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How to Begin Demolition of a Bathroom

Remodeling a bathroom begins with removal of old fixtures and outdated tiles. Learn how to safely begin demolition of a bathroom for a remodel with these easy step-by-step instructions.

More in Bathroom

remodeling bath begins with removal of old fixture
  • Time

    Day

  • Price Range

    $1 - $50

  • Difficulty

    Easy to Moderate

Highlights:

Step 1: Empty the Toilet of Water

If you are not going to be saving the toilet for reuse, you can just take it out in pieces. Normally you would unbolt the toilet, but it is easier this way because sometimes the bolts are rusted and very difficult to remove. The first thing you need to do is empty the toilet of water. Make sure that the water supply is shut off, and then flush the toilet to empty the tank. Use a plunger to force as much water out of the bowl as possible. You can use a sponge to remove the rest of the water, but if you have wet/dry vacuum use it to remove the rest of the water from the tank and the bowl.

Step 2: Remove the Toilet

Take a hammer and smack the toilet, starting at the base of the tank. The trick is to crack the tank around the bolts (Image 1) so it will lift right off. Throw the chunks into the garbage can and then break them into small pieces.

To remove the bottom part of the toilet, smack it with a hammer at the base by the stool bolts. Do this on both sides. Wiggle the toilet free and then remove it to the dumpster. Be careful not to drop anything down the waste hole.

Remove any porcelain pieces that are left. Next, you will remove the wax ring and the bolts. The wax ring is actually made of beeswax so that it will stay soft, and it makes a good sealant for the pipe. Use pliers to pull the wax ring up (Image 2). If any wax remains, use a putty knife to clean it up.

Use a plastic bag that you fill with rags to plug the hole. This will prevent any gases from seeping back into the house.

Step 3: Protect the Bathtub

The next step is to remove the tile around the bathtub. You need to remove the tile all the way down to the studs because you need to take out all the plaster in order to get in and redo the plumbing for the shower. Also, you need to install cement board. Cement board is similar to drywall, but it is made for wet areas because it is water resistant.

With all the plaster and tile coming down, it will be a mess. Put a piece of tape over the drain hole and then lay a sturdy piece of wood on top of the tub. Tape around the edges of the board to prevent the debris from getting into the bottom of the tub.

Note: You can use this wood to stand on to help you get to the higher areas, but make sure it is sturdy enough to hold your weight.

plywood prevents debris from getting into tub

Step 4: Remove the Shower Pipe

Unscrew the shower pipe and get it out of the way. Take a hammer and knock the soap dish off the wall. Bust a hole in the wall between the studs. Be extra careful around the shower riser pipe. Also, be careful near the edges because you don't want to break into the ceiling or the smooth wall outside the tub.

remove the shower pipe

Step 5: Take Out Insulation

Remove the old insulation and be sure and wear a dust mask, gloves and safety goggle when handling old insulation.

If you need to remove a wall, do not use a hammer to knock it down because you might damage part of the ceiling. The best thing to do is use a reciprocating saw — make a straight cut across the top, and just push the panels out.

remove old insulation

Step 6: Remove the Cabinets

Once the tub area is cleared, you can remove the sink, countertop and cabinets. With the water off, and the pipes disconnected, use a pry bar to loosen the sink (Image 1). You can also use a pry bar to remove the backsplash around the cabinet, and to remove the cabinet top.

Loosen the cabinet screws and then cut the cabinets free with a reciprocating saw. The cabinet should pop right out in sections.

Use a vacuum and clean up all the debris.

use pry bar to remove backsplash around cabinet

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