DIY Home Remodeling: The Bathroom

Bathroom Remodeling

When we bought our first home, we were planning on doing lots of redecorating and remodeling.  However, we soon learned that most projects were more involved than we expected, more time-consuming, and more expensive than anticipated!

Our biggest projects, other than our kitchen remodel, were the bathrooms – all 3 of them.  These projects involved a lot of tiling, rewiring, plumbing, and much, much more.

Here is a little look at our adventures in bathroom remodeling!

Bathroom 1 ~ The 1/2 Bath

Bathroom Remodeling

Our goal for this bathroom was to brighten and update it.  This meant completely gutting the bathroom, including:

~ removing old wallpaper

~ removing the popcorn ceiling

~ ripping out the linoleum flooring and replacing with tile

~ ripping out the old toilet and vanity

~ replacing the large mirror with a new mirror as well as a cabinet over the toilet to add storage space

~ replacing the light fixture with an updated fixture

~ replacing all of the trim

So the first thing we did in this bathroom – and the whole house – was to remove the ‘popcorn’ ceilings’.  If you aren’t familiar with these, it is a texture that is sprayed on the ceiling.  Fortunately our house is an age that we don’t have to worry about asbestos.  The process is very tedious and messy.  We bought a large sprayer, filled it with hot water, and sprayed the ceilings until the texture was saturated, and then scraped off the texture with a large putty/spackling knife.  After that, you have to let it dry, sand it, spackle (because there are usually screw holes and seams that were hidden under the texture), and then often repeat spackling and sanding.  Finally the ceiling is ready for primer and then paint.

Popcorn Ceiling

Removing the wallpaper was another tedious task.  This wallpaper did not want to come off, and involved a lot of scoring and soaking with wallpaper remover, and then the repairs associated with it (spackling, sanding, priming, and painting).  As you can see, the bathroom was gutted, floor to ceiling!

Bathroom Remodeling

After quite a bit of work, the half bath was completed.  As a smaller space, and probably the most used bathroom, it was a necessity to complete this room, since it is used by visitors and of course by us (since we are downstairs most of the day).

Remodeling Half Bath


Bathroom 2 ~ Main Bathroom

This bathroom also needed several updates, including:

~ removing the mirrors and replacing with a medicine cabinet as well as a cabinet over the toilet (to increase storage quite a bit)

~ replacing the lights with more modern, efficient fixtures (both over the vanity and the fan/light combination over the shower)

~ removing the wallpaper (hearts and flowers)

Bathroom Remodelin

Here is the removal of the popcorn ceiling, in process.

Bathroom Remodeling Ceiling

We tore out the plastic bathtub and the tiles around it.

Main Bath Shower Remodeling

We replaced the plastic bathtub with cast iron, and ripped out the linoleum, wallpaper, and old gray tiles in the shower.  We even put down a new layer of subflooring.

Main Bath Remodeling

We completely tiled under all of our vanities (thinking ahead to the future, should we ever want to change them).

Bathroom Remodeling Main Bath

With a help from a friend, we re-tiled the shower walls up to the ceiling, and also replaced the vent fan.

Remodeling Main Bath


Bathroom 3 ~ Master Bath

This bathroom needed the most work, by far.  Right off the bat, I wanted to get rid of the wallpaper, which was a faded pink, complete with kittens in baskets.

Another problem with this bathroom was that a wall divided the tub/vanity and the shower/toilet.  The shower was so enclosed and the ventilation (even with a fan over the shower) was not enough, and the bathroom had some serious mold issues.  We wanted to remove the wall and open up the room.  We completely gutted this bathroom, ripping out the wall and basically starting from scratch.

~ removed the carpeting in the vanity/tub portion of the bathroom (yes, carpeting! In the bathroom!)

~ removed the “kittens in baskets” wallpaper

~ removed the mirror to replace with a vanity, as well as a cabinet over the toilet, for storage

~ removed the old shower, toilet, plastic tub, and vanity

~ removed the old light fixtures and ceiling light/fan combination

Bathroom Remodeling

Here’s what the demolition looked like.  Let me tell you, the demo tends to be the easy part.  Ripping things out and getting rid of them.  There seemed to always be a surprise somewhere along the way (some strange wiring hidden behind a wall or an odd plumbing configuration – or no insulation).

Bathroom Remodeling

We had plenty of new wiring and plumbing to deal with.  We went from a single-sink to a double-sink vanity, new light fixtures, new vent fan, and more.

Master Bathroom Remodeling Rewiring

There was no removal of wallpaper in this bathroom – we ripped everything out right down to the studs!  This is the new tub in place, and the shower is supposed to go in the back corner (with a half wall being built in between).

Bathroom Remodeling

And here are the beginnings of the shower.

Master Bath Shower Remodeling

This is the corner shower in progress (notice how our cat has to make a cameo in many of these photos!).  There was an incredible amount of tile work to be done.  We had someone help us with the tile work, and unfortunately, most of the tiles are in – but 6 years later, there is no grout.  Many of the tiles will have to be ripped out due to poor installation (crooked, not aligned, etc), and then the entire bathroom needs to be grouted.  We simply do not have the time or resources to remove so many tiles and replace them correctly.

Remodeling Master Bath Shower

Almost the final product: this half of the bathroom is done.  The vanity, medicine cabinet, and toilet are in place and working.  However, the tile issues on the other side of the bathroom have held us back, and as busy parents, we don’t even have time to be ‘weekend warriors’!

Master Bathroom Remodeling


A Few Tips!

Looking back, we learned so much from doing remodeling.  For much of it, we got in over our heads.  So here are some parting tips:

  • Don’t take on too many projects at a time.  You want to complete one at a time – for example, one room at a time, making sure that you have backup usable space.
  • Pace yourself and don’t overdo it.  Stressing out over projects means mistakes, frustrations, and burnout.  We were pretty sick of doing remodeling when the projects were not spread out.
  • Use as many resources as you can.  This could be books, online research, video tutorials, classes at your local Home Depot or Lowes, advice from friends and family, and so on.
  • Leave extra time and money in your budget.  Projects always took longer than anticipated, and there were always little extras that ended up costing more money than we thought we would need.

Remodeling can be exhausting, but it is well worth the results.  I am very proud of our completed projects, knowing all of the hard work that we put into it to make our house exactly the way we want.

For lots of great bathroom and other remodeling projects and information, visit the Pfister blog at:



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