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Saddle, NC Design and Plan a Quality Bathroom Remodel

Saddle, NC Home Improvement Guide

Bathroom Remodel
Bathroom Remodeling; Bathroom Fixtures, Cabinets & Accessories; Bathtubs & Sinks-Repairing & Refinishing

The bathroom is one of the most essential rooms in the home. They may be one of the smallest rooms, but due to the amount of time spent there, you need to ensure they are warm and inviting. Powder rooms for guests are becoming increasingly elegant, children’s bathrooms are becoming more playful, and master bathrooms are starting to resemble a resort spa

Remodeling a bathroom is also a wise investment. According to Remodeling Magazine, a bathroom remodel will produce a 77% return on investment. With the average bathroom remodel ranging between $10,000 and $20,000; it is important to protect that investment. When it comes time to sell your home, potential buyers take notice of the condition of the bathrooms. This can either make or break a sale. Remodeling and keeping bathrooms current not only allows you to enjoy them today but represents a solid investment for the future.

Getting Started
Bathroom Remodeling; Bathroom Fixtures, Cabinets & Accessories; Bathtubs & Sinks-Repairing & Refinishing

Before you begin, evaluate the space. Walk around the bathroom and highlight what works and what doesn’t. Discuss options and priorities with your family. Depending on the degree of remodel, the project could require up to six months to complete. Therefore, it’s important to take some time upfront to fully evaluate the current space versus the desired outcome.

Set a Budget
Determine beforehand how much you can afford to spend on the bathroom. If an extensive remodel is required, you should consider taking out a loan. Visit the Budget and Financing section of this guide to find out how. Do some homework to establish an idea of how much money will be needed. Bathroom remodels are not inexpensive as they often require extensive plumbing and electrical work, custom tile and flooring installation. Labor charges will also be higher as many jobs within a bathroom remodel require a professional.

Based on your tastes and desired design, you should start by pricing out fixtures, flooring, tubs, showers, etc., to determine a ballpark figure and see if it’s within the budget range. Contractors and designers can also work with you to bring some costs in line. They have the experience to know where money can be saved and where it is most valuable to place additional monies. With some give and take you can create the space of your dreams and still remain within budget. If you need help choosing a contractor, visit the Architects and Builders section of this guide.

In order to maximize the return on your investment, the total expense should not exceed more than 5 to 10% of your home’s value. Keep track of expenses throughout the project to ensure you are staying within budget. Set aside 20% of the budget to cover any unforeseen problems or damage. Because of the extensive water usage that occurs in the bathroom, the chances of mold, mildew, drywall damage, etc., are high. Setting money aside to cover these possible problems will keep you from being caught off guard.

Get Inspired
Gather ideas from decorating and remodeling magazines. Cut out pictures of rooms or special features you like. Visit local design showrooms to see the latest trends and gain some hands on experience with what is new. Browse catalogs and websites to find elements and designs that catch your eye. Don’t rule out any ideas or elements because you think they are too expensive. Contractors and designers can often find a solution at a fraction of the cost while still offering the desired look.

Establish a Plan
Using the knowledge obtained from your evaluation and family feedback, develop a solid plan. Ask yourself why you are doing this remodel and establish an objective. Are you doing this because you need more space? To add more light? To make the room more appealing? To create more privacy? To update the space? To make it more functional? To make it blend with the rest of the house? To create more luxury? Are you looking to resell the home?

Write down your objective and begin to list the changes that map back to it. This will keep the project on task and avoid straying away from your final goal.

Wants vs. Needs
Include in the list of changes everything you want done within the space. Are dual sinks a must? Do you want a whirlpool tub? Heated floors? Steam room? Dual shower? Granite top vanity? Travertine tile floor? List out everything you cannot live without. This becomes a guideline for both you and the contractor or designer to help create the space.

Once the list is established, review it against the budget and start evaluating between your wants and needs. Keep in mind that some “wants” require extensive renovation beyond what may be possible. Adding a steam room or dual shower could push the room size beyond its current dimensions. If no extra space is available, re-evaluate your want. If extra space is available, make sure the budget can accommodate the build-out. A whirlpool tub may require upgrading the water heater. If the list of additional remodeling or upgrades required for your “wants” extends beyond your budget, scale down the list to include only what is needed. You will find that even scaled back changes still create the elegance and contemporary look you are envisioning.

If selling the home is your objective, keep colors and upgrades neutral. Enhancing the space with contemporary elements will make the home more sellable just make sure to limit the amount of personal tastes you include. The more neutral the space, the easier it will be to sell. However, if you plan on staying in the home for at least five years, feel free to add as much personality and character as you desire.

Who Will Do It?
Due to the amount of specialty work involved in remodeling a bathroom, consider professional help. Hiring a contractor or designer ensures the job is done correctly, within a decent timeframe and that space utilization is maximized. Personally completing smaller jobs such as installing the toilet, towel racks, hanging pictures and other bathroom accessories can save money but most projects require a specific expertise.

In choosing a professional, make sure they are someone you can trust and feel comfortable working with since they will be in your home for an extended period of time. Learn as much as you can about the project yourself so you know that things are being done correctly. Stay on top of the project but don’t bog down the process by hovering over the professional’s shoulder. Ask questions to verify things are going well and give specific instruction on how you want certain elements handled. Verify that the professional is licensed and experienced for the job. Check their credentials and references as the professional you choose will either make or break the project. Consult the Architects and Builders section of this guide to find more information about finding a contractor and the Decorating Interior Design section about choosing a designer.

Consider the Time
Expect the bathroom remodel to take a while. Depending on the amount of work, it could take several weeks or months to complete. Prepare an alternate bathroom for your family to use during the process.

Consider the Colors
During the initial discovery and planning phase, consider the color scheme for the bathroom. Color can have a dramatic impact on the room, especially given its size. Any color can be incorporated into a larger bathroom and richer, deeper colors provide an impressive look. If you want to make the room feel smaller, warmer colors bring the room closer together. For smaller bathrooms, stick with cooler colors as they make the room appear larger. Selecting a cooler and lighter color for the ceiling - compared to the walls, makes the room appear taller. Again, if remodeling to sell, choose neutral colors that appeal to any buyer. Painting the walls your favorite shade of purple could turn off potential buyers. If you still want some bold color but plan to move soon, select bold towels, rugs, pictures, candles or other decorative accessories that are easy to remove.

Top Trends
Today’s bathrooms are becoming more personal and more inviting. They are being designed as a sanctuary to relax after a long day and a comfortable place to spend time. The more popular trends that are changing bathrooms today include the following

Make It Bigger: This starts with the size of the bathroom. Many homeowners are expanding the size of the bathroom to create more space for luxury. Homeowners are adding furniture, steam rooms, separate showers and bathtubs. The toilet often receives a room of its own or a walled off space to add more privacy.

Added Pampering: Showers are being expanded to make them more spacious and inviting. Designer showerheads and body spray features provide an element of invigoration as well as pampering. Soaking tubs are replacing once popular, larger whirlpool tubs as a place to unwind and relax.

Artistic Flare: Above counter sinks are replacing the older porcelain variety. Sinks have become an artistic centerpiece designed in variety of materials such as hand crafted glass, copper, slate, marble, stone and bronze. Design options are endless providing a unique look and artistic flare to any vanity. Combining different materials also creates an artistic look as ceramic and glass tiles are being blended in flooring and shower designs. Finished wood vanities are being accented with chrome and even stainless steel. Natural stone is becoming very popular and when combined with a variety of other materials such as marble, glass, china, or copper; bathrooms are becoming artistic expressions not just functional rooms.

Lighten It Up: Along with increased space and beauty, more light is being added to the bathroom. A combination of both natural light and decorative lighting fixtures are used to brighten up the space. Skylights and additional windows are being added to increase natural light. Stained glass features can replace windows where privacy is needed yet still allow natural light to shine through. Recessed lighting and decorative lighting elements create an artistic look and highlight specific features of the room.

Entertainment: As more time is spent unwinding in the bathroom, entertainment features are making the time even more enjoyable. Watch a favorite T.V. show while soaking in the tub or catch up on the news while shaving. Recline with a favorite book or relax on the chaise lounge while listening to a favorite jazz band. These added features truly add flare over function.

More Storage: Custom vanities with additional drawers and shelves provide much needed storage. Traditional armoires are making an appearance and vintage furniture is being transformed into bathroom vanities. Storage is an important issue and bigger furniture elements provide a solution. For rooms with less space, storage is getting smarter. Vertical storage such as towers on countertops, additional shelves, and cube frames increase space while looking contemporary and modern.

Heat It Up: The bathroom is warming up as radiant electric heating is added to floors and showers. Timers and thermostats make heating more efficient while eliminating cold tile during the winter. Tankless water heaters replace bulky, less efficient models to keep things warm in bigger showers.

Make It a Double: Bathrooms are being upgraded with His and Her vanities. Dual vanities provide increased space and storage along with additional personal space. Even smaller bathrooms are making room for this feature.

