How to Demo a Bathroom: Step by Step Guide

Cully and my first bathroom renovation was around 2012. We had zero clue how to demo a bathroom.

However, we were young, restless, recently married and excited at the prospect of making our own little dream bathroom come to life. So we did what any young DIY home renovation aspiring couple do – flipped through magazines (YouTube wasn’t what it is today) and researched what we could online and through home renovation books.

We quickly learned that the whole “how to demo a bathroom” experience isn’t just a matter of going in with a sledge hammer and wrecking everything.

There’s more involved than we first realized, especially when salvaging materials and not damaging the plumbing. We learned it’s important to be precise when removing walls and fixtures. It was an eye-opening experience realizing how much there is to know.

So, if you are wondering how to demo a bathroom and the steps involved, you’re in the right place.

How to demo a bathroom

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How to Demo a Bathroom Overview

Taking time to safely and efficiently demo a bathroom can save you money and it can help you identify any potential damage or structural issues with the walls and tiles. 

Plus, if you learn how to demo a bathroom correctly, it will give you an opportunity to start fresh and create a beautiful space that looks and feels modern.

Whether you are planning on doing the remodeling yourself or planning on hiring someone, you should equip yourself with the necessary knowledge so you don’t make any costly mistakes. 

There are quite a few common pitfalls that could occur if you’re not familiar with how to demo a bathroom such as forgetting about essential tools and materials, overlooking safety protocols, and buying supplies that aren’t properly suited for the project.

We know how daunting it can feel when you’re first learning how to demo a bathroom, so don’t worry – we’re here to help! 

Whether you need a refresher or are completely new to the task, this article will walk you through how to successfully demo a bathroom from start to finish. 

You’ll walk away feeling like a pro in no time by following these 6 steps: 

How to demo a bathroom steps:

  1. Plan the new bathroom layout
  2. Gather the necessary tools and supplies
  3. Disconnect/power off utilities
  4. Remove the old fixtures
  5. Remove drywall and flooring
  6. Clean up the mess and start building the new bathroom!

Plan the new bathroom layout

Planning the new bathroom layout is essential for any successful bathroom renovation. It is important to plan every aspect of your project including how you will use space, how to work around any existing plumbing, as well as how the finished product will look and feel.

Here are some things to consider when planning your bathroom layout:

Measure the space

Before you start planning how the space will look, you need to measure how much space is available. This will help you when selecting fixtures and materials such as toilets, sinks, and tiles.

It’s also wise to make sure you have the measurements of the new fixtures you will be installing. It may seem tedious and unnecessary but trust me , it will save you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Look at how the space can be used

Are there any corners or tight spaces that can be used to your advantage? Can you add storage shelves or recessed lighting? Thinking about how you will use the space ahead of time will help make sure that you make

Visualize how everything will come together

Take time to plan and visualize how everything will come together, how you will use the space, how much material is needed for the project, and how to budget your time and money.

It’s important to consider how you want the room to flow, how many fixtures will be included in the renovation (such as a bathtub, shower, toilet), how to design any features such as shelving , and how to plan for ventilation, heating and cooling.

Choose materials and fixtures to match the overall design

Once you have come up with your concept, look for materials and fixtures that will match the overall design of the room.

Determine if you need a permit for the project

You’ll want to check with your local building department to see if a permit is required. If you are doing a full on renovation, it is highly likely that you will need a permit.

How to demo a bathroom
A sample of the plans we needed to submit to the county in order to receive a permit for our project.

Gather the necessary tools and supplies

Learning how to demo a bathroom is an exciting adventure, but also requires lots of preparation. To ensure the process goes off without a hitch, it’s important to make sure you are properly equipped with all the necessary tools and supplies.

Before starting, take inventory of the items in your arsenal and make sure you have everything you need. Having access to the common demo tools and materials listed below will help make the experience of how to demo a bathroom much easier and much more successful.

Hammer and drill

A hammer and drill are two of the most important tools you will need when demolishing a bathroom. With these two tools, you can easily remove nails and screws from walls or furniture, as well as break apart drywall and tile with ease.

Safety glasses and gloves

Wearing protective gear such as safety glasses and gloves can help prevent serious injury or accidents while you’re working on your project. Safety glasses will protect your eyes from dust and debris that could be created when removing fixtures and drywall, while gloves will provide protection from sharp edges which may be present in old plumbing pipes or wiring.

Investing in good quality safety glasses and gloves is well worth the money for peace of mind knowing that you’re protected during the demolition process.

Dust mask/respirator

Demoing a bathroom is no easy task and requires careful planning and preparation. In order to ensure the process goes off without a hitch, it’s important to make sure you are properly equipped with all the necessary tools and supplies, including a dust mask or respirator. A dust mask or

Pry bar

A pry bar can make the process of removing fixtures and tile easier and safer. It allows you to carefully chip away at tiles, facilitating the removal of stubborn tile mortar and grout without causing unnecessary damage to the substrate. Plus this way you don’t have to worry about any mess associated with using hammers or chisels.

Utility knife

A utility knife makes life easier when it comes to tearing down the existing components. Not only does it save you time, but it also allows you to effectively remove any material from the area so that demolition is successful from start to finish. Whether you’re taking out outdated tiles or cutting through caulk, a utility knife is essential for how to demo a bathroom.

Buckets to hold debris

To make sure no mess is left behind after a bathroom demolition, using buckets is essential. Not only do they make an excellent way to collect nails, screws, tile and other residue but also can make cleaning up a breeze. As long as these buckets are placed strategically throughout the work area, it’s easy to collect all debris along the way and save yourself from post-demo cleanup agony.

