DC Bathroom Remodeling: Video Tips Part 2 – Sound Transmission, Proper Sloping and More

We are thrilled to be sharing our home design and renovation tips with you each week. It is our intent to provide you with as many valuable tips as possible to help you better prepare for your next big home design and remodeling project. Think of us as your partners each step of the way!

For the next several weeks we will be sharing DC Bathroom Remodeling tips. Here is the link to last week’s tips. Without further ado, here are your tips for this week!

Elizabeth Mitchel
Partner at Finesse Design Remodeling

Another concern that comes up in our initial consultations with homeowners is sound transmission within bathrooms. This is especially the case when the bathroom is in a more common area such as off the living space.

What we recommend to relieve this concern is to insert sound batt insulation into the wall stud cavities. If this is something you don’t currently have in your bathroom, then this may be something you’d like to ask your contractor to incorporate into your upcoming bathroom renovation.

Brian Bielski
Partner at Finesse Design Remodeling

Another problem that we encounter, especially on these older D.C. homes, is that we come to a lot of flipped homes in which a developer or a contractor bought the home, and he or she flipped it for quick money. These tend to be less than professional contractors, and many times they’re a jack of all trades where one person is doing the electrical, plumbing and mechanical.

Unfortunately, these contractors are not really aware of the proper techniques of sloping the drains. They’re also not necessarily aware of the proper codes for sizing the pipes, and this can cause a problem with fixtures not draining right, and also with toilets burping. I’ve come into a home and looked at the crawl space and seen the waste actually pitched back towards the fixtures, which is not a good problem to have.

We hope you found these tips helpful!

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DC Bathroom Remodeling: Valuable Tips for a Low to No Maintenance Bathroom

DC Kitchen Remodeling

Your bathroom should be one of the cleanest rooms in your home. This is especially true if you want your bathroom to serve your functional needs, and be a mecca for you to relax and unwind after a grueling day at work.

However, let’s face it, if you are like most homeowners living in Washington, D.C., then you more than likely don’t want to spend any spare time restoratively cleaning and maintaining your bathroom. You’d much rather be spending your time relaxing and enjoying your home with those you love.

If you are thinking of remodeling your bathroom in 2017, then below are some tips to consider in making sure you have a bathroom that is easy to maintain.

Go with the Right Countertops

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The idea of having a bathroom that is simple to clean and maintain is extremely attractive for many D.C. homeowners. Solid countertops, for instance, are an attractive option over tile as you don’t have to worry about scrubbing grout lines filled with dirt and debris.

HGTV shares several options of bathroom counters to consider. We have highlighted a few below with the solid surface being our top recommendation for low to no maintenance.

  • Quartzite. This is a natural stone and is one of the pricier options, but it is extremely durable and low-maintenance because of its density. Scratches can be easily buffed out with a fine-grade sandpaper. Also, the surface can handle the high heat from curling irons, blow dryers and more.
  • Granite and marble. Can also be pricey but is usually a bit less than Quartzite and will provide you with a greater resale value for your home. Granite and marble bathroom countertops can handle heat and wear. However, the one thing to be cognizant of is that granite must be sealed to repel grease from bathroom products, and marble must be sealed as well because it is very porous and stains easily.
  • Manufactured Stone. Products such as Silestone, Caesarstone, and Cambria are often as attractive as some of the granite and marble options but also offer a wide variety of options for a more contemporary aesthetic. These products are also very durable and can handle wear and tear. Many of the entry level pricing groups are available at a much more affordable price than natural stone alternatives.
  • A go-to vanity countertop material if your budget is tight. This is because of its versatility and ability to stand up to water and resist stains. Laminate is also available in an assortment of finishes, including ones that mimic natural surfaces and granite. The one downside to laminate is that without maintaining proper caulking/sealing around the sinks, excessive exposure to water can cause it to de-laminate. Laminate will also burn and can dull over time.

Take Measures to Prevent Moisture Buildup and Mold Growth

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Mold growth can lead to some serious health concerns. The best way to control mold growth in your bathroom is to control moisture.

