Seven Stylish Bathroom Remodel Considerations

Seven Stylish Bathroom Remodel Considerations

A bathroom remodel comes second to a kitchen remodeling in adding value to your home. Aside from its economic thrust, it brings in a fresher look and ambience to your sanctuary. More so, it can be a great way to pamper yourself as you start the day or after a long day’s work.

Start with your renovation plans today and check out these eight remodeling ideas.


Today, almost every bathroom improvement includes a vanity. The vanity’s use is typically threefold: it holds your sink in place, hides the plumbing, and provides storage. It can be mounted or free-standing, and is celebrated for its functionality and aesthetic value.

Your vanity can be made of stone or wood or both. Most contemporary vanities use stone materials like granite for the countertop and wood for the cabinetry.


Common sink choices include vessels, pedestal, floating, and under-mounted sinks. The most preferred sink today is the undermount known for its sleek look and ease of cleaning. Vessel sinks remain an option for a dramatic flair.


Storage is always at a premium in a bathroom. When designing, it is a good idea to list everything that you want to store in the bathroom and design according to those needs. Most storage is provided by cabinetry including vanities, linen cabinets.

As you crease your inventory list, indicate where in the bathroom each item goes down to the drawer. This will ensure that you end up with enough storage space and a countertop that is less cluttered.

Decorative and Functional Windows

A major decision for your remodel is windows. They provide natural light, ventilation, visual appeal, and connection to the outdoors.

Connection to the outdoors can be tricky, as the bathroom is typically considered the most private room in the home. Privacy strategies include shutters, obscure glass or glass blocks, and even private gardens. But it is worth every effort because you just can’t beat natural light.

One element that we discourage in our hot humid climate is a skylight. Though they have a great appeal, most people will not find that appeal worth the cost when monthly utility bills are considered. 80% of a home’s energy is lost, or in our climate gained, through the roof. Skylights provide a significant amount of heat gain in our climate.


Re-tiling your floor is another point of consideration when remodeling your bathrooms. There are infinite options when mixing and matching accents and trims.

Tile is a common choice for floors, tub surrounds, showers, and backsplashes. It allows for color, texture, and size considerations. For the floor, we recommend either small tiles, especially in the shower, or textured to provide a slip resistant surface.

Schematic Colors

Contemporary trends use minimalist colors with the omnipresent white and complementary light, solid colors. Light colors work well for highly polished finishes as well as natural materials, and provide a cleaner feel. Neutral colors work well for small spaces and can easily be accented with accessories like towels.

Learn 5 Key Reasons Why You Need a Remodeling General Contractor!

The Shower

The most common request we get in bathroom remodels these days is to remove a tub and enlarge or add a shower. Gone are the days when the major consideration was reselling value. After years of insisting that every bathroom had to have a bath and a shower, the real estate industry has realized that most people shower.

Many are taking all tubs of their home while some maintain at least one tub for bathing children. While there are few things as relaxing as soaking in a warm tub, few have the time and those who do often opt for an outdoor hot tub.


Toilets have revolutionized in recent years. Largely motivated by water conservation, we now have more styles and options than ever before. But, engineering has not always kept up with design.

The number one complaint for toilets these days is the restricted functionality. The restriction to 1.6 gallons per flush is great for water conservation, but not always so great for getting the job done.

Functionality varies from brand to brand. Most brands have typical functions while there others that work better. In our experience, every Toto toilet works well.

Roll-In Shower Remodel

There are many options when considering an ADA size specific, roll-in shower remodel. Although the primary need may be for wheelchair accessibility, a roll-in shower can also provide style and beauty to any bathroom.

As you can see, the aesthetic flow of the bathroom was not interrupted by converting the existing shower into one that is more accessible.

The modern look of these showers also give your bathroom a sense of high-end, spa-like luxury that is completely functional.

For more information on bathroom remodeling contact Stearns Design-Build.

Smart Choices for Bathroom Flooring

Tile may be the traditional bathroom choice for most, but it’s not the only flooring type that performs well in a wet environment. Like any other flooring, bathroom flooring should be chosen with style, durability, and comfort in mind. A bathroom floor must be able to handle moisture and humidity from daily use and the appearance of sudden leaks. Choosing the right bathroom floor that can handle the required amount of water that sneaks its way onto your floor is the first hurdle that you will have to jump. It’s normal for a certain amount water to end up on the floor. Wet spots are usually caused by drips that occur as you get out of the shower or from the occasional overspray. These minor mishaps can be easily cleaned up but it is the month and the years of the small beads of water dripping around the rim of a shower base that could turn into a nightmare for any home owner as the years roll by. Also the bathroom is the one place in the house which contains the most plumbing, making it the place more likely to spring a leak.  In addition to the water that you can see, you also have to take into account the water that you cannot see – humidity, which affects some types of flooring more than others. To help you think about the right type of bathroom flooring for your home here are a few choices.


