Category Archives: bathrooms

What do you need to know before replacing a bathroom faucets?

Example of a tall spout, 2 handle lav faucet

In our bathroom remodel projects, we are often helping clients select bathroom faucets and then installing them. While appearance is very important, there is more to know! Knowledge can save you money and problems.

Questions you need to answer:

  • How will the faucet be mounted; on the wall or on the sink?
  • Do you prefer one handle or two?
  • How many holes are on the sink you will be using.
  • The distance between the holes, measured from the centers.

Wall mounted faucets sometimes are more difficult to install, and thus cost more for installation, especially if the previous faucet was sink mounted. However, they can be very attractive, and add to the appearance of the bathroom. If you are replacing the faucet but not the sink, you will have to go with the type of faucet that was there originally.

You can look at your faucet or under the sink, to determine the number of holes the existing sink has; this is only relevant if you are keeping the sink!

Most sinks have holes 4″ or 8″ apart – but check, because not all sinks follow this convention, and remember, some will only have 1 hole. For a 4″ sink, you can use either a centerset or mini-widespread faucet. A centerset bathroom faucet is made so that the distance between the handles (the center of the outside holes) is 4″. These faucets often combine the handles and spout together on a base unit. This configuration works well in small bathrooms with small sinks. A mini-widespread faucet gives a bit more design flexibility because it has three separate pieces designed for a 4″ hole configuration. For large sinks, you might have holes 8″ apart. For these you must use a widespread faucet that has handles separate from the spout and that is designed for these larger configurations.

Valves (the guts of the faucet):

Compression valve faucets are rubber washer faucets. They can be repaired, but will generally wear faster than other types and are becoming less common.

Ball valves have slots inside the faucet that control the hot and cold mixture and the flow through the spout. They have more moving parts than compression valve types and for this reason they can have more problems.

Cartridge valve faucets have two hollow sleeves inside the faucet that open or close holes to control the water flow. They have fewer moving parts than a ball valve but they have seals that can wear out and require replacement. These are a reasonable choice if the price fits the budget.

Ceramic disc faucet valves make use of two hard, highly polished ceramic disks that slide against each other to control the water flow. These are usually more expensive, but are generally considered the most durable and longest-lasting type of faucet valve.

 So, the fun part is deciding what you like in a faucet; the finish and style, how it matches other fixtures in the bathroom. Also, consider how you will use the faucet; will the spout have enough room under it for what you want?

What do you want in a warranty?

Example of 2 handle, mid-height spout, countertop mounted for undermount sink

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Decisions, Decisions; Bathroom remodel choices

Glass shower doors with custom tiled shower walls

Some people have no problem making decisions on their bathroom remodel. But others struggle with this, fearful of selecting the wrong faucet or countertop material and only finding out after the fact that it just does not work for them!

Here is a collection of comments from people who have had their bathrooms remodeled and what they felt were their best and worst decisions:

Best Decisions:

  • Loved the Moen shower valve; inexpensive and works great.
  • Love the thermobalance shower control; it keeps the shower from changing temperature and pressure during a shower.
  • Glad we chose the radiant floor system for warm floors, with a thermostatic timer.
  • Installed a hand-held shower head on a slide bar in addition to the overhead rain shower head.
  • Installing a glass shelf between sink and medicine cabinet.
  • Splurging on marble mosaic floor tile.
  • Love the steam shower we had installed!
  • Glad we went with frameless glass French doors in the shower.
  • Using a pedestal sink in my small master bath to give it a bigger look.
  • Selecting neutral toned tiles and accenting with paint and accessories.
  • My favorite thing is the Runtal Towel Warmers. My towels are always dry and warm!
  • Love the air jet tub.
  • Toto washlet toilet
  • Installing electrical inside cabinets so hair dryer and electric toothbrush aren’t on the counter.
  • Having a shampoo shelf in the shower hidden by the half-wall, instead of shampoo niches.
  • Radiant in-floor heating (there were a lot of “likes” for this option)
  • Seat in the shower (sloped slightly to allow draining)
  • Custom-built, frameless shower door
  • Higher than normal countertop so I don’t need to bend over very much.

