Things to Consider When Remodeling Your Bathroom


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In addition to cleaning, many homeowners also begin remodeling projects in the spring. After all, ’tis the season for renewal, fresh starts and new beginnings, right? Spring is a great time to reconfigure and re-create and remodeling fits right in.

Before you set out to remodel your bathroom, take a moment to evaluate what you already have.  Are you content with the size of the bathroom?  If it seems too small, there are several options available. 

One option, of course, is to make it bigger by simply rearranging the contents.  That means making better use of the space by removing old, cumbersome fixtures that may no longer serve you.  Let's say you have an out-of-date, fiberglass shower-surround that was installed when the house was built 40 years ago.  It definitely takes up much-need space.  However, with a little effort it can be expertly removed and discarded.  But now, what do we replace it with?  An excellent option is to bring in a freestanding tub.

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There are several popular choices in today’s market such as the elegant porcelain/cast iron Clawfoot or Pedestal soaking tubs.  It might be the Slipper Tub design, with its high back that resembles Cinderella's slipper, or the Dual-ended tub that offers attractive, symmetrical slopes on each end of the tub.  The Pedestal tub is also a contemporary favorite as it replaces the Clawfoot designs with a cast iron skirt at the bottom.  These cast iron/porcelain tubs all come in various sizes and can easily fill almost any space.  The point is, they won’t look like the standard, run-of-the-mill combo fiberglass tub/shower you had before.  Far from it. You are adding elegance and making better use of space.  

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An alternative approach, one that’s very much in-demand today, is the Safety Suite Shower. Available in different configurations regarding drain orientation (left, center, or right) and numerous colors/patterns, Safety Suite Showers offer a very open design with either a low threshold (usually four inches high) or a zero threshold so you can safely and easily walk or roll right in.  This is indispensable if a person is wheelchair bound or has trouble getting into a traditional bathtub.  They are extremely attractive with high tile walls and matching floor. There are various options regarding what type of built-in seat one can choose as well (fold-down, molded, etc.) Along with the shower itself, you can also choose various bathroom accessories such as bathroom paper roll, towel rack, and self, all of which are equipped with handsome, yet sturdy safety grab bars. The shower itself includes several strategically placed grab bars as well. Safety Suite Showers come in sizes ranging from 48- to 60-inch lengths, so that they can accommodate any size bathroom.

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Another way to make better use of the space you already have is to consider doing away with the old laminate counter top and drop in sink.  Again, if your bathroom is 40 years old, the sink is usually large and takes up way too much space.  The counter top is probably a laminate variety that is already showing wear on the edges and maybe some lifting of the laminate from the pressed board underneath.  You can take advantage of some beautiful counter top choices now available.  Take, for example “natural stone.”  There is organic beauty in every stone slab.  The variations in each slab are unique and will amaze you.  The colors are spectacular.  The polished granite is highly stain- and scratch-resistant.  Another interesting option, as seen in the photograph to the left, is a combination of stone, granite and wood. Talk about natural beauty.

Since I mentioned the sink, if you have a tiny bathroom, go for a porcelain pedestal sink.  There are some slim, silhouettes out there that are perfect for a powder room or diminutive bathrooms.   The only drawback is that they offer almost zero storage space and a small deck space.  To work around this, many homeowners are creating niches in the wall for toiletries and other necessities. Unlike clunky over-the-shower head organizers, a recessed cubby in a tub or shower surround gives shampoo and soap a permanent home that doesn't take up premium stall space. 

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If the floor of your bath looks bad, tear up that linoleum and replace it with “no-regret” tile floors.  If you want an easy-care floor, go for porcelain or glazed tiles, and avoid porous natural stone tiles such as limestone.  Unless sealed it’s been vigilantly, limestone (and other porous stone) will absorb drips and spills and become stained.  If you want a non-slip floor, choose tiles with textured surfaces, matte finishes, or sand-containing glazes.  Another option would be “small” tiles with lots of grout lines, as these offer better “grip” than the larger tiles.

When caulking around tubs, sinks or tiles, it’s best to choose an acrylic caulk. It can be removed without the use of harsh chemicals so that replacement is easier.  And make sure it is mold- and mildew-resistant.

Most homes that are 50 years old or older offer an antiquated wiring service in the bathroom.  Over the years, the circuit has usually been abused by years of high-power hair drying.  So don't just swap in GFI outlets.  Replace the wiring, too, with dedicated 20-amp circuits and plenty of outlets for all the appliances you use, from electric razors, and toothbrushes, to hair-straightening irons, hair dryers, etc.

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If your bathroom is simply too small for any changes except expansion, then consider the following:  In most cases, the homeowner is not going to be happy with anything smaller than a bath  that is 3 to 4 feet wide by 6 to 8 feet long.  (Make sure to check with local codes for additional requirements.)  Some homeowners have found that by just taking out an adjoining closet, they can garner precious space without really changing the footprint of the house.  But if you must expand, contact a remodeling expert who can give you some viable options. If your lot is large enough, the contractor might be able to add a bathroom without interfering with any property lines or set-backs.  It’s important that he keeps the natural flow and design of your home.  Look at the roof style that you have in your home.  Can a gable be extended?  As you might expect, “expansion” remodeling is not cheap.  Just like new construction, it will require several sub-contractors, such as framing, floor covering, sheet rock, plumbing and electrical.  Ask for referrals, shop around and get several estimates, and then decide what you can live with.  Establish a budget that you can afford before you ever begin.

In this article, I discussed several options for homeowners to consider when remodeling their bathrooms.  I talked about replacing their current fiberglass tub/shower with a standalone cast iron/porcelain Clawfoot or Pedestal tub and/or going with the Safety Suite Showers. I also discussed various things to consider such as new sink and cabinet designs, replacing linoleum floors, upgrading the electric wiring, using acrylic caulk and more.

If you found this article useful, please share it with your family, friends and co-workers. If you have a comment related to this article, leave it in the Comment section of this blog. Thanks again for visiting with us.

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Have a question? Feel free to contact me at the number or email listed at the end of this article and my brother, Alan, who heads up Tub King, will personally get back to you. It’s been my pleasure sharing this information with you.

Coming in June 2015 to Tub King! 
Alan Knight has many years of experience in the antique and senior bathtub industries. His companies not only provide superior products, they are also multi-award winners, receiving the “Best of Jacksonville Chamber Award” four years running. If you’d like to contact Tub King, call (800) 409-3375 or (800) 843-4231; or send an email to Alan@tubking.com.

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