  • Make sure you have proper ventilation. If your bathroom has a window but not a fan, then you should consider adding one. If adding a fan isn’t feasible now then each time you run a hot bath or shower, you should open your bathroom window to prevent condensation from building up. You should also consider replacing any single glazed windows as these tend to be colder and are more likely to attract condensation. Lastly, while you may think that opening a bathroom door might help with preventing condensation buildup, it won’t. This will only spread the water vapor to other rooms in your home, which can lead to condensation buildup in those rooms.
  • Use the exhaust fan. Bathrooms without windows must have a working exhaust fan appropriately sized for the bathroom. In order to properly work, the exhaust fan needs to have the appropriate duct work installed to transport the moist air in your bathroom to the exterior of the home.
  • Consider demistable Steam from a hot shower or bath can cause your mirrors to steam up quick, leading to condensation. While wiping down steamed mirrors following a hot bath or shower is recommended, you can go with demistable mirrors that automatically do this job for you. Demistable mirrors are fitted with heating pads that keep the surface of the mirror warm, therefore giving no chance for condensation to form as it requires a cold surface. You can also buy heating pads separately to upgrade your current bathroom mirrors.
  • Bonus tip for glass shower/tub enclosures. Go with a special coating to prevent soap scum and grime from building up on the shower glass. You can use a special coating such as EnduroShield® as a non-stick application on your glass shower panels to make clean up much easier which will help you save time and keep a low-maintenance bathroom.

Prevent Staining with an Epoxy Grout Filler

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Many websites, or even general contractors, will tell you to avoid having too many grout lines in your bathroom because they are hard to maintain and keep clean. Well, this can be the case with standard cement grout filler. Epoxy grout, however, is becoming more popular these days as the grout is extremely durable, almost completely stain proof and resists mildew build-up.

Regular cement grout is not stainproof, and it can absorb water when it gets wet. This causes the floor to stain easily, which results in you spending more time scrubbing!

Epoxy grout, on the other hand, is formulated with epoxy resins and a filler powder, making it very waterproof and better suited to harsher cleaning agents. Epoxy also provides greater chemical resistance and bond strength. In other words, with epoxy grout filler, you will not have to scrub dirt from your tile joints.

What’s the point of having a beautifully designed bathroom if it is difficult to maintain? With these tips, you can have a low-to-no maintenance bathroom, which can help you avoid the aggravation of having to spend your spare time to keep your bathroom looking new.

We hope you found our tips this week helpful. For more valuable tips, simply subscribe for free below to receive our weekly content, which includes a video tip of the week and our 5-point bathroom remodeling checklist.

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DC Bathroom Remodeling: Tips of the Week – GFI’s and Waterproofing

We are thrilled to be sharing our home design and renovation tips with you each week. It is our intent to provide you with as many valuable tips as possible to help you better prepare for your next big home design and remodeling project. Think of us as your partners each step of the way!

For the next several weeks we will be sharing bathroom tips. Without further ado, let’s get started!

Elizabeth Mitchel
Partner at Finesse Design Remodeling

One of the common problems homeowners talk to us about in our initial consultations is that when they use their hair dryer in the mornings, it unintentionally trips the circuit back on the panel cutting off the power to the hair dryer. This is a terrible inconvenience in the morning when you are trying to rush and get ready by having to leave the bathroom, flip the panel switch, then run back to the bathroom to resume your morning routine. The way to avoid this is by making sure that the GFI outlet is on a dedicated circuit and not piggybacked off other outlets in the home.

What we like to do is make sure those GFI outlets are on a dedicated circuit directly back to a panel, so you never have to worry about being stuck with flipping a circuit ever again.

Brian Bielski
Partner at Finesse Design Remodeling

One of the biggest problems that we find in bathrooms that have been built before the homeowner decides to go through a major remodel is waterproofing. We see a lot of damp ceilings, spots on the ceiling, wet spots in adjacent rooms. Because of the contractor that built it before we got there didn’t take proper waterproofing measures. We take great care to make sure we do waterproof properly using things like Schluter, RedGard®, or vinyl pan liners, and this is tested before we close a job.

We hope you found these tips helpful!

To receive our weekly tips, simply submit your first name and email address below. You will also receive our free copy of our 5-point bathroom remodeling checklist – a must have for your future bathroom remodeling project.

Send my free weekly home remodeling tips and 5-point bathroom remodeling checklist: 

*Check your email for confirmation once you select the submit button above.

D.C. Home Remodeling: How to Save Time and Create a Retreat in Your Bathroom

You may want to rethink your interior spending dollars in 2017. According to home experts at Houzz, “the bathroom is the hangout spot of choice these days.” Survey results from “The 2016 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study reports that nearly two-thirds of the respondents spend 30-60 minutes a day in their home bathrooms.”

