Some people dread DIY. I used to be one of those people. Then I realised that I only dreaded it because it seemed so daunting. To be clear, I am not a tradesperson, nor a qualified plumber. I am just a regular husband and dad that now likes to renovate our homes, and, in my opinion, there is no better way than giving it a go and learning on the job.
In this blog, I will be running through the process of how I have just renovated my bathroom and bathrooms that I have done previously. There will also be handy little hints and hacks along the way that I used to get it done at a fraction of the price. In this blog, we will cover:
Research and Resources
Planning and Schedule
Whenever you start any kind of project, think about your why and what is it that you want to achieve at the end of the project. Okay, so the simple answer in this case is a new bathroom but is it because you NEED a new bathroom? Is it because you would just like to spruce up your existing bathroom? Or is it even a bit of both? The reason I ask this question, is because you can then look into the second part, which is what you want to achieve. Is it just a simple, functional bathroom or one that makes you feel that you are away at some luxurious hotel, with a beer (other drinks available) in the bathtub, in your own little heavenly world? It is important because then you know what to look for, what to plan for etc. This then brings us on to inspiration and ideas.
Where do you go to for your inspiration usually? For me it is social media, like Instagram or Pinterest mainly. Start looking at some different ideas, filter it down to what features you want in your own bathroom, and look at some more drilled down searches, like, “modern bathroom lighting solutions”, as an example.
Here are some quick Pinterest links to get you started:
Sorry, this is the buzzkill moment – The dreaded budget. Now that you have your why, you’ve had a first glance at some inspiring ideas and got really excited, the moment has come for reality to kick in. If you are anything like me (and more so my beloved wife), you may have now had the champagne taste and realisation is kicking in that you’ve only got wine money??
All is not lost….. Personally, I have installed/renovated 5 bathrooms now and each time, I have been pleasantly surprised at the total cost of the end result financially.
At this stage, I would look just look at what you are wanting to pay in total. What is affordable? What can you stretch to? Or are you wanting to do this on a complete budget? Whatever the total is, write it down (also allow 10-15% extra). At this stage this is all you need and you can start chipping away at that total as you start to research further and look at what resources you have to run with.
RESEARCH & RESOURCES
Who loves a list? *Raises hand excitedly*, I do, I do. My wife takes great pleasure in mocking me about the million and one lists that I have stored in Notes on my phone, or on bits of paper, or my laptop. However, what she will also (silently) admit, is that lists DO WORK.
Your first list should be a list of everything that you can think of
The reason for this, is, if you are like me, it will stop you from the impending insomnia as your brain just whirls and whirls trying to remember everything and then you keep second guessing yourself as to whether anything has been forgotten – If you think of it, add it straight to the least, breathe and relax. Easy, right?
Now you can take it bit by bit. I actually find this next bit fun. I get to find myself some bargains!!! For example, let us start with the actual bathroom suite. It’s time to shop around. From your inspiration mission before this point, you have an idea of what you are looking for. Sometimes, buying a fully matching suite may be the best and even cheapest option, but always look around first. You may find that several suppliers do pretty much identical items but listed as a different range. Check a number of DIY stores, online bathroom stores, amazon etc etc and see what you find.
Another “hack”, for use of a better word, that I always do, is check sites such as eBay or Facebook marketplace. I have frequently found brand new items such as basin/vanity units or toilets that perfectly match the look that I am going for and at a fraction of the price. Once you have decided, order it in and tick it off your list (making a note of what you have spent). That’s the main bit done – You’ve bought the bathroom suite.
The next stage for me has always been the tiles or wall coverings. For a bathroom, this is what really sets the image and what compliments the suite and room as whole the most. Plus, tiles come in such a vast range of sizes, styles and more importantly prices. Decide what is being tiled/covered and measure the area. You can then easily price up what you need. I always overbuy by at least a couple of boxes and I can return them if unused. Again, if you feel ready to buy them, then go ahead.
You can now repeat this for all other items that you need for your bathroom, but you don’t necessarily need to buy them just yet (this obviously depends on stock levels, lead time and what storage you have etc). This is purely for your keeping to your budget and costings.
