If you plan to give your bathroom a facelift, upgrading your bathtub or shower goes a long way in creating a new environment at a reasonable cost. A well planned bathroom and shower remodel project will pay big dividends. In fact, next to kitchens, master bathrooms are one of the primary factors in home values and selling homes.
The number of options for these two seemingly simple fixtures can seem daunting, so selecting a knowledgeable contractor to walk you through the process is essential. So how do you go about choosing the right Alameda County bathtub and shower contractor for your job? The best way to start is by doing a little homework on the nature of your specific project.
Decide What Kind of Work You Need
Because bathtub and shower projects come in many shapes and sizes, it is important to have a basic idea of what you want and the kind of work involved before hiring a contractor.
Do you need a brand new bathtub or shower, or does your existing fixture simply need to be refinished or lined? What bathtub and shower design style do you prefer? What additional skill requirements may be necessary for your job (for example, tiling, plumbing, electrical work)? Do you intend to keep your existing bathroom floor plan? Are you looking for a custom-designed bathtub or shower? If you intend to keep your existing bathroom design, what are the exact specifications of your current bathtub or shower?
Basing your bathtub and shower replacement options on an accurate assessment of the available space is key, and saves time once a Alameda County building contractor is brought into the picture.
Your answers to these questions should take several factors into account. The first is size. You’ll want a bathtub or shower large enough to relax in comfortably, but not so large that it leads to needless water usage. Is the bathtub or shower intended to accommodate one person or two? Is it a realistic fit for the size of your water heater?
Functionality is another important consideration will you actually use all the features of the upgraded bathtub or shower you are considering (for example, whirlpool jets)? Are there specific circumstances that necessitate a specialized bathtub or shower feature? Bathtub features can increase the price of a fixture from $200 to $10,000, so it’s important to take inventory of what your needs are, set a practical budget, and stick to it.
Color and finish are also important. Do you plan to remodel the other elements of the bathroom, or are you looking for a bathtub or shower that will integrate seamlessly into your existing design scheme? Prefabricated bathtubs and showers come in a variety of colors and finishes, but if you’re planning a larger budget, custom built bathtubs and showers allow you to optimally match your fixture to the space.
The material should also be taken into account. Bathtubs can be made of porcelain, cast iron, fiberglass, marble, acrylic, and wood, and each material varies in price, maintenance, and durability. Cast iron is durable and better at maintaining water temperature, but is also significantly heavier and more expensive. Marble is attractive but not durable. Fiberglass and acrylic insulate well, are less expensive, and can be easily molded, but are more susceptible to fading and surface damage. Wood offers a rustic charm, but also requires more work to maintain.
Prospective bathtub and shower contractors in Alameda County should be aware of the pros and cons of specific materials and designs, and can also help guide you through the process of selecting the shower or tub that best meets your needs.
You’ll find that bathtub and shower contractors often perform a variety of bathroom remodeling duties, and many are part of larger kitchen and bath contracting firms in Oakland, Fremont, Hayward, Berkeley, San Leandro, Alameda, Union City, Pleasanton, Newark, and Dublin. Along with installing new bathtubs and showers, many are also qualified to install new plumbing, faucets, and toilets, tile walls and floors, paint, and even perform minor electrical work required by certain bathroom fixtures. Some are dedicated to specialties such as refinishing bathtubs or designing and installing shower doors.
If you’re looking for a simple installation, then a custom-design contractor will not likely be the most economical option, nor would a refinishing specialist be the best qualified. It’s up to you to decide which contractors have the experience to best meet the needs of your specific project.
Develop a Budget for Bathtub Replacement Materials and Labor
Once you have a better idea of the nature and scope of your project, you can begin developing a budget. Visit local home supply stores and perform web searches to look at available options and prices for the kinds of bathtubs and showers you’re considering.
What kind of finish do you like? Options include solid colors, granite appearance, marble appearance, and tile appearance. What bathtub style do you prefer? A few common design options include built-in (standard shower and tub combination), freestanding (claw foot or legged), soaking (deeper tub), or specialty fixtures such as a whirlpool.
As you browse online or in your local Alameda County home improvement store, keep a comprehensive list or spreadsheet detailing estimated materials needed, sources, and prices. Be sure to include peripheral material costs in addition to the actual fixture, such as tile and caulk.
A thorough budget and price list will prove useful when negotiating with prospective contractors.
Upgrading, Instead of Replacing Your Shower or Bathtub
If you are planning to simply upgrade your existing bathtub your options include refinishing and lining. Lining consists of placing a heat-molded lining over your bathtub, then affixing it with adhesive calk. Refinishing is simply etching the porcelain to produce the smoothest surface possible using standard acid etching or eco-friendlier but pricier acid-free etching.
If your existing bathtub or shower works well, but looks worn, refinishing or lining can give it a brand-new feel at a fraction of what you would pay to replace it entirely.
Look for Licensed Bathtub and Shower Contractors in Alameda County
Be sure to look for Alameda County contractors that possess both the necessary experience and contractor’s licenses for the particular type of work you need. All Alameda County bathtub and shower contractors are required to be licensed by the California State Contractors License Board. The CSLB offers 43 different license classifications, including glazing, plumbing, and tile. You can verify a prospective contractor’s current license on the CSLB website.
Licensed Alameda County bathtub and shower contractors service all the major cities, including Oakland, Fremont, Hayward, Berkeley, San Leandro, Alameda, Union City, Pleasanton, Newark, and Dublin, and smaller cities like Ashland, Mount Eden, Sunol, Russell City, and Castro Valley.
Odds are that the contractors you’re considering have a portfolio of previous projects for you to browse, which will offer a good indication of the scale and style of work they have completed. In addition to this, you can request references from previous customers. Portfolios and references go a long way in providing you the information you need to make the best decision about a bathtub and shower contractor.
Obtain Permits for Bathtub and Shower Replacement
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Under the California Building Code, no building or structure can be altered, repaired, or improved without obtaining a permit. Codes vary greatly by city and county, so you can find out more about your specific project on the CSLB website, which details requirements by city and county. In addition, your licensed Alameda County bathtub and shower contractor can assist you in determining whether your project requires a permit and how to obtain a permit, if necessary.