Whether you are in a rush in the mornings or need a sanctuary to unwind in the evenings, your bathroom needs to be designed to serve your functional and style needs. While it may sound odd, the greatest intellects throughout history specifically designed their bathrooms to serve their everyday needs, and help inspire creativity.

Greek mathematician, physicist, and inventor Archimedes, for instance, discovered buoyancy in his bathtub. According to legend, “he was so excited that he jumped out of his bath and ran naked through the streets of Syracuse shouting, ‘Eureka!’ (I have found it).”

Then there is the bathroom of Dr. Yoshiko Nakamatsu, who patented more than 3,300 inventions including the floppy disk. Dr. Nakamatsu’s bathroom was his sanctuary, known as the “Calm Room” – a bathroom tiled in 24 karat gold that would block out radio waves and television signals in which he felt would disrupt his imagination.

Of course, you don’t need to have the most decked out bathroom(s) lavished with gold to help you save time and create an oasis to inspire creative thought. This is especially true if you are a D.C. homeowner as space is extremely limited.

Thankfully, however, there are several tips you can incorporate in your D.C. home bathrooms to help you save time and unwind. A few of these tips we have highlighted below:

Saving Time in Your Bathroom

Tip #1: Change Your Shower Head

Change your shower head - rain shower

If you want to get the enjoyable experience of standing outside in a summer rain shower, try considering a rain shower head for your D.C. Home Remodeling. A rain shower head functions like rain, thus the name, and “pours” water onto your entire body, unlike the traditional shower heads that can only be moved in limited angles and don’t create that experience. It’s also great to couple a hand-held shower with your rain can. This is a great way to supplement the rain can because you can rinse your hair, your dog, and the shower glass with a more forceful spray when needed. A great way to save time in the morning is to consider adding a second shower head so perhaps you and your significant other could use the shower at the same time.

Tip #2: Consider Your Sink

Consider your sink

If you live alone, then a single sink may be all you need. However, if you share your bathroom with your spouse, significant other, or roommate, your own sink with ample counter and storage area can be a time saver. Plus, if you like to keep up with your bathroom appearance, then having your own sink and separate space will help you control the clutter and cleanliness. Sharing a sink with someone who is untidy can bring about frustration. Who wants to share a sink with someone who doesn’t clean up their toothpaste stains?

Tip #3: Keep Everything in Place

Keep everythin in place

While fixtures are important inside the bathroom, make sure you also have a small storage cabinet where you can keep all the necessary toiletries and items for the bathroom. Incorporating an outlet into a storage cabinet during your D.C. Home Remodeling can allow for discrete charging of many bathroom appliances, such as electric toothbrushes and razors. Having these items in accessible places and in proper order will keep your bathing a breeze and save a little more of your time.

Creating Your Bathroom Retreat

Tip #1: Choose the Right Tones for Your Bathroom

Choose the right tones for your bathroom

Neutral colors and natural tones can give a subtle effect on your bathroom. White reflects more light and looks cleaner compared to some of your darker colors. Also, adding a hint of green, brown or tan can give your bathroom a reflection of nature’s natural beauty.

Tip #2: Soften the Lights, Add Windows

Soften the lights, add windows

You don’t have to place an excessive amount of lighting inside your bathroom, especially if you already use lighter tones for your D.C. Home Remodeling.  A few thoughtfully placed lights can be more than enough. Windows will let natural light illuminate your bathroom and all the solar gain will help to heat and give your bathroom a spa-like feel.

Tip #3: Add Furniture and Fixtures that Set the Spa Mood

Add furniture and fixtures that set the spa mood

If space permits for your D.C. Home Remodeling, then adding fixtures that are common in spas can put you in a great mood after your bath. Mirrors, candles and a little bit of greenery inside your bathroom can also enhance your mood and let you enjoy your private time. You can even play your favorite music in the shower or through the bathtub with a variety of products which sync to your phone’s playlist. Some other luxury options to aide in bathroom relaxation include chromotherapy lighting, steam showers, towel warmers, heated seats or backrests, and shower body jets or air jet tubs.

Don’t take your bathroom for granted. Applying these D.C. Home Remodeling tips can help you have a luxurious bathroom experience despite the limited space. Make the best out of your bathroom and experience the retreat you’ve always wanted.

