The 13 Biggest Bathroom Remodeling Mistakes (and how to avoid them AND not break the bank)
Bathroom remodeling IS NOT something you do every day (or hopefully every year or two either). So, when you’ve finally had it (AND convinced your penny-pinching spouse enough is enough) and are ready to redo your bathroom, the last thing you want to do is make costly mistakes.
However, the problem becomes – if you’re a novice at construction how can you avoid mistakes AND get the fun and functional bathroom you desire (at a price which you can afford)?
And this challenge is exactly what this article is about.
Below I’ll identify the 13 biggest bathroom remodeling mistakes. I’ll then provide product ideas and strategies you can use so these mess-ups won’t be YOUR problems. At the end, I’d love to know if any of these are mistakes you didn’t realize which helped you make better bathroom design and product decisions. Now, let’s dig into the mistakes.
Bathroom remodeling mistake #1 – You use too much tile
Ok – I don’t belong to the ATA (Anti-Tile Association) if there was such a thing, but there’s a few challenges I do know all too well when you use tile in a bathroom.
- Challenge #1 – Tile is a pain to maintain because of its grout joints
- Challenge #2 – It’s becoming harder to find a tile setter.
- Challenge #3 – Tile is expensive to install (unless you’re DIYing it, have a lot of free time – and own the specialty tools needed to do the job).
However, here’s the good news. You can limit your tile, limit your maintenance, and lower your spending. And here’s how.
For your tub or shower surround panels go with sturdy grout free wall panels. Consider laminate wall panels which look realistic, yet are simple to install with a click and lock system – just like popular lines of flooring.
For your bathroom floor – consider luxury vinyl plank for a stylish, no tile look.
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Bathroom remodeling mistake #2 – You forget about ventilation
I know exhaust fans and windows are hardly the sexiest part of a new bath remodel but if you want to reduce maintenance (because of moldy grout joints if you use tile), minimize fogged up mirrors, and improve air quality– they’re smart features to include.
If you have an exterior wall – a window is a plus because it’ll provide natural light AND ventilation. However, if your bathroom doesn’t have an exterior wall, a powerful (yet quiet) exhaust fan is a smart long term investment.
Bathroom remodeling mistake #3 – Your vanity doesn’t have storage which ‘comes to you’
Is your current vanity a ‘mosh-pit’ of storage stuffed under the sink, and you don’t for the life of you know what’s buried in its dark corners in the back?
If you’re like most people, your vanity cabinet is an utter disaster when it comes to neat and efficient storage. This makes it hard to find ANYTHING. This causes you to buy the same deodorant, shampoo, and conditioner multiple times because you can’t see what you have.
If you’re dealing with this problem, I’m here to share fantastic news. There are well-built vanity cabinets with pull out and adjustable shelves so you can see what you’ve got and adjust the shelves to your storage needs.
Don’t be stuck with a frustrating bathroom vanity cabinet ever again!
Bathroom remodeling mistake #4 – Your bathroom no longer safely works for the people who need to use it
When you bought your home years ago it wasn’t a problem for your wife (or husband) to step over the tub to take a shower. However, today this (formerly) simple act isn’t so simple. You worry every time they get in. Will they take a spill and end up in the hospital?
The reality is most ‘standard bathrooms’ were not designed for people who want to age in place. And if you have a tub to step over it can be an accident waiting to happen.
So, if your goal is to stay in the home as long as possible – consider a modern low profile shower pan. You’ll find shower curb heights as low as 1 1/6” to 2 ¾.” They’re simple to get in and in some cases, you can add a ramp to the outside if needed (down the road) to work with a wheelchair.
And even if you don’t have a need for a low profile shower today – it looks sleeker and will add resale value no matter what age of person wants to use it.
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Bathroom remodeling mistake #5 – You choose fashion over function
Believe me I’m all for a stylish bathroom, however its first got to work for the people using it. Otherwise, it’s a painful experience you’ll have to endure every day.
