Bathroom Renovation Frequently Asked Questions
When it comes to renovating any room in your home but especially the kitchen or bathroom, it pays to be prepared and to have done your homework. From understanding the hidden costs to knowing what to ask your builder before you hire them, is very crucial especially when the budget is tight! So here are the most frequently asked questions when it comes to bathroom renovations!
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FACTOR FOR COSTS?
Whether you are undertaking the project on a DIY basis or whether you are calling in the pros. Gutting the existing bathroom and fitting a new one is no small task but can be done on a DIY basis. However, all electrical fittings will require a professional so that they can be certified in the end!
WHAT ARE THE PLANNING STEPS I SHOULD CONSIDER?
Take measurements (know what you can fit in there!!) as the builder will need these to quote you later.
Visit a showroom for inspiration or my Pinterest Bathrooms Board with over 1,100 bathroom images!
Decide the style.
Get at least two building quotes (not estimates!!)
Sign a statement of work and pay the booking fee.
Order products in (especially the ones that may have longer lead time, like shower frames, bathtubs etc.
Make space in a room or the garage to store the products as they start coming in and check them for defects when they arrive.
Get a skip. You should have one on site on the first day of the project. Check whether you need a council permit to park your skip on a main road outside the house.
Make sure you have planned for daily living needs especially if this is the only bathroom in the house!
SHOULD I USE A BATHROOM DESIGNER?
They are there to help you put your ideas on paper, answer tough questions and help you stay within budget. They may also be able to pass on handy discounts that can pay for their service!
I worked with Melinda Kiss of Keyhole Interiors for our Ensuite Bathroom that was ultimately featured in Grand Designs Magazine in 2019 and a runner up for "Best Revamped Room" in the UK Interior Awards 2019. Melinda help me visualize the look and feel of the room and provided advice about tiling and building.
If you want to talk to a pro without being charged a fortune, below are some individuals I rate highly and would recommend working with. They are independent designers that can provide you with e-designs and can include product sourcing in their service.
Melinda Kiss - www.keyholeinteriors.co.uk
Natalie Holden - www.natalieholden.com
Karen Knox - www.making-spaces.net
Alternatively, if you buy all (or most) of your products from a specific bathroom company like CP HART or your local Bathroom specialists, the could help you with the design, including planning where products will go and even do a 3D render for you, which is handy if, like me, you prefer visuals!
CAN THE TOILET BE POSITIONED ANYWHERE IN THE ROOM ?
The soil pipe and venting (SV) are issues unique to the toilet, and mean moving one from its existing position is the thing that will have the greatest impact on cost.
Where the toilet can go will depend on how the 4in waste pipe (which carries waste from the back of the toilet and is in itself a lot of work to relocate because of its size), will reach the SV stack (the big pipe that sticks out at the top of your house and terminates down in the drain). This can’t be moved without a lot of work. When the builder comes round to quote, ask his opinion. Hire the builder who does not faff about with their answer to this question!
WHAT SHOWER SYSTEM SHOULD I USE?
If it’s electric you’re going with, then really, apart from the aesthetics of the unit itself, your choice comes down to satisfactory flow rate. Somewhere between 10 and 12 litres per minute at a pressure of between 0.1 bar and 0.5 bar will be sufficient. With a valve shower, check the mains cold pressure and what kind of hot water system you have. The suitability is for the supplier or installer to decide, they should be able to advice you accordingly.
WALL MOUNTED, PEDESTAL OR FREE STANDING SINK?
Whatever you choose, make sure your wall will support your basin! Basins are an area of high activity, which is very relevant in the design and installation processes. It will be leaned on and bumped into, and you might have little ones trying to climb it. So the primary concern with the basin is stability. Wall-hung basin units do certainly look the business. The correct way to install these is to reinforce the wall with 24mm marine ply.
SHOULD I MIX THE TYPES OF TILE I AM USING?
