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Bathroom Remodeling & Renovations

When planning a bathroom renovation most home owners are consumed by the cosmetic aspects but planning a bathroom renovation is much more than cosmetic. Bathroom renovations by nature are very plumbing intensive and your plumbing determines what will and will not be possible. If your bathroom remodel involves rearranging your fixtures then there are factors to be considered.

If you live in an apartment building more than likely relocating your fixtures will not be possible... at least not without completely destroying your neighbors’ bathroom as well. This feat is better attempted in a private house. And although your chances are greatly improved there, it is still no guarantee that you will be able to put your fixtures where you want them. The main restriction is the location of the waste stack and the direction of the floor joists. Simply put, where ever the fixtures go the waste lines must follow and if there are floor joists in the way then the waste lines cannot follow. And if there is no way for the waste lines to follow then the relocation will not be possible.

If you’re not sure whether your fixtures can be moved simply ask your contractor. He or she should be able to tell you with some certainty if it’s possible. This will allow you to eliminate designs based on feasibility.

Best Practice

A good rule of thumb is to be patient with your bathroom renovation. Big items such as the vanity top and special-order tile can take several weeks to arrive. So before you take a sledge hammer to your bathroom, make sure everything you're going to need is on hand. Things such as the vanity, plumbing fixtures, any new lighting, the tub, tile, excreta.. You might get frustrated waiting around for products, but it's better than tearing up your bathroom and having it rendered unusable until they arrive. Plus, when your new products are on hand, you'll know if you need to do extra work, such as moving the plumbing lines for the sink location or moving your light box to accommodate your new lighting fixture. Everything just works out better. The guess work is eliminated as well as the anxiety of wondering if everything will fit and jell together.

Vanity or Pedestal?

With bathrooms, one of the decisions most owners are faced with is whether to install a vanity or a pedestal sink. For the owners the only factor they usually consider is the storage space provided by the vanity versus the clean minimalistic feel of a pedestal. As a contractor, I look at the plumbing. Is the waste line centered at the position where the new pedestal will be? Are there too many shut-off valves exposed? Does the owner’s budget allow for these to be relocated? If not, will it cause the final product to be unattractive? Using my experience and judgment I always try to inform my customers and guide them toward the best decision possible.

Real or Compressed?

When choosing a vanity there are options and prices that range from as little as $99 and well up into the thousands. When it comes to real wood verses compressed wood you really do get what you pay for. Compressed wood (shown to the left) is much less expensive than real wood. So needless to say, compressed wood vanities are much cheaper than their real counterparts but so is the quality. Compressed wood vanities can be made to look attractive but unless you’re into disposable furniture I would keep my distance.

The problem with compressed wood is that it’s very allergic to water and moisture. It basically falls apart when exposed. So why would anyone put a material that cannot withstand exposure to water and moisture in a bathroom? It’s a very good question…

Should I change my tub?

Another decision most owners are faced with is whether to change the tub. Sometimes this decision is a financial one. To save money some owners consider re-glazing their tub. Although re-glazing the tub will be less expensive than installing a new one I personally don’t recommend it. When you examine the facts, changing the tub is really the better option.

A few concerns about re-glazing: How long will the refinish last? Will it be as durable and as attractive as the original finish? How do you address the old plumbing that’s under the old tub?

Fact is; the cost of a new cast iron tub is equivalent to or less than the cost of re-glazing your old tub. A new cast iron tub can be obtained for a little as $300. Re-glazing your old tub can cost anywhere from $300 to $400.

Installing a new tub allows you to change the old pipes. Finishing your renovation and ignoring your old plumbing is not a good idea. New tiles plus an old tub with leaky plumbing equals wasted money. Why? You will have to destroy your newly installed tiles to fix any leaks.

Some owners might decide to leave the old tub for now thinking that it can always be changed later. Changing your old tub after completing a new renovation would be a colossal waste of money. Why? You will have to take your bathroom apart to change it.

Mirror or Medicine Cabinet?

I never understood why some home owners choose to install a mirror over a medicine cabinet. I have never questioned that decision. As a contractor I realize that everyone has their own preferences and taste and I always make it a point to respect that. But during a casual conversation I subtle ask the question and the response I got was surprising. They didn’t like the way a medicine cabinet sticks out from the wall. Well of course the obvious solution is to install a recessed medicine cabinet. It will look just like a mirror but only with storage. So when a customer tells me that they only want a mirror I subtle mention that a recessed cabinet will give the same look as a mirror but with added storage. This way when my customer makes a decision I at least know it’s an informed one.


Mullings Restoration & Development is a home improvement contractor that performs all interior renovations while specializing in kitchen and bathroom remodeling. Our services include project consultation, architectural design, plumbing, electrical and general construction.


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