The right foundation for a bathroom renovation

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When it comes to renovating a bathroom, it’s easy to get carried away with all the shiny stuff – the tile choices, the shape of the bath and the style of tapware. However, experienced renovators know that the important parts of any wet area (including bathrooms and laundries) lies beneath all the elements you see on first glance. The issue of waterproofing and a solid foundation is vitally important to those considering a renovation – pretty tiles are of not much use if they are falling off the walls!

Create a bathroom that will last

Builder Amy Thackeray of Sunday Homes, a construction company based on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, has just completed an extensive renovation of this 1960s cottage and solid waterproofing – using James Hardie’s SecuraTM flooring and VillaboardTM lining – has been key to creating a bathroom that will last.

A watertight plan

“I think back in those days, waterproofing was barely even a thing,” Amy explains. “If it was, there was certainly no certification around how it needed to be done.” Our standards are much higher now.”

The family that Amy was working with had been living in the cottage in Sydney’s Curl Curl for some time, but with a small floorplan and just one bathroom, so it was time to make some drastic changes to take them into the next decade or two.

“We basically created a master extension at the back, which included an adult bedroom, walk-in robe, and new bathroom,” Amy says. “Then the main house also had a full revamp of the existing bathroom, so the boys have got a new bathroom now to themselves and we added in a powder room, which was part of the lounge room before.”

villaboard in bathroom

The master ensuite comes to life

The master ensuite, was designed as a luxurious escape from the day-to-day of family life – essential when you have three teenage boys. A custom-made timber vanity blends with terrazzo-style porcelain floor tiles. The walls were lined in James Hardie’s Villaboard lining, a product that Amy uses in all her bathroom renovations.

“With any wet area you need to use a proper lining so the tiles can stick and stay,” she explains. Villaboard’s performance is 100% better than the minimum tile adhesive, as Amy notes: “A bathroom is obviously a really high-moisture area, so, you do normal lining throughout the house, but then you need to use the Villaboard in the bathroom. It can withstand that humidity.”

The base of the bathroom floor uses Secura from James Hardie, also specially designed for wet areas, to assist in waterproofing and ensure that the new bathroom will last the distance, especially because the family chose a classical design for the room, which won’t date quickly.

“That’s what we really try and design towards, making sure that nothing’s too ‘popular’,” says Amy. “It’s classic and you can just update it without needing to renovate again in the next 10, 15 years.”

“Any of our building works are guaranteed for seven years structurally, but I imagine in this day and age, a bathroom is going to last a hell of a lot longer than that.”

And the family agrees. “We love everything about our new bathroom,” says Sandra, the owner. “Our favourite elements are definitely the custom timber vanity and matching shaving cabinet. We know we will be here for a long time.”

secura flooring in bathroom

Amy’s top 3 tips for renovating a bathroom

1. Waterproofing

Ensure the area is properly waterproofed – an existing bathroom may need to have a concrete screed, while a timber substructure works well with Secura sheets, which have one side designed for tiled applications and include a sealant gap.

2. Go for classic style

Well-built bathrooms are designed for longevity, so try to avoid finishes that are just popular in the moment and for hard surfaces, such as tiles, baths and vanities. Smaller items, such as tapware, accessories and freestanding furniture can be refreshed regularly in order to keep the space up to date.

3. Tradespeople can be expensive, so use them wisely

A bathroom renovation uses most building trades, including carpentry, plumbing, electrical and tiling, so it can be an expensive area to renovate, especially if you have trades sitting around waiting for their work to start. Make sure your renovation has a solid project manager, who has experience in timing them so each trade is efficient as possible.

Renovate your bathroom

Check out more inspiration from the James Hardie range.

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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