Which old armor is best to modernize?

Renovating the bathroom: modernization for every budget

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Tile paint or new tiles, repairing damaged areas or completely replacing the wash basin: Anyone who wants to renovate their bathroom must expect modernization costs of a few hundred to several thousand euros. Solutions for every budget are in demand - as are tips on what you can do yourself.

Pink tiles, green sanitary ware and everything pretty worn - a ten or even twenty year old bathroom still fulfills its purpose, but it hardly does justice to current demands on design and comfort. A bathroom renovation is the order of the day.

If you want to modernize your bathroom, you have various options: tiles can be freshly painted or completely replaced; a shower tray can be replaced or converted into a floor-level shower; and sometimes a new vanity unit is enough. Here, do-it-yourselfers can find out which solutions can be implemented on their own and for little money and where they should better let professionals get to work.

Modernize the bathroom: freshening up on a budget

A complete renovation is not always necessary to modernize the bathroom. For a visual refreshment and more comfort in everyday bathroom use, even smaller measures that cost little or can be done by yourself are sufficient.

You can renovate your bathroom cheaply with these measures:

Replace fittings

Old washstand, shower and bathtub fittings are often not only unsightly and impractical to use, they also often use far too much water. When purchasing a new one, you should therefore pay attention to energy-saving functions such as flow limiters.

Faucets are available as single-lever mixers or with one or two hand controls. If you only have a cold water connection - which is often the case in guest toilets - it is best to install a fitting with just one controller. In addition to the fitting, the assembly set usually includes a fastening nut, washer, seal and an O-ring seal.

Only the O-ring remains on the fitting for assembly. Both are inserted into the tap hole and screwed on from below with a fastening nut, washer and seal and tightened. With many fittings this is done with a screwdriver, otherwise a faucet wrench is required. Now bend the hot and cold water tubes so that they can be inserted vertically into the corner valves. Since the tubes must not sit at an angle, they may have to be shortened.

The shower head and hose, for example, can be replaced even without any manual skills. The popular extras include wellness shower heads, for example with rain shower, massage or steam functions.

Renew tiles

Wet room or feel-good bathroom? The tile covering on the wall and floor already has a decisive influence on the character of the bathroom. Sober tiling in the style of swimming pool shower rooms is as little in demand today as there is little patterned tile formats in beige-brown from the 1970s.

The bathroom does not always have to be newly tiled.

  • If the wall tiles have only lost a little of their shine over the years, it may be enough to give them a fresh color. Various manufacturers offer special tile lacquers or complete packages with primer and sealer for painting the tiles. The last variant requires a little patience, after all, the old tiles have to be pretreated and the drying times observed. However, if you follow the instructions for use, you can look forward to fresh colors in your bathroom at home with both versions without too much building dirt.
  • Color can also be brought into the old bathroom with tile foil, which is already cut to size and available in common formats. Since the pieces of film are glued individually to the tiles, you need a little patience. However, the tile film is always suitable for individual color or pattern accents.
  • An alternative to tile varnish is waterproof roll-on plaster. Applying the roll-on plaster basically works like painting the tiles: Prepare the substrate, apply plaster, seal the surface. According to the manufacturer, the plaster can be mixed with all solvent-free full and tinted colors - in other words: all colors are possible. In addition, the plaster can be structured individually when it is fresh.

Repair minor damage

Frequent beauty problems in the bathroom are small damaged areas on the bathroom ceramics and mold-infested joints. Both can easily be touched up by yourself. For the damaged areas there are special repair kits in the common sanitary colors, which are processed with a little care and provide quick and inexpensive remedy. Moldy silicone joints must be carefully scraped out. Then let it dry well and spray it out again with a silicone compound suitable for wet rooms.

Tip: professionals have a feeling for this and pull off with their finger, for do-it-yourselfers a joint squeegee is available for little money. This means that the joints are nice and even when you renovate your bathroom yourself.

The decoration: set accents

A colorful coat of paint or decorations for walls and bathroom furniture, accessories such as baskets or wall hooks in striking shapes and colors, an illuminated mirror, wall tattoos or pictures - sometimes little things are enough to give the old bathroom a new face.

Create order

When the edges of the bathtub or window sills are full of shampoo bottles or care utensils and towels are flying around, there is seldom a feeling of wellbeing. Sometimes even small organizational aids such as drawer inserts, boxes or baskets work wonders. If you need more space, you should invest in suitable bathroom furniture or built-in storage space - or get creative yourself.

Renovating the bathroom: sanitary ware in green and brown was yesterday

You have to spend a little more if the bathroom should not only be more beautiful, but also individual components - such as washbasins, bathtubs or showers - should be replaced. Depending on whether you choose the basic version or an upscale variant, the costs for such partial modernizations range from a few hundred to a few thousand euros.

You can save on luxury such as marble or unusual design on a tight budget, but not on decent quality if you don't want to renovate the bathroom again after a few years. Experienced do-it-yourselfers can work here themselves, but if in doubt they should rather call a specialist.

Replace sanitary objects

Replacing the sanitary ware requires more extensive bathroom renovation work. Not only do the old bowls have to be dismantled, a few tiles usually break too. If you want to swap the old bathtub for a modern, floor-level shower, you can no longer use your bathroom during the renovation. In order to accelerate the bathroom renovation, professionals should get down to work - and the individual trades should be coordinated with one another in terms of time.

The following applies to all sanitary objects: If you want to save, you should use existing connections and opt for white sanitary ceramics.

