How to Install Bathroom Plumbing
Discover everything you need to know about plumbing before you start your bathroom makeover. We'll help you decide what bathroom plumbing projects you can do on your own, and which ones might require some help!
Installing a new bathroom with a toilet, sink, and tub is a challenging do-it-yourself project. You'll need a thorough understanding of plumbing systems and techniques. Developing a sound plan and working with a good assistant will help ensure you get everything right. Check out all the individual tasks required in most bathroom installations, below. You'll get a good grip on what you can do yourself, and when you may need to enlist some help.
Getting a Handle on Bathroom Plumbing
The following sections show how to install the three major bathroom plumbing fixtures in a common configuration. You'll even find some variations on this basic arrangement. Your situation may call for pipe runs that differ from those shown, so you may need to develop a unique plan that suits your home.
You'll need a good understanding of the basic skills and techniques of plumbing. Pay special attention to the drain vents, and make sure you use pipe types and sizes that conform to code. If possible, hire a professional plumber to spend an hour or two giving you advice. This modest investment could save you time and money later.
Whether you are remodeling an existing bathroom or installing one in a new addition, you will need carpentry skills. Modifying framing sometimes can make the plumbing work easier. Plan and install the plumbing so it does as little damage as possible to joists and studs; reinforce any framing members that have been compromised. It's usually best to run any electrical lines after the plumbing has been installed.
Specifications for the placement of plumbing fixtures and the dimensions of pipes are intended to make the bathroom a comfortable space with plenty of capacity for incoming water and outgoing drains and vents. Before taking up a hammer or a drill, check out our specs for a well-planned layout. There may be codes and regulations you're not aware of.
Preparing the Site
You can't turn just any spare room or large closet into a bathroom. Whether you are framing a new space or remodeling an existing one, make sure the framing accommodates a bathroom's needs. Remove drywall or plaster from the areas where you will run plumbing. Clear out all cabinets, fixtures, and other obstructions. Check out our handy tips for everything you need to know.
Running Drain and Vent Lines
The first type of pipes you'll be working with are drain and vent lines. It is important that these be precise, so always do this step before moving on to supply pipes.
In this step, you'll learn how to run the main drain line, run individual drain lines, install vents, and more. This is something you can do on your own, but only if you have prior experience with running pipes through walls.
Running Copper Supply Lines
With drain and vent lines all set, it's time to try your hand at running copper supply lines. Check your local codes to see what type of material is recommended, though copper is preferred in most. In this step, you will be cutting, installing, and sweating pipes, so make sure you are comfortable doing so before beginning. We will walk you through all the necessary steps and offer solutions to common plumbing problems.
Installing a Bathroom Vanity Sink
With all the pipe work out of the way, now comes the fun part: installing the beautiful new vanity you bought for your dream bathroom makeover! This step isn't exactly a quick process. Check out our instructions to see how you connect your vanity to the supply and drain lines. Be attentive during these instructions or you may suffer unwelcome leaks and further complications.
Installing a Pedestal Sink
Instead of a full-fledged vanity, you may only have room for a pedestal sink. If that is the case, we've still got you covered. With pedestal sinks, you may need extra wall framing for support. Though it may not look like it, these sinks are actually anchored to the wall—not the pedestal—making plumbing repairs easier to manage. Learn more in our detailed instructions that will leave you confident in your handiwork skills.
Hooking Up a Shower or Tub Faucet
Next, you'll need to hook up the shower or tub faucet. This task doesn't require many steps and takes just a few hours. In following our instructions, you'll learn how to assemble the faucet and copper pipes onto a cross brace. If you're doing this project on your own, be sure you're comfortable with operating a handheld propane torch used to sweat the pipes.
Installing a Whirlpool Tub
You don't need to go to a five-star spa for a relaxing afternoon. Spoil yourself at home with a whirlpool tub. Some whirlpool tubs or spas have a finished side or two, so framing and finishing the side panels are not required. Others require a bit more prep work, but are totally worth it. We'll walk you through the steps of installing a whirlpool tub from the pipe work to tiling to hardware installation.
Building a Shower Enclosure
Think wisely when picking out a shower for your new bathroom. A one-piece unit is the simplest shower to install, though you may have a limited choice of colors. A corner shower involves building one wall, while a middle shower requires two new walls. Whatever you choose, we have the steps necessary for installing the pipes, hardware, and more. Plan to work on this step for two to three days.
Installing a Luxury Shower
With the huge array of bathroom innovations in recent years, there are countless ways to add luxury to a shower—power showers and shower towers (which are actually panels), multiple shower jets, footbaths, waterfall showerheads, steam generators, sauna accommodations, heated towel bars, and more.
However, these mood-altering improvements have more complicated technical requirements than normal baths. If you are seeking a spa-like experience, take a look at our steps for adding luxury to your shower.
Building a Wet Wall
A wet wall is needed to build a new bathroom, half-bath, shower unit, or laundry room in your basement. It's a bit of an undertaking, but manageable for most homeowners. With our instructions, you'll learn how to dig a trench in your concrete floor, make a connection to the main drain line, and frame a wall that encloses the drain and vent lines.