Bathroom Remodel Tips

There’s a lot of important bathroom remodel advice on this page.

Most of the suggestions are going to come down to your personal preference, but we advise to review this entire article to ensure you have the information and bathroom remodel tips you need to get the most out of your renovation.

Both design AND functionality are important - If you aren’t happy with your remodel afterwards but it looks great, that will be disappointing for everyone.  

We don’t want you to be frustrated every morning after spending tens of thousands of dollars on a new bathroom renovation.

Several aspects of bathroom remodels surprise homeowners, so we want to provide some tips to ensure you have the right information to make the best decisions for your scenario.

IF YOU WANT A BATHROOM THAT MAKES YOU HAPPY, WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND READING THIS ENTIRE ARTICLE

The information here will make every phase of the remodel easier on you, including the consultation call, remodel evaluation, design process, and the construction phase.


Not reading this could lead to being disappointed after your remodel is finished because there were numerous options possible, but you missed out.

Warnings & Tips About Bathroom Risks

Homeowners don’t realize bathrooms are the riskiest room in a home. There are more issues that cause stress in a bathroom, than any other room.

Plumbing in general is more risky in damaging your home than electrical, HVAC, or any other trade. 

Personal note from Jeremy the co-owner: Due to numerous risks, I will never own a house that does not have the Moen Flo, which is a device that checks every day for water leaks in the plumbing of your house. 

It also warns you if your house has a sudden flow of water it doesn’t think is natural. If you don’t respond to it’s alert within 5 minutes it turns off your water to reduce any potential damages. 

You can also easily add water sensors that will immediately turn off your water if something leaks. 

I have those water sensors below every sink and toilet in my house along with next to the water heater.  After hearing numerous horror stories, the small investment in these is worth the preventable damage, potential cost, and stress.

We recommend looking into this device and having a licensed plumber install it:

https://www.moen.com/flo

bathroom remodel tips on leaks

Bathrooms Have More Items For a Homeowner To Pick Than Any Other Room

Many people don’t realize you have twice as many design items to pick in a bathroom remodel compared to a kitchen remodel. 

In a kitchen, you pick cabinets, countertops, backsplash, sink, faucet, lighting, potentially paint color, possibly appliances, and maybe a couple other items like a range hood. 

With a full bathroom remodel you need to pick the:

  • Shower head
  • Shower handheld device if want one
  • Shower wall tile or other material
  • Shower floor tile
  • Mosaic or smaller tile if you want a tile band or different tile inside you recessed shower wall niche that hold bath products
  • Grout color for the shower tile (one of the more difficult decisions to make in a bathroom)
  • Cabinet style and color
  • Countertop material (they each have their pros and cons)
  • Countertop color / style
  • Sink(s)
  • Faucet(s) (with Arizona’s hard water this is an important decision)
  • Mirrors (regular mirror or storage mirror which has become quite popular)
  • Vanity lights
  • Can lighting
  • Toilet
  • Bidet (These are quite popular now and you can have the contractor put an outlet behind the toilet to get many more benefits out of the nicer bidets)

And potentially some of these items:

  • Medicine cabinets
  • A bathtub and if it is freestanding or drop-in type
  • If it is freestanding do you tile or do drywall behind it?
  • If it is freestanding do you do a wall-mount faucet or floor mount tub filler?
  • Where can lights go
  • Bathroom flooring material
  • Baseboards
  • Window privacy options if near a shower
  • Paint color
  • New closet doors
  • A door for the entry from master bedroom to bathroom

Each one of those has several factors to consider such as the functionality, if it fits properly from a logistics/size standpoint, colors, designs and it all going together cohesively. 

Thats why working with a remodeling company that has a certified in-house designer is so important...

Importance Of A Certified In-House Designer

You work with a remodeling company that has a certified in-house designer to pick out your selection items.  This is an important step because a selection item such as countertops could have a $7,000 difference just in the type you choose.

So our designer helps you pick items that meet your design tastes and budget.

They also help you choose items that are of high quality without being unnecessarily expensive.

Having a real certified designer who went to an accredited design school is really important.

You are going to need to pick out many items for your renovation and you want it to go as smoothly as possible.

You have to make sure the designer is an employee of the construction company, and not a subcontractor, otherwise there will be a lot of miscommunication, and the chance of construction issues.

Having an in-house designer helps with:

  • Knowing the best places to pick your items while still giving you flexibility in the retailers you like
  • Getting you the contractor discount we have with many vendors 
  • Provide design advice on what looks good
  • Bringing samples to you to save time - our client's are busy and love this experience
  • Still allow you to go on your own to look at items at your own pace
  •  Create the design renders to ensure the layout and colors are the way you want
  • Use our extensive catalogs to put the exact item you picked into the render to ensure the materials are the ones you want to go with before doing construction

Crucial Advice On Receiving All Design Items And Checking Them Before Starting Your Bathroom Remodel

This is critical in any type of remodel, but especially important in a bathroom remodel since there are so many items.

To understand why this is an issue, we first have to explain why some other contractors don’t do this.

Most remodel companies including ourselves, structure their payment schedule like this:

  • 30% at contract signing
  • 30% when demo is done (This is the reason this payment schedule is being brought up)
  • 30% when the remodel is about 75% done
  • 10% when the project is fully complete

Many contractors need that second payment ASAP because they are cash strapped.  

It is such a problem, that there is a law that was enacted that says remodelers can not use client funds from one job to pay for another. The issue is that tracking or knowing if a contractor is using another client’s funds is nearly impossible to figure out.

