The Bathroom Remodeling Process

Due to the wide variety of trades required, bathroom remodeling projects are more complex per square-foot than almost any other remodeling project. As such, rather than contract with several trade-specific contractors, many homeowners prefer to hire one contractor to handle all aspects of the project from start to finish. Although some bathroom remodeling projects require moving walls, most do not. The project’s requirements determine which construction steps are taken and in which order. Some common steps of the process include:

Demolition. Whereas many homeowners prefer untiled walls in dry areas, the tile in many older bathrooms extends to a height of four or five feet. Unfortunately, in the old days, attaching tile to a wall involved attaching a metal mesh to the wall studs, spreading cement on the mesh to make the wall even with the plaster above, and then attaching the tiles to the concrete. The demolition process removes not just the tiles, but also the concrete and metal mesh holding them to the wall.

Tile floors also represent a challenge. Most older tile floors were constructed over a three-inch slab of poured concrete. In some cases, the existing slab is cracked and the floor joists below are rotted. As part of demolition, the existing tile and concrete slab is broken up and removed from the house in pieces. Old cast-iron bathtubs are disposed of in the same way. In handling this debris, quality contractors take the steps required to minimize disruption, damage, and dirt in other areas of the home.

Structural carpentry work. Next, a carpenter builds out the walls of the bathroom so that the finished wall is even with the existing plaster above. Additionally, any damaged floor joists are repaired and, if necessary, the floor is built up.

Roughing out utilities. While the studs in the walls are exposed and easily accessible, water feed lines, drains, electric outlets and switches, and heating and air conditioning system ductwork are installed or updated. At this point, any one-piece, pre-manufactured bathtubs, shower stalls, or shower pans are installed.

Installing Sheetrock. Moisture-resistant backer board, along with a vapor barrier, is installed on the dry walls of the bathroom. The contractor will also install 100% waterproof backer board on the soon-to-be-tiled wet walls of the shower stall or bathtub.

Tile work. Depending on taste and budget, tile may be used to cover the bathroom floor, bathtub walls, shower-stall walls, and shower pan.

Installing cabinets, vanities, fixtures, and countertops. The next step is to install and connect all of the cabinets, countertops, toilets, sinks, faucets, etc. Carpenters, plumbers, and sometimes electricians complete this step.

Glass, mirrors, and hardware. Any glass shower-stall walls, custom or standard mirrors, towel bars, and other hardware are installed.

Painting. To avoid marks from the installation of other components, painting is typically one of the last steps in the process.