Note: if it’s a larger demo, you may need to rent a dumpster to remove all the debris.

Shop Bathroom Demo Tools and Supplies:

Disconnect/power off utilities

When learning how to demo a bathroom, disconnecting the power and utilities may feel overwhelming at first. But fear not – if you know how to do it correctly and safely, you’ll be able to undertake your bathroom demo like a pro.

Turn off water line

Make sure you find out precisely how the water shut-off valve works, as this will help prevent damage to your home and belongings. To determine where the water lines are located, look for access panels in the walls or floors of your home –these may help you locate the pipes supplying your bathtub, sink, or toilet.

It’s often easier to find the water shut off in a newer home. If you live in an older home, like us, you may be surprised to find out where the water line shut off is. For example, ours is awkwardly “hidden” in the floor in the hallway leading to the home’s addition that was built many years ago and before we lived there.

Water shut off

When you know how to identify a water line, then you can shut off its flow of water by turning off the main valve or closing valves at specific fixtures. When in doubt, set aside time to research your particular situation or call in a pro to help.

Power off electrical

To power off electricity, you will first need to locate the electrical panel, which will contain all of the main circuit breakers and switches. Once located, switch off each breaker one by one (or just in the areas you will be working). This is how you safely turn off power in your home to ensure no electric shocks occur or electrocution happens.

Related Reading: Must have Electrical Tools and Equipment

Turn off gas lines

You may or may not have a natural gas line in your house. If your bathroom is anywhere near where a potential gas line is, it is always safest to turn it off. And, unless you know exactly where the gas line runs throughout your house, safety first always applies. So be sure to locate and turn off the gas lines.

Remove the old fixtures

The success of any renovation ultimately comes down to paying attention to details, particularly when it comes time for removing existing fixtures. Taking care with the removal process could be critical in realizing your desired outcome.

That said, if you are ripping out every last fixture and you do not care about reselling the fixtures and/or will not be using them again, you do not need to be terribly meticulous.

Cully and I generally try to sell our used items on Facebook Marketplace. It’s part of what we do to save and/or make money with each renovation. 

If that’s not your jam, it’s cool. You do you. But, if you are going to be re-purposing/selling any of the materials like we do, then pay special attention so that it can still be used again.

How to demo a bathroom
Don’t be surprised by how incredibly disgusting parts of the demo may be!

Remove drywall and flooring

By taking out the drywall and flooring, potential problem areas can be identified early. You can check for signs of mold, making sure that everything is safe before proceeding with your remodel.

Removing Drywall 

One of the most important steps in removing drywall is to protect yourself from potential hazards like dust and debris. Make sure you wear safety glasses and a dust mask while working on any demolition project.

After that, the process is relatively straightforward. Start by cutting the wall into small sections using a utility knife or Sawzall. Once each section has been cut away, simply pry it off the studs with a pry bar or hammer and chisel. This method allows you to remove drywall in chunks without causing too much damage to your walls or ceiling. 

Removing Flooring 

If you need to remove an existing floor, the first step is to determine if it’s nailed down or glued down. When the floor is glued down, you will need to use a heat gun and scraper blade to soften the glue before attempting removal. If it’s nailed down, then start by using a pry bar or crowbar to break up any large pieces of wood flooring. Then use pliers or an oscillating tool with a flat blade attachment to pull out any remaining nails.

For tiles on concrete floors, use a hammer and chisel to break them up into smaller pieces. Then remove them with either pliers or an oscillating tool with flat blade attachment. Once all of the flooring material has been removed, sweep away any debris with either a broom or shop vacuum.

Clean up the mess and start building the new bathroom!

Ideally, you would be keeping you with general clean up as you go along. This helps make the clean up process not be so daunting at the end – especially when all you want to do is get moving on building the new bathroom!

Be sure to vacuum the small chunks of drywall and drywall dust. Don’t sweep it with a broom – the dust will fill the air like a smoke machine at a concert. Vacuum until all of the dust, dirt and debris have been sucked away.

After the tedious toil of cleanup and preparation, you are ready for the exciting part – constructing your dream bathroom! Now’s your chance to create a unique space with all that personal flair.

How to demo a bathroom conclusion

With a few careful steps, you can confidently put your DIY skills to the test and remodel any bathroom with professional-looking results. From safely turning off gas lines to removing wall fixtures without damaging surfaces – follow these six simple guidelines for completing an expertly crafted bathroom overhaul that’ll be sure to make guests green (with envy)!

How to demo a bathroom

How to Demo a Bathroom FAQ

Q: What tools do I need to demo a bathroom?

A: Generally, you’ll need a Sawzall, crowbar or pry bar, hammer and chisel, pliers or an oscillating tool with a flat blade attachment. You may also need additional items depending on how extensive the demolition project is.

Q: Is it difficult to remove drywall and flooring?

A: It can be, but with the right safety equipment and following the steps in this article, it doesn’t have to be! Removing drywall and flooring requires patience as well as caution. If done correctly, you should be able to complete the job without any major issues.

Q: How do I clean up the mess after demoing a bathroom?

A: Vacuuming is the best way to clean up the dust and debris. Make sure to use a shop vacuum or HEPA filter-equipped vacuum in order to collect any remaining particles. This will help you maintain a safe environment for your new bathroom project.

Until next time,


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How to demo a bathroom

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