One of the most common home improvement projects is a bathroom remodel. If you’ve finally decided on renovating your bathroom, you’ve probably done your research. Perhaps you’ve found the new design from scouring through different websites, magazines, and books.

It’s exciting to see what your new bathroom may look like, but you shouldn’t get too ahead of yourself and be blinded by this excitement. The process will also require practicality and careful consideration. It’s better to be prepared and have some forethought to prevent a renovation nightmare from happening.

If you’ve tackled a project before, there may be times that you’ve wished you’ve known beforehand. To be prepared for your bathroom renovation and minimize stress, it’s better to know the usual mistakes homeowners experience.

So whether you are planning to replace your shower or remodeling the entire place, save yourself potential headaches by learning about the 10 common bathroom remodeling mistakes you need to avoid.


1. Decoration Before Layout
2. Not Sticking to a Theme
3. Getting the Wrong Materials
4. Having an Unrealistic Budget
5. Forgetting about the Storage
6. Poor Lighting
7. Forgetting the Ventilation
8. Not Minding the Small Details
9. Rushing the Work Towards the End
10. Choosing Just Any Contractor

1. Decoration Before Layout

As mentioned above, a bathroom remodel requires careful consideration and forethought. This means you need to plan ahead. You can’t just have the design and work on it along the way. You don’t want to arrive at a dead-end after ripping out the shower and toilet. That’s why you should have a clear plan before starting your project.

You need to know the shape of the space and have precise measurements of your bathroom. It would be difficult to adjust your fixtures and flooring when you thought you’re renovating a rectangular room, which, in fact, was a square. This could make the tiles crooked at certain areas or result in the shower being wrongly aligned. Make sure to measure the entire room - from the floor to the walls - to avoid layout miscalculations.

Don’t focus on the looks, but rather, on the function. You have to make sure that you have a comfortable layout for the new design you want. For example, you want an island vanity which would make a great centerpiece, but after installation, there was not enough space to move around. You don’t want to compromise foot traffic space or leeway between fixtures for decoration.

If you want to have a proper visualization of your new bathroom, you can have a digital layout with the right measurements using 3d imaging. This way, you can have a realistic concept of your project before starting it. You’ll be able to see what fixtures you can install that is compatible with the square footage of the room.

2. Not Sticking to a Theme

There’s nothing wrong with following your personal taste when it comes to decorating your bathroom. It can be overwhelming with the various decorations, materials, and other design options you can use for your new bathroom. But you need to at least commit to a theme to make sure it will be visually appealing and have a good room flow.

You should decide on the color of the wall early on to make sure that the fixtures such as sinks, showers, and tubs would complement the design. It should look seamless - from the flooring to other design elements. If you’re going with tiles, make sure that the color and hues will effortlessly blend with everything.

After finding the best paint color and tile design for the floor and walls, you can now determine which materials, finish type, fixtures, and other decorations you want to add. A general rule of thumb is not to mix different types of the same material. For example, two types of woods, tiles, or metals. Doing so will make the bathroom look like a showroom in some home retail store instead of a Pinterest-worthy bathroom.

3. Getting the Wrong Materials

Aside from making sure that the materials you will be using will match the theme, it’s also important to consider the quality. Bathrooms are one of the most used spaces in a home. This area is also prone to moisture and experiences quick and extreme temperature shifts that may cause the floor and walls to warp.

That’s why you need to choose materials designed for bathrooms. Go for quality plumbing made out of metal instead of cheap plastic ones that would easily break. It might be expensive upfront, but it would save you expenses on maintaining, repairing, or replacing the fixtures in the long run.

4. Having an Unrealistic Budget

When planning for your bathroom remodeling project, you should have a budget that you can afford. Make sure to stick with it because if you suddenly have to go beyond it, then you will have to compromise on other aspects of your project, such as quality or additions. Of course, no one would be happy if they have to sacrifice some of their original plans.

When making your project, prioritize which repairs, replacements, and upgrades are important to you. This way, you will have a reasonable budget that can help you accomplish your dream bathroom.

On top of the anticipated cost, it’s also better to include hidden or unforeseen expenses in your budget, so you will be sure that you have enough for your project. Aside from having a clear plan, you should also be prepared for contingencies. There could be potential issues such as mold, mildew, drainage problems, plumbing mistakes, or faulty systems. This is especially true for older homes, which may need to shell out more to get their home up to code.

5. Forgetting about the Storage

Now that you’ve planned for a visually-appealing bathroom, with a seamless look and central theme, the next step is to improve its functionality. What’s the use of a beautiful bathroom if it’s not practical?

