Bathrooms are functional spaces but can be beautiful and stylish too. Is your bathroom in need of a facelift?

Growing numbers of us are choosing to improve rather than move. While the bathroom may be the smallest room in a house, it is among the most used. So, it’s not surprising if your bathroom needs a makeover. For some, this means ripping everything out and starting from scratch. Here we offer some tips to help make your project as hassle-free as possible.

Grand designs

You’ve got the glossy brochures and picked out a bathroom suite you love but there are still lots of decisions to make. Do you want to stick to your existing toilet, sink and bath/shower locations or have a complete redesign?  If you would like a new layout but are not sure of all your options, get expert advice. Many bathroom suppliers provide a free instore design service. You can also ask independent bathroom fitters for advice when they visit your home to estimate for the work. For example, will it make it a lot more expensive to change the pipework so you can move the furniture?

Floor plan

Draw up a floor plan of your existing bathroom on some graph paper. Measure the floor length and width as well as ceiling height and mark the location and dimensions of doors, windows and any features such as alcoves. Once your floor plan is complete you can use the measurements to plan your new bathroom. Some bathroom suppliers have free computer software to plan and create a 3D image of your new-look room. The key is not to try to squeeze too much into a small space, so it doesn’t end up cramped.


It is important to work out a budget – and stick to it.  Remember you don’t just have to splash out for a new bathroom suite, there will be plumbing and electrical installation costs too plus fixtures and fittings such as taps and shower door. Remember to budget for materials, such as tiles and floor covering, and allow for VAT.

Labour costs

The most expensive part of a bathroom refit is often labour costs. Bathroom suppliers may provide a fitting service but this can be an expensive option, so get your own quotations to compare prices. Tiling, flooring, plumbing and electrics are in addition to installation of your bathroom.

Some builders may give you a quotation for the whole refit. Check they are suitably qualified and experienced to do plumbing and electrical work as well as tiling. Some bathroom suppliers state guarantees for their products may be considered invalid if they are fitted by a non-qualified plumber. Plumbers should be qualified to NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) Level 3.

Ask the installer to provide an itemised list of materials to be supplied so there are no hidden costs. The total cost will depend on the size of bathroom, choice of materials and work to be done.

Quality counts

Bathroom suites can range in price from £200 to several thousand pounds.  It is probably best not to choose the cheapest as it is unlikely to last. Mid-range is generally good quality.

When it is delivered, remove packaging and check for any damage. Some bathroom suppliers will only replace items if they are returned within 14 days. Arrange delivery at least two weeks before work starts, so if any items need to be replaced it won’t delay installation.

Hire a skip

Stripping out a bathroom and starting from scratch is going to create a lot of waste.  It may be cheaper to hire a skip than ask your builder to dispose of it as they will be charged a fee to take it to the local tip.


When old tiles are removed, walls may be in poor condition and need re-plastering which can add to the cost. The type of tiles you choose will also affect your renovation costs. Porcelain tiles are more expensive than ceramic and harder to cut. Ceramic tiles are often used on walls, while porcelain is more suitable for floors.  Bathrooms get steamy and black mould on grouting around tiles is tough to remove. Ask your tiler to use a special grout to help prevent mould. When the grout has been dry for more than a week, you can apply sealer with a small paint brush.

Electrical work

As part of your bathroom revamp, you may want to add a touch of luxury with a heated towel rail or update the lighting with energy efficient LED spotlights. If you use an installer registered with a competent persons’ scheme they can self-certify compliance with Building Regulations. If an installer is not registered, then riskier jobs – known as ‘notifiable’ in Building Regulations - should be inspected and certified by either your local authority or an electrician registered with a certification scheme.  Notifiable jobs include alterations to existing circuits such as adding an extra power or lighting point around baths and showers. All electrical work should follow the safety standards in BS 7671 (the wiring regulations) which can be found on the British Institute (BSI) website. To find an electrician in your area please visit


Most bathrooms in Britain are small, so keeping them clutter-free is a challenge. Built-in storage looks a lot classier than keeping your toiletries on the toilet cistern or window sill. Wall-hung cupboards are available to match many bathroom suites. The more floor you can see, the more spacious your bathroom will feel, so wall hung units are a good option. Sink units with pull-out drawers below are another stylish, space-saving solution for hiding away unsightly clutter.  


If you intend to move, then a neutral colour like white will usually be more saleable as it will appeal to more people. If you play to stay in your home for a while, then pick your favourite colours. An all-white scheme on walls and floors will help to make a small space appear bigger. Glossy marble effect tiles can add an elegant and opulent touch. Bathroom floor options include natural stone tiles, porcelain or ceramic tiles, laminate and wooden floors.  For walls, there are ceramic, natural stone, mosaic tiles, glass bricks and panels as well as water-resistant paints.

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