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Improve Your Basement Bathroom Floor Easily

"Is Sally in the bathroom again?" It seems the eternal refrain of a homeowner: There's always more demand for bathrooms than there are available ones in the house, especially in the morning when everyone's getting ready to head out to school or work. If you've got a basement, and are doing a basement renovation, running a bathroom into the basement is almost always a good idea. However, be sure that you take proper care in setting up your basement bathroom floor. A basement bathroom floor on the level of your home gives you extra capacity for when guests are over, and greatly increases convenience and helps boost the value of your home on the real estate market.

The basement bathroom floor is one of the trickiest parts of a basement renovation and remodeling project. You need to make sure it's sealed and set up well, and has adequate drainage. This takes planning and coordinating, and some time with a carpenter's level. Setting up your plumbing for a basement bathroom remodel is another trouble spot, since you'll need to work on the foundation of your home, particularly if your basement wasn't connected up thoroughly on the construction of your home.

Indeed, working on the plumbing aspects of your basement bathroom floor is a prime candidate for talking to a professional. It's NOT a "do it yourself" project, or the place to do 'learning on the floor", indeed, trying to do it yourself is one of the best ways to make sure that your basement remodeling project is a disaster.

Tricky problems with a basement bathroom floor revolve around drainage. Getting water to go where you want it to has been a challenge since Roman times. The first step is identifying where the plumbing is in your basement. The second step is identifying how much your basement has settled since the house was constructed. Houses do settle over time, as they compress the earth underneath the foundation, microtremors happen, and patterns in subsurface drainage shift. These will have impacts on your basement bathroom floor project ranging from the drainage mentioned up above to laying tile, to finding that the room you were going to convert into a bathroom is no longer quite the dimensions you thought it would be.

Ultimately, your goal is to make a space in your home that's attractive and functional.

If you're already starting from an existing basement bathroom, a basement bathroom floor gets a lot simpler. It's much less work to bring an existing bathroom up to snuff than it is to build a new one from scratch. Perhaps you want to make it wider, or put in an extra sink, or knock out a wall to convert a standup shower into a full bathtub. All of these require much the same steps – you'll want to do a remodeling plan.

Measuring your basement bathroom floor is the first step in that remodeling plan. Just remember the carpenter's adage: Measure twice and cut once. Once you've got your dimensions down, get a sheet of graph paper and mark everything on it. Remember to leave space for people to walk around in the bathroom; if you don't know how much each plumbing fixture will need, measure one of your existing bathrooms as a reference.

Next, look at vents and drainage and where the plumbing connectors are. Basement bathroom remodeling can run into problems with inadequate venting; know where the bathroom fan is going to go (and there will be one, no matter what) before you begin. This can prevent seepage under your basement bathroom floor, and prevent a culture of mildew and mold from starting in your remodeling project.

Drainage in this context also means where runoff on the floor goes to. Your basement bathroom floor needs to have a water-tight surface (tile or linoleum), and if at all possible, a floor drain. Here's why – water on the floor in your foundation, if left standing, will eventually cause baseboard cracks and work into the foundation concrete; much the same way you need to check your basement for seepage because it'll slowly destroy the walls of your home, your basement bathroom floor needs adequate drainage.

Other factors beyond ventilation and drainage include overall pleasantness. If you're doing an extensive remodel, including re-doing the bathroom floor, consider (if time and budget permits) doing a re-routing on the concrete floor and installing baseline radiant. This both gives you an energy boost and makes the floor warm to the touch when you're walking on it.

Lastly, consider style. Most basement bathrooms lack adequate windows for real, natural sunlight. This means you'll want to have the walls painted a light color, and you'll probably want to put in more lighting than you would for a corresponding upstairs bathroom. To avoid a claustrophobic impression, put extra space around all the fixtures, and you may want to do a psychological trick on your basement bathroom floor – use a series of light colors on the floor to make the space look more open and airy, rather than contrasting light and dark colors.

Lastly, when doing your basement bathroom floor plan, think about how your basement bathroom will be used, and by whom. If it's mostly going to be used by guests, or by a tenant (including your child living in a basement apartment), think about how storage space needs to be allocated. Do you need extra towel racks, or extra space for general cleaning supplies? Would putting a closet nearby for linens and cleaning supplies make sense? How about shelving? What else can be done to bring this project up to the desired end state?

We hope you've learned a lot on basement remodeling from this article and go in with a T-square and a plan before you begin.