Planning a bathroom remodel...order of operations?

civ_IV_fanNovember 14, 2012

Well, kid #2 is on the way and the wife wants a new bathroom before s/he arrives. I'm thinking when we have two my projects are going to stop for a long while, so I'm excited about the chance to do this.

It is a small 5x8 bathroom in an old house. It is the only bathroom serving the upstairs, but fortunately we have a nice finished bath in the basement so we can still live in the house.

This is my first full remodel. We aren't moving any walls or anything to crazy. The fixtures will stay where they are at except for the sink, which i have to move a few inches to the right. I'm going from a vanity to a wall-mount type for space reasons.

Weird bits - i'm adding a point-of-use water heater for the sink (right now it takes 3 minutes to get hot water) and a radiant floor heating system.

Anyhow, this is mostly about my order of operations.

I figure that these are my steps, in order. Can anyone comment?

Bathroom remodel steps 11/14/2012


- Install valves on non-valved plumbing to keep water running in the rest of the house

- Unhook and remove sink, toilet, tub and associated plumbing. Discard sink and toilet. - Keep tub upstairs somewhere.

- Remove plastic sheet tiling from wall.

- Remove towel bar from wall

- Remove electric outlets and fixtures (TURN OFF POWER FOOL)

- Remove medicine cabinet

- Cut out wall opening to expose sink drain pipe. Continue wall cut around the corner as needed to be able to center pipes under new sink

- Demo floor, keep subfloor

- Cut out wall opening from medicine cabinet to the wiring on the right.

Rough carpentry

- Frame out medicine cabinet

- Frame out wall nook for water heater

- Frame out other niches as desired


- Reroute sink plumbing, being sure to center where sink will be.

- Rework toilet and tub plumbing as and if necessary

- Route plumbing for point-of-use water heater


- Install electrical outlets and light

- Run electric for point-of-use water heater

- Run electric for in-floor heat


- Install medicine cabinet and woodwork


- Repair and rebuild walls

- Install tile backer board

- Install floor radiant heat mats in traffic areas

- Tile floor

- Tile walls

- Install molding above tiled wall

- Install (3?) Towel bars behind bathroom door

- Paint


- Install bathroom sink

- Install toilet

- Install clawfoot

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How about reenforcement behind walls for grab bars.

Are you going to use ceramic or stone tiles for the floor. The stone will need a stiffer floor, so joist need to be considered. If you go to the John Bridge tile forum site you can use the deflectometer or what ever they call it and figure out if your floor is up to snuff for your tiles.

When I did my floor I poured self leveling compound over the floor warming wires. Then I set Ditra decoupling membrane with thinset as directed by Ditra. Then laid my tile. Also it is often recommended to run 2 temp probes under the tiles, leaving one end hooked up and the extra hiding in the electrical box as backup. This is in case one fails - you can hook up the second one and still have a functioning floor heating system.

Are you having a shower or a tub or comb? I don't see any mention of a tub. I am installing a tub in my remodel and will be painting around the tub with Hydroban before I tile the walls. It is a product that waterproofs the walls and is an anti fracture membrane. You paint it onto the cement board. If you don't use a "topical" membrane such as this or Redgard or Kerdie you will need to put a poly on the stud side of the cement board. You don't want both poly on the studs and a topical membrane on the wall or water may get trapped.

Here is a link to Bill V's web page that has a ton of info on tile. He posts here sometimes. Mongoct is a frequent poster and has many great post to help us DIYers get this BR stuff figured out. Stonetech is a tiler and has been posting and has been helpful in problem solving.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bill V's

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 9:27AM
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During renovation make sure the drains are plugged to prevent flammable and toxic methane gas from leaching. A rag firmly stuffed into drains should do the trick.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 6:10PM
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enduring -- i definitely hadn't thought about grab bar reinforcement. i'm not sure if i'll have any, but even reinforcing towel bars i probably a good idea with kids in the house. also thanks for the tiling link, that will be a great resource!

to answer your question about tub or shower, i have a clawfoot tub that is (unfortunately) also my shower. i plan on keeping that setup for the time being.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 8:37AM
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I did my bathroom last year and wrote up the process on my personal website:

It's pretty detailed and I replaced the tub with a shower, using hydroban, CBU walls and a mud shower base. Hope it helps. Use the navigation links to the left to go through each step of the process.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 6:53PM
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Looks pretty good. I'd change 2 things:

1. Paint the walls after you repair them and before you do all the tiling and trimwork. That way there's nothing to mess up (tile, trim, towel bars, etc.)

2. Use Ditra as an underlayment instead of cement board. Way faster and easier.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 8:10PM
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Ditra acts as a decoupling membrane. I was thinking that and underlayment of cement board or ply should still be used under Ditra, but maybe it varies with circumstances. Check Bill V's. link and it will probably tell you this detail. I followed his instructions for ply, SLC, Ditra, Tile to a "T" .

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 7:03AM
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never heard of Ditra! glad i'm on here. I expect there is a pine board subfloor under there somewhere. I intend to reuse it. The ditra just goes on top of that, right?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 9:18AM
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"never heard of Ditra! glad i'm on here. I expect there is a pine board subfloor under there somewhere. I intend to reuse it. The ditra just goes on top of that, right?"

Unfortunately, no.

Pine boards, though probably pretty darn stable by now, can still move a bit either through flex or seasonal humidity changes. So you need a transition material between the planks and the cement board or Ditra. That transitional material is usually plywood.

If using SLC, a typical flow would be: Your pine planking, fasten it down securely. Then 1/2" plywood over that, then set your heating mats. Then use a garden sprayer to spray the SLC primer on the subfloor and heating wires. You don't need to use a garden sprayer, but it does coat everything very nicely. Then SLC.

Then you can tile right over the SLC, or Ditra over the SLC and tile over the Ditra.

I do recommend a self-leveling material over the radiant wires. It simply makes it easier to get a nice level surface upon which to tile.

Some folks set the wire mats in place then trowel thinset over the mat, trying to get it fairly flat. Sometimes it works, sometimes they end up with incomplete coverage, a honeycomb of voids, and/or a messy and unflat surface. That will frustrate you when it comes time to tile.

SLC is not mandatory by any means. But if your ability to trowel thinset into a nice flat surface is somewhat challenged, then using SLC can make your life a little easier.

If you use SLC, the name implies, it is "self-leveling". It will flow wherever you allow it to flow. Through cracks in the floor, down the toilet waste flange, under the baseboards. So you need to contain it from flowing wherever you do not want it to go.

And don't forgo a bonding primer for the SLC. The primer helps it adhere to the subfloor. If you do use SLC, have all your ducks in a row. Have a helper. Once you start you don't stop midway through the job.

Lastly, whatever method you use: If you use cement board, the cement board gets a coat of thinset between it and whatever it goes over. So many people omit that step and it results in cracked grout and lose tiles a few years down the road. The thinset isn't there to bond the cement board to the plywood beneath it. The fasteners (screws or nails) do that. The thinset simply acts as a setting bed to provide complete contact between the cement board and the plywood underneath it, so there is no vertical movement between the two when the floor is walked upon.

I won't really critique your work flow because we all have different methods of working. But how about ventilation? Any bathroom vent?

    Bookmark   November 20, 2012 at 9:56AM
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