So the bathroom remodel contractor may want to demo ASAP to get your second payment.

The downside is they may not have purchased all your items (So they are taking more money from you without buying everything).

If they demo before you have all of your important items, then that prolongs the job at least the amount of time it takes to get them in which could be 1 day - 1 month longer. Things are taking a while because demand is higher now than ever before for remodeling.

On top of that, if something is missing, scratched, chipped or otherwise not in good condition, the contractor has to return it or try to pressure you into using it, which is uncomfortable.

The other huge hindrance and stress creator for the homeowner is it prolongs the job another 1-6 weeks if something has to be returned and wait for the new one.

Here is an example to illustrate what it is like if you work with an unorganized contractor who doesn’t order all of the important items right away, wait for them to be delivered, check them for any quality issues, and you check them to ensure you are happy:

  1. 1
    The contractor starts without ordering everything because they want that second demo payment.
  2. 2
    They didn’t work with you properly in the design phase (if they even had a design phase) You take time picking out your items or change your mind adding a couple days to a couple weeks.
  3. 3
    They finally order more items or all of them and 4 items come in 2-5 weeks later.
  4. 4
    When all the items come in 2 of them are scratched, chipped, not the color you thought, etc. so they have to be returned and either reordered which could be 1-6 weeks or you need time to pick a new item and that adds to the time.
  5. 5
    Then the other items come in and they are luckily in good condition (this is a positive example just so the timeline doesn’t get too long!)

In that example, because the contractor didn’t wait for all items to arrive and check them before starting the demo…

The project has now gone from 4-6 weeks to now being 9-19 weeks

So that's about a 1 - 1.5 month project originally timeline getting extended to 2.5 - 5 months.

2.5 - 5 months of having to deal with a contractor coming in and out of your home, plus you won’t be able to use the bathroom and potentially other space they are remodeling.

This is one of the many reasons you hear the horror stories about how contractors take 2-4 times longer than they originally said.


Now it isn’t all on the remodel contractor because a small part of it can be on the homeowner...

Here’s one tip for all homeowners:
Do not rush your contractor during the design phase or purchasing phase unless you are 100% sure it is something they aren’t getting done.

Patience is key during this phase.  We know you want to get started ASAP and so do we. 

Rushing only creates stress for you, us, and doesn’t help the situation. If a contractor starts to feel pressure to rush things, that is when issues will happen, like the one mentioned above.

If you want to learn more about the remodel process, this is a good article: Remodel Process

Shower Remodel Tips

The shower is the riskiest and most costly part of your home.

Some of those risks come from plumbing fixtures so lets start with those recommendations... 

Plumbing Fixture Brands We Recommend And Require

Due to Arizona’s hard water, even with a water softener, we have to require you work with plumbing fixture companies that are proven.

The three we advise homeowners choose are Delta, Moen, or Kohler.  

Delta is our favorite because they have a lifetime finish warranty and they make great products.  Delta also has universal shower valves which means if 10+ years down the road you wanted to change the color/finish of your bathroom fixtures, you wouldn’t need a plumber to change the plumbing line and internal shower valve.  You would be able to change the outside “pretty” part of the valve to whichever color you want, while keeping the internal valve as is.

If you work with us, we advise you in the right direction in terms of product quality, functionality, and design standpoints.

If you don’t end up working with us, please avoid the unknown brand names you see online.  They may be less money, but you will just have to replace them soon with a good one, which will actually cost you much more money to redo plumbing and the new fixture.

bathroom remodel tips - plumbing


Help With Your Shower Size

As you may have heard, shower floors are one of, if not the most risky thing in your home.  There are a lot of steps that someone can skip in the shower remodel process.

Shower floors are the most expensive thing you can remodel inside your home when measured per square foot.

The reason is shower floors are an extremely laborious process.

That is why we also like to discuss the length an average shower head sprays water…

When you have a regular shower head pointed at about a 35 degree angle, you are not getting wet after 3.5-4 feet.  If you have a rain shower head it is pointed straight down so water is sprayed at a shorter distance than that.  A handheld is often pointed farther down than a regular shower head, so that it isn't spraying far when on it’s holder.

So the point of bringing that up is anything past 4 feet for the shower length is mostly for aesthetics. We are happy to make the shower as long as you want, we just want to provide this info to balance your wallet with your wishlist.

Some homeowners like the shower longer to fit 2 people, a bench, or other reasons.  So we aren’t saying don’t do a longer shower, just to know that the functionality can be reduced after ~4 feet in length.

When someone wants to make their shower longer, the average is usually around 5 ft feet long and 3 feet wide.

The average master bathroom shower that is 5 feet long and 3 feet wide is around $12k - $16k for labor, materials, plumbing fixtures, and a recessed shower wall niche for bath products.  

That also can increase if you want a pony wall, change windows in the shower area, or add other items not in a regular master shower. 

When it comes to these types of decisions, we always help our clients balance their wallet with their wishlist.


Ahwatukee bathroom remodeling

Advice On Shower Floors

As mentioned above, shower floors are one of the riskiest things in your home.

We have an article explaining the shower remodel process that has each main step with pictures, so if we aren’t a good fit for each other, you can follow the contractor to increase the chance of potentially catching them skipping steps or making mistakes. 

It’s vital to know that if the contractor skips a step in the shower floor or makes a mistake, it could cause leaks that require you to have the entire shower ripped out and start over.

