Handyman Headaches: Tips to Remodel Your Bathroom without Ruining It

You want to remodel your bathroom, but you’re afraid to tackle the job alone. Maybe you’ve already hired a handyman - stop. Before you (or he) rip up one more tile, you need to know about some of the dangers and potentially catastrophic failures that lie ahead. Here’s how to remodel the room without ruining it.

Properly Determine the Complexity of the Job before You Start

Before you start, be honest about what you can handle, and what you can’t. If a job is too difficult, don’t be afraid to hire a professional contractor. Most handymen, although inexpensive, are not “jack of all trades.” Really, this old clichéd saying is code for “I don’t really know how to do this the right way.”

All electrical work, plumbing, and woodworking should be done by a pro. But, replacing hardware for bathroom sinks or bathroom vanities could hypothetically be done by you, even if you’ve never touched a wrench before.

Always Buy the Best Hardware and Supplies You Can Afford

Never go cheap, even though it’s fashionable. Cheap hardware that breaks on you is not only annoying; it’s expensive because you have to buy it again. Websites, like Bedbathandbeyond.com can help you figure out what represents good quality and what doesn’t.

Stay away from discount stores and “low prices.” This is a sign of low quality. You don’t need gold-plated cabinets. But, you should be willing to spend money on something that will last. If you can’t afford quality, you’re not ready for a remodel.

Start Simple

Start with simple jobs before tackling more complicated ones. For example, changing sink hardware isn’t all that difficult. Most people can learn how to do this in a day, and it shouldn’t take more than a half-hour to complete.

But, installing flooring can be one of the most complex and frustrating jobs for a DIY’er. Floating tiles are preferable to fixed ones, but even then you can get caught up in a maintenance nightmare if you choose straight (unfinished) stone. On the other hand, a lot of porcelain and ceramics still use lead in the glazing and, according to at least one source, there’s a surprisingly deadly amount of lead in some ceramics.

Use Acrylic or A Hybrid Caulk You Can Remove Without Chemicals

When using caulk, you don’t want to use anything that requires harsh chemicals to remove it. Silicone or hybrids can be removed with hardware, so opt for this if and when you can.

Replace the Wiring

A lot of 15-amp wiring is old, and it’s a bit dated. People 40 years ago didn’t use hair dryers like they do today. If your home was built before 1975, you probably need to update the wiring. Years of abuse by high-powered hair dryers, curling irons, and other gadgets have really done a number on the outlets and the wiring. So, don’t just replace the GFCI outlets. Upgrade to 20-amp circuits.

Get the Height Right for Your Accessories

Most people don’t think too much about installation height, until it’s too late. In general, cabinets need to be placed between 55 and 72 inches off the ground, bathroom toilet paper mounts need to be placed 6 inches in front of the toilet, and towel racks should be 48 inches off the floor.

Be mindful about bathroom vanities too. If vanity lights are too high, you won’t be able to easily change the bulbs. If they’re too low, they won’t provide the light you want.

This should satisfy most people, without placing important items too high off the ground for the vertically-challenged.

If you get the mounting wrong, you’ll end up patching holes and possibly making a huge mess.

Miriam Porter is a self-admitted decorating diva. When she's not working on her latest DIY project, she's writing about it on the web. You can enjoy her interesting posts on many of today's best websites and blogs.

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