Real-Home Remodel: Savvy Small Bath

Better Homes and Gardens' contributing editor Danny Lipford walks you through a start-to-finish small-bathroom remodel.

Danny Lipford


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Bath before remodeling
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Bath Before Remodeling

    This small bath measures only 5x8 feet, and the dull and dated wallpaper and tile make it feel even smaller. Before remodeling, this bathroom will be completely gutted down to the bare studs, but the room's dimensions will stay the same.

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Outdated Everything

    This small bathroom also features less-than-fabulous flooring and fixtures and a wall-mount gas space heater, making it a prime candidate for a major bathroom remodel.

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Out with the Old

    The dated tile walls of the bath are the first to go. Removing them with a pry bar and hammer isn't difficult, but be prepared for a mess.

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Tearing It Down

    The old tile that covered vanity and plumbing fixtures come out next, followed by the walls themselves.

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Starting from Scratch

    Once the room has been completely gutted, the real renovation can begin. While the location of the plumbing fixtures remains basically the same, everything else -- including the walls, floor, and fixtures -- is replaced.

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Built-In Storage

    A recessed storage area that will be fitted with adjustable shelves is framed into a section of the wall cavity and water-resistant drywall covers the studs.

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In with the New

    The drywall is covered with 1/4-inch beaded-board paneling to give the room some much-needed character.

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Tub and Surround

    The new tub and shower surround are installed, and beaded board is painted white to add light and maximize the feeling of space in the small bathroom. The area covered by plywood will house an opaque glass window.

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Tile Floor

    Sheets of cement backer board are screwed to the subfloor. We lay ceramic tile flooring on top using thin-set adhesive. Laying tile on the diagonal is one way to increase the feeling of space in a small room.

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Grout Tile

    Once the tile is set, the joints can be filled with grout. Excess grout is removed using a damp sponge rinsed often in a bucket of water.

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Add Mirror

    Our last trick to make a small bath feel larger: add a large mirror. Since plate glass mirrors are heavy and prone to breaking, installation is best left to professionals.

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New Vanity and Fixtures

    New plumbing fixtures and a painted vanity with a cultured marble top add the finishing touches to this small bath.

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Finished Bath

    The transformation from the old, dark bath to the new bright one is nothing short of amazing. With the all-white interior and a large window to let in more light, it's hard to recognize the dated bath of just a few weeks before.

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