Obstacles You May Encounter when Renovating a Bathroom

By: John Garcia | Date Posted: September 13, 2021

Do you want to start renovating a bathroom? This guide is special for you

Over 50% of homes in the U.S. were built before the U.S. and that means one thing: renovations in spaces like kitchens and bathrooms (and indeed whole house renovations) are common. Realtor Magazine reports that the second most renovated part of the home is the bathroom, with new trends including open/walk-in showers, standalone tubs and sinks, and the use of natural stone and marble for terrazzo-style shower walls or countertops. Choosing furniture, new tiles, and shower structures is the fun part but take note: you may encounter a few of the following obstacles along the way.

Plumbing and Water Quality

It is important to get the basics out of the way before incorporating design elements into your bathroom. Water quality, for instance, can be impacted when compounds from PEX and CPVC pies are released into the water and the leaching of plastics is another major cause of concern. Consider replacing old pipes with high-standard ones that are fully compliant with NSF 60 standards.

Water Filters for Pure Water

Renovating a Bathroom

Waterborne diseases such as norovirus, otitis externa, giardiasis, campylobacteriosis, and cryptosporidiosis can be painful and debilitating so it is important to ensure optimal water quality. Although the US has one of the safest water supplies worldwide, the CDC reports that over seven million people are affected by diseases that spread through water. Test the quality of your household water supply by contacting your local facility and asking when the water was last tested.

Look at your water bill, since the latter should contain the list of contaminants found and their possible health impact. Take steps at home to purify your water as well. Consider installing a water filter, avoiding hot water for drinking or cooking, and regularly cleaning your faucet aerators.

Mold Growth

When moving furniture, tiles, and/or old baths or showers, you may notice the appearance of mold — an issue that can cause coughing, wheezing, eye irritation, nasal stuffiness, and more. If you suspect the presence of black mold, professional testing and removal are important, because toxic mold increases the likelihood of an array of conditions ranging from asthma to depression.

WHO guidelines show, for instance, that early mold exposure is linked to the development of asthma in children. Once the mold is removed, prevent regrowth by renovating windows if necessary to enable better ventilation and promote the entrance of sunlight. Use exhaust fans to eliminate excess moisture and make sure your plumbing is leak-free. Buy quality sealant from a tile store, since poor quality sealants can promote mold growth.

Uneven or Weak Flooring

When you remove the old tiles in your bathroom, you may find that your flooring is weak or uneven, with deeply indented joists or rotting pieces of wood. Joists carry out important functions such as bearing the weight of furniture and appliances. When weight is applied to these structures, their top fibers go into compression while their lower fibers go into tension. Weak joists are unable to resist so this type of stress, which can result in unevenness in your flooring.

Sometimes, the damage is caused when joists are notched or drilled and their fibers lose resilience. At the minimal sign of this problem, you will need to start from scratch to avoid sagging and bouncing as you walk along your floor. You may need to replace rotten parts of wood, nailing new wood over damaged areas, with their ends attached to good wood. If damage is significant, it may be a good idea to completely remove the entire joint network and start from scratch.

Darkness and Small Windows

Modern bathrooms are well lit and sunny, with large windows or floor-to-ceiling glass structures that connect this space with a garden or vertical living wall that lends inhabitants welcome privacy. If your bathroom has a tiny slot for a window, not only will the space be less visually appealing, but also more prone to humidity. If you have the budget for it, consider knocking down the wall that connects to the exterior, to afford dwellers with a beautiful view of the sunny outdoors.

Currently, standing tubs ensconced directly in front of large windows or sliding doors are all the rage — a trend that is undoubtedly inspired by the interiors of some of the world’s best spas. If you prefer the privacy of a framed window, knocking down at least one wall will still be necessary, to enable you to frame a larger gap. Cover it with stylish blinds which you can open or close at your convenience.

Layout Changes: Drainpipes and Doors

When you renovate a bathroom, one of the most fulfilling things for most homeowners is jiggling its currency configuration about — moving the shower to the other end or placing a tub to a previously empty space. This can be a problem if your foundation is made of concrete, as your drainpipe is beneath this material and the task will require jackhammering so you can move the pipe to your chosen location.

The job will be much easier if you have wooden flooring though in either case, it can take several days, thus delaying the flow of your project. You may also find that you need to change the door location, since it may hit or be blocked by the location of a new structure such as a walk-in shower, tub, or furniture item.

Bathrooms are one of the most oft-remodeled spaces in American homes. Obstacles you may encounter when starting a renovation include plumbing problems, poor water quality, and mold growth.

Renovating a Bathroom

Additional problems can arise if the bathroom has a tiny window, which can raise humidity levels and necessitate the use of artificial light, even in the daytime. Weak or damaged joists are another problem to look out for. Sometimes, wood can be rotten or deeply intended and the result can be an uneven, unsightly floor that bounces or makes noise when you walk upon it. In cases of severe damage, joist weakness can cause cracks and caved-in areas of flooring if your furniture or equipment is very heavy.

Finally, concrete flooring can really throw a spanner in the works (or at least slightly delay) your renovation project, since you will need jackhammer work to remove it to access and relocation the drainpipe. Your new layout may also necessitate basic changes (such as a new door location) so that you can walk freely through your bathroom and enter and exit without a hitch. Address each of these problems and eliminate potential health risks before getting to the fun aspects of remodeling — such as choosing new tiles, storage furniture, or a walk-in shower or standing tub.

Thank you for reading!


John is the founder and chief editor of Homienjoy. With over 15 years of experience in the home improvement industry, John is passionate about helping homeowners confidently tackle their projects. Holding a civil engineering degree and working as a contractor, project manager, and consultant, John brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the Homienjoy community.

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