Project Guide

How to Remodel a Bathroom

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Planning and Budget
Tile samples rest on a bathroom blueprint.

Planning should be the longest phase of learning how to remodel a bathroom. In addition to decisions on design, decor, tile, fixtures and bathroom paint colors, establishing a budget for both money and time sets the groundwork for a successful remodel.

It’s easy to figure out how much money a new toilet, tub and sink will cost. The challenge in remodeling a bathroom on a budget is determining how much time you can spend on the project and how much money you can spend for any hired work.

A general contractor could do the entire job for you, but if you plan to work on the bathroom remodel yourself, be careful to not over-estimate skill level and under-estimate the amount of time it will take to complete each phase.


  • Review online tutorials on topics related to how to remodel a bathroom, and determine which parts of the work you can handle on your own.
  • Know your limitations and be aware of building codes. If you do need help, hire someone who is licensed and insured to handle the electrical work for lighting, or for the plumbing work for a soaking tub, for example.
  • A pro might be able to handle a particular task with faster or sometimes better results. This will add to the labor expense, but could mean significant savings in your time and frustration.
  • When creating the design for the layout of the bathroom remodel, take accurate measurements so that the new vanity you selected will fit and the right amount of tile is ordered.
  • Relocating fixtures such as the toilet, tub or bathroom faucets might not be possible because of the plumbing cost, but replacing a tub with a custom shower with tile and a glass door can provide a new look for the room.
  • Be prepared to use auxiliary work lights while electricity to the space is turned off.
  • Be sure to have alternate bathroom facilities – including storage for toiletries – while the remodeling work is taking place, whether you do the work yourself or hire a contractor.
  • Determine how to dispose of fixtures and other materials removed during demolition. For an extensive project, renting a waste container might be a solution; on-demand waste-removal is also available in some markets.


Tip: Read our roundup of the best bathtubs and best bathroom faucets for help making the right selections.

A hammer and chisel are used to remove tile from a wall to remodel a bathroom.

Removing the old tile, flooring and fixtures can begin after the budget is set and design inspiration for bathroom remodeling is behind you. You may be tempted to start swinging a sledge hammer, but demolition should be controlled and methodic.

  • Be careful to not damage plumbing or electrical work during demolition.
  • Turn off the water supply to the tub, shower, sink and toilet.
  • Remove the toilet. Use a rag to plug the waste pipe to prevent sewer gases from entering the home and to keep materials from falling inside.
  • Disconnect the plumbing for the sink and remove it and the vanity.
  • Remove the tub or shower stall and inspect for any mold and mildew or water damage.
  • Pry off baseboards and label them for easier installation if reusing.
  • If lighting fixtures are to be replaced, turn off electricity to the bathroom and remove the lights.
  • Take accessories like towel racks from the walls.
  • Remove tile, backer board and drywall from areas where it will be replaced.
  • Remove the tile or linoleum flooring and check for water damage to the subfloor.
Plumbing Rough-In
Plumbing pipes are exposed in the floor and wall of an unfinished bathroom.

With all of the square footage of the bathroom exposed, prepare the plumbing for new fixtures.

  • Replace the toilet flange.
  • Install a new shower pan or tub.
  • Replace shower controls for the shower head.
  • Run a water line extension for dual shower heads or overhead rain shower.
  • Address any plumbing modifications needed for adding a second bathroom sink for a double vanity, or for downsizing vanities to a single sink.
Electrical Rough-In
Light switches are connected to wiring outside of an electrical wall box.

Reworking wiring is much easier when the walls are open.

  • Consider replacing 15-amp wiring with a 20-amp circuit to accommodate hair dryers and other appliances.
  • Relocate or install additional outlets – including GFCI receptacles for those outlets located near water – and light switches so they line up with the new vanity.
  • Add hookups for any lighting in the shower, around the vanity and ceiling lights.
  • Move the vent fan closer to shower for more effective operation.
Add Blocking for Grab Bars
Grab bars are installed around the toilet in a bathroom.
  • Because the walls are open, now is a good time to add blocking between wall studs to support grab bars
  • Even if they aren’t going to be added as part of this remodeling project, having solid material for securing these safety features at the toilet, shower stall and tub now can save time in the future.
Close Walls
Exposed walls while remodeling a bathroom shows insulation and blocking between wall studs.
  • Install a cement board and vapor barrier in damp areas in the shower stall or tub. 
  • Cement board is resistant to moisture and is a good backer for wall tile. 
  • Use drywall for other walls.
Paint Walls
A roller is used to apply paint on a wall while remodeling a bathroom.
  • Paint before the toilet, tub, tile, sink and vanity are installed to reduce the risk of splatter on new fixtures or flooring. 
  • Select an interior paint with a satin or semi-gloss finish that will stand up to the humidity in the bathroom.
Install Tile
Hexagonal mosaic tile is installed in a pattern on a floor.
  • Tile the shower walls or bathtub enclosure first and then move to other areas of the bathroom. 
  • Install the wall tile and then work on floor tile. 
  • Use grout for both but caulk the corners. Grout is available in a variety of colors to enhance or become part of the overall bathroom decor.
Install Shower Door
A bathroom features a double vanity and a walk-in shower with a glass door.
  • After the tile is firmly set, install the door for the shower enclosure, the track door for the tub or the shower curtain rod.
  • See our guide on selecting shower doors for help choosing the right one for your bathroom.
Install Lights and Exhaust Fan
The cover of a bathroom's exhaust fan is open to show the fan.
  • Hook up and install ceiling lights and wall lighting. 
  • Connect the exhaust fan. Follow our guide on installing a bath fan for step-by-step instructions.
Install Vanity and Sink
A new sink is installed on top of a bathroom vanity while remodeling a bathroom.
Install Toilet
A toilet is installed in a bathroom.
  • Installing a new toilet might be the simplest part of bathroom remodeling, so review installation guides before paying someone to do this task. 
Add Accessories
A bathroom with wallpaper and tile on the wall features a vanity and coordinating towels.
  • Finish up the project by installing shelving, towel bars, light switch plates and other accessories.

Don't worry if you don't own all of the tools needed to remodel a bathroom. Rent tools and trucks for any project at The Home Depot Tool Rental Center.

If you’d like professional help for part or all of your bathroom remodel project, consider using us for these services: