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How to turn a closet into a bathroom

Updated February 21, 2017

Converting a closet into a bathroom can enhance living space in important ways. For example, a small powder room off the kitchen can be handy for family members coming in from a back door garage area. Having another full bath in an upstairs area might be more important than having a walk-in closet. Converting the space will likely cost a few thousand dollars, but the new bath may add market value to the home as future potential buyers see the converted closet space as a bonus.

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  1. Measure all of the closet space and surrounding floor space. Look for ways to make the new bathroom larger, if needed, by expanding closet walls outward into a bedroom, for example. Draw the closet area and living space near it on graph paper. Review the perimeter walls to figure out if they are load bearing walls. Plan the total bathroom space that will be included so that you can frame any added perimeter walls with 2-by-4-inch boards.

  2. Get a building permit and go over the challenges you will encounter. Figure out if electrical wiring or plumbing will be difficult to channel to the new bathroom space. Go into the attic, for example, to figure out a way to direct new water lines or wiring into the bath you want to build. Refer to local building codes and restrictions concerning bath construction as you plan and complete each stage of your project.

  3. Add new framing and define doors and windows. Install a window or skylight in the space, for instance, to bring light into the new bathroom. Build a sky shaft capped by a skylight if the former closet has no access to exterior walls. Use boards to enclose a wide wall where closet doors once stood. Plan to hang a bathroom door that matches other interior doors in nearby rooms or hallways.

  4. Run plumbing and electrical wiring before finishing new walls. Ensure that the toilet drain, water pipes and electrical needs of the room are in place. Install new drywall and paint the room, plus check that adequate insulation is installed in the attic over the former closet. Add new main fixtures, such as a shower, tub and sink before hooking up light fixtures. Wait to seat the toilet until flooring is in place.

  5. Complete the flooring; caulk all appropriate areas and lay a tile floor. Add baseboard material after finished flooring is in place. Seat the toilet with a wax seal on top of the tile after grout has dried thoroughly. Add shelving and artwork to the new bathroom.

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Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tape
  • Graph paper
  • 2-by-4-inch boards
  • Building permit
  • Window
  • Skylight
  • Interior door
  • Plumbing materials
  • Electrical wiring
  • Drywall
  • Paint
  • Insulation
  • Toilet
  • Shower
  • Bathtub
  • Sink vanity
  • Light fixtures
  • Caulking
  • Tile
  • Grout
  • Shelving
  • Artwork

About the Author

Judi Light Hopson is a national columnist for McClatchy Newspapers. She is founder of Hopson Global Education and Training and co-author of the college textbook, Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress. She holds a degree in psychology from East Tennessee State University, and has been a professional writer for 25 years.

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