One of the things that homeowners sacrifice for aesthetics is storage. This is an important aspect of a bathroom, considering all the items you need to use and keep. From beauty and hygiene products to appliances, you don’t want to leave these things scattered around. Not only will it be difficult to find these items when you need them, but these can ruin the appearance of your new, beautiful bathroom.

When planning the design, take into account the vanity storage, drawers, cabinets, and hang bars. You could also utilize the space properly by getting dual-purpose fixtures such as a medicine cabinet, which is a mirror and cabinet in one. You could even install an electrical outlet with it and integrated light, which is another important aspect that we will discuss later.

You should also take advantage of the vertical space. Install hooks and towel bars so that you can use that extra cabinet for something else. These are also important since you probably want to have a spot to hang your towel to dry.

Tip: Place the hooks where you can easily reach them but they won’t get wet from splashes.

6. Poor Lighting

An important aspect of the bathroom that you need to consider is lighting. Not only does it affect the functionality of the space but also the aesthetics. Have the main light that can illuminate almost the entire room and a few ones in dark corners such as the shower or bathtub area.

After making sure that you have proper lighting to make it easy to maneuver around your bathroom, the next area you’ll need to check is the vanity lighting. The lights around the vanity area should be able to illuminate the mirror for men who need to groom themselves and women putting on makeup. You don’t need to go for a very bright one, just look for a proportional light fixture that can both illuminate and accentuate the design of the vanity and cabinetry.

Don’t forget about natural lighting! If you’re fortunate enough to have some sunlight passing through your bathroom window, take advantage of it. Of course, assuming that leaving it open won’t allow passersby or neighbors to see inside your bathroom. You could opt for a one-way glass mirror for your window so that you can enjoy some natural light without worrying about your privacy.

7. Forgetting the Ventilation

Even if it’s an important aspect of a bathroom, one of the things often overlooked in a bathroom remodel is the ventilation. Since it’s something that is not physical or cannot be seen, most homeowners forget to include this in their plans.

It is important to have proper ventilation, especially in an enclosed room where humidity can get trapped in. Not only does it make the space uncomfortable, but having a moisture-prone area can lead to the growth of mold and mildew. This can be harmful to the health and damage the paint, finish, materials, and grout. You don’t want an ugly ceiling with bubbles or spores from the growing mold.

Having proper ventilation will also make it easier to clean and maintain your bathroom. To improve ventilation, you can install a bathroom exhaust fan. Even if you have a window, it helps to have a high-quality vent installed. Turn on the fan after showering to reduce condensation and ensure proper air circulation. It would be better if it runs a quarter to half an hour after you use the shower. You can use a timer switch so you don’t have to manually turn it off.

Similar to most appliances, you will need to take care of the fan so that it would remain efficient over time. Vacuum the vent regularly, especially after installation, so that construction debris won’t scatter in the room.

8. Not Minding the Small Details

Every detail counts - even the small ones. You may think that the minor details can be decided as you go along, but it would be better to plan it ahead, especially ones that can influence other aspects of the remodel.

From the hole for the drain to small design aspects, each one should be carefully considered beforehand. Make sure that the hole will align with the plumbing drain and the tile for the shower or bathtub border would complement the wall and flooring. These errors may seem small or something you can look over for now, but in the long-run, they will be eyesores you wished you fixed during the renovation.

9. Rushing the Work Towards the End

We usually want to stick to our timelines, especially with major remodels that disrupt our daily lives. But sometimes, there are unforeseen circumstances that will delay our projects. It could be problems with the bathroom’s or home’s existing pipes, the wiring isn’t up to code, or it needs more prep work due to water damage or growing mold and mildew.

When this happens, don’t rush the work or the remodelers to get the job done. In the first place, the timeline given is an estimate of the project completion, which can be optimistic. Similar to budgeting, add some leeway by allotting time for sudden issues.

It’s better to be patient and have a bathroom renovated carefully than a rushed one just to finish quickly. Not only does it affect the quality, but it could lead to more problems and costly expenses in the long-run.

If you want to make sure that your project goes smoothly, take note of any existing issues and be transparent with your contractor. This way, they can accommodate accordingly and not be caught off-guard with these problems.

10. Choosing Just Any Contractor

You can’t achieve your renovation goals if you don’t have the right contractor. It’s not just the details that you have to carefully consider - finding a trusted and reliable professional will ensure that your project would go more smoothly. It would be a waste to carefully plan your project, only to leave it in the hands of a bathroom remodeler who can’t deliver.

If you haven’t found a professional to get the job done,  I operate a referral network of prescreened contractors that covers nearly all markets in the United States. I think you'll find my partner contractors are more responsive and professional than most.


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