Wish I hadn’t done that:

  • Wish I hadn’t installed black granite on the countertop. My cat love it and he sheds a lot and occasionally spits up n it. Hard to keep clean.
  • Didn’t specify caulk instead of the grout in corners.
  • Only installed 2 corner shelves – wish I had 3
  • Wish I had higher quality beadboard for wainscot
  • Didn’t gut the bath – wish I had
  • Wish I’d installed a second niche; wife claimed the one, and I have to put my shampoo bottles on the floor.
  • Wish I’d installed a radiant heated floor.

What about you? Do you have “best decisions” and “wish I hadn’t done that” remodel experiences?

Tub/shower with custom tile and curved shower rod

Tub/shower with custom tile and curved shower rod

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Are you desperate to do a master bath remodel?

Before photo of a bath remodel

Are you desperate to the point of fantasizing about taking a sledgehammer to the room yourself? Then it is time to sit down and figure out how to make it happen. This really is not a futile effort. What do you need to know to do this?

Completely re-tiled shower in this After photo.

  1. Your budget. It is difficult to define the budget at the beginning, due to the tremendous variety of cost of materials, and labor costs have to be included. How long does it take to remove what is there, and then to install new fixtures? What about wiring for electrical? A reputable and licensed professional can narrow down the costs for you more precisely, due to their experience, and let you know what unknown variables could occur when flooring and shower tile are removed.
  2. How will you pay for the project? Some use lines of credit or home equity loans. Be sure you can access the funds in a timely manner, as the contractor will need money to buy the materials as the project proceeds.
  3. The extent of the project. Careful planning and assessment of the existing site is necessary. This will reduce the number of unpleasant surprises as the job progresses. If only painting and superficial modifications are needed, then the job will be lower cost. If a major overhaul is needed due to the age of the house, or to unbearably dated and worn out fixtures, then the entire project could be very costly.
  4. Who will be doing the project? For a professional job, most of us need to hire experienced professionals. Simple tasks such as painting are not difficult, but tearing out a toilet and replacing it with a new fixture can be fraught with problems.

 In conclusion, the most important part of the bathroom remodel is determining your capacity to finance.


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Should you surface remodel the bathroom or tear it all out and start over?

It depends on your budget, the level of dissatisfaction you have with the current bathroom, as well as the workability of what is there now. Home Renovations has an excellent article on this topic that covers all the bases – from budgeting and financing, to the levels of remodels that can be done and their general costs.

I’ll list the general topics the author, Lee Wallender, covers, but for all the information, use the link and read his article. He discusses the complications of moving plumbing fixtures and other issues that can come up in a complete remodel and lays out simpler levels of bathroom renovation.

  • How far do you want to go?
  • Change layout
  • Complete tear-out/remodel
  • Financing your bathroom remodel
  • Remodel bathroom yourself or hire a contractor?
  • Contractor licenses
  • Permits
  • Changing the layout of your bathroom
  • New bathroom walls, joists and other structural elements
  • Shower and tub repair, refinishing, or replacement
  • Bathroom flooring

As you can see from this list of Lee’s topics, bathroom remodeling is not for the faint-hearted, and it can be costly – research the options beforehand so you will know what you are getting into. Every bathroom is different, and its individual restrictions and possibilities need to be evaluated to be sure of the best outcome.

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Stunning shower doors

Frameless shower doors installed by Rose Construction

Frameless shower doors provide a clean, modern look and open up the master bath.  has a great article giving the reader 12 reasons to consider installing them in your next bath remodel.

  1. To keep the space open and airy.
  2. Balance between traditional and modern
  3. Contrast modern and rustic
  4. Show off tile work
  5. Make a small room feel larger
  6. Natural light shines through it!
  7. Maximize the view
  8. Can provide an elegant look
  9. By it’s nature, it is minimalist by design
  10. The simplicity provides a sense of calm
  11. If your windows face a natural setting, a frameless glass shower wall connects with the outside.

Go to and find the 12th reason to include frameless glass shower doors and walls. There are 12 gorgeous showers shown in the article. Get some great ideas for your frameless shower doors!

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Designing for Aging-in-Place

Shower remodeled for Aging-in-place. Note bench, handicap bar and hand-held shower wand.

Our own DyLon McClary earned his CAPS certificate in January 2011, knowing that our aging population would appreciate hiring contractors who are well-trained in designing for their particular needs.

A recent article in Builder Online highlights the issues of our aging population and what we can do to help them stay in their homes longer.  

Our company has remodelled many bathrooms our area, to make them work for the older clients. Being able to help our clients remain in their homes, while creating a beautiful tiled shower is a real satisfaction!

