Ask the Expert: 9 Must-Haves in a Bathroom Remodel

Bathroom remodels are very popular these days. It's a major facelift for one of the most important rooms in the house and you don't have to spend a lot to accomplish a lot. If you’re trying to decide where you’d like to splurge, consider these bathroom must-have items.

Good quality shower fixtures.

Spend the money to get the right fixtures the first time. If the inner parts are made of plastic, not chrome, it will drastically affect the longevity of the fixture. Once everything has been tiled and looks perfect, the last thing you want to do is punch a hole in the shower to switch out an inferior fixture. Low-quality fixtures will end up costing you more in the long run.

Rain showers. 

This has been a trend for the past few years and looks like it is here to stay for a while! There are many different options for rain showers and how to incorporate them in your new shower. Depending on the size of the shower and your personal preference, you can have the rain shower installed on the ceiling directly over the center of the shower, or you can add a rain shower head to your wall mount arm. They offer many different sizes of shower heads so they will look perfect in your newly designed shower.

A glass shower door with panels

These really add a really great look to your new shower, and allow you to showcase the tile work inside for everyone to see! Typically, two walls of the shower will have floor to ceiling solid walls of tile. The front of the shower will have a glass door with a stationary panel. You can select a half wall with a half glass stationary panel on top, or continue with the open feel and install a glass stationary panel from floor to ceiling. Really gives you a more continuous feel.

Picking the right tile is essential.

The days of “go marble or go home” have been replaced with natural stone of a different sort. Travertine, pebbles mixed with accent tiles, have become more popular than marble over the past couple of years. A more tranquil, earthy feel of the tile gives the feeling of being in your own private spa.

Select a heated tile floor to set your bathroom remodel apart from the rest.

It’s not as expensive as you think. An electric mat with a thermostat allows for a custom installation so that heat is provided at the main traffic areas. One question I get quite often is, “How will this affect my monthly electric bill?” The answer is, about the cost of one cup of coffee! I actually have this type of system in my front entryway. It costs me an extra $5/month to have a heated tile floor when you walk in during the winter months. It's a pleasure to take your shoes off! The key to this is to set it and forget it. Some people treat it like regular heat in their house, turning it down at night then turning it up in the morning. The system is not designed to bring instant heat at a moment’s notice. It takes a few hours to adequately heat the tile so it is best to set it in the late fall and then turn it off in the spring…or leave it on permanently!

A heated towel rack in the bathroom

This is such a great idea! There are many models now that do not need to be hardwired and stay on continuously. They also make models that plugin, so that you can connect them at bedtime and wake up to nice warm towels when you get out of your new shower!

The exhaust fan is another area that you do not want to skimp on

Not only do you want to get something with low sones (the lower the sones, the quieter the fan), but you want something that has at least, bare minimum, 100 CFM to properly exhaust the moisture out of the bathroom. Fan timers are now a popular item. Once the fan's turned on, it will continue to run for an additional 10 to 15 minutes after you shut it off to ensure that the room has been properly exhausted. A really cool feature.

A bench in the shower

Think about adding a bench based on the size of the shower you have. Some customers prefer the solid bench made with the same tile that is being used on the walls. Other customers prefer a free-standing teak bench which can be removed when not being used. For smaller shower stalls I recommend the folding teak bench which is mounted directly to the wall. This allows for maximum space when folded up for showering, but can be easily lowered when needed. Teak is a great look in new showers.

Don’t forget to add the hand-held shower head on the slide bar when a shower head or overhead rain shower is not enough

 When designing your new shower, this is a must-have! The ideal location is by the shower bench with a separate control. Great for shaving legs! Also great to have the hand-held shower head when washing pets. Or, when it’s time to clean your glass door and panels, it makes rinsing these a breeze.

Colin Shaw is the owner of Shaw Remodeling in southeastern CT.  Shaw Remodeling offers a full spectrum of remodeling services, from design consultation and material selection, to electrical, plumbing, and carpentry.  They specialize in major renovations, additions, kitchens, basements, and bathrooms.