It’s time to get started. Who loves stripping???? Stripping out a bathroom that is!! What is that classic saying – “Out with the old and in with the new”. You can see where I’m going with this. It’s time to strip your bathroom back to its bare bones. Old tiles off the wall, floor coverings removed and of course, the bathroom suite. If you have not done this before, don’t be scared, it is not as daunting as it seems. Make sure that the water supplies have been turned off to “appliances”. They may have individual isolator valves on the pipes
If you don’t have them or you are unsure, then turn the water off at the mains/stop cock
(HACK – Make sure the kettle is full before you do so – nobody can function without a cuppa).
You can now remove the bathroom suite, safe in the knowledge that you’re not going to make your home an aquarium. Below are some useful YouTube tutorials for disconnecting your plumbing from your suite as well as adding isolator valves to the pipework (if you haven’t already got them) so that you can then safely turn back on your water supply for the rest of your home.
At this point, you may also want to prep your walls and ceiling. If you are having it all skimmed/plastered then do this now. If you are tiling the whole bathroom and the walls are fairly even, then you may not wish to spend out for skimming/plastering – it’s just unnecessary added expense.
PLANNING & SCHEDULE
So, you no longer have a bathroom, just an empty space that is looking sorry for itself. It’s time to bring it back to life!!!!!!
Now…. If I have learnt anything at all from my previous endeavours, it has been that it always, always, always, takes longer than I anticipated to finish, so whatever time you have in your head that you think this is going to take you – Double it.
I find it very important to do things in an order when it comes to renovation/changing a bathroom. You don’t want to be tiling the walls before the bathtub has gone in for example as you’ll be tiling areas that just won’t be seen or in need of tiling, therefore wasting your precious time and money.
I always start with installing the bath. Depending on what tub you have gone for (tap position, size/length of tub, where your pipes currently are to where they need to be if you are moving the tap positions etc), there may be additional works to do (such as extending the pipework, bracing the bath with timber etc). Again, I have added some useful YouTube tutorials on how to do this:
Next, making any alterations to plumbing and waste for the rest of your suite. Do you need slightly longer pipes for the new sink or toilet? Make these alterations too as you did with the bath install.
I would then look to install any studwork/drywall that you may want. Are you covering the pipes around the toilet for example?
Next up it’s the tiling. Start around the bathtub area. I usually use the middle of the bath as my centre line and tile out from there but just tile that one wall first. If you are tiling the whole bathroom, I would strongly suggest that you then work your way round wall to wall so that you can follow the pattern to ensure that it meets up to your starting point. This is essential regardless of whether you are tiling in a “brick effect” or straight. If you are only tiling around the bath and then maybe a small splash-back area around your basin or vanity unit then that is different. If this is the case, I would also leave the rest of the walls and decorating until later.
It’s now time to fit the rest of the suite such as your basin/vanity unit and the toilet. I find these were much easier than expected to fit by myself and again, if you are a beginner at this, then here are some more useful tutorials:
You’re now on the home straight!!!!!
Your bathroom suite is in and functioning (I’m sure by now you’ve checked a million times for leaks), and your tiling is complete. Lets get the finishing touches done. You have done all the hard work and have put your blood, sweat and tears into this project. Now, it is vital that we do not cut any corners or rush the finish. Any walls that have not had tiles/other wall coverings added, will need painting, as well as the ceiling. (If you are installing coving, I would do that before the painting.
So your walls and ceilings all now look fantastic and the room has really been pulled together. Just the last little bits. Now is the time to run along any edges of the bath and vanity unit/basin etc with some sanitary silicone. It will give it that ideal finishing touch as well as ensure that there is no water ingress where the tiles meet the unit (I also run a bead of silicone around any edges/internal wall corners where tiling meets paintwork for a nice finish).
LAST JOB!!!!!!!!! Your flooring, whether you are laying some vinyl flooring or ceramic floor tiles, I would always over-board the floor first to give you a nice level surface. Just thin 6-9mm ply is usually ample for this. The you can lay your floor. Again, I have added some useful links here for tiling or vinyl flooring options:
And that’s it!!!
I truly feel that it is nowhere near as difficult or as daunting as it seems. Saying that, I too was petrified when I attempted it myself for the very first time. I hope that this little guide as helped you along with the links and video’s that have helped me in the past.
Let me know how you’re getting on with your project or any completed projects… I LOVE THIS STUFF. Good luck and thank you for reading.