DIY Small Bathroom Remodel | From Start to Finish

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A DIY bathroom remodel project is an affordable way to bring a fresh, modern look to your home. Whether you’re starting with a small project or a full-scale bathroom renovation, DIY projects are the perfect way to customize your home.

What inspires you to take on a bathroom remodel?

Maybe there’s a leak in your shower and you’re forced to repair a part of your bathroom. 

Then, you look around and realize a few other spots could use a touch up.

Before you know it, you’re dragging your partner to the tile store to choose samples.

At that point, it’s too late to stop. 

The project turns into a full-scale bathroom renovation that everyone is excited about and you must finish.

Lucky for you, I’ve got every phase of the remodel covered, with plenty of tips to keep you within budget and on schedule.

existing light fixture, brown surround shower, pedestal sink before demo
grey bathroom vanity, floating shelves, black lighting, white tiled shower

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Before you can transform any room, you need to demo the space or remove all unwanted items. 

The first thing I did was to dig out all the silicone around the bathtub, trim, baseboards, and anywhere else it was located. 

Then, I turned off the water supply to the sink and toilet, then disconnected the supply lines. I also covered the lines with some tape to ensure that no debris would get in and possibly clog the line later. 

Next, I disconnected the drain from the sink and put a cloth in the opening to prevent any smells from coming out. 

After disconnecting everything, we dismantled them from the spaces (the old sink, toilet, trim, baseboard, shelves, etc).

Then, we were ready to demo the tile. 

We used our handy Rotary Hammer drill to remove the tiles from the floor.

before of bathroom with brown tiled surround, damaged bathroom walls,

For the shower walls, we used a hammer and crowbar, being careful to not drop the tiles because that would damage the tub. Don’t ask how I know this… 

We discovered some repairs that the previous owners had done with the last bathroom renovation, which were not the best. To correct them, we had to remove areas around the bathtub. 

And after the demo, we were left with this:

bathroom walls after removing tile

Prep the space

At this point, we were left with very damaged walls. 

We also needed to install a new subfloor sheet for our new tile underlayment (the previous owners installed the tile over the hardwood floor, and that caused the floor tile to crack).

I installed a thin layer (1/4″) of a subfloor sheet on top of the old subfloor to give us a smooth, flat surface.

We were also able to finally open up our new window to the room. 

SIDE NOTE: There were two windows, the old metal one and then the new vinyl one. If you’re still confused about why there were two, when we first moved into our home we replaced our windows, which were two windows. There was one on the outside and one on the inside to give you a double-pane window. 

Exposing the window meant that I could finally insulate it by filling in the gaps around the window with expanding foam.

Next, I cleaned the bathtub to remove all the thinset residue. I did this by spraying bathtub cleaner onto the area and allowing it to set for a couple of minutes. Then, I scraped it off with a razor blade scraper (it’s a flat one). 

After, I patched the holes in the walls with drywall and repaired the damaged plaster walls. 
SIDE NOTE: You can see the full process of patching and repairing the walls in this post. The process is the same if you are patching and repairing drywall too!

bathroom walls after patching and repairing with plaster

I also had the chance to update the lighting in the bathroom, which was my husband’s requirement with the bathroom renovation. 

We used my FAVORITE recessed LED lights. I love these because you can install them anywhere (they are canless), you can adjust the lighting color, and they are ultra slim.

After all this, I primed and painted the bathroom. 

And now, it was ready for the new tile and waterproofing!

bathroom after demoing and repairing walls

The Floor

Whenever you tile a floor, you need to install an underlayment. 

You have probably seen most people use a cement board but there are other options that are easier to install and waterproof. 

The underlayment we used was the Schluter Ditra. It was easy to cut and install and only required a thin layer of thinset. I have a full tutorial on how to install Schluter Ditra on a floor

After the underlayment membrane was installed, the floor was ready for tile. 

SIDE NOTE: You don’t have to let this type of membrane cure before setting tiles but if you are waterproofing a shower or tub surround (like me), you will want to install that waterproofer first before installing the tiles.

Prepping bathroom floor for tile with Ditra

And here I have a full step-by-step tutorial on how to install bathroom floor tiles
Once the tiles had cured for 24 hours, I moved on to installing the grout. Funny enough, I find grouting to be very relaxing. Click the link to find the full tutorial on how to grout floor tiles.

full bathtub tiled with white subway tile and black floor tile

The Tub Surround

After installing the waterproof membrane on the floor, I installed the shower wall waterproofer. 

I purchased the Schluter Kerdi-Tubkit, which is a full bathtub shower walls waterproofing kit. 
If you’re wondering how to install this waterproofer, click this link to see how to waterproof bathtub shower walls over drywall.

wiping excess thinset from bathroom wall

After the waterproofing membrane had cured for 24 hours, I moved on to tiling the shower walls. And here are all my tips for tiling a tub surround
Finally, I finished off the bathtub tile job by grouting the shower tiles, which includes sealing the tiles and installing silicone.

dipping sponge into bucket of water to clean grout on bathroom shower tile

We also had a few chips in our bathtub so I used Rustoleum tile and tub touch-up paint to cover them. You can see the full process by clicking the link.

Rustoleum tub and tile touch up paint in package

At this point, the bathroom was ready for the decorative pieces. 

This included installing floating shelves (I have a tutorial on installing floating shelves over tile).

We also purchased a small sink from Ikea because of how small of space we had. Then, I built a custom vanity with a few pieces of plywood and covered the edges with banding to make it look professional.
I installed all new trim and baseboards, and added  simple towel hooks.

updated bathroom reno

What does it cost to renovate a bathroom

This entire renovation cost about $2,000.

small bathroom renovation

About $1,000 of that was for the floor and wall tiles. 

And we reused our bathtub, bathtub faucet (which was only a year old), toilet, and vanity mirror.

DIY bathroom makeover

The total renovation took us a two months to complete but the final look is modern, clean, light and airy. 

Take your time choosing your ideal fixtures, tiles and accessories. This is your best chance to transform the space into exactly what you want it to look like.


Are you someone that does better with visuals? Check out the full DIY bathroom remodel video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube, so you don’t miss out on future projects!

before and after of bathroom remodel with youtube overlay

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