Check out the issue of Builder Online; it is chock-full of great information.

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Ideas for designing your bathroom

Bathroom design – it’s fairly easy to know what you want in your bathroom, but figuring out how to fit it in there without moving a wall or window, or if you have budget restraints, without moving the plumbing outlets – these are the problems that require creativity and some skills.

Small bath remodel by Rose Construction

Kohler has a neat little article that covers these issues; the title is Design & Create: Plan Bathroom, or Found Space, 8 Tips for Small Bathrooms. 

Discover bathroom products made for small spaces.

“In order to stand comfortably in your bathroom, do you need one foot in the tub?

“Over the past 30 years, the average size of bathrooms in new homes has almost doubled. However, in many older houses the main bathroom has remained at its original 5- by 8-foot size.”

Briefly, Kohler’s article has tips for:

  1. Upgrade to a more compact, efficient modern toilet.
  2. Use light, natural color tones for an open, airy feel.
  3. Choose a sliding shower door (I have a small bathroom – a sliding shower door would have no place to slide. I went with a shower curtain that I can open and make the room that much larger.)
  4. Select a bath tub with a lower floor and sides to give the illusion of more space.
  5. Choose a smaller faucet.
  6. Downsize the vanity – such as a pedestal or wall mounted sink, or a petite vanity.
  7. Use niche shelving and a mirrored medicine cabinet to remove bulky furniture.
  8. Install corner shelves to make use of available space.

Thats it. Go to Kohler, using the link, to read the info.

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What is the best material for your bath flooring?

This homeowner really liked the look of white, glass tiles!

There are a great many options for flooring, most of them OK, but some are better than others, based on cost, comfort and appropriateness for a wet environment.

I came across an excellent article in CASE Handyman & Remodeling that compares pros and cons of 7 bathroom flooring types. I’ll list them here, and you can go to the website to get full details.

Tile (ceramic and glass): Durable, inexpensive and water resistant. They can be slippery, pick a tile that has a textured surface.

Stone: Also durable, water resistant and beautiful. To avoid slipping when wet, look for the textured stone. This material is the most expensive.

Vinyl: Comes in sheets or tiles, lots of colors and patterns. Very inexpensive. Beware of tiles, as moisture can get between them.

Laminate: Made of layrs of resin-impregnated paper and compressed wood chips. Can be printed to look like stone, slate, wood or whatever.

Hardwood: Must be treated with layers of polyurethane. Engineered wood is lower maintenance.

Bamboo: Durable and attractive, mold resistant. Is susceptible to damage if heavy objects are dropped on it. (What heavy objects do you carry around in the bathroom?)

Cork: Soft and warm feel. Repels water and is naturally mold resistant. Again, don’t drop heavy things on it. (How much does your hair dryer weigh, anyway?)

Warm colors, tile flooring

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The Ultimate Shower Experience

Liquid Assets: New Rain Showers by MGS
MGS shower system in stainless steel

MGS manufactures a stainless steel shower fixture as well as s.s. fixtures for the outdoors and kitchen. Each faucet and shower fixture includes MGS’s signature handles with flat, angled tips, sliced from across the cylinder to create a dramatically slanted face.

The exposed shower system shown brings modern style in an exposed shower system with a round or square rain canopy and feature an exposed thermostatic mixer.

Check out for more creative and stylish designs!

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January is National Bath Safety month.

ADA compliant shower


The photo above shows a bath remodel we did in 2011 to make it handicapped accessible. We installed tile in the shower and included a bench with a solid surface seat. Grab bars were installed and a hand-held shower wand accessible from the bench.

ADA compliant shower


This photo shows another handicapped accessible shower we installed in a bathroom remodel for an elderly couple who preferred to remain in their home.

These photos show that making an accessible, safe bathroom can be beautiful and stylish.

National bath safety month calls for prentative safety measures, as noted on the website  Some of the recommended measures are:

Set the hot water temperature lower than 115 degrees.

Keep all cleaning supplies out of reach of children or locked in cabinets.

Keep all medications out of reach or locked where children cannot access them.

Bathroom surface that could get wet (pretty much all of the bathroom floor and shower/tub) should have non-skid surfaces or mats.

Never leave young children unattended in bath or shower.

Grab bars are necessary installations for elders who may have become unsteady on their feet, and for children.

Shower seats are important to help avoid slips and falls. The folding type is a good option that can be folded up and provide more room in the shower for those who do not need it.



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