Expert tips for remodeling a bathroom

Looking for a smart place to sink your money? You can typically recoup up to 80 percent of your costs in a quality bathroom renovation when you sell your home, according to real estate experts.

But there's a lot to ponder. To help flush away your worries, we asked a few highly rated remodelers for tips to consider before demolition begins.

Keep it dry
Prevent structural damage and mold problems by waterproofing your new bathroom. "It's an element that's hidden and often overlooked, but a valuable investment for clients when using tile in showers," says Geoff Horen, CEO of The Lifestyle Group Inc. in Indianapolis.

Toast your toes
If you're tearing up the floor, experts recommend installing a radiant heating system to keep your feet cozy. Put in a programmable thermostat to make sure it's warm when you wake up.

Plan ahead
Hire a remodeler who offers bathroom design services to prevent problems during construction. "Once construction begins, change orders can add up quickly, delay the project and ultimately put your budget at risk," says Craig Akers, owner of Akers Home Improvements in Sacramento, Calif.

Consider cleanup
When choosing tile, think about maintenance and durability. Natural stone and travertine often used for showers are delicate and require a neutral stone cleaner.

"Standard tile and grout cleaners will damage the stone and strip the sealers," says Gene Snodgrass, president of Indiana Renovations Inc. in Fishers, Ind. "There are many quality porcelain tiles available that are more durable."

Know your budget basics
Bathroom remodels are expensive, so make sure you spend wisely. Invest in high-quality faucets, toilets and showers that get daily use. "Be real with your budget," says John Gaskill, owner of Two Guys Tile & Design in Charlotte, N.C. "Sometimes the cheapest isn't the best."

Verify the help
Bathroom remodels often involve plumbing and electrical work. Verify that your contractor and subcontractors are properly licensed and pull all necessary permits.

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