Tile is most likely the first option that comes to mind when you think of bathroom flooring and for good reason. It is the most popular and most commonly used flooring type. Its popularity stems from the fact that it can handle water well and comes in almost an endless variety of styles. You can chose from ceramic, porcelain, natural stone, or even glass. One downside to tile is that it is tough on your back if you stand on it for a long period. Also, in a room, where you are often barefoot, it can be cold. Other important factors to consider when shopping for tile are porosity and slip resistance. The higher the porosity of the tile, the more water it is likely to be absorb. The determining factors are the body of the tile and the surface of the glaze if used.

Grout Matters when installing Tile:

No matter how thin a grout line is it still tends to catch dirt. To reduce the appearance of dirt as much as possible make sure to choose a grout with a low absorption rate. The lower the absorption rate, the more resistant the grout is to staining and discoloration.


Linoleum was largely ignored for much of the 1960’s all the way up to the 1990’s. However it has made a comeback in the last 15 years, due largely to its status as a green product. Modern linoleum is often made of all natural products such as linseed oil, wood flour, limestone, etc., which are biodegradable and have little or no VOC (volatile organic compound) emission. It can be installed using solvent-free adhesive and is naturally water resistant. Linoleum is also homogeneous throughout, which means that its appearance show less wear and tears. It requires only a little sweeping and occasional mopping.


Another type of flooring that many people do not know exists as a bathroom flooring choice is cork. Cork flooring is made from bark that is harvested from the Cork Tree (Quercus Suber), which regenerates after the harvest. The bark can be re-harvested every 9-10 years without damaging the tree. Regulated forests, mainly in Spain &Portugal, are the producers of cork. Unlike bamboo, cork is a true green building choice. We at Stearns Design-Build recommend cork flooring due to its, sustainability, rot resistance, comfort, dent resistance, durability, and low acoustics. It is a healthy choice for the environment and people with no VOCs and it is a natural insect repellent with anti-microbial properties. Cork is also easy to maintain – a damp mop is all that is needed for efficient cleaning.


Today’s vinyl can imitate almost any bathroom flooring choice you can imagine in both appearance and texture. Vinyl flooring is composed of multiple layers: a wear layer, a decorative layer, a foam core, and a backing made of either felt or fiberglass. Fiberglass backing is generally the best choice for bathrooms because the felt backing reacts to water. The Fiberglass backing has a layer of vinyl on the bottom, making the product completely waterproof. Maintenance for vinyl is minimal, only requiring sweeping and mopping and the use of some manufacturer recommended products.


Another durable and stylish choice for bathroom flooring that has become a trend in recent years is concrete flooring. Concrete flooring lends a modern, industrial look, which is quickly catching on. It can be poured using local ingredients lending to its green appeal. Concrete also handles water well if sealed properly, which is an ongoing maintenance issue. On the other hand, concrete almost always feels cold to the touch. Daily maintenance for concrete flooring is minimal, requiring only minor sweeping and some mopping when needed. But you should check the sealer of the floor every year. If a drop of water beads up, the floor is well sealed, but if it absorbs into the concrete, apply a fresh coat of sealer. This rule of thumb applies to all flooring.

Setting Tile

Bathroom College Station General Contractor

Bathroom College Station General Contractor

Finally, it is time to start laying tile.  Your surface is prepared and you have your layout on paper. Now you need to get the layout onto the surface to be tiled.  This can be done using a chalk line to snap lines indicating where the tile goes.  It is not necessary to snap a line for every row but it is a good idea to mark a starting row and then mark about every fourth row in both directions. It is best to mark the lines of the edge of the tile that will be closest to you as you are tiling.   To preserve the marks you can lightly go over them with a clear acrylic spray from a can.

Tile is set into either a ready to spread mastic or a thinset mortar that is mixed as you work.  We prefer to work with Thinset, as it has a better bond and is more flexible to environmental conditions and size of project.


It is important to pay attention to The details of mixing thinset mortar; this will determine the strength of the bond that holds the tile to the substrate. We recommend using a polymer modified thinset.  This is especially important here in the Brazos Valley where our clay soils cause foundation movement.  If you are mixing large batches of thinset, it is a good idea to use a five gallon bucket and a paddle made for mixing mortar (not paint) chucked into a ½” drill.

