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Bath Renovation 101

By: Danny Lipford

Danny Lipford with built-in bathtub.

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Find out about the various materials and fixtures that are available for the bathroom in your home.

Choosing a Bathtub

Bathtubs are available as freestanding footed or vessel tubs, as well as built-in tubs with a shower surround on three sides. Bathtubs can be made from a wide range of materials including fiberglass, acrylic, steel, and cast iron and range in price from $100 to $5,000.

Fiberglass and acrylic tubs are the least expensive. They’re durable and lightweight but can scratch, so treat them with care and use nonabrasive cleaners.

Steel tubs are more scratch resistant, but they may sound hollow. Cast iron tubs are both durable, extremely heavy (weighing in at 300-500 pounds), and expensive at $350 and up.

Watch our video on Tub Options for Your Bathroom to find out more.

Soaking bathtub with stained glass window.

Tub Surrounds

As the name implies, a tub surround protects the walls around a built-in tub from water damage when showering. Tub surrounds can be made of tile, stone, cultured marble, fiberglass, and acrylic.

Tile and stone tub surrounds are attached to cement backerboard with adhesive, and the gaps filled with grout. Cultured marble, fiberglass, and acrylic, on the other hand, come in sheets or as preformed units.

Watch our video on Shower Surround Options for Your Bathroom for more.

Bathroom Faucets

Bathroom faucets come in a wide range of finishes including chrome, stainless steel, brushed nickel, and oil rubbed bronze. Sink faucets can have single hole mounting, one piece 4” spread, or individual valves.

Bathroom faucets come in a wide price range, from $20 to over $1,000, much of which is dependent on the quality of the materials. For maximum durability make sure the inner workings of the faucet are made of brass.

Watch our video on Faucet Options for Your Bathroom to find out more.

Dual bathroom sinks on vanity.

Bathroom Flooring

Ceramic or porcelain tile are popular choices for bathroom floors. Laminate and hardwood can also be used, if they’re kept dry to prevent water damage. Vinyl sheet flooring or vinyl tiles are the most inexpensive bathroom flooring option.

Watch our videos on Bathroom Flooring Options and Tiling a Bathroom Floor to find out how.

Bathroom Toilets

Toilets are available in:

  • Two-Piece: Consist of a separate tank and bowl that are attached together ($100 and up).
  • One-Piece: Lower profile and easier to keep clean ($200 and up).

Toilets come with either a round or elongated bowls, and can vary in seat height from standard (14”-15”) to taller “comfort” height (17”-18”).

Watch our video on Toilet Options for Your Bathroom to find out more.

One-piece, low profile toilet.

New toilets are required to use no more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Water saving models are available that use only 1.28 gallons per flush.

Dual flush toilets use even less water, with separate buttons for solid waste (1.6 gallon/flush) and liquid waste (1.0 gallon/flush).

Bathroom Countertops

Bathroom countertop materials include:

  • Cultured Marble: Available with the sink and top as one piece.
  • Plastic Laminate: Inexpensive with realistic looking patterns.
  • Solid Surface: Seams are fused together making them invisible.
  • Granite: Durable but requires sealing yearly to prevent stains.
  • Engineered Stone: Made from crushed stone and resin, no sealing needed.

Watch our videos on Selecting a Bathroom Vanity and Bathroom Countertop Options to find out more.

Vanity countertop with dual sinks.

Bathroom Lighting

Proper lighting is important in a bathroom. There are a lot of lighting options available including:

  • Dual wall mounted light fixtures
  • Multi-bulb over mirror light fixtures
  • Ceiling mounted light fixtures
  • Hanging pendant lights
NOTE: Hanging light fixtures, such as pendant lights or chandeliers, in a bathroom can’t be installed within 3′ of a bathtub unless there is at least 8′ of clearance between the bottom of the light fixture and top of the tub.

Watch our videos on Get the Most Out of Bathroom Lighting and Bathroom Lighting Options to find out more.

Bathroom Vent Fans

It’s important to have a vent fan that’s properly sized for your bathroom and vented to the outdoors to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.

Bathroom vent fans are rated by the cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air they move. A bathroom vent fan should exchange the air in the room eight times per hour.

To find out what size vent fan is needed for your bathroom, divide the number of cubic feet in the room (length x width x height of room) by 60, then multiply the total by 8 to get the CFM needed for your bathroom. Or use our handy online Vent Fan CFM Calculator.

Rinnai tankless hot water heater.

Rinnai tankless hot water heater.

Water Heaters

There are two main types of hot water heaters for your home: tank and tankless. As the name implies, a tank type water heater uses a gas burner or electric heating element to heat up water stored in a tank, which is usually 30 to 40 gallons in size, then keep it hot until it’s needed for use.

A tankless hot water heater, such as those made by Rinnai, work by heating the water as it passes through the unit to provide a continuous supply of hot water on demand.

Watch our videos on Energy Efficient Tankless Water Heaters and Tankless Water Heaters Provide Continuous Hot Water to find out more.

Other Tips from This Episode

Rusty Soap dish Protection

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Rusty Soap dish Protection

To prevent a rusty soap dish from staining your countertop, use an emery board to remove the rust from the base of the dish. Apply several coats of clear nail polish to the bare metal, and stick cabinet bumpers on the bottom of the dish to lift it up off the vanity top to prevent future rust stains. (Watch Video)

Magic ReNew Tub & Tile Refinishing Kit

Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
ReNew Tub & Tile Refinishing Kit

Give your old tub new life with the Magic ReNew Tub & Tile Refinishing Kit. The kit consists of two spray cans, which are mixed together to form a chemical reaction, to create a durable, stain resistant, epoxy finish. The Magic ReNew Tub & Tile Refinishing Kit is available at The Home Depot. (Watch Video)

Draining a Hot Water Heater

Ask Danny Lipford:
Draining a Hot Water Heater

Draining a few gallons of water out of a traditional tank type hot water heater each year can allow it to last longer and work more efficiently by flushing out any sediment that may have settled to the bottom of the tank. Watch our video on How to Drain a Water Heater for step-by-step instructions. (Watch Video)

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Bath Renovation 101