One place I see people making a mistake when they choose a cool element over a functional one is in choosing the wrong vanity sinks. For example, a vessel sink is something which (literally) stands out and makes you take notice. It’s got unforgettable style. However, when you try to use a vessel sink (or clean around it), you’ll find it’s NOT a pleasant experience. Its ‘fashion’ is top-notch, its ‘function’ is not.
To save money AND improve function, use the increasingly popular undermount sinks. They’re simple to use, sleek, and easy to clean since there’s no ring to clean around the vanity countertop.
Bathroom remodeling mistake #6 – You suffer from B.D.S. (Banging Door Syndrome)
Do you have a bathroom entry door which opens into your partner while they’re using the sink?
Or do you have a pivoting shower door which opens onto the bathroom floor and leaves pools of water you ‘get’ (sarcasm intended) to clean up?
The swing of bathroom doors is not something most people think about… until they (literally) hit them in the rear end!
With your new bath remodel, make sure you to get rid of these banging door problems.
For your bathroom entry door, consider an uber-cool barn door on the outside or swing the door in the opposite direction.
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For your glass shower door, switch to a corner sliding door or a bypass glass shower door (where doors slide from side to side).
Sliding doors put an end to Banging Door Syndrome.
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A clear guide to making the best bath or shower glass shower door choice
Bathroom remodeling mistake #7 – You put up with an alcove shower which is too small
If you’ve ever wondered if builders designed your shower for anorexic people after banging your elbows (once again) into the glass shower doors of your 30” deep alcove shower, you’re not alone. 30” is not a lot of room when you’re taking a shower – especially if your body has ‘grown’ since your high school days.
So, if your shower alcove is already built (and reconfiguring the space is too expensive) you may be wondering how you can save your elbows, get more room, yet keep costs under control. Well, here’s 2 ideas.
First, look into using a bowfront sliding glass door. With this pre-curved glass, you’ll get 36” of room in the center of the shower, yet it’s still designed to fit into a 30” alcove space on the sides.
Or, second, consider a one level wet room with no ‘barriers’ between the shower and the bathroom. This system opens the space – yet the entire bathroom floor is waterproofed, so you don’t have to worry about leaking onto the floor below.
Bathroom remodeling mistake #8 – You want to move the plumbing
If you’ve hired a plumber lately, you know they’re NOT a cheap date. Their services are in demand and prices are skyrocketing.
So – if you’re looking to update your ‘long-in-the-tooth’ bathroom a smart thing you can do to keep a lid on plumbing costs is NOT moving the plumbing.
The minute you move your toilet or change the drain location is a time you’d better be prepared to pay more than you expected. Now if you have a non-standard drain location (or odd sized tile shower pan), a way to lessen costs (without the need to move plumbing) will be to use a custom solid surface shower pan.
With this shower pan you can specify where the drain goes. And even though the base is more expensive (because its custom made), it can still save money vs. buying a standard sized pan and then paying the plumber to move your drain.
Bathroom remodeling mistake #9 – Your bathroom lacks storage
How many people reading this article right now think their bathroom is plenty big?
Ok – if I’m a betting man (which I’m not – you’re reading an article from a guy who hates Las Vegas!), I’ll bet very few hands have gone up.
And generally, the smaller the bathroom the less storage you have (and no, I didn’t come to this mind-boggling conclusion after spending time at the ‘genius bar’ at the Apple store in the mall). So, the question is where can you ‘find’ storage which didn’t exist before you did this remodel? Well – here’s 3 places.
#1) Inside your wall – Instead of putting up with a cheap dollar-store plastic caddy over the shower head, why not install an oversized horizontal or vertical recessed niche. It’ll get your spouses’ (way-too-numerous) slippery products off the floor and will be easier to grab products when you need them.
#2) Inside a medicine cabinet – Once again, using the wall (or hanging a medicine storage cabinet onto the wall) can be a smart way to add storage without using valuable floor space.
#3) Get a well-designed vanity cabinet – As discussed in mistake #3, most vanity cabinets are a storage nightmare. Look for a vanity cabinet with pull out shelves, and one with storage in front of the sink – if you can believe that.