Going Green: Environmentally conscious bathrooms are being equipped with the latest models of low-flow toilets, rain shower heads, and tankless water heaters to reduce the amount of water needed. Modern designs provide water saving features while still providing quality function.

Bathroom Fixtures, Cabinets & Accessories; Cabinetmakers

When considering bathroom cabinets, make sure they have a strong balance of form and function. Form ensures the cabinet adds a much needed design and beauty to the room. Function ensures adequate storage and organization are available to reduce clutter. Cabinet options are nearly endless and budget can become an issue if desires become extravagant. Before making a final decision, consider some facts and options to help determine what is needed.

Consider the Space
Begin by taking measurements of the available space. Make sure there is an adequate amount of room to stand in front of the cabinet with all cabinet doors open. Determine how much storage is needed to hide necessities and still provide ample room to move around.

Large Bathroom: With more room available, a wall of built-in cabinets can be added to provide generous storage space. Large vertical book-end cabinets can surround the vanity providing increased eye-level storage. Extra-deep drawers can store more , large bottles and blow-dryers. Spacious shelves add another linen closet for housing towels and linens.

Smaller Bathroom: When space is limited, consider a shallower cabinet with vertical cabinets or storage cubes. Additional space can be gained by adding a cabinet above the toilet. Consider the depth to ensure cabinets do not become too intrusive or limit the amount of space to move. Corner units also take advantage of some unused space and provide a striking design element. Adding shelves and baskets around the room increases storage without reducing the amount of space.

Consider the Users
Think about who will be using the bathroom; this has a huge impact on the selecting optimal cabinet. For a bathroom that receives a lot of traffic, such as a main floor bathroom or children’s bathroom, a sturdy, water-resistant cabinet is a must. In addition to withstanding wear and tear, it should be designed efficiently and require a limited effort to clean. Guest or boutique baths with less traffic can be more elegant and sophisticated. Cherry wood cabinets with a stone countertop will retain their beauty and elegance when used less. Master baths can also be elegant if well maintained and usage is limited. Consider the type of conditions the cabinets will need to endure before selecting the quality and material. Some materials garner a premium and you don’t want to be disappointed if they become stained or damaged from excessive wear and tear. Learn what materials work best for various bathrooms and users.

Surface Types
Cabinets can be created in a variety of materials. The majority are wood surfaces such as oak, walnut, cherry, and maple. Some cabinets are made of solid wood which cost more, while others use a veneer, which reduces the cost while maintaining the look of real wood. Beyond wood, modern and contemporary cabinets come in stainless steel, glass, PVC, porcelain, bamboo, and stone

Cabinet Options
Vanity cabinets come in an array of sizes, styles, and shapes. Depending on how traditional or contemporary the look, the options are limitless. The type and material choice also make or break the budget based on the amount you have to spend. Review the choices to determine which options are best for you.

Cabinet Types: There are four basic types of bathroom cabinets.

  • Cabinetry: Includes vanity, wall, medicine, and recessed cabinets.
  • Closet: Includes linen, built-in, towers with baskets, or floor-to- ceiling cabinets
  • Open Shelf: Includes surface mounted, recessed, and corner shelving.
  • Toilet: Includes cabinets placed over the toilet for additional storage

Cabinet Categories Cabinet creation falls into three basic categories.

  • Stock Cabinets
  • These include pre-assembled, mass produced cabinets that are available immediately at any home improvement store. Cabinets are available in a limited range of sizes, styles, and finishes.

    If having a custom, one-of-a-kind cabinet is important or a special size cabinet is needed, this option is not viable. However, if completing the bathroom in a hurry is a priority, this is a strong option and the pricing is more affordable.

  • Custom Cabinets
  • With custom cabinets, the sky is the limit. They are made by cabinetmakers who can tailor cabinets based on desired height, length, depth, shape, and material.

    If a unique look is important or you want to fill a particular space, this is the best option. Cabinetmakers create anything you desire, but you’ll also pay more for it. As everything will be specifically created for you, a premium price will be charged. Cabinet creation can take up to 6 weeks or more, so timing will need to be built into the project as well.

  • Semi-Stock Cabinets
  • These cabinets are a mixture of stock and custom. Manufacturers have a variety of sizes and configurations in stock that can be modified according to desired specifications. A wider range of door fronts and drawers are available, allowing more customization. Pricing for this option is also a mixture of the two; saving some money compared to a fully custom cabinet yet benefiting from a more unique look.

Frame Styles
There are two basic frame styles you can choose from with cabinets.

Face-frame: This is the preferred frame option for American manufacturers which places a literal frame around the cabinet box creating a face to the box. Hinges can either be visible or hidden. Doors and drawer faces typically overlap the frame which eliminates the need for a top panel. The opening size is also slightly narrowed due to the face frame.

Frameless: Also known as European style cabinets, this option creates a narrow box for the cabinet and places the door flush against the cabinet, exposing no box. This creates a more contemporary look and hinges are always hidden. Top, back, and base panels are typically used to finish off the cabinet.

Countertops; Granite Countertops; Natural Stone Countertops; Marble Countertops

Finding the right countertop can be a hard decision simply due to the endless number of choices. Bathroom countertops can be created in almost any material you can think of. Most countertops are also custom made, making the options unlimited. There are advantages and disadvantages to each material choice. As you make the decision consider cost, durability, maintenance, and installation. These factors help narrow your choices and determine the one that is right for your bathroom. The information below details specific data for the most popular materials and provides a breakdown of each factor. Review this information to determine which countertop is optimal for your style and bathroom needs.

Advantage: Extremely durable stone providing elegance and beauty to any bathroom. Gaining widespread popularity due to its luxurious look and the value it adds to a home. Wide varieties of colors are available and it can be installed as a solid slab, in pieces or tiles.

Disadvantage: Because it is a natural stone, colors may be inconsistent if all pieces are required. Even if all pieces come from the same quarry, the veining can be different within each piece. This may cause a problem if you are looking for a perfect match. However, the natural veining also provides a unique elegance and beauty.

Cost: At more than $100 per square foot installed, granite is expensive. Granite tiles are a slightly less expensive option.

Durability: It is extremely durable, heat resistant, and will not burn. While it is a porous stone, if sealed correctly it is highly water and stain resistant.

Maintenance: Can be easily cleaned using water and liquid detergents such as Pine Sol or Mr. Clean. Abrasive cleaners or scouring pads should not be used on granite as they scratch and dull the surface. In order to ensure proper maintenance and optimal durability, granite should be re-sealed every six months to a year.

Installation: To ensure it is properly installed, professionals should be hired to handle the installation. Find a local professional by visiting the Granite heading at

Advantage: Provides a unique, luxurious and elegant look to any bathroom. The beauty of this stone provides an opulent, classical style that sets it apart from other natural stone. The smooth touch adds to its elegance making it a very attractive choice.

Disadvantage: Marble is extremely porous and without regular treatment it can be prone to scratches and stains. Matching multiple pieces of this stone is almost impossible, so if a uniform look is a must marble should be avoided.

Cost: Natural stone as a whole is more expensive and marble is one of the most expensive stones. Prepare to pay $150-$300 per square foot installed. Cost will vary depending on the gradation and quality of the stone.

Durability: It is a durable stone but due to being highly porous, it is more prone to scratches and stains.

Maintenance: Regular sealing treatments are required to keep the stone protected. Spills and messes need to be cleaned immediately to prevent permanent staining. Like granite, warm water and liquid detergents work best for cleaning. Avoid abrasive cleaners and scouring pads.

Installation: Marble requires a more intricate installation process to keep it from being broken or damaged. Therefore, only professionals should install marble. A local installer can be found in your area by visiting the Marble-Natural heading at

NOTE: Travertine and Limestone are also porous natural stones that have a similar look and behavior as marble. They are also similar in their material observance and pricing. Both require regular sealing and upkeep and are priced similar to marble.

Engineered Stone - Quartz
Advantage: Provides the same durability, look and feel of natural stone but without the need to be sealed. It is more than 90% quartz pieces mixed with resin and coloring to provide a wide variety of color options. The final look is very uniform, without the veining and cracks found in natural stone. It provides a similar beauty to natural stone with greater durability and easier maintenance.

Disadvantage: Because of its uniformity, it is easily recognized as an engineered stone. Cost is still pricy and similar to natural stone.

Cost: Relatively expensive at about $50 and higher per square foot installed.

Durability: Extremely durable surface that is water, stain, and heat resistant. Great for high traffic bathrooms.

Maintenance: Easy to clean and the durable surface can withstand most cleaning solutions. Unlike natural stone it does not require any sealers.

Installation: Pre-cutting is required prior to installation and like natural stone this installation should also be left to professionals. Find a local professional in your area by visiting the Counter Tops heading at

Advantage: Gaining in popularity, this natural stone is soft to the touch and less porous. It is very durable and provides a rich elegance. It is typically dark gray in color and will darken over time if not treated.

Disadvantage: While very durable, this softer stone will scratch. Most scratches can be removed with mineral oil and larger cuts can be sanded.

Cost: Like natural stone, it is also expensive at about $100 per square foot installed, depending on the thickness and design.

Durability: Soapstone is very durable. It does not stain and is heat resistant. It is more prone to scratches which can be removed through treatment.

Maintenance: Regular mineral oil treatments are required to remove scratches and maintain the color over time. Cleaning solution use should follow that of other natural stone using warm water and liquid detergents.

Installation: Like other natural stones this installation should be left to professionals. Depending on the size of the project and the amount of soapstone used, some elements can be done yourself, but if money is available, leave it to the professionals. A professional in your area can be found by visiting the Counter Tops heading at

Advantage: This inexpensive countertop comes in a variety of colors, textures and patterns. Newer laminates are now being designed to provide the look of natural stone. It is easy to maintain and with the inexpensive cost of materials and installation, it can be changed more often to keep up with changing styles or provide a new look.

Disadvantage: It is less luxurious and elegant than natural stone. It is prone to staining, and with excessive heat and abuse, edges are prone to chipping and warping. Excessive moisture and sharp objects also cause damage to the material.

Cost: Laminate is very inexpensive starting at $10-$15 per square foot. For custom laminate, prices range from $20-40 per square foot and installed prices range from $35-$50 per square foot.

Durability: This product is quite durable but can be prone to minor scratching. Edges can be chipped with excessive abuse and sharp objects should never be used on this surface. Extreme heat from curling irons or flat irons could result in discoloration if exposed to the surface for excessive periods of time. It is fairly water resistant but pooling water can cause damage to glues and resins causing them to break down. Therefore, any water on the surface should be wiped up immediately.

Maintenance: General maintenance is relatively simple and if cared for over time, it will last for years. Cleaning is done using mild soap and water. Avoid abrasive cleaner or scouring pads as they will discolor the surface.

Installation: Laminate countertops are fairly easy to install for the average do-it-yourselfer. However, if you want it done professionally, most installers offer packages to also remove the old countertop and re-configure all of the plumbing. Professional installers also make sure all pieces are sealed and glued to provide the proper water barrier. Visit the Counter Tops heading at to find a laminate installer near you.

Solid Surface
Advantage: These countertops, made from acrylics, are designed to look like natural stone. Because they are manufactured, one continuous sheet can be made, eliminating seams in the countertop. They are non-porous with a smooth surface making them water resistant and are offered in a variety of colors. The hard surface makes it very strong, durable and resistant to chipping. In many ways, solid surface countertops are similar to natural stone but offered a greater variety of colors. Solid surface brands include Corian, Staron, Avonite, and Gibraltar.

Disadvantage: While durable in terms of weight, solid surface countertops are not heat resistant and can sometimes stain. The cost is much higher than laminate and only slightly little less than average natural stone.

Cost: Solid surface countertops range from $75-$150 per square foot.

Durability: Very durable due to its hard surface but it cannot handle extreme heat. It is resistant to chipping and scratches can be removed with sandpaper. Sharp objects should not be used on the surface as they can cut into the countertop. Staining can also be an issue with stronger liquids and foods therefore; spills should be wiped up quickly.

Maintenance: Surfaces are easy to clean using warm water and ammonia based cleaners. Do not use window cleaner. Abrasive cleaners and scouring pads should not be used as they can scratch the surface. It is recommend that you completely clean and seal your grout yearly or at least bi-yearly.

Installation: Professional installation is required. As most countertops are manufactured in one complete sheet, it needs to be custom-cut and professionally installed. Find a qualified professional by visiting the Counter Tops heading at

Advantage: The colors and textures available are endless. It is very popular due to its durability and versatility. Tile durability is based on a grading system of 1 - 4 using Roman numerals I-V. Be sure to purchase a grade III or higher for bathroom countertops. Creative and unique patterns can be created using a variety of styles, shapes and colors. Mixing textures into the tile pattern such as glass or concrete adds beauty and elegance to the look. Recent trends in tile are to exclusively use glass tiles for a countertop. This provides a unique and classy look to any bathroom. New varieties of tile such as slate provide a gorgeous and luxurious look for a high end countertop.

Disadvantage: Depending on the color, grout lines can become stained over time and difficult to clean. The tile itself can chip or crack and grout resealing may need to be done more than once.

Cost: Tile can be very inexpensive or pricey depending on the material. Costs start at $1 and increase to $45 per square foot. Hand painted tiles cost $5 to $75 a piece.

Durability: Tiles with a ranking of III or higher are the strongest and most durable. The surface is scratch resistant and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. They can be prone to cracking if enough pressure is applied to them. Broken tiles can be fixed but a few surrounding tiles can also be affected during the repair process. Tile can withstand strong heat and is water resistant. Over a long period of time, pooled water can cause damage, especially to the grout, so spills should be wiped up as they happen.

Maintenance: Cleaning is done using basic household cleaners. The grout will require periodic cleaning using grout cleaners found at home improvement stores.

Installation: Depending on the intricacy of the tile pattern, the majority of tile projects do not need to be professionally installed. If the pattern is intricate or is placed on a rounded surface, it may be better to leave it to a professional. However, simpler jobs can be done yourself. Make sure you are careful to select a grout color that complements the tile and highlights its beauty. Some grout colors can alter the color of the tile or distract from the look. Also, consider the amount of spacing between tiles as this will affect the look as well. Be especially careful with glass tile as the background it is placed on, the spacing and the grout color can dramatically alter its look. Find a local professional by visiting the Tile-Ceramic, Contractors heading at

Advantage: Using concrete for the bathroom countertop provides a unique and beautiful appearance. Some concrete countertop looks include a “Terrazzo” effect which adds small pieces of glass or stone creating a reflective design. This brings a distinctive look to the bathroom if you are looking for something that is new and different. A variety of colors can be added to the concrete to create any customized look.

Disadvantage: Concrete ages and cracks over time. Keep an eye out for larger cracks or movement as this can seriously damage the countertop. The color will also fade as time goes on but this adds character and a unique look to the countertop, depending on your taste. The color can also be affected by heat so care needs to be taken with curling irons, blow dryers and flat irons.

Cost: A standard concrete countertop costs $55-70 per square foot. For “Terrazzo” or customized pours, the cost increases to $180-220 per square foot. While this is significantly higher, custom pours add inlays and designs into the concrete to make them look like marble or other natural stone. It is very beautiful and well worth the added expense.

Durability: Concrete is very durable and stain resistant. It is naturally porous and needs to be sealed with an epoxy or other type of sealer. This should be done as part of the installation. The sealer however, is more susceptible to stains, so make sure all spills are cleaned up as soon as possible. Every six to nine months treat the countertop with a liquid wax to help extend its beauty and lifespan.

Maintenance: Warm water and soap keeps any concrete countertop looking clean and shiny. As the sealant can sometimes stain, make sure spills are cleaned up immediately. For tougher stains, find a cleaner that is specifically made for concrete or contains a natural pH cleanser. Avoid abrasive cleaners, bleach, or ammonia as they will damage the sealant.

Installation: It can be installed in one of two ways. The first is by having a pre-cast concrete slab made by the manufacturer and installing it once it has cured. The second method is to have it poured by the installer directly at the location. The latter option provides the most customization including unusual corners, designer edges or other unique features. Find a concrete professional near you by visiting the Counter Tops, Concrete-Stamped and Decorative or Concrete Contractors headings at

Floor Laying, Refinishing & Resurfacing; Floor Waxing, Polishing & Cleaning; Flooring & Floor Covering Contractors

Flooring has a significant impact on the look and feel of a bathroom. Because the room is smaller in size, the floor can creates a dramatic effect on the room. But while the look of the floor is important, other considerations have a major impact as well. Water is a big factor in the room and you will want to consider how the floor reacts to it. Other important considerations are: Will it stain easily if make-up or toothpaste is dropped on it? Will it be slippery when it gets wet? Will it be cold to walk on in the winter?

Each flooring option has distinct advantages and disadvantages. As you consider the choices, determine what factors are most important while still providing the look you desire. The following options are popular in bathrooms today, ranked by quality and practicality:

Advantage: Ceramic tile has been one of the most popular choices of bathroom flooring for many years. It is very durable and is available in hundreds of colors, shapes, styles and finishes. Whatever designs your imagination can think of, tile can create it. Colored grout options also provide creative and designer looks. In recent years tile advancements provide the ability to mimic natural stone for an elegant look at an efficient price. Mosaic tile is also popular and comes pre-mounted on mesh sheets for easier installation.

Disadvantage: Tile can be cold and slippery when it gets wet. Some tiles are more porous and not ideal for flooring. Make sure the tile you choose stands up to moisture and are well sealed. Textured tile makes the floor less slippery and installed radiant heating solves the cold issue. However, it also increases the budget. Tile can chip if hard objects are dropped on it and lighter shades of grout will stain if spills are not cleaned up quickly.

