Mistakes I Made During A DIY Bathroom Renovation

Mistakes I Made During A DIY Bathroom Renovation

It’s been a few weeks since the reveal of our master bathroom and I’ve had some time to digest the chaotic whirlwind of the 8-week transformation. Many lessons were learned mostly through my mistakes, so what good would those lessons be if I didn’t share the wealth of unfortunate happenings with you?

Most of the mistakes were small but one or two left my stomach in knots and kept me up at night. Luckily they were fixed before the bathroom was completed, which I owe to luck and spending some nights scouring the internet for answers til’ 3 am. I’m so grateful for the experience and anticipate this year’s main bathroom renovation will be (hopefully) smoother because of these mistakes.

Whether you’re planning to take the audacious leap of DIYing or planning to hire out, these are important things I learned and that you should keep in mind for your own bathroom renovation.

Planning to hire out? Get a few quotes before making a choice

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There are two things I knew we could not do ourselves: installing the toilet and a glass shower door. I also had a gut feeling from the getgo that we should hire someone to create the shower mud pan, and it’s something I regret doing on my own (more on that below).

If you’re looking to hire out, check Houzz, Nextdoor and Google Places for reputable contractors. And do I even have to remind you to read the reviews?

If you’re ambitious enough to DIY, I promise you’re capable of doing at least some (if not all) of the tasks on your own if you have patience and are willing to put in the time and energy.

Plan. Plan. And plan some more.

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But understand that no matter how much you plan…things won’t go according to plan.

While I was planning each step, I wrote how much time I thought I needed to complete it and 90% of the time, it took way longer than expected.

Unfortunately when you’re remodeling, step B is usually contingent upon completing step A, and nothing ruins the (accelerated) timeline like being held up in step A for whatever reason.

Hitting a roadblock is the perfect segway into my next tip…

Take a step back (and a shot of Tito’s) when things get hard

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Of all the things I had to do, creating a perfectly sloped shower floor scared me the most because if I effed that up, we’d be screwed. After spending 6 hours on my knees packing a sloped mudbed, the shower floor was ready for tiling.

But alas, I made the horrifying mistake of deciding that my first time ever laying tile would be the shower floor, and on top of that, I didn’t know that those little marble hexagons are a complete bitch to lay. So when I came back a few hours after setting the tile, I had a mental breakdown when I realized that the tiles were a smidge higher around the drain, which meant the water would most likely pool around the drain instead of going down the drain.

It’s fixed now, but I realized that it would have been better for me to take a few minutes/hours/days along to think about a problem I was having vs. making quick decisions just to check things off the list.

And again, the perfect segway into my next tip…

Do it right the first time

Time wasn’t on my side during this 8 week remodel and when things got hard, I had no choice but to keep pushing through.

If you’re impatient like I am, one of the greatest challenges you’ll encounter (whether you DIY or hire out) is being patient. Patience with yourself and with whoever you hire is a virtue, and if you get frustrated just *please* remember that it’s better to do it right the first time than to go back and fix a mistake.

There’s more than one way to do things

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If you’re educating yourself via the internet (aka YouTube University), prepare to find a million ways to do it. I ended up spending so many hours trying to figure out how to do the same thing when I should have picked a quality video and stuck to it vs. confusing myself by watching multiple videos.

Since there are so many different videos explaining how to do the exact same thing, and my advice is to follow instructional videos that:

+ Have at least a few thousand views

+ Come from a reputable source (Lowes/Home Depot, a channel with a ton of subscribers)

+ Have more positive comments than negative comments. It’s also entertaining to read how many “you have no idea wtf you’re doing bro” in the comments. Some contractors have zero chill when they’re hiding behind a computer screen, and often times I found myself with a bag of popcorn scrolling through all the comments.

+ Have validation from others who used the video and comment that the video helped with their own project

Take a ton of photos and measure EVERYTHING before the demo

Photos are imperative not only for a good before/after but because as you’re moving from step to step, you’ll most likely have to refer back to photos for one reason or another.

For example, our old shower didn’t have a curb since it was fiberglass with a door, so I had to figure out where the previous shower started along the wall so I could create a new curb. I referred back to old photos and measurements I had taken along the wall and shower, which ended up saving me a lot of guessing and additional hairs from falling out of my head.

But what I didn’t take enough photos of was close-ups of the old shower system, which caused some setbacks in trying to choose a new shower system.

If you have to second guess yourself about whether you need to measure or take photos of something, just do it. 

The one mistakes I didn’t make (but almost did):

Stepping outside my comfort zone during the design phase

This tip is only if you own your home/are planning on living there for a while

The #1 thing I learned is that you’ll be happier with the final design if you step outside of your comfort zone during the design phase. Meaning, if you love something that isn’t loved amongst common folk (aka someone who would be interested in buying your house), then take the leap on the unique look you desire because you’re the one who will be living with it for a long time.

Don’t go with safe options when it comes to designing your bathroom (or anything in your home) if it’s something you truly love and are planning on being there for a while. I would not recommend this to anyone who either rents or is planning on selling their house anytime soon.

Use this post to figure out whether you’re buying something you truly love or if it’s just a trend you’re lusting over.

Curious to see the week-by-week transformation? Check out my posts below and the “ORC” recap in my IG story highlights!

Week 1 | Week 2  |  Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 (the reveal)

If you decide to tackle a bathroom reno yourself, I promise you can do it. Just don’t forget to pour yourself a glass of vino when things get hard.

xo

Alisa

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7 thoughts on “Mistakes I Made During A DIY Bathroom Renovation”

  1. Hello there! I could have sworn I’ve visited this website before but after browsing through many
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  2. Hey,
    Wonderful real life experience you have shared with us! I learned a lot many things from your post. Actually, we must do those things which we are expert(the challenge is another thing ):). Even, I did big mistakes when I was remodeling my bathroom. I haven’t selected the ventilation properly and the power was low. Another one is, I used dull lighting instead of a bright one. I have changed them and now it’s a perfect one.
    BTW, thank you for sharing your experience and advising a better solution.

  3. I love that mirror you found. I recently did a quick update of my one and only full bath, so I didn’t touch the tub/shower, but I put in a larger vanity and top, too large , but for now it’ll work. The mirror and the color of the wall really set its style. Mine has a thick large frame, but really like how yours is framed. Was it a store bought item or a great find at a for a market or similar?

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