Full Episodes of Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford

Bathroom Remodeling Projects from Modest to Luxurious

By: Danny Lipford

Bathroom remodels are a popular home renovation project that can range from modest to expensive depending on the scope of the job and size of the room.

Watch this video to find out about three different bathroom remodels, ranging from inexpensive to a major renovation.

Read episode article to find out more.

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Danny Lipford: This week on Today’s Homeowner we’re taking on bathroom renovation. And we’re exploring a range of projects. From simple do-it-yourself makeovers to major renovations. So, you don’t want to miss this.

If you own a home long enough, sooner or later you’ll want to remodel your bathroom. Or maybe two bathrooms. Bathroom renovation is something that’s on everybody’s mind because bathrooms get dated very, very easily. You spend a lot of time there, why not make it very pleasant, very enjoyable space in your home. So, we’re going to look at three different bathroom renovations ranging from a do-it-yourself friendly modest renovation to one that’s a little more extensive, where we had to bring in the professionals.

Now, the first one we’ll look at is a very modest project that Allen and I did recently. But I’ll have to warn you, he went on vacation, he forgot his razor. Looks a little more like a mountain man than a handyman. Well, a fairly typical, older bathroom and very, very small. It’s only four feet by nine feet. And over the years this 50-year-old bathroom has seen a little attention. An attempt to upgrade it with the new cultured marble shower stall was installed a few years ago. And they tried to make the floor look better with a very inexpensive peel-and-stick tile.

Now, our plan for this bathroom is to take a very modest approach and replace just about everything in the bathroom with the exception of the cultured marble shower. So, the first order of business is removing everything that doesn’t stay. That includes the toilet, which has to come up so that we can install new flooring. The base moldings are also on top of the tile so they have to go as well.

Once we disconnect the plumbing, the sink and countertop come out together. The vanity is a little more stubborn so it has to come out in several pieces before we finally can get rid of the rest of those ugly vinyl tiles and the sticky glue residue that held them down. Now, Allen can start marking his layout lines for the new porcelain tile that we’re about to install.

Allen Lyle: All right. Looking at our chalk line you would think we would lay our tile right along that line. However, we’ve got a very small bathroom here. We want to at least make it look larger. So, here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to take the tile and actually put it on a diagonal. Now, this will actually help it look larger. But check this out, talk about the luck of the Irish. When I put them side by side they almost fit a full three tiles across. That means I’m only going to have to cut a fairly small piece off of each edge. This is going to look great.

Danny Lipford: Allen starts laying the tiles working from the known location of that center tile. When you’re laying tile over tile like this you want to make sure you use a thin-set adhesive modified with latex. In a bath this small the biggest challenge to laying tile is cutting around the toilet flange. Allen uses a hand-held wet saw to do this so that he can make plunge cuts to follow the arch. Then he cleans up the edges with a pair of tile nippers. Most of the other straight cuts here can be made with a scoring tile cutter. But whether you buy or rent get the best cutter you can find, it makes a big difference. The finished floor looks great so we can move on to replacing the base molding, caulking the seams, and applying the first coat of paint.

Now, everything we bought for this project we bought from the home center. And this was purchased as a special order item. Only took just a few days to get in. And it has this open back on it here which makes it a lot easier to install a cabinet like this because you don’t have to cut around all of the plumbing pipes. Even though when I put it in place just to see how it’d work, I noticed that we were a little tight on one of the, the cold water line. And so instead of having the plumber move it over I had to do a slight modification with the jigsaw to cut a little notch in it. And if I’ve done that right it should slip right in place. There we go, we’re good.

By installing the faucet and tail pipe on the sink before it goes in to the vanity you can minimize the work necessary inside the cramped confines of that space. The next big addition to the bath is a glass enclosure for the shower which is a much cleaner look than the shower curtain we had before. We’re also replacing the toilet that was here with a new dual flush model, which means a savings of about 6,000 gallons of water per year. Finally we’re adding a new light fixture and a few decorative details to complete the transformation from a tired well-worn bath to a beautiful, comfortable space that’s both attractive and efficient.

