HomeownerEducational: A-M

Kitchen & Bathroom Remodeling

Kitchen & Bathroom Remodeling

Planning a Remodel

Remodeling your kitchen or bathroom can improve not only its appearance but also its functionality. For example, improvements in design have resulted in faucets and toilets that use water more efficiently, so a bathroom remodel could help you save money on your water bill in the long run.

The aesthetic considerations behind your bathroom or kitchen remodel must take the room’s purpose into account. If you expect lots of wear and tear in your kitchen, for example, marble countertops may not be the best choice because marble tends to scratch and stain easily. On the other hand, for bathroom countertops, which are not as highly utilized as those in the kitchen, marble is often preferred. Before beginning the remodel, assess your needs and how to accommodate them.

The Remodeling Process

Due to the wide variety of trades required, bathroom and kitchen remodeling projects are more complex per square foot than most home renovation projects. The project’s requirements will dictate which construction steps are taken and in what order. Common steps include:

Demolition. Tearing out tile in a bathroom or kitchen can be a large project by itself, especially in an older home. Older tiling methods affixed the tile via a metal mesh attached to the wall studs. Builders would first spread cement across the mesh in order to make the wall even with the plaster above, and then attach the tiles to the concrete. Because of this style of construction, the demolition process involves removing not only the tiles, but also the concrete and metal mesh holding them to the wall.

Most older tile floors were constructed over a three-inch slab of poured concrete. In some cases, the existing slab is cracked, and the floor joists below are rotted. As part of demolition, the existing tile and concrete slab are broken up and removed from the house in pieces.

Structural carpentry work. If tile or old cabinets have been removed, the carpenter will build out the wall to be even with the plaster above. Any damaged floor joists are repaired, and the floor is built up if necessary.

Roughing out utilities. While the studs in the walls are still exposed, water feed lines, drains, electrical outlets and switches, and heating and air conditioning system ductwork are installed or updated. For bathrooms, any one-piece premanufactured bathtubs, shower stalls, or shower pans may be installed at this stage. For kitchens, any necessary plumbing, gas lines, or electrical alterations for new appliances are also installed.

Tile work. Tile may be used to cover a bathroom floor, bathtub walls, shower stall walls, and shower pans. In the kitchen, tile may be applied to the countertops and floor in addition to the backsplash.

Installing Sheetrock. Mildew-resistant Sheetrock or greenboard should be installed on the walls that will remain dry in the bathroom. However, the contractor should install 100 percent waterproof backer board on the soon-to-be-tiled wet walls of the shower stall or bathtub. In the kitchen, similar waterproofing measures should be taken for wall areas near any sinks.

Painting. One of the last steps in the remodeling process is typically painting. Contractors save this step for the end because it is likely that the walls will be marked up when other components are installed.


With both open and closed designs popular now, the style of kitchen cabinets can have a dramatic effect on the look of the room. Bathroom cabinetry will depend on the storage needs of the homeowner and, compared to kitchen cabinetry, is usually a smaller part of the design and construction process of a bathroom remodeling job.

Custom. Custom cabinets are built to fit a kitchen or bath and are made of high-quality materials. They frequently cost more because they require the attention and the talents of experienced craftsmen.

Stock. Stock cabinets are premade and purchased off the shelf. They are usually less expensive than custom-built ones, but since they come in standard shapes and sizes, they may limit the design of the kitchen.

Refacing. Cabinet refacing involves removing existing cabinet doors and drawer fronts and replacing them with new doors and drawer fronts. The cabinet box will be refaced to match the new materials installed.


Granite. Granite countertops come in many grades, thicknesses, colors, and price ranges. Granite is popular because it combines practicality and durability with a stylish look.

Marble. With its cool, smooth surface, marble is perfect for baking and making pastries. Since marble is popular for both kitchens and bathrooms, make sure that the type of marble is appropriate for the room. Sealed marble is a must for kitchens in order to prevent stains, while the more porous, unsealed marble works well for bathroom countertops.

Ceramic tile. From a design perspective, ceramic tile is one of the most versatile countertop options available. Ceramic resists heat, scratches, and stains. However, the grout must be cleaned often to keep it free of debris buildup and stains.


Floors in potentially wet areas, like kitchens and bathrooms, are usually hard surfaces, such as tile or linoleum. Consider how much daily use the floor will see to make the best decision in terms of durability.

Tile. Ceramic, terra-cotta, and natural stone tiles are a popular option for kitchen and bathroom floors. Tile floors provide a room with a unique character, and tiles come in a limitless variety of colors, textures, and designs. Though it is durable, tile can also be cold underfoot, and many homeowners choose to install radiant floor heating in their bathrooms during the remodeling process.

Linoleum. Linoleum has long been known as an economical floor covering, one particularly popular for kitchens. This type of flooring has received increased attention in recent years due to its green features: certain varieties are biodegradable and made from organic materials, such as linseed oil and ground cork dust, which makes linoleum an excellent choice for environmentally conscious homeowners Linoleum is manufactured in many colors and designs, and it is also inherently antibacterial and easy to clean.

Additional Services

Because bathroom or kitchen remodeling projects involve many different types of work, kitchen and bathroom remodelers typically offer a range of other supplementary services. Contractors who perform bathroom and kitchen remodeling work will also usually provide appliance and utility installation and hookup services, painting and wallcovering installation, shower and bathtub replacement, and light carpentry services.