Remodeling a bathroom is a major undertaking even when you hire a professional, since it requires plenty of design decisions, careful demolition and installation, and skilled electrical and plumbing work. But overhauling your bathroom as a do-it-yourself project? That's a whole new ball game -- but it can be done.
Most homeowners chicken out when it comes to updating their bathrooms. As much as 83% of homeowners who renovated their bathrooms in 2019 hired a professional for at least part of the job, according to the 2019 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study, which surveyed 1,360 homeowners.
But a DIY bathroom remodel can be successful if you take your time and approach every step of the process with plenty of research and preparation. As long as you have access to another bathroom while you're working, you can take the time to complete each aspect of the project right.
"Always give yourself more time than you think you'll need," says Kevin Busch, vice president of operations for home improvement company Mr. Handyman in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Here are eight bathroom remodel projects to consider:
-- Update the tub or shower.
-- Tile the floor and walls.
-- Replace the vanity.
-- Add new light fixtures.
-- Hang a new mirror.
-- Install hooks, shelves or a towel rack.
-- Embrace a new color.
-- Opt for trendy finishing touches.
Update the Tub or Shower
The shower or tub in your bathroom is likely the focal point of the room, so if it looks outdated or needs repair, it's worth the investment.
You can reglaze a tub that's seen better days, though it's important to follow the process of cleaning and prepping the space to reduce the chances that the glaze will crack. Replace old, cracked caulk surrounding the tub and shower, and consider installing a pebble tile shower floor in a plain shower basin, which is a popular look that will make the shower look more luxurious.
A simple way to upgrade your shower or tub is to focus on the faucet and showerhead. "Consider upping the tech in your bathroom with light therapy shower heads or shower heads that stream your favorite playlists (or) podcasts, which not only updates the look of the space but also adds therapeutic touches," Caroline Harmon, trend strategy manager for home improvement company Lowe's, wrote in an email.
The point at which you'll want to at least consult a professional is if you're considering changing out the tub or shower entirely. This more involved process can lead to plumbing and drainage issues if done incorrectly, and it may require a permit and inspection, depending on where you live. "There are lots of regulations and codes to know that those things need to work," Busch says.
Tile the Floor and Walls
New tile can help brighten a space, add a level of waterproofing and make your bathroom easier to clean.
"Laying tile can be a time-consuming project that appears ambitious, but it's a great project for DIYers that have the time and patience to do it right," Harmon says. "Properly prepping a tile floor and selecting tiles that best fit your project's needs are critical when installing tile floor properly."
Tile comes in all shapes, sizes, colors and patterns to match your budget and preference. You may also consider peel-and-stick tile that might make installation easier. As with any DIY project, you should research how to install tile before doing so. YouTube tutorials can be helpful, and by watching more than one from beginning to end before starting the project, you'll begin with a bit more knowledge.
You may find you want to bring in a professional if you're tiling the entire bathroom and around major fixtures, like the toilet and sink. "That usually means the toilet's coming out, the vanity's coming out and now you've got plumbing involved," Busch says.
Replace the Vanity
For a project that requires relatively little skill but changes the entire look of the bathroom, trade out the vanity for something new. A vanity with drawers or cabinet space beneath the sink can increase your storage options in the bathroom.
"Replacing a vanity is a lot easier than in a kitchen where you're replacing a whole wall of cabinets," Busch says.
Compared to other plumbing work, detaching an old sink and installing a new one to the existing pipes is relatively easy, and there are ample how-to guides on Youtube or home improvement blogs. Just be sure to turn off the water before you start the work.
Add New Light Fixtures
You'll be surprised how new lighting can make a room feel new. Trade out a dated over-the-mirror fixture for one that matches your preferred design style, and make sure you're using lightbulbs that are bright enough.
If you're simply replacing an existing light fixture, the work can easily be done on your own. But if you're looking to add a fixture where there wasn't one before or you plan to install a ceiling fan, which is much heavier than a standard ceiling light, you'll want to bring in an electrician to make sure the work is done safely and secured properly.
Hang a New Mirror
It's time to trade out the cheap funhouse-style mirror the last homeowner hung before you bought your house. Especially if you're strapped for storage space, a mirror upgrade to a medicine cabinet can help keep your bathroom looking clean and uncluttered.
The Houzz bathroom trends report reveals that 31% of renovating homeowners upgrade their medicine cabinets, with 49% opting for a stock cabinet option. If you're installing a medicine cabinet where just a mirror hung before, you may want to cut a hole in the drywall to make the mirror flush with the wall. Cutting a hole in a wall is a relatively simple process, though you'll want to measure and cut carefully with the right tools. It's also a quick project for a handyman or other professional to do if you're nervous.
Hang Hooks, Shelves or a Towel Rack
Improve and update your storage options by replacing hooks or towel racks, and consider hanging shelves or floating cabinets to hold extra rolls of toilet paper, towels, cleaning products and toiletries.
Be sure you're drilling into studs or using recommended anchors so your shelves. "You want to make sure that you've got it properly secured, and the way you have it secured will hold the weight you put on it," Busch says.
Embrace a New Color
An easy cosmetic update and a typical last step in remodeling a room is giving the walls a fresh coat of paint. Bathrooms are a great place to get a bit more daring with color and pattern that might intimidate you in another part of the house.
"Instead of adding a pop of color through your tiles, consider painting your molding or an accent wall for a touch of drama in a small space," Harmon says. She adds that peel-and-stick wallpaper can be a DIY-friendly project to showcase a pretty and fun pattern in the room.
[Read: How to Declutter Your Home]
Opt for Trendy Finishing Touches
Even if the DIY work you've done on the bathroom isn't exactly perfect, you can draw the eye away from any flaws by finishing it like you would any newly renovated room. Harmon recommends adding a plant or two to the bathroom to liven up the space.
Additionally, update your bath mat and towels with new options that embrace current bathroom trends. Teak bath mats and other finishes that evoke the feeling of a spa are currently popular and can help make your bathroom feel new, Harmon says.
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