small bathroom design - mountain view ca

The Ultimate Guide to Remodeling a Small Bathroom

Remodeling a small bathroom can be a challenging project. There are many steps to budget and plan, all while working within the constraints of a small space. Typically a bathroom remodel is not a DIY project since there can be extensive plumbing and electrical work involved as well as tile work.  This type of project is usually for experienced bathroom remodeling contractors.

Read on to discover some of the critical steps involved in remodeling a small bathroom. From planning and budget to the final decorative details, we will go through each of the essential steps how they factor into the final product.


Planning and Budgeting for A Remodel

Planning and budgeting for a bathroom remodel, even a half-bath, should be done meticulously. Always be sure to have a budget and timeline in mind for your remodel. This is the step in a remodel when you decide whether to do all the work yourself or hire a contractor to finish your remodel. If you are doing most of the remodel on your own, be sure to do your research on all the processes that you will need to complete.


Create A Plan to Stay On Track

The key to a successful remodel is to have a plan. Research what tasks you will need to complete and in what order. A to-do list is an excellent tool for keeping your project on track. Keep your plan on track by knowing the amount of time that each individual task will take.

If you have a household with children and pets, you should have a plan in place to keep them out of the area you are remodeling or out of the house if your remodel will only take a short time. You will also need to plan for any water or electrical outages in cases where they will need to shut off to remove or replace fixtures or lights.

Options to keep your plan on track include making a master list of tasks that need to be done. Check off your tasks as you complete them and keep track of what still needs to be done. Use any drawing that you have created to obtain a permit and notate the square footage of your room and the desired placement of all your fixtures.


Budgeting for A Remodel

To properly budget for a remodel, first identify your priorities and what you want in a finished bathroom. From there, you can estimate the cost of the fixtures and finishes you want to add to your small bathroom.

Note all the details like:

  • Paint or wallpaper
  • Sinks
  • Vanities
  • Flooring options

Detail the cost of each replacement you will be making and create a list of purchases to make during your remodel and stick to them. Familiarize yourself with the potential cost of any necessary adjustments or replacements. Be sure to include a buffer in your budget if you have to replace something for an unforeseen reason.

DIY Demolition Saves Money

Now that you have created a plan and a master list of the tasks that need to be completed, it’s time for demolition. Before you begin demolition, be sure to shut off the water to the bathroom and the electricity at the breaker. These two important steps will prevent many accidents when removing lights and fixtures from the bathroom.

Some tasks during demolition include:

  • Removing fixtures or covering the fixtures you are keeping
  • Removing bathroom floors
  • Removing mirrors
  • Removing drywall if you are changing your bathroom’s layout
  • Removing cabinets and baseboards

Even if you are not completing your entire remodel on your own, DIY demolition can save you a few dollars. Demolition alone can cost $500 to $2000 when hiring a contractor. Just be sure not to damage any plumbing or electrical wiring in the process, and be sure to protect yourself with goggles, gloves, and any other protective gear available.

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Upgrade Your Existing Fixtures with Efficient Options

Though some small bathrooms won’t include a shower or bathtub, there are still plumbing fixtures like sinks and toilets to upgrade. When roughing in new plumbing or upgrading existing plumbing, the most essential task is to ensure the configurations and any drain placements meet both local and state building codes. Check with your county or local building code office to ensure everything is done correctly.


Choose Water-Saving Toilets and Fixtures

Water-saving toilets and fixtures will continue to save you money down the road long after your remodel is complete. Investing your money in quality fixtures is a way to save money and increase your home’s resale value down the road. Here are some examples of water-saving fixtures:

  • The Woodbridge Dual Flush toilet is a quality dual-flush fixture that saves on water consumption.
  • The Earth Shower Head is an energy and water-saving fixture that can round out your shower upgrade.

Many toilets offer dual-flush technology that reduces the amount of water used each time. Completing your bathroom remodel with fixtures like these will give you an efficient space and save you money for years down the road.

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Choose Finishes for Walls and Floors

Choosing finishes for your walls and floors is a key decision in creating the aesthetic appeal of your bathroom. When it comes to materials for flooring, decide how often your small bathroom will be used. If it is just a guest bathroom, the options for flooring don’t necessarily have to be as heavy-duty, but if you are remodeling a master bath or shared bathroom, you may want to choose durable materials.

Tile Choices and Installation

Slate and marble tiles can be a durable, hard to crack material if installed correctly. Vinyl tiles or laminate flooring are alternative options that are more cost-effective but are much less durable. Slate and marble tiles can last decades, and in heavy traffic areas, they are an ideal option.

