To get the most out of a bathroom renovation, it’s important to plan ahead. While most design and style choices are completely under your control, your layout choices can be constrained by the size of the room, the existing plumbing, and the location or size of your window(s). To eliminate costly mistakes or surprises, follow these handy tips to plan a layout that meets both your needs and budget.
Start by making a list of each element you will need in your new bathroom. Add your bathtub, shower, sink, and toilet, and don’t forget about wall elements such as towel and toilet paper holders, shelves, electrical outlets/switches, and any existing or planned features such as radiators or floor vents. Be sure to also note windows and lighting to get a sense of the amount of natural and artificial light available to you.
Once you’ve finalized your list, use the to create a scale model of your future bathroom. Draw a floor plan with a pencil, or use hand-drawn cut-outs if you want to re-position items around the grid. In either case, be sure to accurately represent the size of each component and don’t forget to think about the space required between elements. Is the toilet too close to the tub? Is there enough room to walk around? Picture your typical traffic patterns and leave yourself enough room to use your bathroom comfortably.
Lastly, don’t forget to map the door, the direction it will swing, and its arc. If there isn’t enough room for your door to swing open easily, you may need to consider an alternative such as a sliding door. Once your sketch is complete, picture the view from the door. When people enter the bathroom, will they immediately see a toilet or a more attractive element like a sink or tub?
The National Kitchen and Bath Association publishes recommended measurements and dimensions for bathrooms. While its rules are not set in stone, it’s wise to follow NKBA best practices which include:
Door Entry & Interference: The door opening should be at least 34” wide and no entry or fixture door should interfere with another and/or the safe use of fixtures or cabinets.
Ceiling Height: Bathrooms shall have a minimum floor-to-ceiling height of 80 inches over the fixtures and at the front clearance area for fixtures. A shower or tub equipped with a showerhead shall have a minimum floor-to-ceiling height of 80 inches above a minimum area 30x30 inches at the shower head.
Clear Space: Plan a clear floor space of at least 30 inches from the front edge of any toilet, bidet, tub, shower, or vanity to any opposite bath fixture, wall, or obstacle.
Single & Double Sink Placement: The distance from the centerline of a single sink to the sidewall/tall obstacle should be at least 20 inches. For a double sink, the distance between the centrelines of two sinks should be at least 36 inches.
Sink Height: The height for a lavatory can vary between 32-43 inches to fit the user.
Shower Size: The interior shower size should be at least 36x36 inches.
Tub/Shower Doors: Hinged shower doors should open outward.
Toilet/Bidet Placement: The distance from the centerline of toilet and/or bidet to any bath fixture, wall, or other obstacle should be at least 18 inches.
Storage: Provide adequate, accessible storage for toiletries, bath linens, grooming, and general bathroom supplies at point of use.
Accessories: Place a mirror above or near the lavatory at a height that takes the user’s eye height into consideration. The toilet paper holder should be located 8-12 inches in front of the edge of the toilet bowl, centered at 26 inches above the floor, and additional accessories, such as towel holders and soap dishes should be conveniently located near all bath fixtures.
Ventilation: Plan a mechanical exhaust system, vented to the outside, for each enclosed area. Minimum ventilation for the bathroom is to be a window of at least 3 square feet of which 50 percent is operable or a mechanical ventilation system of at least 50 cubic feet per minute (CFM) ducted to the outside.
Once you’ve followed the guidelines and are happy with your layout, think about who will perform your renovation. A professional bathroom contractor will be able to tell you whether your plans require structural changes (to support a large bathtub, for example) or modifications to your plumbing. Undersized plumbing or ventilation can lead to serious damage, so it’s wise to receive professional advice before beginning any major renovation. Look for a bathroom renovation company that is approved by the Better Business Bureau, fully insured and licensed, and that has a reputation for completing work on schedule and on budget.
Your new bathroom should meet your needs now and into the future. If you plan to stay in your home for more than five years, take time to picture how the bathroom will be used ten or twenty years down the road. Necessities to accommodate your young family today might not be needed in ten years, so be sure not to remove usable space for what may only be a temporary need.
Be sure to also take a hard look at the styles you want to incorporate into your room. Fashions change and fads come and go. If you choose bold, unorthodox styles, will you like them as your tastes change? Could they affect the resale value of your home?