Basement Bathrooms

My basement bathroom was without a doubt the most fun, expensive and difficult aspect of my entire basement finishing effort.

I had one issue that took me months to solve, and almost caused me to quit the whole project. In the end it would have taken about 60 seconds to fix, if I just known where to look. Be sure to read through to the end of the post to find out the solution.

The bathroom provides a special challenge in that everything is in a small space and it’s packed with special rules. Estimating the cost of a basement bathroom can be its own challenge.

Don’t worry. You’ve got a friend whose done this before that will guide you through the process. Me! I’m just a guy who took some time to learn it and now I’m sharing it with the you.

It added about $500 to the cost of the basement bathroom but the tile looks fantastic and was fun to do.

It added about $500 to the cost of the basement bathroom but the tile looks fantastic and was fun to do. Here I had everything but the faucet and shower curtain installed.

As I did with the other phases of finishing your basement I’ll be filling in each of the areas below with more detailed blog posts.

What will your bathroom cost to build or renovate?

Basement Bathroom Costs - In this post I go over the high level breakdown of what my basement bathroom cost to build. Then I go over in detail each component of the total cost.

A good rule of thumb is to estimate 20-30% of your total basement cost to the bathroom.

Design

Designing your basement bathroom & 3 things I would do differently – Bathrooms are small, tight rooms with lots of stuff packed into them.

There are rules (aka code) about where things need to be. Understanding the spacing and where things need to go can be tricky. Hopefully I can help out.

Rough-in Plumbing

As much as I wanted to rent a jack-hammer and dig up concrete, I felt I was over my head with this step of the project. I called in my brother-in-law to help out. I will try to convince him to do an interview with me about the process.  Stay tuned.

Ps. My basement was built with the bathroom pre-roughed in, but the layout I wanted meant I had to move it.  Most people I’ve talked with also ended up moving their rough-in. This held me up for a while on my basement design as I tried to design something that fit the existing rough-in. My advice, just design what you want and then move the rough-in to fit.

Bathroom Framing

This phase was a bit easier for me since I had already been framing the other areas of the basement. Again, the hard part was picking the right size and dimensions for the room based on where all of the bathroom components needed to go.

Bathroom Plumbing

I had to learn all about plumbing. There’s no way around it. It’s about the same amount of time as learning electrical. The good news is, plumbing can’t kill you. The bad news… leaks, tight spaces, and frustration until you get the techniques, tips and tricks down. Of course, I will be sharing all of those with you guys.

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Electrical (for the bathroom)

Pretty much like electrical in the rest of the basement except that you need a dedicated circuit for the GFI plug. GFI stands for Ground Fault Interrupt. Basically there’s some special sauce in the plug circuitry that will keep you safe should you decide to blow dry your hair while standing in water. GFI plugs in bathrooms are required by code. They also have to be on a separate electrical circuit.

Lighting

Normally I’d say lighting is user preference, just make sure you have a lot of it. But I have some strong personal opinions about lighting in a bathroom. I have a tip that can literally make you look and feel 10 years younger. So I’m going to have an article just for bathroom lighting.

The Exhaust Fan

I guess this is the other “electrical” thing to consider. You don’t want a bathroom fan that sounds like a jet engine. We’ll get real deep and emotional about “Sones” and what they measure. Plus I’ll show you how to vent your fan to the outside. NO, you cannot just vent it into the ceiling. Who wants a stinky ceiling anyway?

The Bathtub and Shower – for basement bathrooms

Full bathroom.  If you have the space I expect nothing less. If you don’t have the space then you get a pass. Once I learned to tile, I went a little crazy and did the entire shower surround in tile. As a result our basement bathroom is now much better than our master bathroom. I’ll share with you how I managed to mess up the hot water in our entire house when i was installing the faucet for the basement bathroom.

Tile Floors / Tile Walls !  TILING!

Two words. Concrete Grinder. Next to the concrete gun this is one of the cooler power tools that I “had” to buy to get the basement done. Tile saw, affirmative, you’ll need one, and they’re not to expensive to buy. There’s a whole bunch of tools you’ll need for tiling. I will recommend a few that work perfectly fine for us non-professionals and can save you some big money.

6 Secrets for Amateurs Who Want to Tile a Basement Bathroom

Ode to La’ Toilet

My basement toilet was free. I’ll share with you how I did it. Plus I have a hilarious story about my Aunt’s neighbors from Canada who financed their yearly Florida trip by smuggling 5 gal flush toilets to the states for resale. I’m not kidding! Finally, there’s a $5 product that makes it easy to “trim” the bottom of your toilet if you end up using spacers to level it (like I had to). If you have an awkward looking gap between the toilet and the floor, this will solve your problem.