When installing tile, be sure to:

  • Choose quality adhesives, thin-set, and grouts
  • Plan out the pattern of your tile before adhering them to the floor
  • Begin by applying thin-set to a clean, level subfloor
  • Lay tiles evenly and use spacers to be sure they are level
  • Grout and seal tiles

If you are not familiar with the process of laying tile before attempting to, do your research or hire a professional to complete this portion of your remodel. Properly installing tile will give your small bathroom a polished look. If you are not confident laying tile on your own, there are several tile companies that can do it for you for an added cost.


Hardwood Choices and Installation

Choosing a hardwood floor for your bathroom can bring some warmth into a small, often cold room. Hardwood floors come in natural and laminate wood. Choose the appropriate option based on your bathroom’s foot traffic and use. High-quality hardwood floors will last much longer and be more durable in high-traffic areas than their laminate counterparts.

When installing hardwood floors, be sure to:

  • Measure the room and secure noisy areas of the subfloor
  • Use a vapor barrier between the hardwoods and subfloor
  • Place board (many hardwoods offer a tongue in groove, snap-in installation)
  • Staple boards and fill any gaps

Hardwood floors are a common option for bathrooms, though not as durable and reliable as tile flooring. Hardwood floors are not usually as easy to maintain or as long-lasting as tile floors, but quality hardwood will last for years.

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Plan for Storage In Small Bathrooms

Storage can be one of the most valuable concepts in small bathrooms. When upgrading and remodeling your small bathroom, think outside of the box to optimize your storage solutions in these potentially tight spaces.

Stacked or Over-The-Door Shelving

Over the door or above door shelving can be a genius solution to all of your storage issues. These shelves can free up spaces that normally store extra towels or toiletries to look cleaner.

  • Mkono Floating Shelves are an excellent over-the-door storage option for towels and baskets of toiletries. These shelves can be mounted directly over the door, a normally unutilized space.
  • Mkono Rustic Wood Stacked Shelves are great for small bathrooms. They can be stacked directly on top of each other and can store toiletries and decor.

Stacked or over-the-door shelving can provide storage solutions for small bathrooms that can lack ample storage space. Planning these solutions during a remodel can allow you to create a bathroom that looks bigger and has more usable space.

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Final Finishes and Accessories

The final step in a successful small bathroom remodel is to choose your final finishes and accessories. By this point in time, your master list should have very few items left to complete. If not, retrace your steps and be sure every project is done before moving onto the final finishes of your small bathroom.


Sink and Vanity Choices

Choosing a sink and vanity or combination of the two is one of the last steps to complete before your remodel is finished. Do your research and decide what you like.

There are various sink and vanity choices, including:

  • Pedestal Sinks
  • Floating Vanities
  • Traditional Cabinets

The choice of vanity is up to what you think looks good in your space. This decision should ideally be made ahead of time and installed near the end of your remodel process. Vanities are typically placed on top of finished floors and walls.


Final Room Decoration

The final step in your small bathroom remodel is to choose the final decorative aspects of the room. Many people choose a theme for bathrooms and choose their decor based on a theme. Toiletries and decor are some of the last items needed in your finished small bathroom remodel. These items can set the tone for your bathroom’s final appearance.

Some final decorative and practical finishes for a small bathroom include:

  • Towel and toilet paper holders
  • Soap dishes and toothbrush holders
  • Decorative baskets
  • Towels
  • Shower curtains
  • Picture frames

Many of these decisions should be made long before getting to this stage in the remodel. Finishes, decor and accessories should be budgeted and purchased beforehand. These finishing touches complete the remodel process and make your newly upgraded small bathroom ready to enjoy.



Remodeling a small bathroom can be a more significant task, especially if you plan on removing walls or adjusting the layout. Deciding whether to do it yourself or hire a contractor is one of the first steps when beginning a small bathroom remodel. Those that choose to renovate on their own have some essential steps to follow, but not before budgeting and planning for each portion of the remodel.

From completing the demolition of your existing bathroom on your own to choosing new finishes and flooring for your newly remodeled bathroom, each step through your remodel comes with important choices that should be made before beginning the process. In the finishing stages of your remodel, a list of tasks made before beginning should be checked off as you see your new small bathroom taking shape.

Element Home Remodeling is a Mountain View based contractor specializing in custom bathroom designs.  Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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