Bathroom Remodeling Process – Step by Step Guide

Posted on Categories Bathroom, Home Improvement
bathroom remodeling process

Want a full look at the bathroom remodeling process? You’ve come to the right place! Every project is unique, but we wanted to show you what it takes to do a complete bathroom renovation. There are plenty of ways to save time and money in the bathroom remodeling process, so make sure to check out the “Pro Tip” in each of the sections. That will help you plan a quick and affordable bathroom remodel for your home.

Step 1 – Planning

bathroom floorplan

The first step in any bathroom remodeling process is planning – lots and lots of planning. If you are doing some of the work yourself, you need to know what the materials will cost. If you are working with contractors, you need a quote from each of them before you dive in too far. Most people underestimate the cost of a complete bathroom renovation. Depending on the materials you use and how many items you replace, you could spend thousands of dollars remodeling even the smallest bathroom.

You may not select the exact materials you’ll use at this time. Some design decisions are best left until after things come together. Nevertheless, you should get a feel for color schemes and pricing so you have a general vision in your head.

If you intend to change the layout of the bathroom, it’s best to draw your new floor plan now. Knowing where the plumbing is situated versus where it will be is critical to getting accurate estimates from plumbers and electricians.

PRO TIP: Ask your contractors if they can get a discount on lighting, tile, paint, fixtures, etc. Sometimes they have access to warehouse clearance and wholesale items that are much more affordable than big box store supplies. If your floor contractor knows you are doing some of work yourself, he may be more than happy to help you save on paint.

Step 2 – Demolition

Demolition is considered the “fun part” of renovation, but it’s not something you can jump into without a plan. First, turn off all the water and electricity going to the room. You need to know which features you’re keeping and which ones you’re getting rid of so you don’t damage something you need later on. If you are removing the wall tile, be careful not to damage the piping within the walls. If you are pulling out the sink or toilet, don’t smash them up before taking them out. That will create a huge mess that will take a long time to clean up. Remove each piece in sections to save yourself time.

PRO TIP: If you opt for tile and/or countertop refinishing, you may be able to skip the demolition process altogether. With professional refinishing, you can change the color, cover your tile and countertops with a superior seal and make them look like new. You won’t have to pay for new tiles, and you can significantly speed up your bathroom remodel.

Step 3 – Plumbing Adjustments in the bathroom remodeling process

bathroom sink

If you are moving any fixtures around, you will need to install the new plumbing ahead of time. This is a process best left up to a professional plumber. Explain where each component is going (sink, toilet, shower, etc.), and they can move the plumbing accordingly. If you need to replace old piping in your bathroom, this is an ideal time to do it.

PRO TIP: If your bathroom has a good layout already, try to select new fixtures that work with your existing plumbing. This is not ideal for every situation, but it would save you from hiring another professional to work on your bathroom.

Step 4 – Tub or Shower Replacement (If Applicable)

refinished tub

If you removed your old bathtub or shower pan during renovation, this would be the time to install the new one. This process seems easy at first glance, but it requires a lot of minor adjustments that you may not be prepared for. Chances are your old fixture was not the exact same size or shape as the new one. You may need to adjust the flooring, wall studs and other elements to accommodate the new tub/shower. If you hire professional bathroom remodelers, they can do all of this for you.

PRO TIP: If your bathtub or shower pan is still structurally sound, you could get it refinished instead of having it replaced. This will once again save you time and money. The tub refinishers will fill in all the cracks or dings in your bathtub, so you will have a smooth surface just like a new tub. And, re-caulk around the bathtub. In other words, your bathtub will look like new, but you only spend a fraction of what it costs to completely replace it.

Step 5 – Flooring

floor tile

This is when you start to see your new bathroom come to life. If you chose to have your tile refinished, this step would be combined with step 6. If you’re getting new floor tile, the tiles themselves will be adhered to the subfloor with spacers to create room for grout. The tile must be left alone for 24 hours, and then grout will go in the empty spaces. The grout will need another 24 hours to dry before you can clean your floors.

