Bathroom Fixtures – The Finishing Touches!
When performing a bathroom remodel in Mission Viejo, Irvine, Lake Forest, Rancho Santa Margarita, Laguna Niguel, Newport Beach, and other South Orange County California communities, clients sometimes find confusing the process of selecting bathroom fixtures. Everyone knows about the need for a toilet, sink, faucet, tub or shower – the big stuff. However, what about the finishing touches! The finishing touches are bathroom fixtures like towel bars, tissue holder, robe hook, cabinet knobs, etc. This article will focus on the finishing touches.
I bet you’ll find a few surprises in this article – things you never thought of before. So, let’s get started.
The Foundation for Bathroom Fixtures
You’ve likely heard some rendition of “it all starts with a strong foundation.” When building a house, the foundation is key to ensuring the house does not fall down! It does not matter how strong the walls are if the foundation is weak. The same is true for a bathroom. The foundation for a bathroom is what’s inside the walls. One of the many reasons DAD’s always removes the drywall down to the studs when remodeling a bathroom is to get to the bathroom’s foundation. In bathrooms, the success of the remodel depends on what you do behind the drywall.
For the finishing touches, this means ensuring the correct size and type of fasteners are used to install blocking. Blocking is behind the towel bars, towel rings, tissue holder, cabinets, backsplashes, bathtubs, hand bars, shower and tub valves, etc. If you have one of those towel bars or tissue holders (aka TP holder) that keeps falling off the wall, you know how frustrating this can be. A beautiful new bathroom can quickly look tied and worn with towel bars falling off the walls! To learn more about the design process, see What is Design/Build?
Style of your Bathroom Fixtures
Every bathroom should have a theme. This theme should be about function, relaxation, or both. Part of the theme is coordinating the look or style. Style is the artistic coordination of pieces and their functional designs. This can be broken down into two basic categories (1) clean lines (2) stylish lines. Here’s an example:
You want everything to match. Many clients are unaware that on the better made toilets, the trip lever (aka handle) can also be purchased to match all the other bathroom fixtures. It’s these small details that make a great bathroom an extraordinary bathroom! A design/build contractor like DAD’s Construction can help you find the right manufacturer to coordinate everything – even the light fixtures and cabinet knobs. To learn more on selecting the right Contractor, see How Do I Choose a Contractor?
The finish is very important. Whether it’s brushed nickel, brushed stainless steel, polished chrome, oil rubbed bronze, or one of the many others, how you use your bathroom plays a big part in your decision. If your bathroom is going to be heavily used, polished chrome is your best bet. If you’re looking for a mixture of style and frequent use, brushed nickel or brushed stainless steel are great options. But the most important finish is the one you love. Some finishes do last longer than others. In similar fashion, some finishes tolerate the hard Orange County water better than others.
Although not illustrated here, the tub or shower drain will also need to match the finish for the bathroom. There are lots of different styles for each. Selecting the wrong style and it will look odd. Tub drains are a mechanical process. These too come in lots of activation configurations.
Size and Function of your Bathroom Fixtures
For most guest bathrooms and many master bathrooms in Orange County, homes built between 1950-2010 (especially between 1960 – 1990), the builders seem to have forgotten that people use towels and tissue paper. There is little space for a towel bar on any wall and reaching for tissue paper requires expertise in yoga!
Don’t forget about the door
The entry door that hits the towel bar when it’s opened makes no sense. Reaching for tissue paper should not require contortionist movements just to grab a hand full of tissue from the holder mounted on the side of the cabinet. During the design phase of your bathroom remodel, special attention to the size, number and placement of towel bars must be considered. I know several awesome tricks to get more towel bar space out of the bathroom.
When considering the finishing touches of bathroom fixtures, don’t forget about the tissue holder and towel bars
Think out of the box! There are lots of options for towel bars. Towel bars are available in more than just straight rods that mount on the wall.
Towel bars range in size from 9 to 36 inches. The most common sizes are 18, 24, and 30 inches. This can be a bit deceiving. The length is measured from center-to-center of the bar itself. In other words, a 24” towel bar is 24” from the center of one end of the bar to the center of the other end of the bar. However, the overall length can be more than 3 inches bigger due to the posts (where it connects to the wall). What this means is that that 24 inches you thought you had for your towel bar really requires 26 to 27 inches. That’s why it does not fit when you get it home! The overall size varies by manufacturer, model, style, etc. There are no averages or rules here. It can get tricky!
How many towel bars do I need?
Equally important is who will be using the bathroom and what type of towels are being used. Typically, a woman needs a place for 3 towels (floor towel, body towel, and hair towel). A man on the other hand along with most children only needs a place for 2 towels (floor towel and body towel). Of course, this can vary; however, during my 44 years in remodeling, more than 90% of my female customers want space to hang 2 towels for them, 1 for their husband, and 1 for each child (not counting the universally used floor towel or bath mat).
The type of towel along with how many of each you use is important. Bath towels range from about 27 inches by 52 inches in size all the way up to 30 inches by 58 inches for the largest towel. The smallest bath sheets, in comparison, are much larger, generally around 35 inches by 60 inches. Don’t forget about the washcloth and hand towel if you use these!
For many of my Orange County clients, they can’t stand having wet and mildew towels tossed on the bathroom floor because there’s no place to put them. There are ways around some of this. The proper placement using a combination of various towel bars, robe hooks, and hoteliers can make all the difference.
