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bdanfort

Need help designing a small bathroom (4'x8')

B D
4 years ago

I have some un-used spare room in my house (its an old duplex and I live in the front half) that I'm finally getting around to deciding what to do with it. The room is 9' x 8'2.5", and it connects the garage to the rest of the house, so it is currently just a super wide hallway. When I bought the place I figured it would be a no-brainer to just throw a wall up to keep the hallway, and add a bathroom particularly because the only other bathroom is directly behind the 8' side of the room with the toilet and shower on that same wall, and the drain pipe running under this room. Now I'm designing it and it is a little harder than I thought after considering code clearances, costs, and some of the things I was blindly confident I could get.

If I keep the doors and the trim where they are, the hallway would be about 4'5" x 8'2.5", which would leave about 4'7" for the bathroom and the wall (also 8'2.5" long). Here is a quickly drawn sketch of my most recent plan - which still has some problems.

I drew this thinking rounder numbers of a 4x8 bath, but I rounded up on the hallway and suppose the wall won't be 6" thick, even with a pocket door, so my interior usable space of the bathroom is actually going to be just over 4'2" (interior walls will be a bit over 4.5", even with a pocket door, right?).

I've read a lot of stuff about small bathrooms, including this post which was helpful but didn't quite answer everything I'm working on: [https://www.houzz.com/discussions/need-help-for-a-4-x-8-master-bathroom-dsvw-vd~856137[(https://www.houzz.com/discussions/need-help-for-a-4-x-8-master-bathroom-dsvw-vd~856137)

I'd like to do this as inexpensively as possible as there are other big projects on my to-do list like updating or moving the kitchen, and some foundation work. So I'll like stuff on the lower end of the price scale, but will still want it to look nice and work.

So I'll be interested in any suggestions that anybody will have for me, and I am particularly interested in ideas about the following:


Bath Tub / Shower Door: The only current bathroom has a shower only and no tub. I hate baths and so will never use a tub for anything other than a shower, but I've been reading a lot that you need at least one tub in the house for resale value in case the next owner has kids. I found this short 4' tub which seems like it would fit ok (although 27 inches wide seems pretty narrow, so I was thinking I'd do something like a step or shelf/ledge in the back to buy an extra few inches of elbow room). I also dislike the look of standard sliding shower doors and would prefer the look of something like this. Since there are so few tubs that come in 4' lengths, It is also hard to find tub doors in that length and I dislike the look of most of them. I think I'm also limited by the fact that the tub is actually only 46.5", so most 48" pivot doors wouldn't work, right? or is there some way to make that work? So I guess the questions are

- Would it be ok to put a shower door on a tub? My ceiling is 8' (i measured in several spots around the room and it actually varies by spot, but is usually actually around 7'11"), The short tub I found is 15" high, so for example that same sliding door I found above would leave only about 3" of clearance before the ceiling. How much clearance would you want between the top of the door and the ceiling?

- Can anybody suggest a better looking door that would fit on the short tub? again, something frameless like above would be preferred, and hopefully without the thick unattractive plate across the top and bottom like these more standard looking doors? (I know I'm being picky and something like that would work fine and might look better than a shower curtain, but why not look for something better if it is out there and not crazy expensive?) I actually kinda like [this one I found here on Houzz, [(https://www.houzz.com/products/dreamline-aqua-ultra-45-in-w-x-72-in-h-frameless-hinged-shower-door-chrome-prvw-vr~27388479)but I'm not totally sold on the curved, open end door, and again it is a shower height door so the towel bar / handle would probably be too high (fine for me, cause I'm tall, but would it look weird?) and it would leave about 6' or 7' to the ceiling.

- If someone were to actually take a bath in the bathtub I assume it would be better to not have the guide rails for a sliding door running along the top of the tub wall where their arm might rest? So maybe a pivot door is better?


