DIY bathroom makeover

How To Renovate Your Own Bathroom – Step-By-Step Guide

In this post, I’m going to show you exactly how we renovated our own ensuite bathroom with a shower screen replacement and much more! I’ve included some important tips that will save you time and money. We purchased our house last year and knew this was a job that needed doing. Since I had previous renovation knowledge and skills from our last property I felt confident to complete this job myself. (With a little help from a plasterer and electrician) Read on to see the amazing DIY bathroom renovation and some key learning points that will help you get it right the first time.

ensuite renovation final project

You’ll need to decide how far you want to go with your renovation. We decided to change the whole thing but you may only want to change the sink, and toilet or try installing a new shower.

A renovation doesn’t have to be a major piece of work. If you’re on a low budget, sometimes a good clean, a lick of paint or adding some plants can make a huge difference.

Here’s a quick look at the before and after. As you can see we’ve added a partitioning wall, moved the sink and toilet and installed a slightly larger shower enclosure.

If you’re thinking of taking on this job yourself, but you’re unsure if you have the skills, then don’t worry. I am self-taught for the majority of my home and garden renovations. You don’t have to be an expert in plumbing or tiling, but you do need to have the desire. The desire to learn a new skill and complete a job yourself is vitally important. If you don’t have the desire then you will be less likely to complete the job to a good level.

Skills required for a bathroom renovation

Here are some basic skills that you will need to take on a job like a bathroom renovation:

  • Tiling – If you’ve never tiled before, don’t worry. It’s a relatively easy skill to learn. There are loads of great YouTube videos to watch that will get you up to speed and you can practice on a piece of plasterboard before you do the real thing.
  • Basic plumbing – Again, watch some YouTube videos for the basics. I used plastic push-fit pipework to extend and move the necessary hot and cold water pipes. They are super easy to work with.
  • Flooring – We decided on a tiled floor but you may go for something cheaper like vinyl which is also super easy to fit.
  • Installing/moving a toilet – Super easy if you’re not moving it far. Simply connect the pipework inlet and the soil pipe securely.
  • Shower enclosure and mixer – This is one of the more tricky jobs but if you get the pipework in the right place then you shouldn’t have an issue.
  • Plastering – I tend to leave this to the professionals as they can do a much better job than me in a third of the time. If you fancy the challenge then YouTube is your friend.

There will be smaller jobs to think about but these are the main big ones. For me, this was the first time I’d installed a new shower mixer tap and moved a toilet. The other jobs I’d taken on before so I knew what I was doing.

My top bathroom DIY renovation tips

When working with any kind of water remember to always turn the main stopcock (stop valve) off before you do anything. These are normally located under the kitchen sink but will likely be somewhere else in older houses. If you have a hot water cylinder (rather than a combi boiler) make sure the isolation valve is off also. The last thing you want is boiling water spraying all over the place.

Ensure your connections are on properly and tightened correctly. Always test a new connection with the full water pressure. I’ve had a connecter pop off before and it wasn’t fun.

Take your time with the tiling and quickly take off a tile if it isn’t right. The adhesive will stick quickly but you will have enough time to adjust or replace one that isn’t straight.

Ensuite renovation – Step-by-step guide

Step 1. Remove all the existing bathroom items

Turn the stopcock off and check water isn’t flowing. Toilets can be unscrewed from the wall and floor. Shower enclosures, sinks and pedestals can also be unscrewed. Any water inlets can be released and stop-ends fixed to stop the water flow. The same applies for the shower mixer tap.

ensuite makeover empty room

The messy bit will be removing any existing tiles and flooring. Using a hammer and chisel these should peel away. Hopefully, the plasterboard underneath the tiles won’t get damaged during this process. If it does, the plasterboard will need to be replaced.

With everything removed it’s important to clean the area and remove rubble and dust. When all the water outlets have been capped off you can then turn the water back on at the stopcock. Retain any fixings like taps, mixer taps and toilet joins as this can make it easier when shopping for new fittings. You can take them to a DIY or bathroom store to find direct the right size fittings.

Most fittings will be universal sizes. Inlet pipes for hot and cold water for the ensuite will normally be 15mm.

Important note – Waste pipes differ in size for different units.