So you could end up having to pay for 2 showers.  We have had people crying on the phone during the initial consultation because they had this happen and now have to pay twice for the shower, or the homeowners insurance is covering little to none of the costs.

As you can see shower remodels are extremely risky and it is the main reason why we created this bathroom remodel tips webpage.

Shower Floor Types

There are 2 main types of shower floors - Acrylic and tile.

Acrylic is the simple and often white floor shown in this picture. 

Acrylic floor pans are less money than tile floors because they are much faster to install and the materials are less expensive. Acrylic floors are also slightly lower maintenance but still need regular cleaning.

Acrylic floor pans only come in certain sizes, so if your shower floor has to be a “custom” size, a shower floor pan may not be possible.


Tile floors are more money, but they are also higher end and can increase the homes resale value and appeal.

Shower tile floors are often less slippery, look nicer, and allow the homeowner to add their own style to personalize the look. 

shower floor pan tips copy


shower tile floor tips

Shower tile floor

Curb-less shower

Curb-less showers are great for those that are in a wheelchair or planning for the future.

Curb-less showers are usually $2,000- $4,000 more depending on if 1st or 2nd floor, how large the shower will be, and other factors.

This is because the contractor has to do a lot more work to prepare a curb-less shower.

Shower curbs are important to keep the water from getting out of the shower area.  

Most of our clients pick a shower with a curb because they aren’t that high up so stepping over it is not much different than taking a regular step.

Shower Drain Advice

The 2 main types of shower drains are a square or linear drain.  Linear drains are harder to clean, are more expensive to install, and can be harder to remove hair.

We recommend a square drain that also has a simple hair trap that is hidden, yet easy to clean.  See this short video:

New Guest Bathtub VS Shower Floor

Many homeowners debate between keeping/reinstalling the guest bathtub or doing a shower floor.

In order of least expensive to most expensive, here are your options:

  1. 1
    Keeping the bathtub is the least expensive. 
  2. 2
    Refinishing the bathtub is the next.
  3. 3
    Removing and installing a new bathtub is more than the first two options
  4. 4
    Removing the current bathtub and installing a new acrylic shower floor is around the same price as a new bathtub
  5. 5
    Removing the current bathtub and installing a new tile shower floor is a little more than the last 2 options

Most realtors will advise that you want to have 1 bathtub in the home.
There are reasons not to have a bathtub in the guest bathroom, but all things equal, we recommend keeping the bathtub in one guest bathroom for resale.

Another reason we recommend the bathtub in the guest bathroom is if kids are using it, generally speaking, they tend to not care about water damage like adults do. So if you have a bathtub, there is a “wall” about a foot high that protects the drywall and flooring just outside of the shower area.

We have noticed more homeowners aren’t as worried about resale, and they are doing what they want with the guest bathroom. As mentioned in the beginning of this bathroom remodel tips article, there is no right or wrong. 

Shower Wall Material Options

For shower walls there are 3 main types that are worth explaining:

  1. Tile shower walls
  2. Slab based material 
  3. Acrylic wall inserts

Tile Shower Wall Pros & Cons

Pros of shower tile walls

  • It’s normally considered the best looking
  • It increase resale value the most
  • It is the most customizable (recessed niches where you want, adding pony walls, any length or distance you want
  • Shower tile wall also have the most color options and styles to ensure you get the look that matches your style
  • Tile won’t yellow or scratch as easily like the other material options
  • There are 2 solutions to tile walls biggest potential downfalls:
    • We use a grout that has an epoxy in it so you don’t have the same issues like regular grout like discoloration and cracking.
    • You can also have your shower wall tiles and grout coated by a company called Hydroshield that has a 5 year minimum warranty which is the best we have found. Several of us have it on our own showers and countertops.

Cons of shower tile walls

  • It can be the same price or a little more compared to slab based material.  It’s more money than acrylic.
  • The grout can be annoying to clean if you don’t have the contractor use the right grout. (As mentioned above, you can avoid this issue by using a grout with an epoxy and if you want extra protection, you can have HydroShield coating added.)

Pros of slab based shower walls

  • It’s faster to install

Cons of slab based shower walls

  • It’s sometimes considered lower end compared to tile from an aesthetic standpoint and resale
  • It usually does not increase the resale value unless in a guest bathroom
  • You cannot customize it like you can with tile shower walls
  • So you can’t do the pony walls, niches and other items as well as you can with tile walls
  • Limited color options and styles compared to tile showers
  • Many materials can yellow or scratch 

Pros of acrylic shower walls

  • It’s faster to install
  • It’s less money than the other options
  • It’s great for a low cost option when there are no windows in the shower area

Cons of acrylic shower walls

  • It’s considered lower-end compared to tile from an aesthetic standpoint and resale
  • It usually does not increase the resale value unless in a guest bathroom
  • You cannot customize it like you can with tile shower walls
  • Limited color options and styles compared to tile showers
  • They can yellow and scratch 
  • If there is a window in the shower, it may not be possible or advisable to use acrylic shower walls. (We don’t do acrylic shower walls if there is a window due to risks)

How High Up Should I Tile The Shower Walls?

If your ceiling is within a couple of feet of your shower head, we often recommend going to the ceiling.  

If your ceiling is higher than that, we recommend going a little above the shower head for waterproofing.  

Sometimes it makes sense to pick a height that is in line with another item in the bathroom such as the top of a window, top of the door frame, etc.

The exact height will also depend on the tile you pick and the height of the tile.  It usually looks nicer if we don’t have to cut all of the top tile’s height, so the height of the tile has a small impact on the overall tile height of the remodeled shower.