Toilet Placement: I drew the layout above after trying a few different possible layouts including something like this from the other Houzz page which I liked for the vanities on the wall, but not for the door opening into the toilet instead of the vanity, which I think is a better sight. Anyways, I was reading about recommended clearances for toilets and found that my city requires a 24" frontal clearance in front of a toilet before a wall. So with my 4'2" room, I would only have about 26" for the toilet. I was considering turning the toilet to be on the left wall when you enter the bathroom door, closer to that door, which would give it the frontal clearance, but would eat into standing room and waste a bunch of space in that corner that wouldn't be used.

- Every toilet I've seen that isn't wall-mounted has some space between the back of the toilet and the wall. Is there anything wrong with making that a really small gap or is it hard for my plumber to do to get it that precise? How much should I plan for?

- Every toilet I've found has a depth of at least about 27.5", with very few exceptions, and I was hoping for an elongated seat (yea I know, definitely asking for too much), so does anybody have either a layout idea that would accommodate an elongated or even regularly sized toilet, or suggestions for a shallower toilet?

- I feel like the wall-mounted toilets with the tank in the walls could work, but again, I don't love the look, they are all pretty expensive, and I'm pretty sure the placement I have it laid out right now would put the take right at a T junction of two walls on the other side, so there might not be room for a tank right there

- I've seen this one recommended as the shortest depth toilet, but it seems sold out everywhere. And this one was a good recommendation from [this thread[(https://www.houzz.com/discussions/help-me-find-toilet-with-small-depth-dsvw-vd~2875117), but it is right there at 26.25". Close enough? They also mention Niza Pro, but I can't find it anywhere and people say it is awful.

- I've looked at angled toilets that back into a corner, which are supposed to save space. What do you think of a corner/triangular toilet? And more importantly, does anybody know how the same clearances work, coming from a corner? How close could I put the vanity along that same wall? I feel like it would help for the couple inches I need in front, but would make me push the vanity too far toward the shower? Any thoughts/experience on corner toilets would be great.


And finally, Should I / can I just move the doors over a foot, give myself a 3.5' hallway, and a 5' bathroom, enough for a full sized tub, and plenty of clearance for the front of the toilet? Any ideas on what that might cost?


If you've read this far thank you and sorry about my rambling and pickiness, but this project is a lot of time and money for me so I want to make sure I get it right. Any input or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Comments (18)

  • palimpsest
    4 years ago

    American Standard offers a 32" x 54" bathtub that is better quality than the one you are looking at.

    I have the one you are looking at in my basement bathroom. I would not recommend this for the only bathtub in the house. It works fine as a shower bath but it would be much too narrow with a glass door. you need the flexibility of the shower curtain. I would make it a little bigger and go with the 54" tub and that would give you the toilet space as well, without going to a full sized bathtub and shrinking the hall quite so much.

    B D thanked palimpsest
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  • B D
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Thank you for your response Mindshift. Are you saying that you think skipping the shortened bath and just doing a shower would help with resale value?

    Also, is the water-resistant drywall thicker than ordinary drywall? So is my estimation that I'll have about 50" to work with too high?

    Interesting that you have your toilet angled in a corner, but not a triangular tank? I like your suggestion to lay it out with cutout pieces I can move around. With your toilet in the corner, how much room do you have from the toilet to your closest obstruction (i.e. a wall, or vanity/sink, or shower or whatever) to either side? If I can find a short toilet that will fit in that space, the code requires 30" total from wall to nearest obstruction (the vanity), and I'm wondering if I turn it to angle out of the corner, will I need to move the vanity down or downsize it to make more room for the toilet (I assume so).

    Thanks for your thoughts on this I really appreciate it.


  • B D
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Thank you palimpsest. I was concerned about the narrow tub. It is great that it is shorter than any other tub I've found, but it is more narrow too, which I don't necessarily need. So your suggestion is to go with a shower curtain that I can bend out to give more elbow room like this? Since with the tub I would have some extra room that direction, I was thinking it might be enough room to pull out the tub from the side wall a few, maybe 4 - 6 inches and create some kind of shelf or small seat or something along the far side wall of the shower, which would give some extra elbow room. Would you think that is not enough to allow me to do a glass door, which I think generally looks much nicer? (tub is 27" wide so that would give around 31" - 33" total elbow room starting at around 2 or 3 feet up)

    Also, with the idea of going a little bigger and doing a 54" tub, that would require moving the wall out far enough that I'd need to move the door frames at either end of the little hallway from the garage and into the rest of the house. As long as I'm moving that doorway, I might as well move it enough to do a full sized bath, right?