Ensuite UnitSize (diameter)
Toilet waste – Soil pipe110mm
Shower and bath waste40mm
Bathroom sink32mm

Step 2. Cleaning the walls

Before you can start tiling you will need a nice smooth surface to work on. Lumps or holes in the plasterboard need to be smoothed or you can replace the existing plasterboard. If you just have a few small holes these can be repaired with a ready mix plaster or filler.

smooth walls - ensuite renovation

Step 3. Checking the pipework

Now is the time to ensure all the hot and cold water inlet pipes are where they need to be. You’ll need a cold water feed for the toilet, a hot and cold for the shower and a hot and cold for the sink(s). You can extend or shorten these to suit your renovation. I used JG Speedfit and 15mm plastic pipes for getting everything in the correct place.

hot cold water pipes bathroom renovation

Step 4. The flooring

It’s a good idea to fit the flooring now as the other units will be fitted on top of this. You may choose to tile the floor, use vinyl flooring or another option could be wooden floorboards. It’s important to make sure your flooring is waterproof or you’ll ruin it within days. I fitted underfloor heating in our ensuite as a little added bonus. It, was straight forwards to fit but I hired an electrician to wire it up for me.

under floor heating installation

I used a self-levelling floor compound on top of the heating wires before laying the tiles.

ensuite floor tiling

Step 5. Installing the shower tray

Decide where you want the shower as the shower tray will be the first thing to install. This will sit flush against the wall and any waste pipes will need to be fitted. Ensure the shower tray is secured in place and there is no movement when standing on it.

install shower tray renovation

Step 6. Tiling the walls

With the shower tray in place, you can now tile around it and cover the walls you want. The tiles should sit on top of the shower tray to prevent water from leaking behind. The tiles can be placed in a pattern to suit you. There are many different patterns depending on the type of tile you have selected. The tiles can then be grouted and sealant placed around the bottom to stop water leaking underneath the shower tray.

ensuite renovation tiling

Step 7. Fitting the shower mixer tap

The mixer tap is normally fixed to the wall with a bracket or directly. The pipe will be fitted behind the unit. If the pipes are perfectly placed there shouldn’t be any trouble fixing this into place. It might be difficult to test the fitting until the shower enclosure is in place which is the next job.

gold shower mixer tap

Step 8. Installing the toilet

Mark out where the toilet will sit and ensure the 110mm soil pipe reaches to the correct location. These can be extended easily with push-fit extensions and flexible pipes. Also, check that the cold water in-feed will fit nicely into the cistern. Everything can then be secured in place. The cistern will sit on top of the toilet and secure to the wall.

toilet installation ensuite renovation

Step 9. The shower enclosure

The shower enclosure is the next piece to be fitted. The glassdoor for shower is easily fitted by screwing it to the wall. A tile drill piece will make it easier to drill holes. The shower enclosure is then sealed to the shower tray with a bathroom sealant.

shower enclosure installation

Step 10. Fitting the sink(s) and units

Our sinks sat on the double unit we purchased. The waste traps and waste pipes were fitted in place and then connected to the existing waste pipe. These were all screw and push-fit so super easy to fit. The hot and cold water inlet had to be split and fed to each tap. I used T joiners to accomplish this. Double check everything is tight and secure before switching the mains water back on.

dual sink waste trap setup ensuite renovation

I fitted the waste trap before sliding the unit back against the wall.

dual sink unit installation

Step 11. Finishing the room

The final stage of this ensuite renovation was to paint the walls, box in the pipework and add some skirting. Whilst the electrician was wiring up the underfloor heating I asked him to wire in two extra down-lights.

boxing in pipes
finishing sinks and unit

We managed to transform our ensuite for about £3500 by doing most of the work ourselves. Hiring a professional to do this job for you could add another £2000 to your budget. If you feel comfortable taking on this job and have the time then it’s a no brainer. If you need more inspiration and guidance for your bathroom makeover then you can check online as the internet is a great resource for DIY guides.

ensuite renovation complete

I hope you have found this post useful and that it has given you the confidence to have a go yourself. Just remember to do your research and speak to a professional if you are unsure about anything. A plumbing shop will have staff on to help answer any questions you might have.

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