More Bathroom Remodel Tips For Shower Niches & Tile Bands

Shower tile bands are a fun way to customize your shower, while adding some style and panache. 

They increase the cost a little because it is more laborious to install and the price per square feet is more than regular shower wall tile.  Luckily there isn’t a lot of square feet involved, so the price increase is minimal compared to the total shower remodel cost.

Shower niches are one of our client’s favorite things once they start using their shower.

Having 1 long or 2 separate recessed shower wall niches can help hold all your bath products, including the taller containers that have pumps on the top.

Some homeowners like to find a fun smaller tile such as a mosaic, to make the niche pop with color. Some homeowners prefer to have the same wall tile so it doesn’t pop. 

For those that build a pony wall, many homeowners like the niche to be on the inside of the pony wall so you can’t see any bath products from the outside view of the shower.

Here is a video of Jeremy explaining the benefits of the niche in the pony wall:

As mentioned in the beginning of this bathroom remodel tips page, some of these options are personalized and don’t have a right or wrong answer.  We help you find the best solutions for your design and functionality needs.

Pony Wall And Shower Glass Advice

Pony walls are great for several reasons.

They help with privacy so you can still see out but people can’t see anything from the waist/shoulder/neck up depending on how high you want it.

The higher up the pony wall is, the less glass above you need to clean. The higher the pony wall is built, the less water hits it which reduces how often it needs to be cleaned. (HydroShield mentioned above will help with this cleaning aspect)

Another benefit to a pony wall is it can hide the recessed shower wall niche that holds your bath products.

The downside is pony walls increase the cost of the remodel due to more materials and the extra labor involved as described below…

Pony Wall Installation Steps

Here are the steps to creating a pony wall to explain why it is more expensive than shower glass:

  • We have to build the structure of the pony wall which is called framing. We have to take extra care to secure a pony wall since there aren’t three sides to support it like a normal wall (A normal wall has the floor, ceiling, and 1 wall to support it, while a pony wall does not have the ceiling to brace it.)
  • We then install the cement board on the inside of pony wall.
  • If there is a niche we need to frame it and add cement board around it.
  • After installing the cement board, we need to waterproof that entire area.
  • After the waterproofing is dry, we use a high-quality thin-set to install the tiles.
  • After the tile thin-set under the tile has dried we come back and do the grout. (this step of waiting is very important and sometimes done too soon by those that don’t care )
  • We use a grout that has an epoxy in it so you can avoid the cracking and discoloration often seen with regular grout.
  • If you want a regular painted wall on the exterior of the pony wall we need to add drywall, mud and tape it while giving time for it to dry. Then we texture it and give it a day or two to dry. Then we paint it.
  • If you want tile on the exterior of the wall, then there is 6 more steps as mentioned above

So those are the steps for the labor part and then you have to remember there is the cost of the materials including the tile.

Even though it costs more, many homeowners love the benefits of the pony wall.
There is no right or wrong, it’s all personal preference along with what works for the budget.

Shower & Bathtub Glass Tips

Shower glass is not fun to clean but frameless shower glass gives a beautiful updated look to a shower.

One of the benefits to frameless shower glass is the human eye doesn’t stop at the glass, but goes to the shower wall tile.  This makes the bathroom look larger and more spacious.  

When you are in the shower you can see out with frameless shower glass, so it makes the shower feel larger and less restrictive.

The biggest concern homeowners have with shower glass is that it is difficult to clean.  A partial solution is to have HydroShield coat your glass and other materials in the shower to ensure it is protected against Arizona’s hard water.

Sliding Glass Doors or Curtain?

This is a common question we get from homeowners and we like to ask some questions and provide this info before advising:

Is it kids using the shower?

If kids are using the shower, some homeowner choose a curtain because it is less money and it hides what is behind there (Great for kids who may leave a mess) 😊

Some homeowners dislike the look of a curtain while others prefer it.

If a homeowner is undecided, we let them know the shower glass enclosure for a guest bathroom is $1,000-$2,000.

Because the shower glass is safety glass, custom made, and it’s thicker than the basic box store type you see, the shower glass is more money.  

Many homeowners like shower glass because it shows off their new remodel, makes the room look larger, and gives it a higher end look.

Another options is a half glass panel which invites some water outside of the shower area but it looks great and there are no moving parts

All shower glass we use is safety glass which means it is tempered so if someone were to use an incredible amount of force and it were to break, it would shatter into tiny pieces to not cut you the way regular glass would.

Shower Door Or No Shower Door?

We are happy to do either, but we always warn that it is colder not having a shower door.

This is important to know because if you are cold every morning after spending tens of thousands of dollars on a nice master bathroom remodel, you are not going to be happy. You’ll be frustrated every morning, which is a terrible way to start your day.

We recommend leaving the door open to your current shower with towels outside the entrance, and see if it’s too cold for you.

You usually can’t put a shower door on after the shower remodel is completed, so it’s an important decision to figure out during the design phase or before.

The other thing to consider is if you do not have a shower door it could lead to water splashing out. Even if the shower head doesn’t spray outside of the shower just being in the shower and it ricocheting off your body can result in a decent amount of water being outside of the shower if there’s no door.

Shower Plumbing And Electrical Recommendations

Shower Valve Location

If the entrance is away from the shower head and valve, we recommend moving the shower valve to be close to the entrance.

This way you can turn on the shower at the entrance instead of having to walk into the shower to turn it on, and then get hit by the cold shower water.

