Things to Consider When Remodeling a Bathroom

In a typical bathroom remodel, the most important element is the plumbing. It could also be the most expensive element, and at the same time, a project that will immediately increase the value of the home.

Before the Work Starts

Planning is a critical first step. There are several considerations to consider before you get started.

For instance, the size of the room is important in terms of whether it can house all the fixtures and design pieces, and the placement of the plumbing fixtures will affect the pipe locations.

Having a well-designed plan will help ensure a successful and satisfactory remodel.

However, a bathroom remodel is not a singular endeavor. Because the redo of the bathroom almost always affects walls, floors, ceilings, vents and lighting, other trades will need to be involved. Most bathroom renovations require a general contractor or builder, a plumber, an electrician, an HVAC person, a tiling company, a sheetrock installer and a painter. All these individuals will need to work in a coordinated fashion throughout the project.

Plumbing Lines

If the fixtures are going to be rearranged from their original settings, the drain lines will need to be moved and might need to be increased in size.

For example, if you are removing a bathtub and replacing it with a shower, the drain line will increase from 1.5” to 2”.

Another consideration when the renovation is on an upper floor is whether the project will replace water and drain lines in the floor where the project is located or in the ceiling below the project. This is a consideration, for example, when the ceiling below or the floor in the renovation area is made of a material that would be costly to replace.

Hiding Plumbing Lines

In some cases, the homeowner chooses to completely hide the plumbing lines, particularly around the lavatories.

This is an example of why a plumber must work cooperatively with other trades, in this case the sheetrock installer and the painter.

If you move the location of the fixtures, you will have to run the lines through the wall to the new location. This will entail cutting down walls and replacing them, followed by sheetrock and painting.


The first thing to consider is whether you’re going to keep the existing fixtures or replace them with newer and/or more efficient models.

If you’re going with new fixtures, they should be name brand models from a reputable distributor who carries repair parts.

A current trend is to add large soaker tubs or whirlpool tubs when remodeling a bathroom. If these are added to a second-floor bathroom, the builder or general contractor might need to shore up the floor because of the added weight of the tub.

Placement of the toilet is a concern if you will be installing a tank that is concealed behind the wall. A carrier will need to be installed to support the weight of the concealed tank – and in some cases, the weight of the bowl if it’s rear-discharged. In addition, extra bracing should be installed in the wall to support the carrier.

Among the specific instances where the trades must work in cooperation are the following:

  • The thickness of the floor – whether it’s tile, wood or vinyl – needs to be known so the toilet flange can be set at the right height for a standard toilet.
  • The thickness of tile in the shower wall needs to be known so the shower valve can be set at a proper distance from the finished wall.
  • The height of the trim around the floor should be known so the pipe for the toilet supply can be at the proper height.


The cabinets should be picked out before the renovation starts.

The spec sheets should be on site during the renovation so that when the plumbing pipes are installed, they do not interfere with any drawers or, if the cabinet is an open model, the plumbing does not show underneath or around the cabinet.

For recessed medicine cabinets – which can provide a streamlined look – the plumber will need to avoid that area with any piping. This is another situation in which coordinating with other trades is critical.

The same holds true for niches in shower areas.

Other Issues

If you live in an area that is prone to freezing in the winter, you should not locate plumbing lines on the exterior walls of the dwelling.

When installing a new shower, keep in mind that the shower floor must slope to the shower drain for proper drainage.

If the renovation is in the basement, you will have to cut and remove the concrete, then run new pipes and repour the concrete. If the renovation is above a basement, you will have to position the finished pipes strategically, so they are not exposed below the ceiling of the basement.

When considering the size of the tub and shower valves, be sure not to exceed the capacity of the water heater if it is a tank type.

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