Joe Truini: I’m about to cut a hole in this cement backer board for a toilet flange. This is going to go down on the bathroom floor. And there are several specialty tools you can buy to make that hole, but I’ve gotten really good results using a jigsaw and a metal cutting blade.

Now, the first thing you need to know when you’re working with cement backer boards, you have to protect yourself from the silica dust using a dust mask and safety glasses. I’m going to put that on first. And then I’m going to make the cut. Now, you could drill a hole—start a hole for the blade—but I just as soon use a plunge cut method. And then just follow the line.

There you go. Nice clean cut. Very little dust. And this works not only with circular cuts but also with straight and square cuts.

Danny Lipford: This week we’re looking at bathroom renovation. From simple to a lot more complex. Now one good thing about a bathroom renovation is it disrupts only a small part of your home. A very important part which means you really need to do a lot of pre-planning and pre-selection of all of your faucets, tubs and certainly all of the surfaces that you use in that bathroom. Now it depends on how many of these fixtures and surfaces that you’re replacing as to whether or not it’s a real do-it-yourself friendly type of project.

Now, the next project we’ll look at is a good example of that where my construction crew completely replaced all of the plumbing fixtures in the bathroom and a lot of surfaces. The goal for this bathroom is an update and an upgrade. The before pictures aren’t bad at all but this bath is used by guests in this home so we want to raise the wow factor a bit with a new vanity, more stylish tile and plumbing fixtures. The hardwood floor is staying so it gets covered before demolition starts with the removal of the light fixtures, pedestal sink the toilet and the tub and the shower handles. That clears the way to remove the cultured marble surround. A really strong adhesive is used to stick cultured marble to the drywall, so when Mark removes it, it leaves behind a big mess. But the new surround will be tile, so the drywall has to be replaced with cement backer board anyway.

The old floor tile has to be chipped up so that we don’t raise the floor level too much with the new tile. And in the powder room area the linen cabinet has to come out to accommodate the new vanity. Well, we have all of this ready for our plumber. He should be here any time. We have everything scheduled so tight so that we can get this thing finished as quick as possible. But right now, we have one of the other little odds and the ends that we’re having to deal with and Mark’s trying to figure out exactly how we’re going to be able to patch this. Now, we knew when we took this cabinet out we’d have this situation. Fortunately I held on to some of this wood when we did the hardwood floor a few years ago. What do you think, how much will we have to take out, Mark?

Mark Bufkin: I think we’ll start with this one. We’ll get it out. And this one’s got a joint back here. We take it out. We take this one out. This is going to be the only one we may have a little trouble with. Because we don’t want to remove all of them so we’ll take a saw and cut this tongue out.

Danny Lipford: Uh-huh.

Mark Bufkin: And get this board out. Cut this one off there. And then just patch it back in.

Danny Lipford: It’s pretty lucky that we had these staggered in like this. Now if this was a regular vanity we wouldn’t have a problem because the vanity would sit right on the ground right here and we wouldn’t see any of these joints. But because it’s a furniture type that has the legs, you’ll be able to see under it a little bit, so that’s requiring us to do all that kind of work. So shouldn’t be hard. Why don’t you take care of that and I’ll start handling some of this electrical work. Thankfully the glue holding this hardwood in place isn’t too stubborn. So Mark is able to selectively remove pieces one at a time. By creating a staggered pattern we’ll be able to weave in the new boards later so that the repair is completely invisible.

We’re replacing the two old wall sconces with one fixture centered on the wall. So my challenge is determining which one brings power from the switch so we can move it to the new location. While the walls are bare the plumber is busy refitting the tub and shower for new fixtures. Often people don’t realize that the valves for these fixtures are inside the walls. There’s also some plumbing to do at the vanity since the new sink will be centered on the wall. Back in the shower we can install the cement backer board over the bare studs around the tub. And once that’s complete I start filling Mark in on the plan for the tile surround.

We can use little pencil pieces in putting here and then some glass material that we’re using on the floor. And then another one right at the top. That should look pretty cool for the accent part. That’ll go up to the, let’s see, we’ll go up four feet with this. We’ll go four tiles. And then place that right on top.