Cost: Typical ceramic tile costs $1-20 per square foot. Pricing varies depending on the style, texture and size of the tile. Hand painted tiles can also be incorporated and cost $5-75 per tile.

Durability: Tile is very durable and if well maintained, will hold up for decades. Tile can also be sealed, making it fully water resistant. If an excessive amount of weight is applied to one area or if something very heavy is dropped, it is prone to breakage. The affected tiles can be removed and replaced.

Maintenance: Cleaning and maintenance is quick and easy. A mop and water mixed with rubbing alcohol or a diluted cleaner quickly cleans the floor. If the grout is excessively dirty, a stronger solution of the same cleaner works great.

Installation: Depending on the intricacy of the pattern or the layout of the bathroom, tile can easily be installed yourself. Make sure you have the right tools to make the necessary cuts and understand what sealer is required for your tile choice. If you are unsure or worried about installing it correctly, hire a tile contractor to lay the floor. Find a local contractor in your area by visiting the Tile-Ceramic, Contractors and Flooring & Floor Covering Contractors headings at

Natural Stone
Advantage: Stone flooring adds elegance and beauty to any bathroom. No other option provides the opulence and luxuriousness of natural stone. It is easy to maintain and comes in a variety of styles, sizes, colors and textures. Natural stones such as marble, travertine, slate, limestone, granite and others are very durable and water resistant if sealed correctly.

Disadvantage: The biggest disadvantage with natural stone is the expense. It is the most expensive of all flooring options. It can also be cold on the feet and slippery when it gets wet. Texturing the tiles will cut down on slippage but some natural sheen will be lost and it requires annual sealing to prevent stains.

Cost: Costs vary greatly depending on the stone quality, size and texture. Natural stone tiles range from $10-100 per square foot. Additional costs add up depending on the sealing treatment required as well as general maintenance if repairs are needed. However, if installed correctly the beauty and elegance lasts for decades.

Durability: Natural stone is very durable and holds its beauty. If sealed correctly, the stone is water and stain resistant. It is very important, however, that natural stone receives the proper sealing treatment in order to maximize its resistance to stains. Sealing requirements vary by stone so it is important to discuss it with an expert.

Maintenance: Stone is easy to clean with water and diluted cleaners. Dust, mop, or vacuum the floor frequently to remove small pebbles and general dirt. Do not use abrasive or ammonia based cleaners. Also avoid any cleaners that contain lemon juice, vinegar, or other acids as they will break down and dull the sealer, especially on marble, travertine and limestone. Clean up spills immediately to avoid possible staining.

Installation: As specific sealing is required to optimize its resistance to water and staining, ensuring it is installed correctly will lengthen the life of the product. Unless you have extensive experience with natural stone, leave installation to the pros. Qualified professionals in your area can be found by visiting the Granite, Marble-Natural, Flooring & Floor Covering Contractors or Floor Laying, Refinishing & Resurfacing headings at

Advantage: Vinyl is a very durable product and has been one of the most popular flooring choices for bathrooms. It comes in large sheets, making it very practical for bathrooms, as it eliminates seams. It can also be installed in tiles which have changed over the years to mimic stone, marble, or wood. Vinyl is very inexpensive, which is why it is so popular and allows for frequent changes if desired. It is soft to walk on, easy to maintain and keep clean.

Disadvantage: Despite recent improvements in the designs, vinyl is still a cheaper look and does not provide the elegance of other flooring options. It can be torn easily by sharp objects and colors can fade over time. Vinyl tiles have a tendency to come up after time and sheet vinyl can bubble if excessive weight is moved on it.

Cost: Sheet versions cost $3-5 per square foot including installation. Tile versions are less than $1 per square foot depending on the design. Tiles that simulate stone or wood can cost $2-5 per square foot. Installation is often covered in the price or will cost less than $1 per square foot.

Durability: Vinyl is extremely durable and effective at resisting stains and moisture. Tile versions create a lot of seams that can trap germs and dirt, but they can quickly and easily be removed with a good cleaning.

Maintenance: Floors can easily be cleaned using a mixture of vinegar and water. Dish soap can also be added to water for cleaning. It is best to clean up spills quickly to eliminate staining.

Installation: Installing vinyl yourself can be done very easily. This can save you some money. However, if you are limited on time or do not want the hassle, the cost for installation is very minimal and may be worth the time you save. To find a professional in your area, visit the Floor Laying, Refinishing & Resurfacing and Flooring & Floor Covering Contractors headings at

Advantage: When wanting the look of wood, laminate flooring is actually a better option for the bathroom than solid wood. As a combination of resin, wood fiber and paper that have been compressed together, these materials handle water better than solid wood. After the materials are compressed together a sealing layer is placed on top to help protect from wear and makes the product very durable. Each layer is also glued to each other before compression, which makes it difficult for water to penetrate through the layers. This allows the elegant look of wood to enter the bathroom and still maintain some water resistance.

Disadvantage: Depending on the quality of the product, some laminates have a strong resemblance to faux wood. Because the wood layer is literally a photographic image of wood, it often gives a very uniform look to every piece. This makes the overall look more manufactured than natural. Some bubbling and expansion will occur if exposed to water and humidity which may be impossible to avoid depending on shower usage and room ventilation.

Cost: The average cost for installing a laminate floor is $7-12 dollars per square foot. More exotic woods increase the cost.

Durability: Laminate flooring is very durable and able to withstand a lot of traffic. It also stands up against scratches and gouges better than traditional solid wood flooring. While the sealant protects it against regular water encounters, if water penetrates to the subsequent layers it will bubble and expand. The damaged pieces will need to be removed and replaced. If this occurs, it is best to have a professional repair the section as it requires precision cuts and fittings.

Maintenance: General maintenance is easy and can be done with dusting or a damp mop. Since water can damages the floor, spills or pooling should be cleaned up immediately.

Installation: Installation for laminate flooring can be done by the basic do-it-yourselfer. The pieces have been designed to easily fit into each other, making the job relatively easy. There will still be cutting skills and patience required, depending on the shape of the space but it should go fairly smoothly. If you don’t have the time or desire, professional installation charges are usually reasonable. Locate an installer in your area by visiting the Floor Laying, Refinishing & Resurfacing and Flooring & Floor Covering Contractors headings at

Solid Hardwood
Advantage: Hardwood flooring brings warmth and elegance to any room. This can be very inviting for a bathroom but it might not be very practical. If the entire main floor of the home is done in hardwood, continuing the look in the bathroom may be preferred. Using solid wood flooring for the bath is best kept to powder rooms or guest rooms where no shower or tub is present. It is easy to clean, feels soft underfoot and provides good insulation to the room.

Disadvantage: Solid wood in the bathroom is not the best choice as wood is porous and soaks up water very easily. When it becomes wet, it bows and expands and once damage is done it will need to be replaced. Wood floors are also expensive and require resealing as the urethane coating wears off. If left unsealed for too long, the entire floor will need to be re-sanded and resealed.

Cost: Depending on the type of wood and size of the planks, costs range from $8-15 per square foot. Installation also drives up the cost depending on the choice of wood.

Durability: Wood flooring is very durable and if maintained correctly, can last for hundreds of years. Many old hardwood floors sit under carpet or vinyl flooring for years and when sanded and refinished look like new. Make sure it is installed correctly with the necessary sealants and you’ll enjoy it for decades.

Maintenance: Solid wood floors are easy to clean with dusting and a damp mop. A variety of wood flooring cleaners also exist but make sure they do not leave a film or residue on the wood. Avoid using oil soaps or ammonia cleaners as they dull the finish. Scratches and gouges can occur but luckily it adds character to the floor and unless it is excessive, looks fine. For excessive gouges, the floor will require re-sanding and resealing.

Installation: The first step in installation is often overlooked and can cause serious headaches if ignored. Solid wood flooring needs to sit inside the home for at least three days prior to laying it. This allows the wood to expand or move based on the humidity within the home. If installed too quickly, it may expand or contract causing buckling or gaps. It is possible for a do-it-yourselfer to install their own hardwood floor but you may want to call in professionals, especially for a bathroom. When water is involved, ensuring gaps are removed or sealed will be critical to the longevity of the floor. To find a quality installer near you visit the Flooring & Floor Covering Contractors, Hardwoods, and Floor Laying, Refinishing & Resurfacing headings at

Advantage: Carpet feels great on your feet and provides a non-slip surface. It is also available in a wide variety of colors and is one of the least expensive flooring options. High end remnants can often be found at carpet dealers that are large enough to install within a bathroom. Carpet manufacturers are now making carpet backing more resistant to mold and mildew addressing traditional water concerns.

Disadvantage: Moisture and carpets do not get along. Carpet becomes like a sponge when water comes in contact with it, creating mold and mildew problems. It also quickly stains when make-up, toothpaste, and other bathroom substances are dropped on the surface. Due to the high level of traffic and products used in this room, keeping the carpet looking good is a challenge.

