Learn the 10 Things Nobody Tells You About Renovating Your Bathroom

There are only a few varieties to remember when it comes to tiling.

Forget about the numerous stacks of tile samples your contractor will show you: you only need to know a few main types. Porcelain, glass, natural stone, cement, and, of course, subway tile (a form of ceramic tile so ubiquitous that it deserves its category) are the types of tile that are particularly tough, long-wearing, and ageless in the bath—in shower stalls, on floors, and walls. Once you’ve narrowed it down to these tried-and-true possibilities, you may pick a color and a form and continue from there.


The grout in your bathroom may make or break it.

Above: Dark grout reduces the visibility of grime in this week’s Bathroom of the Week: In Auckland, two bathrooms were remodeled using a bold green tile. Neeve Woodward’s photograph is courtesy of Katie Lockhart Studio.

Grout may be an afterthought in the grand scheme of your remodel: it’s a little and, as Meredith points out in Remodeling 101: How to Choose the Right Tile Grout, an unsexy component of the bathroom. “It seals out dirt and water, compensates for slight size discrepancies between individual tiles, and tightens up the structural integrity of an installation,” she adds.

How do you choose the best grout for your bathroom? First, answer the following questions: Do you want the grout to be visible or blend in with the tile? Is the grout in a high-splash zone or a relatively dry location? (If it gets wet a lot, such as in a shower cubicle, use synthetic grout; otherwise, use cementitious grout.) Will soiled grout drive you insane? (If so, stay away from white.)

Do you have a limited amount of space? There is a small toilet for that.


Toilets do not come in one size that fits all; if you have a tiny room, try a petite toilet. Alternatively, choose a traditional or modern floor-standing toilet, water-saving toilet, or wall-mounted toilet.

Storage should not be an afterthought.

So much of building a bathroom that seems both serene and functional is about having enough storage. When designing your designs, search for storage opportunities, even modest and simple, to make them feel integrated rather than added-on. “I like to install a pair of tall shallow cabinets disguised in a stud bay,” architect Malcolm Davis adds. You don’t need deep shelf storage; a modest shelf would suffice. I prefer to construct a recess in the shower and attempt to incorporate towel bars to make it feel more built-in.”

You may not even need to remodel.

Perhaps you’ve moved into a new home and despise the tile in the bathroom but don’t have the funds to change it entirely. Perhaps you are renting and cannot remodel (if you want your security deposit back, that is). The good news is that you may not have to demo everything and start from scratch. Instead, consider tile refinishing if you wish to update the tile.