Mark Bufkin: Yeah, that’s going to look real good. What about our grout joints?

Danny Lipford: Well, she wants to tighten them up as much as we can. This has a slight bevel on it. So we’ll just butt everything up tight. Maybe put some little toothpick spacers right in there to give it just a little bit of a grout joint. But I’m anxious just to see this up on the wall. But first, we have to do one of the most important steps is to waterproof all of the walls. The tiling grout that will cover these walls are porous material, so is the cement backer board. That makes sealing a priority to keep moisture from migrating through them into the wall, where it may cause damage or cause mold to grow.

Mark has to prep the floor for tile as well. But this isn’t water proofing, it’s a primer for the leveling compound he’s about to add. When you chip tile off of a concrete slab it often leaves the surface too uneven for tile. But this will smooth everything out. Finally we’re ready for some of that new tile. Instead of starting the first row on the tub deck Mark’s using a ledger board that’s perfectly level, set at the height of the second row. Later he’ll fill in the first row after the rest is dry.

The small glass tiles that we’re using for the accent band in the shower will be used all over the floor. It doesn’t look it with the paper facing over the tiles, but once it’s removed it’ll make for a pretty dramatic look. Meanwhile, the powder room has gotten some drywall touch ups and paint and it’s ready for the new vanity. But getting in to the room may be the biggest challenge of the whole project. When it’s said and done, the change is pretty cool.

The old bath was in good shape but it was dated and lacked any real flair. Now, it’s eye-catching, and with the contrasting textures and colors in the tile fixtures that are full of character and that vanity that demands your attention.

Jodi Marks: Now, if you’re going to take on a whole bathroom renovation, or you’re just going to replace the floor in your bathroom, you’re going to have to take out the toilet. And once you do that, you’re going to have to disconnect your supply lines. Well, here’s a good tip. Go ahead and replace those old supply lines with new supply lines, because supply lines can break down over time and that can cause a big mess in your bathroom. As a matter of fact, Shea, you’ve got a new supply line right there in your hand. Tell me about it.

Shea Pettaway: That’s right, Jodi. Fluidmaster has come out with a twist click seal. And the great thing about this is that to avoid turning it, overturning it, it has an audible sound to it.

Jodi Marks: So it makes a click.

Shea Pettaway: It sure does.

Jodi Marks: So once you hear the click you will know, “Don’t tighten me down anymore.” Because a lot of people do that. They hand tighten it as hard as they can. And then they get their wrench in there and give it one extra turn. And what they don’t realize is that they have actually caused a crack or could possibly cause a crack by over-tightening it. And again, that can lead to flooding in your bathroom. Now, another thing, too, about this which I like is that it won’t corrode over time. Correct?

Shea Pettaway: That’s right. It avoids harsh chemicals that’s coming through your water line. It’s going to have a resistor to it.

Jodi Marks: That’s perfect. Okay, here’s again. Here’s a good tip for you. Replace those supply lines, and get one so that you know you don’t over-tighten it.

Danny Lipford: We’re looking at a number of bath projects this week. And so far all of the projects that we’ve looked at have fit within the existing framework of the bathroom. In other words, we didn’t really have to change the footprint of the bathroom, just all of the components inside. But sometimes to really create that very nice open modern bathroom you have to move some walls or relocate some. Possibly even relocate, reposition some of the existing fixtures. That’s when it’s time to bring in the pro.

There’s a lot of coordination involved in a renovation like that. With having the materials on the job at the right time, having the right tradesmen, making sure they’re doing their job right. And, very important, keeping everything on schedule. That’s when a pro is very valuable.

This bathroom started out with plenty of space, but it was poorly allocated and broken up into two rooms. So, it felt smaller than it actually was. It was also pretty dated, and there were some finish issues, like cracked tiles on the floor. So, our solution, crack them all. We’re knocking out everything, including the wall that separates the two rooms. The entry door will be moved slightly to allow for symmetrical his and her vanities on either side of the door. Since we’re rearranging so much of the plumbing some parts of the floor have to be removed as well, which is not the end of the world since some of it had some pretty serious water damage.