Cost: This is the least expensive of all of the flooring options. At under $1 per square foot it is understandable why some homeowners opt for the extra work.

Durability: Nylon carpet is the most common carpet fiber used today. It is very durable, maintains it height and is the most resistant to moisture and staining. Carpet can be long lasting if well maintained and water encounters and spills are kept to a minimum.

Maintenance: Vacuuming is the quickest and easiest way to keep carpets clean. For spills or stains, contact the carpet dealer to see what solution is best for your carpet as it varies based on the type of fiber. Carpets can also be professionally or steam cleaned every few months to keep them looking their best.

Installation: Depending on your skill level, carpet can be installed yourself but make sure you have the necessary tools to get it done. A carpet stretcher is must for the do-it-yourselfer. As the cost is relatively low, it may be worth it to have carpet professionally installed and save the time and effort. Find a quality installer near you by visiting the Carpets & Rugs, Dealers-New; Flooring & Floor Covering Contractors and Floor Laying, Refinishing & Resurfacing headings at

Lighting Designers & Consultants; Lighting Fixtures-Retail

During the remodeling process, don’t forget about the lighting. This feature is often given the least amount of consideration, though it creates a dramatic effect on the final outcome. Lighting sets the mood, highlights decorative features, sets the stage for the room, and makes it easier to shave or put on make-up in the morning.

Features more prevalent in today’s bathroom also require additional thought for lighting. Dual showers, soaking tubs, steam rooms and dual vanities all require considerable lighting attention to ensure their usage is maximized. Spending the time and money to include these features will be wasted if adequate lighting is not incorporated. Take the time upfront to consider lighting options and build it into the plans before any remodeling begins. As you design the plan, consider the type of lighting required for a bathroom and make sure it is properly incorporated.

Task Lighting
Adequate light is required for the daily tasks within a bathroom. This includes putting on make-up, shaving, taking showers, brushing teeth, combing hair, etc.

Vanity: As most tasks take place at the vanity, this often becomes the primary focus for lighting. Lighting around the vanity should provide a positive and complementary glow, highlighting natural features. Incorrect lighting casts shadows around the eyes, cheeks, nose and chin. To avoid shadows, vanity lights should be placed at eye level on both sides of the mirror. Sconces work great and offer a variety of decorative design options to beautify the room. If additional lighting is desired, a vanity strip across the top of the mirror can be included.

Avoid only placing a vanity strip above the mirror as the sole source of lighting. This provides the least flattering light and casts shadows across the face. If a large or full wall mirror is installed, try mounting lights directly on the mirror to provide side lighting. If installation above the mirror is the only option, make sure the vanity strip is at least 24 inches long to spread light more evenly. Recessed or canned lights above the vanity should be avoided entirely.

Shower: Recent trends are placing lights directly into the shower. Recessed down lighting provides illumination for closed in showers. Opt for a glass lens versus yellow to maximize the amount of light and cast a warm, soft glow. For smaller bathrooms, selecting a clear glass shower door allows lighting to penetrate into the shower which may replace the need for an enclosed light.

Tubs and Toilets: Placing a recessed or canned light directly above the tub or toilet specifically highlights these areas providing optimal light for relaxing and reading. Aim the light slightly to the left or right of the center focus to cast softer light and avoid shining the light directly in the eyes.

Ambient Lighting
Depending on the size of the bathroom, ambient lighting can illuminate the entire area. This is traditionally a ceiling mounted light in the middle of the room or for larger bathrooms, a stylish chandelier. There are many options to provide this room filler light such as track lighting, table lamps, floor lighting or ceiling perimeter lighting. Make sure any freestanding lamps or other lighting fixtures are kept away from water sources, to avoid the possibility of electric shock.

Also consider direct, natural light where possible. Enlarge window sizes or install sky lights to highlight the room with natural light during the day. Still consider enough ambient light during the night to give the room a full and elegant glow.

Accent Lighting
Small spotlights can highlight a decorative feature, wall painting, antique fixture or piece of furniture. Make sure these elegant and decorative elements receive the attention they deserve. Setting them off with specific lighting draws in the eye to ensure they are seen, as well as provide additional light for the room.

Additional Considerations
In addition to lighting design, ponder a few considerations to maximize the overall lighting strategy and performance.

Bulbs: The type of light bulb selected can have a dramatic effect on you and the room. Skin tones are most accurately represented with crisp white light. Make sure the bulb finish chosen reflects the real you and the desired hue. Certain finishes change the wall color, floor color or change the shade of rugs and towels. Halogen bulbs provide longer bulb life but can dramatically change the look of the light if the bulb is exposed. Some halogen lights are shaped like incandescent bulbs to ensure the look is preserved. Energy efficient bulbs also save money down the road, so research which bulbs are optimal for your lighting design.

Dimmers: Increase the elegance and romantic look of the room by including dimmer switches. These switches provide control over the brightness and mood. Any lighting fixture can be controlled by a dimmer switch. Make sure the light bulbs are specifically designed for dimmers and the voltage is accurate. These specifications are found on the packaging and are stipulated by the switch manufacturer.

Dimmer switches also increase efficiency and conserve money. Using a dimmer only 10 percent of the time doubles the life of a light bulb.

Heat Lamps: While style choices are a bit limited with heat lamps, they’ll be your best friend on frosty mornings. Many models now come with an exhaust fan built-in to provide an extra benefit.

Match Metals: Selecting the same metal in the lighting fixtures as the other metal fixtures in the room provides consistency and ties the room together. Mixing and matching metals creates an awkward flow for the eye. Keeping metal choices consistent further enhances the elegance and beauty of the bathroom.

Safety: Whatever lighting strategy you choose to implement, make sure safety is a primary focus. Of course you know water and electricity do not mix. So consult an electrician before tackling any lighting installation yourself. If this is not an area of expertise for you, leave it to the professionals. Don’t let wrong wiring damage the time and effort spent on a bathroom remodel or create a fire risk. To find a lighting specialist in your area visit the Lighting Fixtures-Retail and Bathroom Fixtures, Cabinets & Accessories heading at

Plumbing Fixtures, Parts & Supplies-Retail; Bathroom Fixtures, Cabinets & Accessories

A complete remodel is not required to replace or upgrade fixtures. So whether your plans call to gut everything and start new or just make a few changes, evaluate current trends in bathroom fixtures prior to starting the selection process. Use this time to become an expert on the latest technology and fashionable upgrades to make your bathroom current, posh, elegant and cutting-edge.

The sky is the limit when it comes to sink options. Traditional drop-in sinks and vanities have been replaced with hand crafted above-the- counter vessel sinks mounted on antique dressers. Whatever you can imagine, it can become your bathroom.

The most common sink options fit within the following categories:

Drop-in Basins: These sinks come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. They have an outer rim which supports the sinks weight and is attached to the countertop. The sink needs to be caulked around the rim in order to create a watertight seal. Drop-ins can work on any countertop material but as the rim is exposed, it may be difficult to keep it clean around the edge.

Undermount Sink: As the name suggests, this sink is mounted to the underside of the countertop providing a sleek and seamless look. Most undermount sinks are installed on solid surface, granite, or natural stone countertops as the edge of the countertop is exposed to water. With the countertop now becoming the rim, it needs to be water resistant.

Wall-Mount Sink: These sinks are installed directly on to the wall and can be adjusted to any height. They are optimal for smaller bathrooms or powder rooms where floor space is limited. Some models offer a “shroud” cover to hide the exposed plumbing if seeing the pipes is less than appealing.

Integral Sink: With this style of sink, the countertop and the basin are one continuous piece of material. There is no rim or break between the countertop and basin. The most common basin shapes are oval and round, however new designs are now including rectangular and farm-style shapes.

Pedestal Sink: This is a freestanding sink that sits on a pedestal base. They are offered in a variety of styles and shapes and work great in smaller spaces. Pedestal sinks are very popular and are elegantly designed. Many bathrooms are featuring pedestal sinks for their simplistic, yet elegant look, making any bathroom look modern. Keep in mind that they do not offer any under the cabinet storage so if you need the storage; this is not an ideal option. If you are also turned off by exposed plumbing, steer clear of this type of sink.

Console Sink: Similar to a pedestal sink, this style sits on either two or four legs. The legs are very stylish and a decorative element to the sink. Because of the extra legs, this sink option provides more counter space than a pedestal sink. It is offered in a variety of basin shapes, leg shapes, and double bowls.

Vessel Sinks: Also known as above-the-counter sinks; these bowls are the latest in style and bathroom fashion. They are offered in a variety of materials, styles and shapes, creating a striking, eye-catching look to any countertop. Hand-painted, metal, glass or cast iron vessel sinks grab immediate attention and offer instant class and elegance to any bathroom. Height should be seriously considered as the sinks sit on top of the counter and therefore, require a lower countertop. The majority of faucets for this option are mounted directly to the wall as the entire bowl is exposed. Longer and taller faucet spouts also work. Vessel sinks do not have an overflow hole so a special grid drain should be installed to prevent accidental overflow. In heavily used bathrooms, vessel sinks create splashing, requiring additional and frequent cleaning.

