Taking on a bathroom renovation project may seem like a great way to upgrade your home and increase its value. But without proper planning and awareness of what to avoid, your bathroom makeover can become a frustrating mess. A poorly executed kitchen and bath remodel affects your day-to-day life and leaves you wishing you just left things as they were. 

Don’t let your renovation project become one of these bathroom remodeling horror stories. Do your research, set a realistic budget, hire professionals when needed, and heed this advice to steer clear of common pitfalls when renovating your bathroom.

DIYing Too Much of the Work

Ambitious DIYers can run into trouble when they try to tackle every aspect of a bathroom renovation themselves to save money. While small cosmetic updates like painting and adding new accessories make fine DIY projects, extensive structural work, and plumbing should be left to the professionals. 

Botching the installation of shower tile, laying flooring improperly, or making mistakes with electrical and plumbing work in a bathroom remodel can cause huge headaches down the road. Know your limits as an inexperienced renovator be bold and hire a general contractor to oversee the renovation.

Bathroom with open shelving, shower and toilet

Choosing the Wrong Design Elements

It’s easy to get caught up in trendy bathroom designs seen on TV shows or social media. But not all popular bathroom elements stand the test of time or function well for your needs. Rushing through the design process or failing to consider how you use your bathroom can lead to mistakes like:

  • Installing a tiny vessel sink that’s impractical for hand-washing
  • Selecting stylish but uncomfortable metal or concrete floors
  • Choosing elaborate tile patterns that appear gaudy later
  • Putting in a shower stall that’s too small to be useful
  • Using open shelving that leads to clutter or lack of storage

Take time to think about which materials and layouts will cater to your lifestyle and last beyond the latest fad.

Inadequate Ventilation

Poor ventilation leads to mold, mildew, and general stuffiness – major issues in a room where you bathe and get ready every day. During bathroom renovations, make ventilation a priority. Use a professional contractor experienced with bathroom ventilation needs. Options like an exterior venting fan, a vent that runs to the roof, or operable windows can clear moisture far better than an interior fan alone. Don’t cut corners on proper ventilation during your bathroom remodel.

Prioritizing Style Over Function

Aesthetics are important in a bathroom remodel, but not at the expense of useful features that meet your family’s needs. Sacrificing adequate storage to make a bathroom look bigger can mean cluttered countertops or a lack of space for toiletries. Skipping useful additions like built-in shelving, drawers, cabinets, and towel racks means you’ll struggle with organization later.

And very trendy finishes like bold, dark colors or slick tile floors may end up feeling cold and uncomfortable rather than chic. The most successful bathroom remodels balance attractive elements with smart storage solutions and cozy yet practical finishes.

Picking the Wrong Tile

Tile can make or break the look of your new bathroom, so smart tile choices are key. Some common tile mix-ups lead to disappointing results:

  • Using poor quality tile: Flimsy, uneven, cracked, or loosely set tiles signal shortcuts were taken. Invest in high-quality materials for your shower walls and floors.
  • Choosing the wrong material: Moisture-prone areas like showers require porcelain or ceramic tile rather than more porous natural stone.
  • Picking a bland tile color: Sticking with basic white everywhere can look sterile and cold. Include some color, texture, and visual interest with your tile choices.
  • Using tiny mosaic tiles: It may be pretty, but cleaning and grout maintenance on small tiles is a headache. Choose larger tile formats for easier upkeep.
  • Not planning out the pattern: Randomly placing tile can make walls and floors look choppy. Map it out before setting tiles for a cohesive look.

Dark bathroom with tub

Insufficient Lighting

Don’t underestimate how dim and gloomy a bathroom can feel with poor lighting. Ensure your new bathroom is bright and easily lit with strategies like:

  • Incorporating multiple light sources – overhead plus task lighting at the vanity
  • Choosing adequate wattage bulbs
  • Using fixtures with diffusers to prevent glare
  • Including natural light if possible with a window or skylight

Proper lighting prevents eyestrain and makes grooming much easier. It also makes the bathroom feel open and pleasant rather than dark and cramped.

Neglecting Accessibility Features

Universal design elements that improve accessibility and safety in a bathroom benefit everyone, from families with small children to those with mobility issues. Yet bathroom remodels frequently neglect these improvements. Planning can help you avoid a remodel that lacks access:

  • Wide doorways and open floor space
  • Grab bars and lever handles on fixtures
  • Easy access showers without high thresholds
  • Tall toilets and accessible vanity heights
  • Slip-resistant flooring
  • Comfort-height vanities and toilets
  • Contrasting colors between floors and walls

Bathroom with too much fixtures

Crowding Fixtures

Trying to fit his and her sinks, a separate tub and shower, a bidet, and more in a bathroom remodel can go awry fast. Too many fixtures crammed into a small space turn using the bathroom into an obstacle course. Measure carefully during planning and leave enough clearance around each fixture. One of the best bathroom remodeling ideas you can consider is skipping rarely-used items like bidets or jetted tubs if the room can’t accommodate everything comfortably. You want an open and relaxing bathroom, not cramped and chaotic.

Picking an Unqualified Contractor

Botched timelines, shoddy workmanship, blown budgets, and construction headaches often stem from hiring the wrong contractor. Don’t assume the lowest bid or a friend’s recommendation is the right choice for your bathroom renovation. Invest time in:

  • Finding contractors experienced specifically with bathroom remodels
  • Checking references and reviews of their previous bathroom projects
  • Comparing detailed bids and asking lots of questions
  • Verifying licenses, insurance, and warranties

A few weeks spent vetting general contractors or bathroom remodel specialists can prevent so many issues down the road.

Attempting DIY Plumbing

Attempting DIY Plumbing

One area where DIY repairs backfire in bathroom remodels involves plumbing. Unless you have professional plumbing experience, don’t try to install or replace bathroom plumbing like sinks, faucets, shower valves, toilets, or pipes yourself. Hiring a licensed plumber avoids mistaken pipe connections, leaks, and other water damage disasters.
Likewise, don’t take on bathroom electrical work unless you’re positive you know what you’re doing. Getting permits, proper materials, and experienced pros for the critical structural parts of a bathroom renovation is worth the investment.


A bathroom remodel offers the chance to create your dream space and boost the value of your home. But realizing that vision requires research, accurate planning, and realistic expectations about the process. Avoiding common bathroom renovation mistakes keeps the project on track and sets you up for a satisfactory result.
Use these tips to prevent easily avoidable errors on your next bathroom remodeling project. With careful choices and professional help when needed, you can avoid a bathroom remodel nightmare and end up with the gorgeous, functional bathroom you’ve imagined.