With the pipes exposed our plumber, Artie, begins the work of rerouting the drain lines. But the job may be a little bigger than he anticipated because the existing system has several serious flaws.

Artie McGowan: One thing we’ve got a sanitary T laid down on its back when this should be a combo that looks more like this. Now, this is okay here, but this is flat vented. It has nothing to wash down the rest of the waste as it’s coming through here. So, this could cause a clog in the vent. This right here is a pressure 90 which is another no-no. That’s used for pressure water pipe not sanitary. And again here, where the old shower was there’s no trap, allowing sewer gas to come directly into the house which is a hazard to the homeowner and can make people sick.

Danny Lipford: Needless to say, Artie has his work cut out for him. And once he’s done we can close up the floor, complete the electrical changes in the walls, and recover them with new drywall before the finishing process starts. Boy, this is looking great. It’s always encouraging when you get to this point in a bathroom renovation where the drywall has been installed and the finishing is almost complete. For the contractor it means progress is being made. And we’ve only been on this renovation for just two weeks. So, things are moving along fairly nicely.

Now, for the homeowner it’s very encouraging because they can get out on this space and really get an idea of how well all those decisions they made in the design and layout of this bathroom is working out for them. Now, on this side we have the toilet that’s situated in the corner right under the window, then, over here, we have one vanity and over here another vanity. And then, right in the middle of the new bathroom layout we’ll have a large soaking tub. This really has worked out very nice.

Now, over in the corner you may notice a little drywall missing, this is the location of our custom shower. And those bare spots will be covered with cement backer board. But it won’t go all the way to the bottom of the wall until after the guys install the vinyl shower pan over the floor. By folding it up the walls and then overlapping it with the final pieces of backer board they’re ensuring that water won’t leak out even if it soaks through the grout in the finished shower. Again, we’re using plenty of waterproofing material. This brand just happens to be pink.

Next, a bed of mortar is spread out on top of the vinyl pan and carefully sloped towards the center so the shower will drain properly. This really requires some skill so you don’t end up with puddles all over the shower floor. While the mortar bed dries the vanity cabinets go in, as well as the stone countertops and tub apron.

Finally we’re ready for the tile. James is using the same ledger board trick here that Mark used. There’s just a lot more weight above it. After the floor tiles are laid the bottom row of wall tile is filled in and the bullnose pieces go in around the edges. The old dated materials and dysfunctional layout are gone. The new bathroom is more open, much more modern, and hopefully more functional, and it got done on schedule.

Stephanie asks: I’m choosing cabinets for my bathroom. What kind of material should they be made from?

Danny Lipford: When you’re making that decision on a bath vanity, you have to consider that the bathroom can have the highest levels of humidity in your home. And when you choose a nice-looking cabinet like this, even though it is very attractive, it does contain a lot of particle board, which is not the best thing to use when you’re having a lot of humidity around a particular area.

This is a step up, it’s called medium density fiber board. And it’s less prone to the expansion and contraction that’s so common in a bathroom. But still you need to make sure all the edges are sealed.

But I actually prefer to go with the old-fashioned cabinet plywood, with all of the glue that’s used in between the different layers of wood. It holds up very, very well. It doesn’t expand and contract very much. And it’s perfect when coupled with real wood for the cabinet doors.

Danny Lipford: This week we covered all the bases of bathroom remodeling. From a do-it-yourself make over to a major gut and rebuild renovation. As you can see, many of the principles are the same. But the stakes go up as the scope of the work expands. I hope you enjoyed seeing all that’s available in bathroom renovation.

Now, whether you’re doing the bathroom renovation yourself or whether you’re taking on a more major project where you’re bringing in the pros, it’s all about the homework. Doing that advanced planning. Going to a plumbing showroom, making all of your selections, doing all of the ordering so the project will run along very smoothly. Of course we’re here to help anytime by going to my website at todayshomeowner.com.

Hey, thanks for being with us. We’ll see you next week right here on Today’s Homeowner.



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