Consider the maintenance and upkeep required for each option before selecting the one that is right for you.

Vitreous China: These fireclay sinks are the most popular material choice for most bathrooms. They are very durable, don’t require special care and are easy to clean. A variety of colors and shapes are available with classic white being the most popular selection.

Metal: Stainless steel, bronze and copper sinks are making their way into modern bathrooms. These metals provide a warm, contemporary look which fades over time. As they are susceptible to scratching, avoid abrasive cleaners or scouring pads when cleaning.

Glass: The majority of glass sinks are made from a thick, tempered glass. Despite their thickness, they are still prone to scratching so avoid abrasive cleaners. Water deposits also settle on the glass so make sure it is wiped clean after every use. Because the glass is tempered, it is shatterproof. However, it can be broken if something heavy falls on top of it. Mount a framed mirror above the sink rather than a medicine cabinet to avoid any accidental drops.

Stone: Natural stone and concrete are gaining in popularity for sink materials. These heavyweight sinks are often undermounted and require extra support. Because these materials are porous, they need to be properly sealed and resealed about every year. Marble, granite and soapstone are the most popular materials appearing in today’s bathrooms.

As you think about the number of choices, also consider a few basic needs to help you narrow the decision to fit the style of bathroom.

Size: The size of the sink may be predetermined based on the size of the bathroom itself. Smaller bathrooms require smaller vanities and sinks. Allow enough elbow room around the sink to ensure that a solid 15” is available from the middle of the sink to the wall.

Counter Space: Depending on how many people use the bathroom, allow for some items to be placed on the countertop. For heavier used bathrooms, space for toothbrushes, soap, make-up, etc., needs to be provided. Powder rooms can get by with only a limited amount of space for soap and lotion.

Wear and Tear: Many newer designs are more prone to splashing and scratching, requiring more care than normal. Make sure you are comfortable providing the extra time and effort to maintain the desired look.

Selecting the right faucet requires a little knowledge and education. Don’t be tempted to just pick the one that catches your eye. In addition to the style, consider the faucet construction, configuration and finish. Each of these elements plays a part in how much you enjoy the faucet and how long it will last.

Faucet Construction: The construction of a faucet refers to the inner valve that controls the water flow. This is what does all of the work and affects how long it will last and how well it will perform. There are four basic types of values to consider.

    Compression-Value: This is the only value type that uses a washer and is the most common. Water flow is controlled by a stem that lifts and lowers to open and close the water flow. When the stem lowers, it compresses a seal, typically a rubber washer that seals off the flow. The values wear down over time and will need to be replaced, most likely sooner and more often than any other value system.

    Cartridge Valve: These valves use rubber O-rings inside a hollow sleeve that aligns with other sleeves to open the flow of water and then block the holes to shut it off. This system is very reliable and even though it has fewer parts to break down, the seals will wear down and need to be replaced.

    Ball Valve: This system is traditionally used with single lever faucets and is based on a rotating ball that regulates the mixture of hot and cold water allowed in the spout. As the handle is moved, the ball changes slot position in the valve which in turn, increases the water flow. As there is only one moving part, malfunction problems are decreased, especially when using a metal ball versus plastic.

    Ceramic-disc Valve: With this system, two ceramic-discs inside the faucet slide against each other creating a shearing motion. This motion controls the flow of water by either blocking the water or allowing it move through. These discs create a watertight seal and are considered the most durable and longest lasting of all four systems.

Faucet Configuration: Not every faucet will fit with every basin. The configuration of the faucet refers to how the faucet is mounted and the number of holes required in the sink. For bathrooms receiving a remodel, the necessary holes can be drilled to fit the faucet of your choice. When only replacing the faucet, check to see how many holes exist as this dictates what type of faucet you can purchase. Be aware of the following terms as they will help you make a selection.

    Widespread Faucet: These faucet types have separate hot and cold handles. Each piece, including the spout, appears independent of each other. Three drilled holes are required in the basin which should be a minimum of 6” apart. The full length between each hole is determined by the faucet style.

    Centerset Faucet: A centerset faucet also requires three drilled holes with the distance of 4” between each hole. Typically, centerset faucets have the handles and spouts combined into one unit. It can be a combined unit with two handles or one single handle base unit. These work best in smaller bathrooms that require smaller sinks.

    Single-hole Faucet: With this faucet type, the handle and spout are combined into one unit. Most single-hole faucets have one lever that is turned right or left to adjust the water temperature. Some versions will instead have two separate handles which are attached to the both sides of the spout.

    Wall-Mounted Faucet: These types of faucets attach to the wall behind the sink and are ideal for vessel sinks and freestanding basins. It is critical to ensure that the height of the faucet is set to clear the basin and the spout is directly over the drain. Specific values and drain installation are also required.

Faucet Style: The style of the faucet is the feature that most buying decisions are based on. This includes the artistic style and functionality of the faucet. While this is important, since you will use the faucet everyday, also remember that it will need to fit within the construction and configuration of the sink as well.

Spouts are available in a wide variety of different lengths and shapes, providing a unique look to the sink. Gooseneck faucets provide more room in the sink for specialty tasks like washing your hair in the sink or filling a large pot. Handle types also create a distinctive look and play a significant role in the selection of a faucet. Handle choices include level handles, cross handles, single lever handles, pull out sprayers and even hands-free options.

The style you choose should reflect the décor and elegance you are looking to create. Use this opportunity to express some personality in the room and get as traditional or as wild as you like.

Faucet Finish: The finish is the surface treatment that is added to the faucet giving it color. Again, a variety of choices are available and the finish you choose should coordinate with other colors in the room and set the tone for all other fixtures and accessories.

The most common faucet finishes include: chrome, pewter, nickel, gold, brass, ceramic, platinum, bronze, and enamel-coated colors. Some finishes are also combined to create a distinct and elegant look. Determine how the finish was applied and look for a finish that is durable.

Until recently, the basic style of the toilet hasn’t changed much. Even today, most toilet styles look basically the same. However, some variety can be found if you are looking for something truly different. While styles are somewhat consistent, technology however has changed. Before considering the purchase of a toilet, do a little research to uncover options available today. Learn what works best for you and personally view several options in a showroom before making a final decision.

One or Two-Piece Toilets: Toilets are available in one or two-piece construction.

    One-Piece: One piece units combine all parts of the toilet into a single component. The tank, bowl, lid, seat, wax rings, bolts, and caps are all combined together. This makes the toilet easier to install and clean, eliminating the possibility of leakage between the tank and the bowl.

    Two Piece: Two piece units require purchasing the tank and the bowl separately. This is a less expensive option and you need to make sure all necessary parts are purchased. This includes purchasing a toilet seat as it does not come standard.

Bowl Shapes: Two basic shapes are available; round and elongated. While two shapes are offered, different variations of sizes and styles provide a wide range of options.

    Round: This traditional shape averages 2” smaller than an elongated bowl and is often used in smaller bathrooms where space is more limited.

    Elongated: This longer shape is often more preferred, especially in homes with a lot of males. The oval shape maximizes comfort and offers a larger water surface space than the round bowl.

Mounting: Traditionally, most residential toilets are mounted to the floor but recent style choices are opting for a cleaner, European look of the wall-mounted toilet.

    Floor Mount: Most homes opt for this traditional look with a short pedestal base mounted to the floor. Several styles, colors and options for the look of the pedestal exist to help match any décor and add to the overall look.

    Wall-Mount: This contemporary look has been a favorite in Europe and is catching on in America. These toilets are fastened to the wall, eliminating the tank and pedestal. This style makes clean-up easy and offers a simple, sleek, and contemporary look to the bathroom. The tank is built into the wall providing an extra 6-9” of floor space and resulting in a much quieter flush. The flushing mechanism is sometimes mounted to the wall or on the side of the bowl.

Height: The height of a standard toilet is 14½ - 15”. Recently, the American Disabilities Act enacted a guideline that toilets be offered in a height of 16½ - 19” making it easier for those with disabilities.

Many general consumers found that the taller height is actually more comfortable, making it easier to sit and places less stress on the knees when standing. These taller versions now offer a variety of heights to choose from and are quickly making their way into bathrooms, especially the Master Bath and guest bathrooms.

Flushing Systems: The majority of toilets have similar tank capacities. Federal Law now requires manufacturers to build toilets that require no more than 1.6 gallons of water for each flush. This mandate was enacted to help conserve water as older models used 5-7 gallons for each flush.

Early water conserving tank designs received complaints from consumers because they clogged easily or did not completely clear the bowl. Multiple flushes were often required, making water conservation difficult. Newer designs incorporating steeper and narrower bowls along with larger trapways make today’s toilets more effective and consumer just as happy as they were with their older toilets.

