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Posted by Laura Foster-Bobroff | Mar 19, 2012

Five Ways to Make a Bathroom Remodel Go Faster

This is a lovely, simple finished bathroom remodel. We like the shade of this blue bathroom. (Photo: lavenderstreak/Flickr)Bathroom remodels are inconvenient home improvement projects and are often time-consuming to complete. If you’re delaying remodeling because you don’t want to live at the in-laws' for the next few weeks or you merely want to complete a mini-makeover for an outdated bathroom, here are some suggestions to cut how long your bathroom is out-of-commission:

1. Keep the existing floor plan: It takes time to move plumbing and install wiring for outlets, lighting or new bath fixtures. Re-think ways to eliminate relocation of the tub, sink or toilet. Fixtures and lighting come in a myriad of sizes, shapes and styles designed to maximize space and fit into awkward areas. Switch out worn, bulky fixtures with streamlined, compact styles so you can skip the extra work yet open up the existing room.  

2. Don’t demolish – cover it up: Yes, you heard correctly! Unless mold is present in the walls, the floor or the ceiling, there are ways to cover up the old without going through the cumbersome process of demolishing and rebuilding.   

For example, if you’ve got an old ceiling that’s lost most of its popcorn or plaster texture, install new 3/8” – ½” drywall right over the old, then tape and plaster as usual. If the bottom portion of walls has taken a beating, installing wainscoting or laminate paneling can be a beautiful alternative to demolishing and starting from scratch. On a tight budget?  Old tubs and showers can be refitted by specialty contractors in less than a day and are a great choice for bathrooms that don’t get heavy-duty use. 

3. Buy materials that allow you to cheat without compromising quality: The biggest time-sucking part of remodeling is the duration it takes to tape and plaster. Depending on temperature and humidity, plaster can take days to dry! Mixing a powdered joint compound is a little more work than opening up a ready-to-go container, but spending a few extra minutes mixing these fast-dry products is worth the effort. There are several quick drying compounds that allow you to apply multiple coats and reach finish point in less than two days.

You’ll pay a little bit more, but purchasing pre-primed trim and baseboard, pre-finished doors and windows, as well as other partial or fully-finished products will let you shave time off your project. Don't skip on painting prep, though. According to Denver-area tile installer Kevin Stevens, it will cost you in the long run.

4. Use quick-cure grout: Epoxy-based grouts can be washed and polished in a few hours and ready for traffic the next day. They may be more expensive than traditional cement, but they’re also highly stain-and-mold-resistant and don’t require sealing. Caveat: Working with these quick-cure grouts can be tricky because they’re time-sensitive. Read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully if you intend to do this yourself and tackle the floor in pieces. Alternatively, ask your contractor to switch to this product during the finish process.

5. Line your ducks up in a row: If you’re a DIYer, this means having all your materials on-hand and a specific schedule for implementing your bathroom project before work begins. If you intend to outsource, make sure subcontractors (like electricians) are scheduled back-to-back (or in some cases, side-by-side) and are ready to go when it’s their turn to complete a portion of the project.

Laura Foster-Bobroff is a remodeling contractor who writes for Networx. Get home & garden ideas like this on Networx.

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