Small Bathroom Remodel in Five Days in a 1920s Home

This is a small bathroom remodel our son James did. It is a 30 square foot bathroom. The diagram on the left is the original layout and the one on the right is the new layout of the bathroom. Click on each picture to enlarge them.
Original Floor Plan of Small Bathroom RemodelNew Floor Plan of Small Bathroom Remodel
The house is in South Florida and was built in the 1920s. It had a small bathroom under the stairs behind the kitchen on the first floor. The homeowner wanted something a little more efficient and up to date, not to mention he had the feeling that there was something wrong with the floor.

After consulting with the homeowner, they decided to eliminate the shower stall that was too small. When you were in the shower, your body was touching every side of it. The height was only six feet, as it is under some stairs. As such, there was not much that could be done to fix this problem.

Below are three pictures of the original bathroom.


The demolition was the next phase. As the picture on the below left shows, there was virtually nothing holding up the toilet. The beams were rotten from a water leak over time. The picture below on the right shows the repaired beams and the new layout of the plumbing. The shower is gone and the toilet has been relocated. New supply lines have also been run.
The new sub-floor of James’ small bathroom remodel is 3/4 inch plywood, with the main floor being Hardiboard. This is to support the 16 x 16 inch ceramic floor tile the homeowner wanted. Hardiboard is designed specifically for applications such as this one. Plywood has a tendency to flex and the ceramic tiles will crack, not something he wanted to happen.

The picture below shows the floor of the small bathroom remodel with half the Hardiboard in place.

Partial Hardiboard Floor
Here are the pictures of the finished tile floor in our small bathroom remodel.

Tile Floor

The old walls were stucco/plaster. James tried to salvage as much as possible to keep the cost down. The shower was removed and the walls were filled with new stucco to make the surfaces even. Stucco is not one of our favorite projects, but if you want to save money, do it yourself.

The next picture shows a bonding agent applied to the original walls. The purpose is to make sure the new material sticks to the 83 year old material.

Bonding Agent on Walls

The below pictures shows the newly stucco walls in our small bathroom remodel. The light and dark areas are where the material is not dry. There are several areas that will need some additional work before final finishing. If the walls are not completely dry, the new paint will not adhere properly. James had to leave South Florida before the room was painted. Hey, that is a good reason to go to back.

Stucco WallsStucco Walls

The materials for this small bathroom remodel were just under $1,000. The labor, at this point, is 40 hours. The typical handyman in that area charges approximately $25. per hour. This equals $1,000. for labor. The total for this remodel is $2,000. to this point.

The estimated labor to finish is an additional 8 hours. Labor is easily half the cost of a project such as this one.

Additional Information about the Small Bathroom Remodel

Electrical outlets should be GFI. Some old houses do not have three-wire branch circuits. Consult with your local electrician for building codes specific to your area.

The floor drain, if not used frequently, should have a trap primer added at the time of installation. This keeps water in the trap and the sewer fumes out of the house when the trapped water evaporates. I have also placed a cup of cooking oil in the trap as the oil does not evaporate.

Dave Altman

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