Th contractor should be removing everything down to the studs, so moving the plumbing is easier with the walls removed.

shower valve location bathroom remodel tip

Shower Head Options

There are a lot of types of shower heads with different functionality.

We always recommend homeowners use Kohler, Delta, or Moen as mentioned earlier in this bathroom remodel tips article.

Delta is our favorite because they have a lifetime finish warranty and a universal valve to make changing in the future easy.

Rain shower Heads

People with long hair tend to not like the rain shower heads for 2 reasons:

  1. If you have long hair and don’t want to wash it every day, it’s hard to keep it dry because the rain shower head shoots straight down which makes it virtually impossible to keep dry while washing your body.
  2. Since the rain shower head pressure is not strong, people complain it is difficult to rinse out shampoo and conditioner, especially when they have a water softener.

For couples that want a rain shower and another option, you can install a regular shower head or a handheld shower device along with the rain shower head...

Regular Shower Head With A Handheld

Some people like to have a regular shower head and a handheld.  

When you want 2 shower devices as mentioned above, you need a diverter which allows you to choose which one(s) are turned on.

This obviously increases the cost because there is another device and install involved along with more plumbing lines.

There’s another option if you want a shower head AND a handheld to take off the holder...

Another alternative that has been becoming popular is a shower head that not only has the regular shower head but also has the handheld in the middle of the shower head.  This is different from a regular shower head that has a hose on it.

To explain, Jeremy shows in this video how it works:

Electrical Around A Shower 

Electrical around a shower can be a hazard.

Low voltage doesn’t present the same dangers but there is a downside.

Some homeowners inquire about a rope light in their shower niche.  While this can be done, the downside is if something goes wrong you can’t just remove it easily.  It is kind of stuck in there and you can’t access it well.

Most things unfortunately aren’t made as well as they used to.  Even LED lights go out and you don’t want to deal with the issues that are then created from that.  

For more light in a shower area, we recommend waterproof can lights in the ceiling.  We suggest having them on a dimmer so that you can control the mount of light to create the ambience you want.

Bathtub Remodel Tips

It was common many years ago to need a bathtub in the master bathroom.

You’ll notice many realtors now recommend you just need one bathtub in the home.  

Most homeowners we talk to don’t want a bathtub in their master because they don’t use it.

If you are considering a bathtub just because of resale or don’t know what else to do with that space, there's another option.

The flexible space is quite popular because its an area of the bathroom you can use it for:

  • A drying off area
  • Place to have a cushioned bench
  • A area for more storage
  • Place for plants to add to the ambiance and also improve air quality (humidity from the bathroom is often great for most plants so it's easier to keep them alive!)
  • An open space that makes your bathroom look less cluttered or closed in

And the space is called a flexible space because if you change your mind in the future, none of those things are permanent and you can switch it to your current needs.

About 20-30% of homeowners do want a bathtub so it’s important to provide advice as part of these bathroom remodel tips…

Freestanding Bathtub Advice

This is the most updated look currently compared to alcove, drop-in, or other bathtub options. 

If you are considering reselling the home in the next 5 years and you want a bathtub for yourself, this might be the best choice.

Material For Freestanding Bathtub

Acrylic is often the one we recommend because it has a lot of pros and the few cons are not applicable to us as you’ll see why below.

freestanding bathtub advice

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Available in many colors, shapes, and sizes
  • Durable
  • Non-porous surface
  • Surface is repairable

Cons

  • The surface can scratch if cleaned with abrasive cleaners but that shouldn’t be an issue when you or your cleaning company know the few products to stay away from.
  • Stress points must be properly reinforced during installation which isn’t something you have to worry about with us.
  • Acrylic is more expensive than fiberglass, but fiberglass is often not a good solution because it is not as durable and it can crack, scratch, fade, and the color options are limited.

We don’t recommend cast iron because it is heavy which isn’t good for a second floor, plus it is usually more expensive than other options.

Cast polymer such as cultured marble, granite, or Onyx is another option, but they tend to be brittle which could cause damage later. The wearing of the gel coating can lead to non-repairable cracks, causing you to have to buy an acrylic bathtub.

We don’t do porcelain enameled steel because it is an inferior product you will not be happy with. It loses heat quickly, the surface can chip when objects are dropped, rust forms on even the smallest chip, and there are limited shapes and colors.

2 Types Of Freestanding Bathtub Faucets

There’s 2 main types of faucets for a freestanding bathtub:

  • Wall-mount faucet 
  • Floor-mount tub filler

The wall mount bathtub faucet is less money and usually works with post tension slabs (explained below).

The floor mount bathtub faucet is more money, but many people like the high-end look it provides.

We can move the plumbing to do either as long as not Post tension slab.  

Post tension slab means you have cables running through your foundation to make it stronger.  

It is more costly to have someone “X-ray” your floor and do all the work involved with post tension, which homeowners understandably don’t want to pay that much more.

wall-mount faucet tips
floor mount faucet advice


Drywall Or Tile Behind & Around Freestanding Bathtub?

There are a couple questions we ask that then provide recommendations on which way to go on this decision.

Will kids be using the freestanding bathtub, in which case they might be more likely to splash and get water on the nearby walls? If the answer is yes then you want tile around the walls so the drywall is not damaged.

If the answer is no kids using it and you are considering it for the aesthetics, then the next question is: 

Is the tile walls worth $1,500 -$2,000 (depending on the square feet and type of tile you pick) more versus drywall, texture, and painting that area?   

