Renovating a Bathroom

Home Tool Kit

Welcome to Farmer’s Home Renovation Series. Covering everything from bathrooms to roofs, these articles will give you the info you need to plan your renovation, speak confidently to a contractor, and get the biggest bang for your renovation buck.

It’s probably the smallest room in your house, but you spend a ton of “quality” time there. That’s why bathrooms have always been one of the most popular rooms to renovate. After all, if you’re going to be in there a lot, starring at the walls, the shower head, or yourself in the mirror, you might as well like what you see right?

If you’re thinking of renovating or remodeling your bathroom, you’ve probably got at least a few ideas in mind. Maybe it’s a color scheme, a tile design, or a super modern bath fixture you saw at the Jones’ house (so jealous!).

But where do you start?

Do you hire a contractor first? Buy all your fixtures and tiles together? What about budgeting…how much should you spend?

To get the bathroom of your dreams, and not go completely insane, it’s important to follow these three major steps:

1. Plan Ahead


  • Measuring! Measure your bathroom top to bottom. Measure dimensions of your shower, toilet, and vanity.
  • Know what you want before you buy. Go online, walk around hardware stores, talk to friends, and browse renovation magazines. Use everything at your disposal to find the colors, fixtures, tiles, shower heads, and accoutrements you like.
  • Find a good contractor in your area.


  • According to, in 2014, bathroom remodeling cost on average $16,128, and netted about $11,688 in resale value. Hard numbers like that can be misleading though, since pricing variables (like material prices, labor costs, etc.) range widely across the country. Generally speaking, you should plan on spending about 12-15% of your home’s value on a really good, full bathroom renovation.

Schedule and plan:

  • Define the duration and scope of your renovation. Know exactly what you want changed. And keep in mind that timing depends more on how many renovations or fixtures you’re replacing, than the size of your bathroom.
  • Order materials ahead of time. Materials (especially custom-built ones) can take time to arrive. Build that into your plan so your fixtures are available when your contractor needs them.
  • If your house only has one bathroom, plan ahead! Have a place where you can shower and “go” when you need to.


2. Design the space

Picking Fixtures:

  • Fixtures can be your biggest expense. So to keep costs down, but still get what you want, make a list of “must-haves.” There’ll be a few splurges along the way, but find the best prices for your essentials.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed. Focus on a single area of the bathroom at a time, pick your fixtures for each area, and then move onto the next.
  • Blend style and functionality. Remember, you’re actually going to be using this room…so find fixtures that make life easier and look good at the same time.

Flooring and Tiling:

  • Find the right balance between durable and design tiles. Ceramic, marble, and stone tiles are good for durability and water-resistance. Mosaic and glass tiles are better for color and style
  • Use expensive tiles strategically. To cut costs, use fancy tiles as accents or borders, around less expensive, more durable tile. Get creative and make unique patterns!
  • Make sure flooring and tiles are well sealed. This is a wet room, and you don’t want to worry about costly water damage later on.

Buying Materials:

  • There are generally two ways to buy your fixtures and materials before a job. You can purchase them yourself and look for discounts and good buys on your own. Or you can go through your contractor, who usually gets deep discounts on materials, but may charge a mark up to you.
  • Purchase and receive all your parts and fixtures before the work starts!


3. Do the work

Sequence the job:

  • First of all, let the contractor do the work. If they’re experienced and trustworthy, you can trust them to do the job well and within the time you’ve agreed on.
  • As a good rule of thumb, have your contractor work top down. That means starting at the ceiling, working on the walls and fixtures, and then finishing with the floors. This helps to keep things ordered, timely, and helps protect new components as the job goes on.



The information contained in this page is provided for general informational purposes only, and is not meant as professional or expert advice. Every attempt is made to ensure accuracy and timeliness, however all content is presented without guarantees.