Don’t go cheap on these 3 Bath Remodel issues!

Dawn and Janos the plumber sit on edge of white tile tub during remodel
Picture of Dawn Matze, the Woman Builder

Dawn Matze, the Woman Builder

Dream. Build. Love.

Hi friends, In my years of building and remodeling I have come across a lot of oddities! But one of the most prevalent things is to get ‘cheap’ on some of the most important pieces of the bathroom. Let me explain.

1Don’t go cheap on your shower pan waterproofing

The best in my opinion is the old school Hot Mop method. Now not everyone will agree but here’s how I see it. The hot tar-like material (400 degrees hot) molds itself to the shape of your shower pan. It is applied super thick, and it takes a full 24 hours to cure. Filling it with water after it is cured is the best way to test it. Great results don’t lie!
Some choose to buy a quick down and dirty shower pan liner from a box store or supply house. It is faster for sure, but it all depends on if the heavy liner is installed correctly. I have used it in a pinch, but I really prefer to spend the $300 more on a professional Hot Mop application. You don’t want to find out later after all of your beautiful finishes are set that there was a leak and have to rip apart the shower. UGH!

2Prepping your shower walls

What’s that? A true professional tile setter will ‘float’ your bathroom walls, not use cement boards. Often, again in a hurry a homeowner puts extreme pressure on the tiler or maybe the tile person has an impossible schedule and thinks the owner won’t know the difference. After all he gave her a great price, so he must cut costs. I’m here to tell you that floating the walls is a much, much better finish. Let me explain. All home walls are not plumb and straight. When you use concrete boards, screwing them into the walls it follows the shape of the crooked wall. In a hurry the tile guy just screws them in, seals the seam and goes on to laying the tile. Many of the TV shows do it this way which is a huge disservice to the homeowner. Flips are often shortcutted here as well.  The proper sequence is to use shower waterproof paper, a waterproofing membrane. There are many brands at the big box stores.  Next a diamond cut wire stapled on, called metal lath. Following is the scratch coat of mud (concrete) then the brown. The brown coat is the leveling magic. Creating perfectly straight walls where there was none!
This is the professional way of prepping the shower walls. Make sure it is in your tile pro’s contract before you start!

3Don’t use the cheapest fixtures that you find!

Often the homeowner wants to cut costs somewhere and I’ve seen the big box store brands. For instance, the toilets can be the absolute worst! The plastic guts of the toilet or faucet will fall apart after a short time. I prefer to spend a little more and use a Moen, or Kohler so I’m not replacing the fixture in a few short months. Who wants to do this twice? This is true especially for the shower or tub valves. I like midrange Moen brand if it’s a secondary bath or rental investment. Moen has a nifty extension on their valve system in case the floated wall is too thick.  They have lots of beautiful finishes and styles even for a master bathroom! Your wonderful pro plumber can use this extension to solve a myriad of sins!
This is not to say that all products don’t have a lemon once in a while, but overall, you can diminish the problems by heeding to this well-known contractor fact.  Make sure your budget allows for this before you start your work!!

To summarize:
Avoid going CHEAP on these 3 things in your bathroom renovation project:

The Waterproofing, the Tile prepping of the walls and the Plumbing Fixtures. It will cost you hundreds even thousands if you make this rookie mistake and buy the cheapest products. It’s wise to understand the tile persons labor bid and get the prep work on the contract before you sign up for his sub-contractor, subpar work.

Now you know…..Be the smart and informed homeowner that is aware and understands the ins and outs of a bathroom remodeling project. When you know better you do better.

Happy Renovating,

The Woman Builder & Go-Getter

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