Elements of a Bathroom Renovation – Part 1

When thinking about renovating, many folks immediately think “bathroom”.  And, in terms of resale value of a house, it’s a pretty good thought.  According to the 2018 “Cost vs Value” report issued by Remodeling Magazine, you can recoup in the neighborhood of 70% of the cost of a midrange bathroom remodel at resale.   There are, of course, other types of renovations you can perform that will pay off but kitchen and bathroom remodels remain two of the top investments you can make in your house.

In every bathroom renovation, whether it’s a full gut and re-do or a more minor refresh, there are a number of elements to consider.



These are the main plumbing events – the toilet, sink, shower, and tub.  There is a dizzying array of types and price ranges of each of these items.  Let’s examine some of them.

Toilet types are no longer limited to the familiar gravity-feed type, the ones where water is released from the tank and whooshes into the bowl and through the trapway, taking the waste with it.  There are now also pressure-assisted toilets which also release water from the tank but with the added oomph of pressurized air.  The pressure-assisted tanks remove waste much faster and the makers claim that clogs are much less common, but they are indisputably noisier than the conventional gravity-feed types.  One of the newer types of toilet is the double-cyclone toilet that is reputed to be a water-saving device.  It uses two nozzles along the rim rather than multiple holes in the rim to supply the water for flushing.  There is a minimal water saving to each flush, but that undoubtedly adds up over the course of a few months.

There is also a broad assortment of toilet sizes and heights from the child size of 10 to 14 inches from the floor to the bowl rim to the usual 14 to 16 inches from the floor to the bowl rim up to 17 to 19 inches floor to bowl rim for handicap toilets.  There are a number of flush methods including single handle with only one flush setting, double flush handles with two flush settings (one for liquid waste and a second for solid waste), full and partial flush buttons on the top of the tank, and touchless flush mechanisms that activate by motion sensor.

While most people opt for white or off-white, toilets are also readily available in subdued shades of pink, yellow, blue, green, brown, and grey.  And just about any color under the sun can be special ordered.

Sinks come in a variety of styles and can be made from a variety of materials including vitreous china (enamel coated ceramics such as porcelain), porcelain, metal (copper, brass, stainless steel), glass, marble, acrylic, granite and enamel-coated cast iron.  Most sinks come pre-drilled for faucets, but it is possible to get undrilled sinks for custom faucet installation in through the countertop.

There are self-rimming sinks.  Those are the ones that drop into the countertop with a rolled and finished edge that sits on the countertop and is secured in place with a waterproof sealant.  An advantage to this type of sink is ease of installation.  It is fairly easy to drop a sink into a hole in the countertop, and the choice of countertop material is almost unlimited.

Undermount sinks are those that are installed from underneath the countertop.  Undermount sinks have a sleek appearance.  A nice feature about those is that it’s very easy to wipe water from the counter into the sink.  On the down side, you can’t install an undermount sink as a retrofit without removing or replacing the vanity top.   And, because the edges of the countertop cutout are exposed, those edges have to be finished and polished which does somewhat limit the choice of countertop material.

Pedestal sinks are secured to the wall and are supported by a column that sits on the floor.  The column is open at the back to provide access to the drainpipe and supply lines.  Pedestal sinks are often used in small bathrooms and sometimes in larger bathrooms too if that’s the look one is after.  A disadvantage is that the plumbing pipes are somewhat exposed (although some people don’t mind this) and there is no vanity cabinet for storage.

Vessel sinks sit atop the vanity counter so that the bottom of the sink is in line with the top of the counter, looking something like a large bowl sitting on the countertop.  It’s a fairly new trend, a popular look for some types of bathroom decor.  Because the sink is on top of the counter, rather than installed underneath, you may need to get a lower height vanity.  Not all vessel sinks have an overflow drain.

Console sinks are mounted to the wall and are supported by two or four legs.  There is often a shelf mounted beneath the drain pipe that provides some storage.  If no shelf is installed, and if there is enough room between the support legs, console sinks can be wheelchair accessible.  The drainpipe and water supply lines are exposed.

Wall hung sinks are mounted to the wall, often with a wall support arm.  They are open underneath with the plumbing fully exposed.  They don’t provide any storage space but they are wheelchair accessible provided there is sufficient space each side of the sink.

Vanity top sinks are one-piece countertops with sinks molded or otherwise formed into them to make an integral unit.  One advantage to this type of sink is the ease of installation – when you’ve installed the countertop, you’ve also installed the sink.  The flip side of that, though, is that if you ever want to replace the sink you also have to replace the countertop.

Sinks of all types are available in a host of sizes and shapes including round, oval, square, and all their variations.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we look at tubs and showers!

Thinking of renovating your bathroom?  Think Sunshine Sunrooms for the best in design and workmanship.  Call us at (972) 243-5390 and let our designer help you plan your dream bathroom.

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