The reason for the added cost is we do the water proofing and installation the way it is supposed to be done.  This includes:

  1. Cutting out the exact amount of drywall to prepare the installation of cement board.  
  2. Install the cement board
  3. After installing the cement board, we need to waterproof that entire area.  
  4. After the waterproofing is dry, we use a quality thin-set to install the tiles.  
  5. After the tile thin-set has dried we come back and do the grout. (this step of waiting is important and sometimes skipped by those that don’t care
  6. We use a grout that has an epoxy in it so you can avoid the cracking and discoloration often seen with regular grout.

The benefit of tiling around the freestanding bathtub is for the waterproof aspects as mentioned above.

Another benefit for some homeowners is providing a consistent look between the shower and bathtub area.  Some homeowners like it when the shower and bathtub have separate and distinguished look and some like a cohesive look.  

As mentioned earlier in this bathroom remodel tips article… To each their own! There's so many factors and you want to go with what you prefer when feasible.

Advice On Potential Downside To A Freestanding Bathtub

Downside to the freestanding bathtub is it doesn’t have the deck surrounding the bathtub to hold bath products.

A few solutions are floating shelves or building a recessed wall niche similar to what you often see in showers. 

Tips On Drop-in Bathtubs

Drop in bathtubs are the ones where there is a deck around it to hold bath products. Many homeowners like being able to have several items around the bathtub, like candles, bath products, plants, etc.

To make the drop-in bathtub, the contractor frames in a “box” to hold the bathtub, then “drops” the bathtub into the framed area.  Then they put cement board on the framing, waterproof it, then add the tile.  

This is more work than a freestanding bathtub, so even though a drop bathtub is less money, the overall cost is usually slightly higher for a drop-in bathtub. 

drop in tub bathroom tips

We advise that it is usually best to use the same tile from the shower walls to go around the bathtub.  This way it is one cohesive look across both spaces. 

On that note regarding a cohesive look, let's review some bathroom remodel tips about vanities...

Bathroom Vanity Tips

Tips On What To Do With Bathroom Cabinets

There are 5 main options when considering what to do with vanity cabinets. This is in order of least expensive to most expensive: 

  1. Keep the current cabinets
  2. Refinish the cabinets where we remove the drawers and doors, sand the doors, drawers, and cabinet boxes, paint/stain them, put coats of lacquer to protect the finish, reinstall the doors and drawers and add new hardware. 
  3. Reface the cabinets which are the same steps as above but we replace the cabinet doors and draw faces with a new style, then refinish everything and reinstall as mentioned above.
  4. Install a pre-made vanity which usually has the cabinets, countertops, and sink included. 
  5. Installing new cabinets 

Refinishing / Refacing

Some homeowners ask us about adding new sinks, countertops, and refinishing/refacing the cabinets.

Here are the pros and cons or reasons to consider doing it or not doing it:

Pros / reasons to do it

  • If you are doing other rooms and already looking at getting countertops, then this can make sense.
  • If you have a long run of cabinets and a pre-made would not fit that, and you don’t want to spend the higher amount of money for new cabinets.
  • If your cabinet is between 2 walls and that distance isn’t available in a pre-made vanity and the cost of cabinets is more money.
  • You are refinishing other areas of the home with the same cabinet doors and want them to match.

Cons / reasons to not do it

  • While we do a great job with refinishing, it doesn’t look quite as good as new cabinets.
  • You can’t change the layout or structure of the cabinets. For example: Many older cabinets in bathrooms don’t have enough drawers but new pre-made vanities and custom cabinets do.
  • If your cabinets/countertop height is low, refinishing the currency cabinets will not fix that.
  • Some homeowners see their current cabinets as a boring look compared to the new styles and options with a pre-made vanity.
  • It might take a couple days longer to complete the remodel depending on what else is getting done at the same time.
  • Because of the cost and time involved in refinishing/refacing, along with the cost of getting a new countertop slab and paying for new sinks, a pre-made vanity can often be less money.

Pre-made Vanity

Pre-made vanities have become popular because there are so many options no matter what look you are going for.

Pros / reasons to do it

  • The benefit to the pre-made vanities is they have the cabinets, countertops, and sink(s) included and it is at a better price because they mass produce them. 
  • This can allow a homeowner to get all new vanities at a better price than trying to salvage the current cabinets.
  • You can choose the exact layout, compared to keeping current cabinets which you can’t change.
  • They are often more unique looking than new cabinetry.
  • You can often match the look to any other room in the home

Cons / reasons to not do it

  • The quality of some pre-made vanities is subpar, but luckily we help you steer away from them.
  • They only come in preset lengths so some many not fit your layout.
  • They come with the cabinets countertops and sink which is a benefit unless you don’t like one of the “prepackaged” items. Luckily there are so many options nowadays that most homeowners do not have trouble finding one.
  • Pre-made vanities have gone up in cost due to their popularity because demand is higher than ever before.
  • It can take several weeks to get in some pre-made vanities. This usually isn’t an issue because that is often less time than regular cabinets, and we are waiting on everything else to also get delivered and checked.

New Bathroom Cabinets

New bathroom vanity cabinets have pros and cons to them which are easily outlined below:

Pros / reasons to do it

  • You can start from scratch and everything is new.
  • You can choose the exact layout you want in terms of where the drawers and doors are, how wide, etc.
  • If you have a long run of cabinets this is the only option if you want to replace your current bathroom cabinets because pre-made vanities only come in certain sizes.
  • If your cabinet is between 2 walls and that distance isn’t available in a pre-made vanity.
  • You are adding new cabinets to other areas of the home and want them to match.
  • If you are doing new cabinets and countertops in other areas, it could actually be the same or less money then some pre-made vanities. This depends on how many countertop slabs are needed.
  • If you want any cabinetry above the countertop in the bathroom, you want to go with regular cabinets since pre-mades do not have that option. 

Cons / reasons to not do it

  • Except for scenarios mentioned above, new cabinets are usually more expensive.
  • They often don’t have as unique of a look as some pre-made vanities.

Floating Vanity Tips

Floating vanities are good for a modern and sophisticated look.
It can mean one more area to vacuum.

This can also be a plus compared to some pre-made vanities that have a small gap from the floor so they are hard to get a full vacuum underneath. Floating vanities provide plenty of room for this or a robot vacuum.

Floating vanities require the contractor to do new flooring or at least patch the area underneath the floating vanity.

floating vanity advice

Countertop Recommendations 

If you are looking to redo your countertops, your options are new countertop slabs or one that comes with a pre-made vanity.

A pre-made vanity comes with the countertop which makes it easier, faster, and less expensive.

If you want new countertops and it is only one room then the rest of the slab could be wasted.  We have access to several boneyards where partial pieces or overstock slabs are less expensive but still great quality.

If you have other rooms that you want to also replace countertops, it can be a great option in the bathroom.

There are many types of materials to use in countertops, so in the interest of time we will discuss the ones we advise clients use:

  • Granite - It is well known by most people, has been around a long time, and is cut from natural stone.  They can have a unique look and are less maintenance than marble.  Granite can also withstand hot temperatures like a curling iron in the bathroom or hot pot in the kitchen.
  • Quartz- this has become the most popular option because it is one of the lowest maintenance options, it is a more controlled look, and there are a lot of choices.   Quartz downside is it does not do well with any material over 150 degrees, so a hot curling iron cannot be placed on the countertop.  Quartz is made from real quartz along with an epoxy which can start to melt or discolor due to high heat.
  • Quartzite is another good option, but not often picked because it is about twice the price as some quartz slabs.

We don’t recommend marble, butcher block, concrete, or metal countertops due to costs, higher maintenance, inconsistent looks, fading, damaged with frequent water, and other reasons.

Butcher block, concrete and metal countertops have so many issues later on, that we will not do them.

Vanity Faucet Options

The 2 main options are wall-mount faucets or countertop faucets.

Wall-mount faucets aren’t as common because they are harder to reach since a longer distance, the faucets are more money, there are less design options, and they require plumbing line changes which isn’t difficult but does cost more.

Countertop faucets are the most popular, due to costs, easier to use, and they come in more design options than wall-mount faucets.

Bathroom Remodel Tips on Storage

Cabinet Storage

If you are looking to increase the amount of storage, but don’t have room for more cabinets, internal cabinet devices can increase the quality of storage.

Those are Rev-a-shelf cabinet storage devices usually only installable on new cabinets. Sometimes we can fit them into pre-made vanities or existing cabinets, so it just depends on a few factors.

These storage items average around $1,000 each which includes installation. 

That doesn’t include if they need electrical, because that would be an additional cost for taping into another electrical source, running a new line, installing a new electrical box, wiring a new outlet, and the small items like the outlet and cover.

Feel free to visit that link above to see more pictures of all the storage options available.  

bathroom drawer storage
bathroom storage

Another option is a “pantry” style cabinet above the countertop or one that starts at the floor and is about 7-8 feet high.

The pantry cabinet is often more money than the full pantry cabinet starting that floor even though it is less than half the material.  The reason is they are often custom if the homeowner doesn’t want it in the few options available.

Another thing to consider is this type of cabinet can block the vanity lights from the other side reaching you. 

When you have 2 vanity lights above both mirrors you benefit from both lights, but when there is a cabinet in between the amount of light is reduced.

If someone is considering this type of cabinet, we often suggest storage mirrors...

Storage Mirrors

One of the most popular items recently being added in a bathroom is storage mirrors

These are mirrors that have a swinging door and provide storage. 

The come in all different sizes and styles. 

They are similar in function to a medicine cabinet, but have better styling and you often can’t tell there is storage behind them.

They are larger so you get more storage than a medicine cabinet.

advice on storage mirrors

Another benefit of it not being recessed, is it’s closer to you so it is more reachable. 

Many storage mirrors have different style options for the side of the storage mirrors which makes it match nicely with the other elements in the bathroom.

Many storage mirrors are not recessed because most people don’t opt to pay for extra work involved since the non-recessed ones look nice.

storage mirror ideas and advice

If a homeowner wants to have it recessed, the steps involve demoing the drywall, moving plumbing, electrical or anything else in the way, removing the current framing where the mirror would be recessed, installing new framing to hold the mirror, and then drywall, texture, and paint if needed.  

So manufacturers make more of the wall mount type instead of the recessed look. 

Most homeowners like it because even though it may stick out a little, it is not like a medicine cabinet in terms of the outdated look, and it is not installed on a side wall like medicine cabinets are which means you are always looking at the side of the medicine cabinet.

storage mirror ideas

Vanity Lighting Tips

The most common vanity light is the one that goes above the mirror.

Sometimes there are 2 sinks and only one light.  Some homeowners want 2 lights instead of one which is more money due to extra time and materials needed. You only want a licensed electrician doing that type of work.

Sometimes there are already 2 vanity lights but the original builder didn’t line them up with the sink and faucet or the homeowner wants to make a change that requires those being moved.  This adds to the cost of the remodel.