Bathroom remodeling mistake #10 – You have to duck to get into the shower
If you’re 6’0” or taller you know what a pain sliding glass shower doors can (literally) be. As you know, if you have short sliding glass doors you need to duck to get in, or you’ll suffer the consequences of banging your head. Not a pleasant experience!
However, there’s a simple way to still use a sliding glass door (which won’t cause the Banging Door Syndrome problem mentioned in mistake #6) and not constantly be banging your head. And that’s to buy a taller glass shower door. Usually better quality (thicker) glass shower doors are available in 79” and 86” heights to keep the big and tall members or your family from bumps on their head.
Bathroom remodeling mistake #11 – You buy your shower or vanity ‘a la carte’
I’m sure I don’t have to remind you about runaway inflation these days. Crazy fluctuations in prices at the grocery store or gas station are making everyone nuts.
However, when it comes to buying bathroom remodeling products, I find most homeowners aren’t as savvy a buyer as they are looking for deals on gas and groceries. You see, the problem is most people are shopping ‘piecemeal.’ They’re looking at the price of each component.
And while itemizing costs is not a bad idea, it’s also smart to see how you can save when you buy groups of products which are sold as a kit (so you save on delivery costs and get better deals when you buy a package).
For example, you can get a complete alcove shower replacement kit (which includes a shower pan, shower wall panels and a glass shower door) at a better price than buying the components separately.
Or instead of buying a bathroom vanity cabinet, then separately shopping for a vanity top and sink – look at a combined system. With a vanity package you’ll know everything fits together and save on delivery costs.
Bathroom remodeling mistake #12 – You allow your shower pan to be ‘site built’ only to discover (after the fact) it pools water and doesn’t drain properly
While hand-made can be quaint when it comes custom woodwork, a hand-made shower floor can be disastrous. If you allow your contractor to build a shower pan which they slope by hand at the job site, you’re inviting problems which WILL NOT have a simple solution (since your entire shower it built on top your shower base).
Don’t ‘settle’ for a hand built shower. Insist on pre-slopped (and waterproofed) tile shower components (like those made from companies like Wedi and Schluter) or use a premade acrylic shower base or cultured stone shower pan.
With pre-slopped shower pan products you can rest easy you won’t deal with pools of water. And if you use a cultured stone or solid surface shower pan, you’ll also know you won’t need to worry about leaks either.
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Bathroom remodeling mistake #13 – Using products which don’t ‘play well’ in wet spaces
Bathrooms by their nature are tight and wet spaces. And without proper ventilation (see mistake #2), bad things can happen (mold, rot, bacteria…you get the ugly picture).
However, there are materials which are just dumb choices in a bathroom. For example, wood windows, wood trim, standard paint or MDF (multi-density fiberboard) vanities are all products which will need to be replaced sooner than you’d like because they don’t ‘play well’ in wet spaces.
To eliminate these concerns, choose vinyl framed bathroom windows, engineered polymer trim, bathroom vanities with hardwood construction, and moisture resistant bathroom paint. These products will not only last longer but will save you time (and labor costs) to maintain them.
So, did you get any ideas to eliminate bathroom mistakes you weren’t aware of before? Do you need help?
I hope this article has pointed out a bathroom remodeling mistake (or 2 or 3) you WILL NOT be the victim of since you read this post.
And while I know my goal was to be as detailed as possible, there may be things about your specific bathroom you’d like to get more advice on.
Feel free to call me (or one of my Bathroom Product Specialists) at 877-668-5888 or click for a Free Design Consultation. Our company wholesales grout free shower wall panels, shower pans, oversized niches, and glass shower doors across the country.
And if you’re looking for a professional bathroom contractor– we’ll look to see if we have a dealer in your area to help.
And lastly if you live in Cleveland Ohio, our Bath Doctor division offers installation services as well. Call 216-531-6085.
Thanks for reading – Mike
If you want more advice follow me on LinkedIn @MikeFoti.
And if you’re age in place contractor interested in being a dealer of shower wall panels, shower pans, glass shower door systems and freestanding or alcove tubs, call 888-467-7488 and ask for Mike.