The Tissue holder is often forgotten
The tissue holder is a bathroom fixture that is really limited to 3 options (1) Wall or cabinet mount (2) Caddy (3) Leave on the counter or floor. There are lots of options today for wall mount tissue holders. Where its installed along with the height of the tissue holder makes all the difference. I usually let the client tell me where to install the tissue holder after I provide some general guidance. I make sure the client performs several “dry runs” before I install to make sure where she wants the tissue holder will actually work for her. An excellent alternative for “tight fit” bathrooms is the tissue caddy. These come in lots of different styles and configurations.
The shower and tub enclosure is a bathroom fixture. Although most tub and shower enclosures are frameless today, there is still metal on both. Both need a handle to open and close the doors. The tub enclosure still has a metal header (top) rail for the doors to hang and slide from while showers have hinges. Don’t forget about coordinating the style and finish of the enclosures knob, towel bar, robe hook, hinges or header rail. A simple knob works really well for opening and closing – nothing super fancy. In similar fashion, the header rail for the tub or hinges for the shower will also need to match the finish for the bathroom. For more information on shower and bathtub glass, see Shower and Bathtub Glass.
The door is a bathroom fixture. This includes the hinges, doorknob, and door stop. The door hinges and doorknob typically will not match what’s in the bathroom. These items should match what is in the remainder of the house. You would not have oil rubbed bronze hinges and knobs throughout the house and a polished chrome set on the bathroom. That would look really strange. Although once popular, the inside doorknob for the bathroom should not match the bathroom. Years ago, it was popular to have the inside doorknob match the bathroom while the outside matched the remainder of the house. This went out of favor about 2000 and has never returned.
Mirrors are very important bathroom fixtures. This is often an overlooked item. However, the mirror is a critical piece in making the bathroom have that “WOW” effect. Not every style will work in every bathroom.
Large mirrors that cover most, if not all of the wall above the cabinet make a small bathroom appear much bigger. Separate wood framed mirrors add elegance but do little to give the bathroom a larger feel. A larger wood framed mirror provides both the look and feel of a larger bathroom while adding elegance.
A bevel around the entire circumference of the mirror gives depth and elegance to the mirror and the bathroom. The proper size of the bevel will vary with the overall design and size of the bathroom. To big and it distorts the image and looks odd. To small and it looks like a mistake.
Mirror mounting is important
The mounting procedure is really important both for look and safety of the mirror. Cheaper mirrors will use small plastic clips with a screw into the drywall on top along with a metal or plastic U-channel on the bottom (very weak, unattractive, and unsafe – but cheap!). However, using the proper mirror mastic or Z-bar makes for a very clean, polished, and beautiful presentation!
Mirror quality is very important
When deciding on a mirror, the quality is very important. The best mirrors are hand polished with a high polished edge. A mirror is simply a piece of glass with a silver/copper coating along with several coats of waterproof paint. This is how the “mirror image” is created. If the mirror does not use the correct thickness of silver/copper, high quality water proof paint, the paint is scratched, or the paint is not properly applied, the mirror will start to “rust” and become discolored, usually starting in a corner and growing over time. This is a defective or damaged mirror and looks very unpleasant.
Quality of your Bathroom Fixtures
This is perhaps, the elephant in the room for bathroom fixtures. The quality of the bathroom fixture has a tremendous impact on how it’s going to perform and last. Don’t be persuaded by a lifetime warranty. A lifetime warranty is becoming standard jargon today. Here are some little-known facts that the manufactures have mastered. Ready? Rarely does anyone execute the lifetime warranty. After a few years, nobody remembers about the warranty, folks don’t save or remember where they put the original receipt (paperless receipts, cell phone purchases, and on-line purchases have been a boom to manufacturers bottom lines), and most Americans move about every 5 years.
Most warranty’s only cover the original purchaser. Moreover, there is an increasing trend where the manufacturer requires that you ship the item back to them (you pay the shipping) and they’ll decide what you should get – a repair or replacement. Oh yeah, and you are responsible for removing the old item or part and installing the new, replacement item or part – they don’t cover labor.
This is why everyone wants to sell you an extended warranty on everything today. They know you’ll never use it! For more ideas on design and quality in the bathroom, see Bathroom Remodel in Orange County.
You’re probably frustrated at this point asking yourself “so how do I buy something, and I know I’m getting my money’s worth? How do I know who’s reputable?” The honest answer is that you don’t. All the online research in the world won’t help. What about those home improvement stores and big box retailers? These stores get a lot of incentives from the manufacturers to sell their product. Truth be told, I would not buy bathroom fixtures from a home improvement store or from any online (internet) seller.
Who can you turn to for the best bathroom fixture advice?
The only real, honest to goodness person who can provide you with straight answers and point you in the right direction is someone who has a lot of experience with bathroom fixtures. Yup, that’s the person who does it for a living – like DAD’s Construction. Your contractor should be your biggest advocate and fight hard for every penny you spend. It’s your contractors’ job to make sure you have all the important information before you decide on what towel bar or tissue holder you want installed in your bathroom. That’s why you hired them!
I highly recommend Kohler for bathroom fixtures. The Kohler warranty, quality, and customer service exceeds almost all other manufacturers. Their superior durability and reasonable prices cannot be beat.