The other option is having sconce lights on both sides of the mirror, which many see as a high end look.

This is a more expensive option due to needing 2 sconce lights per mirror as opposed to one with the regular light option.  The sconce lights are often more money per light too.  There is twice as much wiring and electrical boxes to install. 

Depending on how many bulbs and types used for the above mirror vanity light, either of these options provide about the same light.

Other Bathroom Remodel Tips

Toilets

Many homeowners prefer what is called “comfort height” toilets, which are a little higher.

They now make toilets that don’t have the 2 toilet bolts on each side, which have those white plastic caps that can come off. 

They are also harder to clean, so these new toilets make it more modern and easier to clean. 

Check out how the toilet in this picture does not have anything on the side.

bathroom remodel tips on toilet

Bidets

Bidets have been popular in Asia and other parts of the world for a long time.

It is now becoming much more popular in the US and we get a lot of requests to install an electrical outlet behind the toilet so they can have a bidet.

Bidets can be basic with just water, or if you get an electrical outlet, they can do a lot more.

Here is a video of Jeremy reviewing his bidet and explaining the benefits:

Note from Jeremy:  I will never go back to not having a bidet. Most people I have talked to feel the same way.

Flooring Recommendations

We always suggest tile flooring in a bathroom but there are other options.

Instead of explaining all of the pros and cons of different flooring here, we have an article dedicated to all of the flooring options and pros and cons

Other Electrical Advice

Can lights are a great way to bring an even amount of light throughout your bathroom.  As mentioned in the shower section, they are a great way to light up the shower because they are waterproof.

Can lights are subtle and they don’t take a lot of energy to power.

Another benefit of can lights is they do not create heat like other light fixtures can, which is important in Arizona’s 115 degree summers. 

Chandeliers or other types of hanging lights are a fantastic way to bring some style and a 3 dimensional element to your bathroom. 

If you want a chandelier over your bathtub, the distance from the top of your bathtub to the ceiling has to be 8ft OR 3 feet out from the tub edge, per building code. (correct as of the date this was written).

Exhaust fans - if your exhaust fan is 7+ years old you should consider replacing.  They are less than $100 and the newer ones do a great job of quietly pulling out a lot of air/steam.

Steam showers - They are much more expensive than people realize.  A good steam generator which is the machine that creates the steam along with its accessories is around $4,000.

That doesn’t include install, plumbing, needing to run a new dedicated electrical line from your generator, tiling the top of the shower to waterproof it, and more shower glass to go to the ceiling.  Steam showers can be a great feature, the homeowner just has to be aware of the added costs.

Tips On Bathroom Doors

It’s surprising how many homes in Arizona do not have a doorway between the master bedroom and master bathroom.  This causes issues with light and sounds for those in the master bedroom when another person wakes up earlier than the other. It can also be a privacy challenge.

Many homeowners choose a regular door or one with frosted panels. Both are good for privacy and sound.

Barn doors - need one side of the wall to be at least the same width as the entry so the barn door can slide in that direction.  You can’t have electrical switches or furniture on that side. Some entries can have 2 barn doors “split” in half, but some homeowners don’t like needing to slide two doors each time they want to open and close it.

Pocket doors - we can’t have any electrical within the wall where the pocket door would slide into.  So if there is electrical, we need to move it or choose an alternative option.

Mini french doors are becoming popular because they don’t require as much work or specific layout like pocket doors and barn doors. A big benefit of these is when the doors are open they don’t swing out as wide as regular doors. Since these aren't as well known here is a picture of one we recently did:

double doors

Regular french doors for wide areas - This is the least common for a bathroom entry, but if you have a wide entry and plenty of room for the doors to swing, this is a beautiful option.

Color & Design Bathroom Remodel Advice

As mentioned earlier, we have an in-house designer which is really important.

If you haven't seen this page about the Design-Build process, I highly recommend it: Design-Build VS General Contractor

You work with a remodeling company that has a certified in-house designer to pick out your selection items.  This is an important step because a selection item such as countertops could have a $7,000 difference just in the type you choose.

So our designer helps you pick items that meet your design tastes and budget.

They also help you choose items that are of high quality without being unnecessarily expensive.

Having a real certified designer who went to an accredited design school is really important.

You are going to need to pick out many items for your renovation and you want it to go as smoothly as possible.

You have to make sure the designer is an employee of the construction company, and not a subcontractor, otherwise there will be a lot of miscommunication, and the chance of construction issues.

Having an in-house designer helps with:

  • Knowing the best places to pick your items while still giving you flexibility in the retailers you like
  • Getting you the contractor discount we have with many vendors 
  • Provide design advice on what looks good
  • Bringing samples to you to save time - our client's are busy and love this experience
  • Still allow you to go on your own to look at items at your own pace
  •  Create the design renders to ensure the layout and colors are the way you want
  • Use our extensive catalogs to put the exact item you picked into the render to ensure the materials are the ones you want to go with before doing construction

Wrapping Up These Bathroom Remodel Tips

We hope you were able to spend time reviewing all of these bathroom remodel tips.

These can have a huge impact on your happiness once the bathroom renovation is completed.

These tips can also help you with each stage of the process in remodeling.

If you decide to choose us for the design package, we help you with these items.  Since there is so much to this, and our team is always busy, it's important to have this resource to review beforehand to iron out what you personally prefer.

If you have any questions please reach out to us.

If you haven’t already, see if we will be a good fit to work together:

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