The special-order fixtures, fittings, shower pan, tile and glass block panel can take weeks to get in hand, so do the necessary legwork and ordering well in advance. Before gutting the bathroom, check to make sure that there are shutoffs for all the fixtures or a master shutoff for the entire bathroom. If not, buy ball valve shutoffs sized to fit your pipes. Then turn off the main water supply line where it comes into the house from outside, cut the pipes feeding the bathroom and install the new shutoffs right away (see Photo 7).
Although this new bathroom is a bit smaller because of additional plumbing walls, it appears larger. Substituting a shower for the bathtub, adding a large mirror, and using a wall-hung sink and toilet all contribute to the spacious feeling. This big-picture stuff is striking, but it’s the step-by-step details that make this small bathroom remodel work. We cover the little kernels of information that will help your project go more smoothly and with fewer headaches.
Flank the mirror with fixtures placed at eye level (around 66 inches), ideally spaced 36 to 40 inches apart. Try to see fixtures in action before you buy to make sure the amount and quality of light is sufficient. If there's no room for side sconces, install a long fixture on the wall above the mirror. Don't rely on a recessed ceiling fixture (think Dracula face).
With the rough plumbing complete and the toilet chair carrier in position, finish the electrical and add blocks as needed to support the sink (Photo 15), towel bars, grab bars, etc. Then close up the walls. We recommend cement board for durable tile walls and floors, but other tile backers are available at tile shops. Here are key installation tips:

Tear out the existing piping (Photos 5 and 6). Then frame the 2×6 walls that will contain the new plumbing and the opposite end of the shower base (Photos 8, 9 and 14). It’s easiest to nail the bottom plate to the floor and the top plate to the ceiling, then fill in the studs one at a time by toenailing them in at the top and bottom. Stack the studs directly in front of the old ones wherever possible. Space the studs in the center of the shower about 12 in. apart to leave room for the shower valve and showerhead. The studs behind the toilet should be spaced exactly 19-3/4 in. apart for securing this toilet chair carrier (Photos 8 and 15).


The key to a weatherproof, attractive glass block window both inside and out is to encase it in a custom-built wooden frame (Fig. A) with inside dimensions that are 1/2 in. taller and wider than the panel itself. That will give you room to adjust and shim the panel exactly and then inject expanding foam between the frame and the panel to lock it into the opening (Photos 3 and 4).
Don't lay tile over plywood, which can swell with moisture and break the tile bond. If you're not pouring a new floor, mortar and screw ¼-inch backerboard over a level subfloor, then lay tile on top. Another option: Put in a DITRA flexible underlayment, which helps prevent cracks in ceramic and stone tile by evenly distributing the weight they carry.
Disconnect the trap from the tub, remove any clips, fasteners or screws that hold the tub to the wall, and demolish the old cast iron tub with a sledgehammer. Remove the sink and toilet. Turn off the electricity at the main panel and remove light fixtures. Cap the wires with wire connectors. Then rip out the wall finishes and surfaces clean down to the studs and pull out any insulation. If your ceiling is in good shape, use a utility knife to cut the drywall along the edges so the wall materials will separate cleanly from the ceiling.
Tear out the existing piping (Photos 5 and 6). Then frame the 2×6 walls that will contain the new plumbing and the opposite end of the shower base (Photos 8, 9 and 14). It’s easiest to nail the bottom plate to the floor and the top plate to the ceiling, then fill in the studs one at a time by toenailing them in at the top and bottom. Stack the studs directly in front of the old ones wherever possible. Space the studs in the center of the shower about 12 in. apart to leave room for the shower valve and showerhead. The studs behind the toilet should be spaced exactly 19-3/4 in. apart for securing this toilet chair carrier (Photos 8 and 15).
The special-order fixtures, fittings, shower pan, tile and glass block panel can take weeks to get in hand, so do the necessary legwork and ordering well in advance. Before gutting the bathroom, check to make sure that there are shutoffs for all the fixtures or a master shutoff for the entire bathroom. If not, buy ball valve shutoffs sized to fit your pipes. Then turn off the main water supply line where it comes into the house from outside, cut the pipes feeding the bathroom and install the new shutoffs right away (see Photo 7).
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