PRO TIP: If you have a small bathroom, you could check your local Habitat for Humanity Restore for tile. They do not always have large volumes of matching tile, but you may be able to get a few boxes to cover a small area. The tile you get there will be much cheaper than in stores.

Step 6 – Wall Tile and Tub Refinishing

decorative tile

You may be able to have your wall tile and floor tile installed at the same time, depending on how your bathroom is set up. If you are getting your tile and tub refinished, that will all be done at once. Installing wall tile is mostly the same as floor tile – 24 hours for the tile to set, then 24 more hours for the grout to dry. Your bathroom will look completely new after that.

PRO TIP: To save money on wall tile, get something inexpensive to cover most of the tub walls. Then you can select a decorative accent tile to use in a strip between the cheaper tile. You’ll get the look of a custom bathroom, but you will save money on the bulk of the tile. Wall tile is also a great place to save money by getting it refinished instead of replaced. No messy demolition and you can change the color, trim and make your tile look brand new. Best of all, tile refinishing seals the grout lines and prohibits the buildup of mildew or mold in the future.

Step 7 – Walls and Paint

If you removed tile from your walls, you may need to replace some drywall that got damaged during demolition. Cement board or backerboard – is designed for use in place of drywall behind tile in the wet areas in bathrooms and kitchens. Once the wall texture is completely dry, you can paint over it (or re-tile) in whatever color you want your bathroom to be.

Make sure you choose a semi-gloss paint so it is easy to clean off later.

PRO TIP: Ask your local paint supply stores if they have any miss-tinted semi-gloss paint. Mistints are cans of paint that people returned because they weren’t the right color. This paint is marked at a significantly discounted price, sometimes as low as $3 a can. If they have a color you like and you need more than what they have, you can get them to match the color formula on the mistint.

Step 8 – Lighting and Vanity Installation

Getting a new vanity light will modernize your bathroom, and some of them can be installed without a professional electrician. However, if you have an older home, you will most likely need an electrician to install the proper outlet box for the vanity light. If you are lucky enough to have the right wiring in your bathroom already, turn off the electricity to that room and follow the installation instructions that came with your vanity lighting.

Another element you may replace is your vanity and sink. You might have to get some extra plumbing pieces to make the old plumbing work with the next fixture, but that will not cost much. Make sure the new vanity is anchored to the wall for safety and security. Most vanities are relatively inexpensive, and they’re simple to install.

PRO TIP: Look for new lighting fixtures at thrift stores and home improvement resale stores. You can usually find something still in the box for a fraction of retail pricing. Bathroom sinks and vanity tops can be refinished just like tubs and tile. Refinishing can be done in any color including stone-like surfaces and intricate patterns.

Step 9 – Faucet Installation

If you got a new faucet and sink drain, install it when you are setting up your vanity. You can also replace knobs and other features in your bathtub and shower area. Choose coordinating finishes on all your faucets to keep your bathroom looking cohesive.

Step 10 – Baseboards, Door Trim and Touchup Paint

One of the final steps in a bathroom renovation is installing the baseboards and door trim. If you need to paint those, you can either do so before installation or after. Use touchup paint to cover anything that got damaged during the previous steps, and your bathroom will be almost completely finished!

PRO TIP: If you do not have a miter saw to cut door trim at a 45 degree angle, you can use decorative corner pieces anywhere two pieces of trim meet. This will not cost much in a small bathroom, and it will add extra personality to the space.

Step 11 – Accessories

cost of accessories

The absolute last step in a bathroom renovation is installing the accessories: towel bars, rings, toilet paper holders, mirrors, shelves, etc. These features are quick and easy to install. You may want to wait until everything else is in place before selecting your accessories because that will help you see which colors, styles and finishes will look best in your bathroom. Then all you have to do is enjoy your new space!

PRO TIP: Take your time and shop online for accessories. Often, you can find comparable items for a lot less money. For example: the accessory set on the left retails for $120 while the name brand set on the right is $688.


Call Maryland Tub and Tile at (410) 255-0323 for a free quote. We can transform your tub, tile, sink, countertops – we make the bathroom remodeling process faster and less expensive!

Share this entry