Before choosing a toilet, you should understand the flushing system. Retailers can demonstrate how each toilet functions using a wide variety of items including golf balls and sponges. Learn the different options available and ask questions to make sure you are comfortable with what you can expect. Below are a few of the most common flushing systems available today.

    Gravity Flush System: This system uses the weight of the water to create the flushing pressure. The pressure released while flushing pushes the water in the tank into the bowl and through the S-shaped trapway. A siphoning action finishes the flush pulling the waste out of the bowl. Gravity flush systems are the most popular option with many recent models providing good performance.

    Pressure-Assisted System: Water is forced into the bowl using pressurized air to push contents through the flush. This system reduces the chances of clogging but is often much louder than other systems. It is also expensive and has a high-risk for requiring maintenance.

    Dual Flush System: Modern flushing systems provide two different buttons for two types of flushes. The first button takes care of solid waste and the second button handles liquid waste. This further conserves water as the amount used to flush is adjusted based on bowl content. The method of flushing is based on a Wash-down system which uses a large trap-way and small waterspots to push waste through. The large trapway eliminates clogging but the small waterspots often have a difficult time cleaning the bowl.

Toilet Seats
Unless you purchase a one-piece toilet, you will need to buy a toilet seat. There are several colors and options to choose from. Consider the following before making a selection.

Shape: The choice of seat should follow the shape of the toilet, either round or elongated.

Material: A variety of materials is available including real wood, plastic, vinyl, or molded wood.

Comfort: Designs now offer contouring for optimized comfort. Some models provide heat and are self-cleaning options. You’ll pay more for these options but you may think it is worth the added benefit.

Bathroom remodels more often than not, begin with the shower or bathtub. As they are the largest element in the room, the design features and material choices often determine the look for the remainder of the bathroom. If opting for a marble shower, marble is also considered for the flooring and countertops, or materials that complement marble are selected.

The shower is also the location where you begin each day. Ensuring the experience is a pleasant one sets the stage for the remainder of the day. Today’s shower is becoming a more luxurious and spa-like experience, particularly in the Master Bath. Showers are being seen as a place to relax and unwind while surrounded by elegance and beauty.

The style and design options for showers are endless and can match any imagination. Consider the following information when customizing your dream shower or upgrading an existing one to help narrow the selection process and provide education on what is available.

Size: The first step in shower design is determining the space available for a shower. Building code requires a shower to be a minimum of 32” square inches. However, to ensure enough elbow room, anything smaller than 36” square inches will probably be too tight.

If a complete remodel is involved, perhaps additional room may be found by tearing out existing structures. Determine how much wall and floor space can be utilized and what shape of shower you desire. Determine how many current wall surfaces can be utilized or if one needs to be built. Knowing the space available helps narrow the choices between a custom shower and a pre-fabricated one.

Custom Shower: Custom showers are built directly on site based on the specifications of the design. The sky is the limit in terms of design and can be anything from a small tile enclosure in the corner of the bathroom to a round, open marble structure with dual shower heads.

A custom shower traditionally requires a shower pan, drain, shower fixture, and surface material that can handle extremely wet conditions. As construction of a custom shower requires waterproof base, waterproof walls, sub-construction that is fully waterproof and a sloped drainage system, this job is best left to the professionals. Showers are used almost every day so even the smallest amount of water leakage, causes significant damage over time. Therefore, it is critical that the construction of a custom shower is entirely waterproof and done correctly. Anyone building a custom shower on their own must have a strong knowledge of what is required. Unless you have this experience, consult a contractor or specialized bath contractor for help.

Custom design showers often include luxuries such as seats, benches, multiple showerheads, spa style showerheads, and steam and massage showerheads. Material choices are also becoming more luxurious and include granite, marble, slate, soapstone, and ceramic tile.

If you plan on adding extra shower heads to the shower, consult with a plumber to ensure water pressure within your home is sufficient. Don’t wait until everything is installed and completed to learn you can’t fully enjoy it.

Pre-Fabricated Shower: These types of showers are one-piece units made of fiberglass, laminate or synthetic marble. They are relatively inexpensive, easy to install, simple to clean and watertight. A few options are available that also include benches, shelves and grab bars.

For shower remodels, pre-fabricated units may not be an option. As they are pre-made, they are manufactured in specific shapes and sizes. One-piece units do not have seams and come as a complete unit. Because they don’t break down, they are often too big to fit through an existing bathroom door or hallway. Therefore, they are most often used in new construction. Some pre-fabricated showers have walls that are assembled on site for easier installation. Wall panels fit over a molded shower base and are then attached to the waterproof walls.

Shape styles are standard and traditionally offered in square, rectangular, and corner configurations. This is a good option if you are building a new home or remodeling within guest or children’s bathrooms where ease of use is ideal.

Steam Shower: In the spirit of the bathroom becoming a spa, many contemporary remodels are opting for a steam shower. This can be utilized with any fully enclosed shower connected to a steam shower generator, providing all the benefits of a steam room. As water vapor is the primary ingredient, every side of the shower must be completed enclosed. If using slate tile, the tile must cover the walls completely to the ceiling as well as the ceiling itself. It also requires the shower to have a door that completely seals. Water vapor causes extensive damage if not properly controlled.

Because of the extra water concerns and waterproofing required, most custom steam showers are built from scratch. Work with a contractor to determine the size and design you want. Include a bench for relaxation and luxurious shower heads to maximize the experience. Custom steam showers are not inexpensive but may be worth the extra money to enjoy the added luxury.

If the luxury is appealing but your budget isn’t willing, converting an existing shower into a steam shower may be a possibility. If a limited amount of waterproofing and sealing is required, it may not require extensive work. Consult a contractor or bath contractor for help.

Showerheads: Each day, the shower is used to invigorate the start of the day and then again at night to unwind and de-stress from the pressures of the day. The success of that shower is mostly determined by the performance of the showerhead. The elegance of the surroundings will not make up for any failure or limitation of the showerhead.

Within the last few years a wide variety of showerhead options have been introduced on the market. These advancements turn any home bathroom into a lavish spa.

Showerheads are available in two basic types – fixed and hand-held.

    Fixed Showerhead: The fixed showerhead is a permanently mounted fixture secured to the shower wall. These are the fixtures most commonly found in bathrooms today. They usually include some adjustment for height depending on the size of the user and are available in single handle, two handle or three-handle systems.

    Hand-Held Showerheads: These showerheads disconnect from the wall mounted base via a flexible hose or tubing, providing freedom of motion. Hand-held showerheads are ideal for those with limited mobility or for bathing children and pets. The mounted bracket can be placed higher or lower on the wall depending on choice and cleaning becomes much easier with this showerhead as it provides a controlled spray to rinse a variety of areas.

Shower Systems: The trendiest showerhead installations today use a prepackaged or customized shower system. These systems consist of various valves, showerheads, body sprays, water outlets, hand showers and volume controls. This makes all the difference in creating a true spa-like experience. A variety of combinations can be created and offer control over the amount of spray, the direction of the spray and the temperature of the water. Each water value can be adjusted individually for maximum control and some systems offer customized programs that automatically adjust to your desired settings.

    Considerations: Before running out to customize your own system, make sure the existing plumbing can handle the increased load. Additional outlets need to be installed based on the desired configuration, and require water pressure of at least 50psi for any system with three or more outlets. A dedicated 100 gallon water heater or tankless water heater is also needed to ensure enough hot water is available. The increase in water flow may also require the need for additional drains. Consult a contractor or bath contractor to learn what needs to be considered to turn your shower into the ideal spa.

Water and Energy Saving Showerheads: For those who want to conserve resources and money, look into a low-flow showerhead. Current government standards require showerheads to use no more than 2½ gallons of water per minute at a standard 80psi pressure. A low-flow showerhead requires even less water than current standards. This will save you money on both the water bill as well as the electric bill, cutting down on the amount of hot water you use each day.

It is no surprise that many of today’s homes have some type of bathtub. In addition to providing a place to get clean, bathtubs are also therapeutic and relaxing. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes, offer jets, dual participation and full body soaks. Before determining the tub for your home or remodel, learn what options are available and what tub choices are ideal for you.

Considerations: Some specific considerations need to be made when considering a tub. Not every bathroom is large enough for a tub and depending on the type of tub you choose, additional weight support or hot water considerations need to be made. Your choice in tub may already be predetermined. Evaluate the physical limitations within the room. Do you need to stay within the parameters already provided and just replace the existing tub, or will you be gutting the room and opening walls offering additional space for your dream tub? Determine the parameters and choose a tub that meets those boundaries.

Types of Bathtubs: There are a variety of tubs to choose from. Determine what functionality the tub should provide to help narrow the selection.

    Standard Tubs: This type of tub is a basic model used for getting clean, whether for yourself, your kids or the family pet.