This is purely aesthetic but most of the bathrooms I have seen lately mix tiles. We used 4 different tiles in our bathroom shown above (click here to see more of it). Gone are the days when bathrooms used a single design and size of tile (usually with a 'border' around the room at sink level). These days mixing the pattern of tiles in your bathroom is not only acceptable but highly desirable.
DO BLACK TAPS STAIN EASILY? AND HOW TO KEEP THEM CLEAN?
It depends on how hard your water is, but having used ours for almost a year I say no they don't stain more than chrome taps. Pat them dry every now and them to avoid water staying on them for too long (especially relevant for flat wall mounted taps, not an issue with curved taps).
Provided you clean your bathroom regularly you should be fine. If you clean your taps only once every 6 months, then avoid the renovation altogether...
Got limescale (white marks) on your fancy black taps? Use white vinegar on them. Spay on, leave for a few minutes, rinse off and pat dry.
RESIN STONE SINKS. ARE THEY GOOD?
Oh my God, are you serious? They look A-MAZING, love their seamless look. But they can be a pain to maintain in a family bathroom as they may stain (depending on what your angels drop on them). If you are renovating a bathroom, I would say go for porcelain unless the provider can guarantee the sink is stain-proof (not just stain-resistant!).
Lusso Stone (where we got our sink from) send out samples of their resin stone, and you can use that to try various products on to check whether it stains (and if the stain can be removed!)
CERAMIC OR PORCELAIN TILES?
Ceramic and porcelain are composed differently and do behave accordingly upon installation, but with only slight differences. The chief difference is that porcelain are more impervious than ceramic tiles and are thus subject to less water infiltration. Porcelain is therefore recommended for use in showers and around bathrooms. Ceramic is easier to cut than porcelain and is also cheaper.
USE OF MARBLE IN THE BATHROOM
Marble is a type of rock that’s been used for thousands of years. Each piece of marble is different – the variety in veining and colouring is often considered its best trait. Natural marble tiles can have an even or less uniform look, depending on the type and quality of marble you purchase. Because it’s a soft stone, marble is very absorbent. For example, if you dye your hair in a marble shower, the dye can stain your shower floor.
Many people choose a durable porcelain tile to complement marble for this very reason. Marble is easily etched by acidic materials, such as lemon and certain cleaning products. If you want to use marble in your bathroom, I suggest testing lotions and other bath supplies on samples to see if there’s a reaction. For this reason, marble isn’t the best choice for children’s bathrooms.
Marble should be sealed with a quality sealer and maintained on a regular basis. Avoid using strong cleansers (nothing acid-based) to prevent etching or damage to the sealer. Soap, water and a good nylon scrub brush will do the trick.
WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK A BATHROOM FITTER/ BUILDER BEFORE HIRING THEM?
Qualifications/ insurance and references available?
How many projects will you be running at the same time as mine?
Do you have your own team, how many will be working onsite at the same time (for a small bathroom, it should not be more than 2!)
Will you supervise your teams work, daily or how often?
What is the start and finish time every day and will your team clean up every day before they are gone?
How much is the initial deposit to book you (I would recommend no more than £300)
What will be the schedule of payments once you start?
Does the quote include clearing out the existing furniture and tiles?
If they operate a Limited company, check them out on Companies House. If they have made multiple name changes over the years, it's a red flag. Check for online reviews too!
QUESTIONS THAT WILL INFLUENCE YOUR DESIGN/ BUDGET
Am I moving the toilet around?
Do I need both shower and separate bathtub?
Are there any mobility considerations?
Do I need storage?
Am I tiling everywhere?
Which areas do I want to water proof?
Do I need an extractor fan (if there is none in place currently)
Do I need a mirror with de-misting pad? this will need an electricity point)
Do I need accent as well as ceiling lights?
Am I adding a shaving mirror and does it require electricity?
Am I adding a shaving plug?
Does my radiator include valves? Usually these need to be ordered separately.
Do I want a heated towel rack too?
Any accessories that will need to be fitted (e.g. drilled on tiles)
New door frame needed?
New window frame needed?
Paint for non tiled areas ?
Does the WC Pan come with a lid or do I order one?