Bathroom renovation – top tips & tricks

The Collaro collection from Villeroy & Boch

We spend between 30 and 60 minutes a day in the bathroom. Bathroom ceramics are subject to frequent use and need to be able to withstand water, heat, various oils and soaps as well as cleaning products, stresses and strains. High-quality fittings will easily last 20 years. In many cases, even longer.

Renovating a bathroom can mean many things – from minor repairs and cosmetic work to an extensive bathroom refurbishment. There are options to suit every budget: Even a fresh coat of paint, new grouting and different lighting can refresh a bathroom that is starting to look tired. Or rather than replacing everything at once, you can start with the things that bother you most – for example, a cracked washbasin, stained taps, a rough bathtub or renovate your bathroom without tiles .

As a general rule: If you decide to renovate your bathroom yourself, you can save money. However, even ambitious home-improvers can quickly become overwhelmed with complex conversions, refurbishment and modernisation work. And electrical work should always be carried out by specialists.

My View mirror cabinet from Villeroy & Boch

What points do you need to note when renovating a bathroom?

Do you plan to lay new tiles? Do the bathroom ceramics need to be replaced? Or would you like to convert the bathroom to change the layout or create an accessible design? Your own do-it-yourself skills will naturally play a role if you are renovating your bathroom yourself. What can you realistically do yourself and what tasks will you need to outsource?

Plan first, then renovate

On average, a bathroom is completely replaced every 20 to 30 years. This means that anyone planning an extensive bathroom refurbishment needs to think ahead. Take time to consider your ideas, wishes and dreams for today – as well as your requirements for tomorrow. Important points include:

  • Who will use the bathroom? (single person, couple, family, small children, elderly people, etc.)
  • Do you need a bathtub or will a shower be enough?
  • Are there are any structural factors you particularly need to consider? For example, sloping ceilings, awkward angles, a small floor plan or no windows? 
  • What do you absolutely want to have in your bathroom? What can be stored in open view and what needs to be concealed in cabinets? Who needs what items within easy reach? 
  • Heating: do you want to replace radiators or water heaters, install underfloor heating or infrared heating

A good design concept helps to make even small bathrooms look spacious and inviting. You can use our virtual Bathroom Planner or traditional paper and pencil to experiment with different bath/shower, washbasin and toilet layouts. 

Villeroy & Boch bathroom planning

To gather ideas and inspiration before your bathroom renovation project, we also recommend using our Style Finder.

What tasks can I do myself when renovating the bathroom to save costs?

Carrying out your own bathroom renovation

If you want to renovate your bathroom, it is best to plan properly and work step by step. Before you draw up a practical plan, you first need to decide exactly what needs to be renovated.

To assess whether you are in a position to replace a complete bathroom, consider the following questions:

  • Are you familiar with the required tools for your project and do you know how to use them?
  • Do you have an overview of the required materials and do you know precisely what you will need for your project?
  • Do you have patience, a steady hand and enough physical strength to carry out the planned work without assistance?
  • Are there any friends who can help if you need a strong pair of hands?
  • Do you know which individual tasks need to be done?
  • Are you able to work to instructions?
  • Can you live with small errors?

What work steps are involved in a complete bathroom refurbishment?

1. The old bathroom is taken back to the shell. Sanitary ceramics, tiles, heating are removed – the bathroom is stripped all the way to the walls.

2. The new installations are fitted, usually starting with water pipes, heating and ventilation, followed by electrical connections.

3. Brick-wall and drywall installation comes next, for example, new plaster, front-wall installation, wall cladding or partitions made from profiles and boards. The correct connection technology is particularly important to avoid any subsequent cracks.

4. The required floor work follows this (for example, screeding, underfloor heating, insulating layer and/or levelling course).

5. Laying wall and floor tiles.

6. The next step is installing and sealing bathroom ceramics: toilet, bath, shower and washbasin.

7. Anything that is not tiled can now be painted, varnished or any other kind of finish applied

8. The very last step is final assembly: taps, covers and lighting elements are installed, bathroom furniture and accessories such as wall mounts, shelves or handles are fitted. Stopcocks can then be turned on again and electrical connections restored. Everything is then finished and ready to use.

Planning from Villeroy & Boch

Renovating a bathroom yourself

If you want to save costs in your bathroom renovation , you can generally tackle this step yourself. However, it’s important to consider where your own efforts are actually worthwhile. Laying screed or tiles, constructing a plasterboard wall or plastering a wall require physical strength and do-it-yourself skills, as well as knowledge of materials, the correct technique and special tools. In many cases, more than one person is required for the task. This means you will need helpers – and everyone will need to have or make time.

If you factor all this in, for points 2 to 6, in most cases professionals are faster, better and therefore more cost-efficient. They work as a team, have done it all many times before, can transport heavy materials safely and will leave a clean building site behind.

For points 1, 7 and 8, you can assist, even if you are not a professional. For example, you can completely clear out the bathroom yourself. Or knock out old tiles and dispose of the construction waste. The specialist trade workers will then take over and you can get involved again when the time comes for painting. Maybe you are already looking forward to adding the finishing touches yourself and presenting your new bathroom to best effect in your favourite colours. 

Villeroy & Boch renovating
Renovating from Villeroy & Boch

When building or refurbishing your home, plan ahead and book tradespeople in advance for drywall installation, heating, electrical work, tiling and sanitary installation to allow them to coordinate their work. Your input will also be required for coordinating tasks – and you will save a lot of time and money if everything runs smoothly on your building site. 