Vanity and the Sink

I bought my first sink for $35 off of Craigslist but I never used it. Then I got 2 brand new pedestal sinks for free, again, and didn’t use those either. I’ll post those details plus tips for installing a sink and why my basement bathroom end up giving our upstairs master bathroom the worlds coldest water…. Weirdest thing ever.

Want to make sure you don’t miss any of these posts? Subscribe to my basement finishing and home improvement newsletter below.  Be sure to check out my post on the plumbing problem that almost made quit the whole project.

jason finishing a basement

I can think of at least 5 “blunders” that a I made as an amateur during the bathroom phase which the professional books, videos and websites would never talk about.

My goal with this site to give you the unique insight that can only come from someone who doesn’t normally finish basements. Hopefully that will help you save TIME, MONEY and FRUSTRATION.

Cheers –  Jason

More basement articles that should probably be in the toilet:

 

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Comments

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  1. Hi, just found you on Twitter. Love this site and hubby will no doubt like it to as he is all about how to stuff.

    • Thanks for commenting and I’m so glad you like it. Lots more to come, the topics seem to be never-ending (in a good way). Please share it with your friends, check out the facebook page as well. – Jason

  2. Youre site is very helpful, thank you for posting up all these tips!

  3. After intermittently browsing “how to remodel basement” websites the past 8 years, I just came across yours. Great to see another novice take on a daunting project. Anyways, hoping to see more info/guidance on your basement portion of the project. Due to massive time constraints, I’ve decided to hire someone to do the bulk of the work (the main refinished living area) and I’m tackling the bathroom (already roughed in), workroom and a bedroom. Doing it this way not only for the sake of time, but I am a way better visual learner than reading and applying. So for the bedroom I’m going to replicate my handyman’s work. But the bathroom is another story. Hoping you will be posting more info in the near future. Thanks for the great website.

    • Eric – Glad you like the site. It definitely is a long term project, especially if you’re only working on the weekends as I was. I will absolutely be posting more, I’d say I’m about 50% of the way through my list of base articles. Good luck with your project and thanks for your feedback. – Jason

  4. My daughter and son-in-law just moved home with us. They also have a 17 mounth baby. We are going to remodel our basement for them and I have found your website to help me. We are on a very tight budget but want a cozy warm place for them. Do you have any suggestions about wood pellet stoves, as we have wood stoves upstairs we use , but want a pellet for our basement. Thanks, Cindy

    • Cindy – Hhhmmmmm… well, I don’t know much about wood pellet stoves except that I really like the warm heat they put off. Obviously you’ll have to vent the stove to the outside, so you would want to consider that. If your basement is mostly underground it won’t take much heat to keep it warm – so you should be able to heat it fairly cost effectively.

      Good Luck! – Jason

  5. Hello,

    I am wondering what your basement bathroom dimensions are. I have limited space and your bathroom looks like what mine will be?

    Love the website

    Thank you

    Jt.

    • Yo JT – my basement bathroom is 8′ by 7’9″. Perfect size. Holds the tub sink and toilet plus room for a small closet.

      • How high is your bathroom ceiling at its lowest point (where the shower head is)?
        What do you think is the lowest acceptable ceiling hight from a resale point.
        Great website, by the way!

        Thanks,

        DJ

  6. Jason,
    I was reading about codes for insulation in my town, and it says that there should not be a vapour barrier on the insulation in a bathroom. I have that existing insulation with that white plastic on it. Does that mean that I will have to take that plastic off? Is the plastic considered as vapour barrier?

    Thanks,

    Jim

  7. Jason,

    I have been referring to your site for our basement finishing and had a question about rough-in plumbing. Our bathtub drain is about 1 inch too far out from the wall. Do we need to remove the entire rough in or is there an extension pipe that can be used?

    • Hi Jenna – You can usually find a pipe to move it 1″. The best option would be to take a few pictures with your phone and show the plumbing expert at Home Depot – he/she should be able to find the right adapter for you. Be sure to tell them its for a basement bathroom, you may have to dig into the concrete a little bit to install it. Good luck! – Jason

  8. Where are the links to the different bathroom projects/ steps. I cant find the plumbing, electrical, lighting, exhaust fan, bath tub, toilet, etc on your site. I just see the intro paragraphs that are mentioned…

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