the project.
The Shower Pan
Having the plumbing completed felt so rewarding. It felt like the bones were in place and we could move on to adding other party to the body. Next, the installation of the shower pan. Because the space was a unique size, we could not go to our local hardware store and pickup a fiberglass pan. No, a custom pan was the only option. This meant finding a person who specializes in shower pans to come do the work. I found one, O-N-E, person in my area who only did shower pans.
Installing Drywall and Tile
Oh drywall. I feel like I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with drywall. It always seems like it is going to be so easy to install and is always seems to be a bit harder than I imagined.
A hard learned lesson we learned when we moved the linen closest was that the thickness of the drywall is very important. Drywall thickness is 3/8, 1/2 or 5/8 inch. The difference looks so small on paper, but will create a ton of work, if you are matching it up to existing drywall and don’t get it right.
If you can do a puzzle and frost a cake, you can do simple tiling. My husband and I had both done a little bit of tile work in the past, but we still took some steeps to prepare ourselves.
- We took a DIY tiling class at Home Depot. Most of the information we knew, but some of the tips and tricks they taught made the process a lot easier. Like stacking tiles to measure your exact cut.
- We watched a lot of Youtube videos on tiling, specifically a bathroom. Our favorites were videos by the TileMasterGA
If I thought that wall drywall was tough to install, I was wrong. Ceiling drywall was the tougher. Drywall is not light. My husband had to hold up the drywall, while I screwed it in as fast as I could.
Matching up new drywall with existing along with texture is a big task and something I was not up for.
Installing shower cubbies are probably one of the smartest things we did. Having a storage space for shampoo and soap not on the floor or a wire rack of some kind is so nice. It looks so clean and is easy to access.
Two things I would have done differently is :
- Install the cubbies before the shower pan. I worried what the height would be after the pan was installed instead of just installing them.
- Installed a niche for my foot when I shave my legs. It would be nice since shaving my legs is a little tricky without it. But the new shower is still valuable with or without it.
Installing Tile Backer
Wall tile backboard is a beast in weight. There were some “opps” along the way, but it all ended well.
The product that the shower pan contractor used looked like strips of RAM board. I searched and could not find the strips, so we ended up buying a small roll of RAM board and cutting it into strips. Months later while waiting for a rental at Home Depot, I ran across this product: Drywall Shim
When I see contractors taping and mudding walls on TV, it looks so easy. I can frost a cake. I can spread mayo on some bread. How hard can taping and mudding be? A little harder than it looks. It is totally possible to do it yourself. But it definitely takes some practice and patience.
There is also the waiting for it to dry part that can be frustrating as you want to mice on to the next part of the project.
Texturizing a wall is a special skill in my opinion. On another wall we made the mistake of using an aerosol texture spray. This is not a great product for two reasons: 1) it is expensive for what you get 2) it did not give us the end result we wanted. (see the photo below with bubbly end product that did not match the other texture). After doing all the extra work to fix it, we invested in a sprayer and air compressor. Doing some practice on cardboard before you spray your wall will help getting the final results you want.
Back to the Start
Happy Birthday to my Husband! We installed the toilet and vanity on his birthday. (hence the celebratory drink on the vanity).
Installing the light on the wall before installing the vanity so we were not working over the vanity and could get closer to the wall.
Seeing the toilet, light, vanity and mirror it was like we were back to the start. But it was so much better. The vanity is bigger, and the quality is better. Making for a happier place.
At the start, tiling sounded like fun. By the end, I never wanted to see tile again. This definitely took more planning and time, then the floor tile. The end result was worth it.
If we could do it differently, we would have used a standard grout. The one we chose here stated it was antimicrobial and inhibited stains from mold and mildew. Sounds great! Less cleaning! Or so I thought. I have not seen the product live up to these statements. Cleaning regularly to get rid of the pink funk is still necessary. It was also more difficult to install, so in the end it was more work than it was worth.
The Finished Remodel
The final touches are to install the shower fixtures, hang a shower rod, install a small storage cabinet over the toilet and a towel rack.
While the space is small, it is absolutely glorious to have a shower connected to the bedroom.
A remodel is time consuming work, but in the end it is worth it to have easy access to what I need close by.