Cost-saving bathroom renovation: tips for a limited budget

Overall, a bathroom renovation will cost at least 1,000 euros per square metre. If this is beyond your budget, consider whether repairs would be enough rather than replacement. If you want to save costs in your bathroom renovation, the following ideas may help:

  • When renovating your bathroom, think about existing supply connections! If you avoid the need to reinstall connections in a different location, this will save costs in your bathroom renovation.

  • It is possible to prepare the surface of existing tiles to allow new tiles to be laid directly on top. This saves the work of breaking up old tiles up and the associated disposal costs.

  • Rather than laying new tiles, you could paint the surface with tile paint.
Laying tiles in the bathroom
Grouting floor tiles in the bathroom

  • Damaged grouting can be scraped out and replaced.

  • Stained grouting can be cleaned up with a grout refresher. This will also stop mould from forming. If the silicone has become brittle, scrape it out, clean the joints and replace them with new silicone.

  • If there are any scratch marks on bathroom ceramics or other signs of wear, you can use a special repair kit to fix them. If the scratches are not too deep, the bath, shower and washbasin can be polished up to restore their appearance..

Renovating a bathroom for easy care

Many old bathrooms have areas that are hard to reach and quickly gather dirt. The most common frustrations for bathroom cleaning include the toilet base, radiators, rails on shower doors, old vanity units and, in general, any surface on which water accumulates for long periods or that gathers dust. When renovating your bathroom, it is a good idea to make sure right from the start that your design will be easier to clean and maintain.

7 tips and tricks for an easy-care bathroom

  • Built-in installations The more you conceal in the wall when renovating, the less plastering you will need to do later. And you can conceal almost anything under plaster – pipes and connections, taps, cistern, holders for toilet roll and toilet brush, cabinets, lights and more …
  • Keeping the floor clear. A wall-mounted toilet is better than a toilet screwed into the floor. 
  • Clear lines in bathroom design: clear organisation and enough storage space to make sure nothing needs to be stored on the floor. And no gaps between cabinet and floor – or enough space to easily wipe underneath. 
  • Smooth surfaces. Coated ceramics are exceptionally smooth, feel silky soft and are extremely easy to care for. Villeroy & Boch offers high-quality bathroom ceramics finished with the CeramicPlus technology that makes water simply roll off. This makes it almost impossible for limescale, grease and dust to adhere to the surface. 
  • A rimless toilet is much easier to clean. This is because, unlike conventional toilets, a rimless toilet has no awkward corners inside the bowl that are hard to reach.

  • Where possible, install the shower in a corner or recess. Tiled walls are more robust and easier to care for in comparison with glass or plastic. 
  • Avoid edges, grooves and projections where dirt, dust or moisture could gather. Ideally avoid sliding or folding doors and choose easy-care handles and fittings for your bathroom furniture. 
  • Silicone joints that are drawn with a finger are often concave. This makes it more difficult for water to drain from the joint, which increases the risk of mould. A silicone joint puller will allow you to create a perfect slant or curve. Pay attention to this important detail, even if you are not replacing the joints yourself – many professionals use the finger-and-washing up liquid technique for this. It looks great but unfortunately means concave silicone joints.

What does it cost to renovate an old bathroom?

For comprehensive refurbishment and modernisation of your old bathroom, you need to plan an appropriate budget. This article provides additional information on possible costs for your new dream bathroom.

6 cost-saving tips for a bathroom renovation

  • Choose high-quality products where possible as you will be able to enjoy these for decades to come.. 
  • Partial renovation and modernisation: Treat your bathroom to beautiful new taps, a more efficient water heater, a new light or a modern radiator to achieve impressive effects with a few simple changes. 
  • For optimum protection from mould, choose a neutral-cure rather than an acetoxy-cure silicone. The difference in price is minimal, but the joints will be more resilient and look good for longer. There is no need for special blends with an integrated fungicide. 
  • There are many possible solutions to design a bathroom partially or entirely without tiles, for example, with roll plaster, lime plaster or traditional trowelling techniques. You can even find bathroom wallpaper and loam rendering for the bathroom from specialist retailers. 

  • Is your bathroom too small, but there is no possible way to extend it? Place the widest mirror you can find on the long side. This will make the room appear twice as large. Large floor tiles can also make narrow rooms look wider. 
  • Finishing touch: continue the organised effect with fittings and decoration. Before you start your renovation, gather ideas for optimum layout of furniture to ensure everything is within easy reach where it is needed. Good organisation also makes a significant contribution to the atmosphere in a bathroom: it feels inviting, immediately familiar and conveys a sense of harmony and security.

Bathroom refurbishment in rental accommodation: After how many years does the landlord need to renovate the bathroom?

Fixed renovation periods, such as “every five years”, are generally ineffective in rental contracts. For both tenant and landlord: the renovation obligation will be determined by the actual condition. According to § 535 of the German Civil Code (BGB), the landlord is only obliged to maintain the property. Provided the bathroom is functioning and can be used as contractually agreed, the landlord is not obliged to renovate it. However, if anything is faulty, no longer usable or dangerous, the landlord must repair or replace it. For example, a rough surface in a bathtub, black silicone joints, leaking connections, broken tiles or mould damage. The landlord is also responsible for maintaining the existing heating and ventilation system. Modernisation work or cosmetic improvements, however, do not fall within the landlord’s area of responsibility.

Venticello from Villeroy & Boch

You cannot therefore ask your landlord to renovate an old bathroom because you don’t like it or because it looks rather shabby and unattractive. On the other hand, the landlord can’t stop you from renovating the bathroom yourself. If you want to replace fixed installations, for example, to install a new washbasin or a different shower, it is best to discuss your plans with the owner of the property first. The owner might even be prepared to contribute to the costs, perhaps by buying the material or paying for transport.