It is important to maintain a clean bucket and paddle.  Old dried or drying thinset can act as a catalyst and cause the fresh batch to setup more quickly than you want. Always use clean water to mix thinset and grout.

Add the water first and then the dry mix.  Mixing it until it is the constancy that you want. It should be something like cake frosting, stiff but easily spreadable. Try not to get crazy with the paddle; you want to avoid mixing in too much air as this will compromise its bounding strength.  Now it’s time to let it slake (rest) for 10 minutes.  This allows any remaining clumps to absorb moisture and dissolve into the mix. Mix one more time and you are ready.


Now that your thinset is ready,  and work surface is clean, you’re ready to start laying some tile. But wait, temperature is important when setting tile.  Ideally it will be between 65° and 75° but here in the Brazos Valley we sometimes have to push the envelope.  In both cooler and hotter temperatures you will want to spread less at a time.  Also try not to work in direct sunlight as this will cause the thinset to harden too quickly. Never try to set tile when it is freezing. 

You will need the right trowel for setting the size tile that you are working with. If you are setting tile that is between 4” and 8” Use a ¼”X ¼” notch. If your tile is between 8” and 16” you will need a ¼” X 3/8” Trowel and if your tile is larger than 16” you will need a ½”X ½” trowel.

Start by spreading thinset onto the work surface using the unnotched side of your trowel. Spread an even layer about the thickness of your notchs. Spread the thinset with a low angle pressing down to force the material into the pores of your work surface. Now using the notched side of the trowel you will rack groves into the thinset.  Hold the trowel at about a 45° angle. Maintaining a constant angle is important. Uneven ridges will result in uneven tile. As you start out, it is a good idea to not spread too much at a time. Not only will this prevent the thinset from drying too much before you have set to it, it will also help you keep the ridges more consistent. As you reach longer distances, it is harder to maintain a consistent angle.


Remember to work your way out of a room. Tile needs at least 24 hours before being walked on. Most of the time you will want to set full tiles before beginning to work on cut tiles.  As you lay tile it is a good idea to use a thin margin trowel to remove thinset from the grout lines before you set then next tile. It is far easier to do it before you lay the tile than after. You do not want the thinset to show through the grout.  And, a thinner grout line that has thinset in it will crack more easily. When thinset gets on the surface of the tile have a damp cloth handy to wipe it off right away.

Next time: grouting.

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Tile Layout

 Tile is a finish that many homeowners are willing to tackle on their own as a remodel project.  While getting tile down is not difficult, a quality tile job requires a lot of attention to detail and a fair amount of finesse.  Most of our clients who have laid tile in the past are happy to let us take on the task now.  Nonetheless, tiling can be fun and provide a nice sense of accomplishment.  In this series of blog entries, we will try to help provide information that can be important when looking at a tile job.

It is a good idea to make your layout a part of the design process.  We like to map the layout on the computer but it can also be done on a piece of graph paper with a pencil.  Proper layout that avoids tiny pieces of tile and considers major sight lines helps create a sense of craft.


Before you can start the layout process several decisions will have to have been made.  Obviously the tile will have to have been selected.  Many tiles come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  The width of the grout lines will need to be known.  Also are their accents or trim pieces that will need to be worked into the layout.

Starting point

Start your layout from primary place that the tile will be seen.  Center your pattern on the most prominent spot.  This is often the in front of the primary entry into the room, or the wall that is most commonly seen.  In a bathroom consider that the most commonly seen tile may be from a reflection in a mirror. Try to arrange full tiles in this area.  Now extend your pattern in all directions adjusting to avoid sliver cuts.


NEVER tile to the base board pinching it in behind the tile.  This will create a condition that encourages rot. It changes the scale of your base trim making it look too narrow.  Also do not fail to cut your door jambs and casings up so that the tile can slip under them.  These are telltale signs of a poor job.  Sadly this is often found in work done by low end “professionals.”

Often shoe mold will create an extra generous coverage for tile at the intersection of the wall.  We prefer to tuck the tile under the baseboard and eliminate the shoe mold.  This requires a tighter job that will take a little more time, but we think that the clean lines are worth the effort. Shoe mold tends to get scuffed and catch a lot of spills that would otherwise be caught by a mop.

Starting your job with a good pre-planned layout is the first step in creating a quality tile job.  This will also allow the job to flow much more smoothly. So start dreaming about a tile job that you would like to do.  Then again you can always call us to do the work.  Knowing the essential elements of your job will help create a deeper appreciation of a good job.