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Home Improvement Tips : Bathroom Renovations

May 16, 2008
One of the most popular areas of a house to renovate is the bathroom. There are many different ways to renovate a bathroom, from small surface changes to completely gutting the room. With some forethought and elbow grease, there are renovating techniques the do-it-yourselfer can accomplish, while saving money at the same time.

The first rule in any renovation is to start with a budget, and stick to it. After a budget is set, one must decide on how serious of a project the renovation will be. Surface alterations can be done fairly quickly and cheaply, while rearranging the layout of the bathroom, such as moving the toilet to a new location, will be more labor intensive, and require a contractor to move plumbing lines. A complete tear out is the most difficult, as well as money and time consuming, but is sometimes necessary if several years of moisture has begun to rot the bathroom's wooden framework.

Hopefully moisture hasn't penetrated the bathroom's joists and studs, but it's quite possible that drywall will have to be replaced. Today there is moisture resistant drywall called greenboard. If a wall is being replaced inside of the shower, a cement backerboard must be used that moisture cannot penetrate.

Many bathroom renovations revolve around the shower or tub. For the do-it-yourselfer, installing a prefabricated shower enclosure or tub is possible. The other option is a tiled shower or tub, which involves building a frame from scratch, and is best left to a professional carpenter. Though prefab showers were once fairly basic, today there are a variety of styles, colors and textures from which to choose. The units can come in one solid piece, to minimize assembly, and also panels if the complete unit can't fit through the bathroom door (which is the case with many older homes).

There are a wide variety of flooring options for bathrooms, but steer clear of wood floors which will warp from the humidity. Ceramic tiles are the most popular choice for bathroom flooring, as it's completely waterproof when sealed properly. There are also almost limitless combinations of shapes, sizes and colors combinations of tiles and grout that will fit all tastes. All floors must be level before laying down tile, which can be easily achieved by mixing a self leveling compound that is then spread across the floor, evening out any inconsistencies.

A new sink or vanity can spruce up a bathroom as well. There are many popular styles, such as wall mounted sinks, pedestal sinks, and vessel sinks that are fairly easy to install. It's often possible to use the current sink piping to reconnect to an updated sink which can drastically change a bathroom's appearance.

Some of the most effective updating can also be the easiest to do. Changing all the hardware, such as drawer pulls, faucet handles, and shower heads, can make a great impact, especially when they are all pulled together with the same materials, such as stainless steel, bronze, or brushed nickel. The cheapest home improvement choice of them all- paint- can also give a bathroom a new feel. Ditching a bland, frameless mirror for a new, large one with a funky frame is also an easy fix.

Sometimes the cost of new bathroom features is the priciest part of a renovation, but looking beyond big box stores can save cash. The local craigslist may have a treasure being thrown out by another remodeler with a different taste. Ebay can work the same way. Buying discontinued tiles is another good money saving technique, but remember to pick up extras to replace damaged tiles in the future.

Most remodeling techniques can be learned, but a contractor may be necessary to deal with new electrical or plumbing lines- it will be worth the money for it to be done correctly, and they will follow building codes properly. Getting referrals from trustworthy friends is always advisable when looking for a good and efficient contractor.
About the Author
Ki is real estate agent in Austin. He runs a website which provides a free search of the Austin MLS along with information on Austin real estate . His site also provides users with a free mortgage calculator to estimate monthly payments.
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