    Soaking Tub: If relaxation is high on the priority list, a soaking tub is the tub of choice. This tub is deeper than a standard tub and allows for the whole body to be submerged in the water. It is offered in a variety of shapes, fill levels and is traditionally known as a free-standing tub. It has taller sides with four feet that sit on the floor. More recognized names are “pedestal” and “clawfoot”, because the foot design looks like a bird’s claw.

    Whirlpool & Air Tubs: To add therapy to relaxation, consider a whirlpool or air tub. These tubs create motion in the water providing the sensation of receiving a massage. Whirlpool tubs force water through the jets to stir the water while air tubs uses air to create thousands of bubbles designed to energize. These tubs are more complex and require additional equipment and sometimes additional plumbing. A separate water heater or tankless water heater may be needed as these tubs require a significant amount of water to fill.

    Walk-in Bathtub: These tubs are stepped into through a door which seals completely once it is shut. They are optimal for the elderly or people with physical limitations. Several grab bars and rails are included to aid with mobility.

Bathtub Materials: The tub material you choose also determines tub selection. While you may have already chosen the tub based on function, not every material is available for every type of tub. Therefore, consider both when finalizing a tub choice. If a cast iron tub is a must, a whirlpool tub is not an option.

    Cast Iron: This material is extremely durable and is usually covered with a coating of porcelain enamel. If taken care of, a cast iron tub will last for several decades. Abrasive cleansers and scrubbers should be avoided as they scratch the surface. Over time, the enamel can chip and reveal the cast iron. Once exposed, the cast iron will rust if not repaired.

    Cast Iron tubs are often found in free-standing tubs and can be installed in an alcove. They are extremely heavy so adequate support is required. Check with your contractor or bath contractor to determine if the proper support exists or what needs to be added. They are the heaviest of all tubs and become even heavier once the water is added.

    Porcelain on Steel: Porcelain on steel is the most popular bathtub material, due to its durability and resistance to corrosion, acid and abrasions. It has durability similar to cast iron but at a lighter weight. It can be easily cleaned but is also prone to rusting if the porcelain becomes cracked or chipped.

    Fiberglass: Also known as gel-coated fiberglass, this is the least expensive of all tub materials. The gel-coat covering reinforces the fiberglass providing a smooth, glossy surface to the tub. It is easy to clean but is also prone to scratching and general wear over time. It can be fixed if scratched or cracked but the material is not as durable as other materials.

    Acrylic: Acrylic is a form of plastic with a high gloss that looks similar to cast iron. However, it is much more lightweight making it ideal for whirlpool, air tubs and soaking tubs. It is more prone to daily wear and scratches over time. The scratches can be buffed out and a number of products are available to help keep acrylic tubs looking new.

    Natural Stone: Higher end tubs are often made of marble or granite. These tubs provide an elegant, luxurious and grand look to any bathroom. They are very expensive, costing tens of thousands of dollars. Granite tubs begin with a large boulder which is chiseled and polished into a tub form. This kind of craftsmanship merits the additional cost. They are offered in a variety of sizes and shapes and can often be custom ordered to fit any specified space. As you’ll want to display the beauty of the stone, maximize the look by displaying it as a free standing tub.

    Wood: For a unique look, a wood bathtub definitely fits the profile. It provides a warm, elegant look but it can be difficult to maintain. As it is created using several slabs of wood joined together, the seals binding those pieces must be completely water tight. These types of tubs require a strong sealer to prevent leakage and deterioration. If well maintained, it can be a durable solution but it requires a lot of effort and attention to limit hard water stains and ensure it is water resistant in the long term.

Bathtub Installation: A variety of configurations exist for installing a bathtub. Most tubs are either built-in or free-standing styles. If space is limited, the configuration required may already be determined. With a more extensive remodel, the options may be limitless. However, some materials do not lend themselves to every style of installation. Again, research ahead of time what parameters you have before getting your heart set on any one tub.

Built-in: These include alcove, drop-in, undermount and corner.

    Alcove: This is the most common style of tub installation in most homes and is the typical form for a standard tub. Alcove tubs are traditionally rectangular in shape, surrounded on three sides by either walls or another structure, such as a shower wall. They are designed as either a right hand or left hand installation depending on the location of the drain. Most alcove styles are a tub-shower combination with a vertical lip that fits under the waterproofed surrounding walls.

    Drop-in: Also known as “platform” or “deck mounted” these installation styles are typically mounted into a built-up frame or deck structure. A drop-in option also includes sinking the tub into the floor. Most whirlpool and air bath tubs require this for of installation. The tub sides or panels are covered with the chosen surface material, which is also used to create a rim surrounding the perimeter of the tub. Generally, one panel is removable providing access to plumbing and special hardware used with jetted tubs.

    Undermount: Similar to a drop-in, an undermounted tub is surrounded by a deck structure but instead of the rim being exposed, it is mounted underneath the surface material. Unlike an undermounted sink, it is not hung from the surface; the surface material is adhered to the tub. Due to the weight, the tub must sit within the deck structure for support.

    The choice for rim or no-rim is a personal one but also consider whether you may want or need to remove the tub at a later date before choosing. In order to remove the tub, the surrounding surface must be broken away. If you surround it with marble, it could be a painful break-up should you ever need to remove the tub.

    Corner: This space saving sized tub provides a unique look to the bathroom. Traditionally surrounded on two sides, they can be custom fit to match any spot and can be designed to easily fit two people. Whirlpool and air tub options are available and corner tubs can also be created as a soaking tub. They often are built with a surrounding lip which provides additional storage for soaps and shampoos.

    Freestanding: Freestanding tubs have four legs and sit on the floor with no surrounding structure. Most freestanding tubs are also called soaking tubs and have a sloping back on one side and a flat front on the other which typically houses the plumbing. These tubs are also known as clawfoot, pedestal and vintage tubs. This style of tub exposes the pipes so they are easier to install and service, if necessary. No added carpentry, construction, framework or structural support is required with this type of installation. However, some construction may be required to support the weight of the tub.

Remodeling on a Budget
Handyman Services; Building Materials; Banks; Loans; Mortgages

Remodeling on a Budget:
While a 77% return on investment can be expected, a complete remodel may be more than the budget can afford. Consider some alternative measures that provide a facelift, but don’t break the bank.

Change the Surface
Instead of a complete tear-out, work within the existing space. Leave the shower where it is but re-tile it or add natural stone. A significant amount of money will be saved by working within existing parameters and only changing the surface.

Do Some Things Yourself
While plumbing, electrical, structural construction and some installation should be left to the experts; money can be saved by doing some smaller jobs yourself. Keeping the changes to surface alterations increases the amount of work you can keep to yourself. Work with the contractor to handle portions of the project yourself. You’ll be amazed at how much money can be saved once the project is completed.

Refinish - Don’t Replace
Instead of removing the old tub and replacing it with a new one, consider refinishing it. If the tub surface is stained, discolored or has a few cracks, refinishing will save money. Placing a new coat over an older tub can make it look brand new.

Consider Lower Priced Materials
You may have your heart set on granite countertops, marble flooring or a cast-iron tub and, while these upgrades are ideal, they also come with a hefty price tag. Consider alternative options that are average in their price points. Instead of granite, consider a tile that looks like granite. Most middle of the road materials offer quality options that can give the appearance of richness but at a portion of the cost.

Perhaps the cost of a full remodel is more than you can afford. As you wait for the savings to build, explore some inexpensive improvements that can be done now, using a limited budget, to help transform the bathroom.

Fresh Coat of Paint
Give the room a bright and fresh appearance by repainting the walls and ceilings. This is a very inexpensive way to give a new look to the room.

Apply New Caulking
Remove aged and cracked caulking around the tub and shower and replace it with new caulk. Clearing away the dirty caulk and replacing it with a fresh, white look will take years off the structure.

Upgrade Fixtures
For a limited budget, upgrade the look of the room with new faucets, showerheads, towel bars, and toilet paper holders. Take this opportunity to add a massaging showerhead or goose-neck faucet to further enhance the fixtures.

Swap out the Linens
Complete the new look of fixtures with new linens. Further display that towel rack with new towels in colors that enhance the finish. Add new rugs and bathmats to add elegance and warmth to the room.

Switch out the Lights
Replacing older fixtures with new, modern style lights can dramatically change the look of the entire bathroom. It will make the room look more contemporary as well as shining some much needed light on the space.

Frame the Mirror
If a large mirror or a couple of mirrors already exist, frame them up for a new and contemporary look. Add that spa-like quality by placing a nice wooden frame around an existing mirror.

New Vanity Top
Instead of purchasing a full new vanity, just change out the top. Upgrade the vanity by giving it a new face with a modern natural stone or a less expensive laminate. Find a laminate in the look of natural stone and still get the look, at a fraction of the price.

Change out the Sink
Perhaps a new vanity is more than you can currently afford, consider replacing just the basin for a totally new look. With the variety of basins to choose from adding a new material, color, or style can really update the room.

Buy a New Toilet
For only a few hundred dollars, a new style or toilet shape can add new life.

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