Bonus: Your Free 5-Point Bathroom Remodeling Checklist

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Remodeling your bathroom can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you own a home in D.C. where space is extremely limited. We have put together a free 5-point checklist for your next bathroom remodeling project. This list is chock-full of tips, insights, and questions that you need to have answered when remodeling your bathroom.

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The 5-point Checklist for Your D.C. Bathroom Remodeling Project

Remodeling a bathroom can be overwhelming. This is especially true with homes in Washington, D.C. as interior space is extremely limited.

To ensure your bathroom renovation runs smoothly, we here at Finesse Design Remodeling have put together a quick checklist for you to use, which can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed throughout this project. For the full 5-point checklist with added tips (including a special bonus tip) click here.


Bathroom 1

Just like with any project you are about to embark on, the first question you need to have answered is ‘how much should I afford to spend for my D.C. Bathroom Remodeling?’

Setting a budget will help guide you as you make decisions about what to include and exclude, the level of craftsmanship you expect, and the quality of materials you want to incorporate into your bathroom renovation.

And, knowing your budget will help you to choose which contractors to reach out to because pricing will vary considerably since not all contractors offer the same level of quality and service.

So, you need to determine what is more important to you – cost or value?  Information online can be skewed and price depends on the region you live in. Some information suggests that a bathroom remodel costs as little as $6,000 – $9,000.00 – way too small of a budget for a full remodeling job!

For this range, you may replace the shower tile or some of the fixtures but that doesn’t constitute a full remodel.

Other sources suggest that a full bath remodel should cost $10,000 – $16,000.00. This could be the case so long as you don’t rearrange the layout and you limit your selections to lower end products, or plan to re-use some of the existing fixtures.

So, if you are going the cost route, then your best bet may be to stick with off the shelf products and fixtures you can buy at Home Depot or Lowes. However, if you truly want a bathroom that suits your design and function criteria, then your best bet is to go the custom route. If you are considering selling your home in the future, a well-designed bathroom will realize more value at resale. Achieving this will require some design expertise to help you navigate the way.

Here are some additional questions to have answered when deciding on your budget and which contractor to hire for your D.C. Bathroom Remodeling:

Will your contractor include?

  • Design and materials selections?
  • Permits and inspections?
  • Licensed plumbers and electricians?
  • New dedicated circuits included for lighting and GFCI plugs, or is the contractor assuming the current wiring schematic is adequate?


Bathroom 2

Just because you have a small bathroom does not mean it will take a lot less time than a large bathroom to remodel. The same materials need to be ordered (e.g. cabinets, light fixtures, and tile), which will take time to be delivered and installed.

Also, depending on the number of items you are replacing in your bathroom, your hired contractor will need to go through all the same steps he and/or
she would have to go through with larger bathrooms.

Lastly, if the bathroom you are remodeling is the only bathroom in your home, then this is something you must consider as well during your bathroom renovation. You don’t want to be stuck in a precarious situation in which need to rely on your neighbor’s home to use their bathroom, or the nearest McDonald’s.

Added tip: a “full gut” and remodel of a typical bath should take two and a half to four weeks. If someone promises under two weeks, then chances are your bathroom remodel will not turn out favorably.

Hidden Problems

Bathroom 3

Based on your initial consultation with your contractor, the renovation seems like it will go according to plan, suddenly, however, there are hidden problems once work begins for your D.C. Bathroom Remodeling.

Regardless of the age of your home, the biggest hidden problem you can encounter is water damage.

It is important to look for structural deficiencies in the floor framing, plumbing that may not be adequately vented, old or damaged plumbing, tile shower/tub surrounds that aren’t waterproof, and more.

If you are doing a major bathroom remodel, then it is ideal for you to consider doing a “full gut” renovation. Hiring the right professional design/build firm will help ensure your bathroom remodeling process is enjoyable because your firm will be able to creatively solve any problems that arise, your bathroom will function flawlessly, and the remodel will add significant value to your home.

Here are some additional considerations for potential hidden problems:

  • Inadequate sub-flooring, which can cause ceramic tile to crack
  • Improper toilet flange and/or wax ring installation causing leakage and sub-floors to rot
  • Circuits that aren’t ground fault protected, which can cause shock or electrocution hazard
  • Waste vent system improperly done or undersized, causing toilets to burp, and slowing the drainage of sinks and tubs

These are just a few considerations to have in mind for your next D.C. Bathroom Remodeling project. For our full 5-point checklist, which includes exclusive tips and questions you want to have answered simply provide your first name and email address below, and your free copy will be sent to you.

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