Drawing Up A Floor Plan For Your Bathroom Remodel

Written by bprescottJanuary 29, 2012
Bathroom remodeling sketches

Drawing up a floor plan

The best way to help you visualize the remodeling possibilities is to do what the professionals do: Make a scale drawing of the space. The process of creating a scale drawing forces you to take careful note of the existing room and everything in it. And it gives you a concise record of the key dimensions of the area you plan to change. As you work through the design with a contractor or designer, or if you do the work yourself, a scaled drawing gives you information to carry on an informed discussion, ask questions, and choose materials and fixtures more confidently.

Using design software tools

To design your bathroom, you can use graph paper, buy inexpensive software, such as Broderbund’s 3D Home Architect (about $30), or use the online tools available on the Internet at manufacturer Web sites such as Kohler.com. If you don’t have a computer, go to your public library, where you can get access to the Internet.

The real advantage to the high-tech approach is that after you create the basic floor plan, the computer can render a virtual bathroom from the floor plan that lets you see what the bathroom might look like in a three-dimensional image. These tools also can generate a shopping list of all the fixtures and cabinets you need.

Expect a learning curve when using design software for the first time, but you can figure out most simpler house design programs without too much anguish.

Even if you use a computer to create your design, you still need to do some low-tech tasks with a tape measure, paper, and pencil because any computer software you use is based on the data or dimensions you put in it. Spend the time and effort to get accurate measurements and preliminary drawings of the existing bathroom or area you want to remodel because any new designs depend on the accuracy of this initial information.

Designing the old-fashioned way

The pencil-and-paper approach is less expensive than computer-based design and will certainly get the job done. To make a scaled drawing of the existing bathroom, you need the following:

  • 1/4-inch-square graph paper
  • 16-foot (or longer) steel measuring tape
  • Art gum eraser
  • Masking tape
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Tracing paper
  • Unlined paper

Even if you hated art class in school, this is going to be fun because no drawing is required. Sit on the floor or the toilet or in the tub and make Leonardo da Vinci proud.

1. Sketch it out.

Make a rough paper sketch of the room on unlined paper. This sketch should have all openings, including doors and windows; the location of the existing plumbing fixtures (toilet, bathtub, shower, and vanity); the location of all electrical lines, including outlets and receptacles, light fixtures, and fans; heating and cooling pipes and heating ducts; and walls and partitions.

If you’re considering borrowing space from an adjacent room, make a sketch of it, too. You may want to use space from a closet in the room next to it, a linen closet in the hall nearby, or an adjacent bathroom.

2. Add dimensions to the sketch.

Next, with the help of a friend, use the tape measure to take measurements of the bathroom. Hold the tape tightly at both ends to get exact dimensions. Measure the length of the walls, windows, and fixtures and mark them on the rough sketch. Go back and double-check the measurements for accuracy.

3. Transfer the room dimensions to a sheet of graph paper.

Each 1/4-inch square on the graph paper is equal to 6 inches, or 1/2 foot.

For example, a 6-foot-long wall will be 12 squares long in the drawing. First, draw the bathroom walls and partitions and then the surrounding areas. Include the doors and the direction they swing open and, of course, any windows. Then draw in the fixtures to complete the floor plan.

You now have the basic layout of the existing bathroom and its adjacent areas. If you plan an addition to expand the size of the bathroom, the scaled drawing should include the exterior wall you plan to open.

Don’t lose your original sketch. Keep it safely tucked in your bathroom notebook so it’s safe and you won’t lose it. Some people like to keep it on a clipboard so it’s easy to work on. Whatever you decide, don’t misplace it.

Making an overlay

The scaled graph paper floor plan becomes the background that you can use with several different designs on tracing paper. To make your first one, place a piece of tracing paper over the sketch on the graph paper and hold it in place with a piece of masking tape. Then trace over the floor plan with a sharp pencil to transfer the floor plan to the tracing paper, as shown in Figure 2-2. Voilà- you have an accurate rendition of the existing floor plan as a starting point for your new design.


Figure 2-2: Use tracing paper to create different room designs.

Lift the tracing paper up off the graph paper, and you’ll see you’ve created the basic layout of the bathroom. You can have several versions going at the same time; just tape additional sheets of tracing paper over one another. Each version can be a variation of the other, but they’re all based on the existing location of the walls, doors, and windows. Make design changes to the tracing paper.

If the new bathroom will take space from an adjacent room, note any walls or partitions that will be removed. If the new bathroom will be bumped out onto cantilevered floor joists, make note of the foundation and ground space below it.

Making templates

Place Figure 2-3 on a photocopier and make a copy of it. Then cut out the shapes of the basic fixtures and use them on the scaled drawing.


Figure 2-3: Creating templates of your bathroom floor plan.

Alternatively, you can purchase a plumbing fixture template from your local drafting supply or art store. Most house plans use a scale of 1/4 inch to a foot, but because the bathroom is a smaller area than a house, a scale of 1/2 inch to a foot is easier to work with. If you can’t find a template of 1/2 inch to the foot, purchase the 1/4-inch-scale template and make each square on the graph paper equal a foot.

Being creative with design tools on the Internet

If you’re using design software or a design tool at a manufacturer’s Web site, use the dimensions from the sketch you made. In general, you follow a sequence of inputting or filling in the size of the room and the location and length of walls, windows, and doors. When completed, the software generates a design. This can be a time-intensive exercise depending on how user-friendly the software or design tool is and how easily you can input the data. But tough it out, be patient, and let the computer do the work and churn out different designs.


From ‘Bathroom Remodeling For Dummies’
Copyright © 2003 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Indianapolis, Indiana
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.



Drawing Up A Floor Plan For Your Bathroom Remodel | Bathroom Remodeling for Dummies
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