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Remodeling a Bathroom? Where to Start to Avoid Costly Mistakes

Are you thinking about remodeling a bathroom but do not know where to start? Maybe you know where to start but have a few questions. What kind of tile should I use? What kind of tools do I need to tile a bathroom? How do you prepare a bathroom for a remodel? Should I hire a contractor, or can I complete the remodel myself?

Where to Start? Design Your Bathroom

The first place to start is with the bathroom design. I suggest that you create a list of the amenities you need in your bathroom and a list of the amenities you would like to include in your bathroom. You may need to edit your list depending on your budget. Once you have a basic idea of the needs of your bathroom remodel, it is time to start putting all the pieces together.
Designing a bathroom involves numerous considerations; selecting tile, vanity, vanity top, paint colors, and fixtures. In addition, you need to set a realistic timeframe of completing the remodel. If you are planning to complete the remodel yourself, set a schedule of when you are going to complete the work. If you are planning to complete the bathroom remodel yourself, I encourage you to do your homework before you start the project. Be sure to research all steps involved in the bathroom remodel project. Prepare yourself by making sure you have all the necessary tools to complete the project and have all your supplies on hand before you begin. Keep in mind that you need to allow extra time if you are ordering tile, vanities, etc.
A bathroom remodel can be broken down into three basic categories;
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  • a makeover
  • an expansion
  • an addition


For the sake of this article and other articles to follow, I am going to focus on a bathroom makeover. A makeover is generally less expensive and easier to complete. A makeover usually is also the quickest bathroom remodel. All the existing walls, plumbing, electrical outlets, doors, etc. remain in place. A makeover generally includes replacement of all the fixtures, such as bathtub, shower, and faucets. You may also want to replace the tile on the floor, walls, and shower. In addition, a bathroom makeover may include replacement of the lighting, vanity, and vanity top. Most people also install a bath fan, if needed. Remember, you must follow all building codes and have the electrical inspected by a licensed electrician to ensure the electrical is conforming to current building codes for the bathroom. Finally, give the bathroom a new coat of paint to give it a new look!
Everyone has different bathroom needs. The best part of a bathroom remodeling project is that you can customize your bathroom to meet your needs and the needs of your family! Maybe you have three bathrooms in your home, each with a bathtub but only one shower. You may determine that you do not need three bathtubs, but you could really use a second shower. When designing your bathroom remodel, plan to remove your existing bathtub and incorporate a shower in that space instead. Maybe you have a pedestal sink in your bathroom but you want more storage space in your bathroom. Replace your pedestal sink with a full vanity that provides storage under the sink. Your options are endless! The most important idea with this part of the process is to design your bathroom remodel to meet your needs!

Selecting Your Tile

Once you have an idea of your bathroom design and what you want to incoroporate in your bathroom, the next step is selecting the tile. There are numerous products of tile on the market today ranging in price.
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  • Ceramic Tile: Ceramic tiles are made primarily of clay mixed with mineral and water. The material is fired to harden the tiles. A sealer and glaze can then be applied to the tile before a second firing. The glaze helps the tile become more durable. However, the drawback to ceramic tile is its strength. Ceramic tile is not as strong as a porcelain tile. Ceramic tile is generally more cost effective than other tile and is easier for homeowners to install themselves.
  • Porcelain Tile: Porcelain tiles are made by mixing porcelain clay, finely ground sand and curing them with high heat and pressure. Porcelain tile is denser than ceramic tile and has a lower water absorption rate than ceramic tile. When a porcelain tile is unglazed, the color remains consistent throughout the tile. This is the advantage of porcelain tile along with the strength of the tile.
  • Quarry Tile: Quarry tiles are unglazed ceramic tile. Quarry tiles tend to be less expensive than other tiles available on the market.
  • Terra-Cotta Tile: Terra-Cotta Tiles are generally hand molded from clay. This tile is more rustic looking. They come in reds, browns, or yellows, depending on the color of clay and the origin of the tile. Terra-Cotta tile tends to be soft and porous, which can make the tile susceptible to staining and scratches, and chipping.
  • Stone Tile: Stone tiles come in Granite, Limestone, and Travertine.
    • Granite is one of the hardest stones available.
    • Limestone comes from a sedimentary rock. The sedimentary rock is collected and compressed to make the tile. Limestone is extremely soft and can scratch easily.
    • Travertine tile is made of limestone. Travertine tile is more natural and rustic than other tile. Since the tile is soft, it is good to use the tile on horizontal services, such as backsplashes.
  • Mosaics include a grid of small tiles connected with a mesh backing. Mosaic can be used for custom shower floors. Mosaics can also be used for trim or accent pieces that can be set with other tile. Mosaics also are often used for backsplashes. Mosaics are great to add detail to your tile design.
  • Trim tile are finished on the edges and are used to provide a finished edge where the tile field stops.


I hope this information provides you with better understanding of the different types of tile that are available. It is time to go to the local tile shop and look for the tile that catches your eye! I encourage my clients to visit a tile store that includes full tile displays so they can see firsthand the finished product. Take along any pictures you may have found in a magazine or book that you would like to use as a base for your bathroom design. Good luck on your bathroom remodel!

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