Replace the sink

A mounting kit for a sink includes wall plugs, hanger bolts, plastic washers and nuts. At best, the old mounting holes can be used, otherwise it is necessary to measure precisely and drill new holes.

If the dowel sits firmly in the wall, the hanger bolts are screwed in with the water pump pliers. About a third of the middle part should protrude.

Now slide the vanity onto the hanger bolts. Fit the washer and nut and tighten with an open-end wrench.

Do not overtighten the nut, the washstand can break!

As described above, the fittings are now attached, then the drain fitting is installed. To do this, the drain valve with the inserted opening is inserted into the sink's spout. The lower part of the valve with the seal is screwed on at the bottom. The opening with the pull rod should point to the rear. It is connected to the tie rod of the fitting. Then connect the fitting to the angle valve, done.

Do-it-yourselfers should seal the joint between the washbasin and tiles with sanitary silicone.

Pre-wall constructions and ready-made modules with plumbing and electrical connections that simplify installation and hide lines and pipes are practical for retrofitting. These pre-wall installations can be built into both the washbasin and the toilet.

Replace toilet

Do-it-yourselfers can also replace an outdated toilet bowl on their own. However, if you overestimate your manual skills and do not get connections tight, you will pay extra in the long term. If in doubt, let the professional do the work.

Replace shower tray

If you just want to replace your old shower tray and don't want to convert it to a floor-level shower at the same time, you should use a shower tray with height-adjustable feet.

The drain fitting is installed before installation. Do-it-yourselfers should make sure that both overflow and drain are absolutely tight. If you are unsure, it is better to leave the work to the experienced installer.

Once the connections have been made, the tub is set up. There should be at least 15 centimeters of space between the floor and the bottom of the tub in order to be able to mount the siphon. Once the tub is in place, the connections are connected to one another and the open sides are bricked up with flat blocks. Leave a cleaning opening at the level of the siphon.

Finally, tiles must be laid on the newly bricked surface, joints smeared with silicone and the surface sealed. Before you can shower again, everything should dry well.

For a floor-level shower, the drain usually has to be directly in the floor or led to the appropriate location from the wall. A significant additional effort, which in the best case scenario is always carried out by a specialist.

Replace bathtub

Bathtubs are available on tub feet or in a special tub support. With both types, the drain fitting and overflow connection are installed first.

If a tub support is to be installed, it is aligned and fixed to the floor with a thin layer of adhesive. Once the glue has dried, the tub with the pre-assembled connections is inserted and connected.

In the case of bathtubs with bathtub feet, the feet are screwed to the floor.

Then the tub is set up, the feet readjusted and the tub aligned horizontally. With this type of tub installation, an enclosure must be built. Finally, the bath overflow and drain are connected.

For both variants, do-it-yourselfers should plan an inspection opening and the tile height.

Steel bathtubs or shower trays must be earthed by an electrician.

New plaster instead of old tiles

If you don't just want to paint or plaster your tiles, but also want to re-tile, you need a little more experience and skill. When laying tiles, however, experienced do-it-yourselfers can save considerably, because the costs for the tiler are around 40 to 60 euros per square meter, depending on the area. The laying of wall tiles differs only minimally from laying floor tiles. The tiled floor around the shower and bathtub should be specially sealed, after all, mortar joints are rarely completely waterproof. Rubber emulsions, which are simply applied with a roller, are suitable as a barrier primer.

But it is not only through your own work that you can save; plaster is cheaper than tiles - and more modern too. Avoid unnecessary (wall) tiles and instead plaster walls.

A very noble form of wall plaster is Tadelakt, a highly hydraulic lime plaster ideally suited for the bathroom.

Bathroom renovation: completely renovate

For a comprehensive bathroom modernization, with the replacement of tub, toilet, wash basin, radiators, lighting and mirrors, a lot of personal work with costs of 10,000 euros or more must be expected in a small bathroom. It becomes more expensive when structural measures are necessary, for example when new walls are to be built with damp-proof panels or new connections and pipes are required.

With regard to the equipment, you should be clear about your needs, wishes and the available budget at an early stage. What is more important - the second washbasin, the shower toilet, a wellness shower cubicle or the countertop washbasin made of natural stone? Investments in accessibility, for example installing a floor-level shower, are always worthwhile. A generation-friendly bathroom definitely increases the value of the house.

And in the end, as always, it is only quality that counts: it should always come before the price.

Bathroom planning: renovation ideas for the small bathroom

In old apartments you will often find the so-called hose bath: narrow, elongated and usually with a rather small window at the end. At first glance, this type of bathroom seems to offer little scope for modernization ideas. But even on just six square meters, with clever planning, various design alternatives can still be realized, as the following example shows:

In all three designs, the combined shower and bathtub was placed sideways under the window.

Draft 1

Draft 2

Draft 3

Barrier-free bathroom: Funding for bathroom renovation

Anyone who makes the bathroom barrier-free and age-appropriate or handicapped-friendly in the course of a renovation can apply for funding that makes the investment easier:

The state-owned KfW development bank grants low-interest loans or grants for age-appropriate renovations, regardless of the age or state of health of the apartment owners.

Some housing subsidy programs of the federal states and municipalities also support the barrier-free expansion.

If people with disabilities or people in need of care already live in the household, there is also support from the health or long-term care insurance funds for renovation work, installing seats and handholds or the like.

Ingrid Lorbach


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