    I'll talk to my contractor about the cost to move that doorway, but in order to keep costs down I'm really trying to figure out how to do this without that added cost.

    Thanks again for your input.

  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    A 4x8 is easy enough if the door is in the middle. A 36”Dx48” shower at one end that butts to an 18” D vanity that runs the whole length of the room. Sliding doors on the vanity next to the toilet on the end wall, facing the shower. No clearance issues with sliding doors, and lots of storage from a 60”L vanity. If you end up with more than 48”, all the better. But very doable even at 48”.

    B D thanked The Cook's Kitchen
  • B D
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Thank you Cook's Kitchen. I take your point that there would be enough clearance if I turned the toilet 90 degrees to face the shower (30" min for the toilet would leave 18" for a vanity which is doable). I'd worry about being able to open those vanity doors all the way if they are only about 6" from the side of the toilet though, So maybe I would not do the full 60" vanity, but a shorter one that goes to just the depth of the toilet. My original concern was that it kind of wastes the space in the corner and eats into standing / toweling off room in the center, but maybe not as much as it seems because the toilet and vanity are both low enough so you'd have the same elbow room either way.

    Also, you would do a shower instead of a tub, which was my first instinct. But reading over and over again that every house / apartment needs a tub for resale value has me convinced its needed. Has anyone ever actually run the numbers on how much it hurts you in the long run to not have a bath?

    Thanks for the encouragement that I can do it with the width without having to move the doors. I'm really hoping I don't have to.

  • acm
    4 years ago

    1) no shower door if it's to be used by kids -- hard to lean if a track, and so many ways a kid could break a pane of glass.

    2) are you sure you're getting full value from a full bath by the entrance? I mean, are any of the bedrooms even close by? you might do better to put in an uncrowded powder room, maybe with an extra closet or mud room space nearby, and leave the rest as is...

    B D thanked acm
  • B D
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    acm, you would also suggest a curtain rather than a glass door? Sounds like I'll have to go that route. Thanks!

  • PRO
    The Cook's Kitchen
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    SLIDING doors. Like these. :-)



    You dont get interference from a door swing. And you gain valuable storage.

    A 36”x48” makes for a very nice sized shower. Or a cramped and uncomfortable tub. Usability rules here.

    B D thanked The Cook's Kitchen
  • B D
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Ahhhh, great idea with the sliding doors. I hadn't seen that as an option. I'll look into it. I suppose they will probably have to be built in like that rather than a cheaper pre-made vanity, but I'll do some homework on that. Thanks a bunch!

  • idnash
    4 years ago

    Your layout works. But I would move the doors and make the bath bigger. By the time you pay more for special toilet and shower door the framing cost is probably cheaper. Besides that tub size is useless. Is the likely buyer of your house someone with children so young they need to bathe them? Grown adults would rather a large shower they can walk into without having to step over a tub they'll never use. Plenty of houses don't have tubs. I would also frame the pocket door wall 6" it will be 6 1/2" finished your other wall is also 4 1/2" finished with 1/2 " Sheetrock unless you use 5/8 cement board on shower wall. In the 6" wall you would have room for a shower niche or wall switches so you could center pocket door with vanity and it's just studier. Get some quotes from framers plumbers electricians. You'll probably save money hiring them individually then hiring one person. Each needs a permit from town your in. You should go to your building dept and ask questions about your plan.

  • idnash
    4 years ago

    Where is your heat and ac in that room?

  • chiflipper
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    If your intended "look" will accommodate it, a Sloan valve toilet will afford you more clearance.


  • B D
    Original Author
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    Thank you idnash. Sounds expensive, but like you said, I'll have to get quotes to re-frame those doors - and everything else i'm looking at. You might be right that it will be about the same price and definitely nicer to have the bigger bathroom.

    Also, the vent is in the middle of the ceiling of what would be the hallway there. So I assume I'll move that a few feet over to be in the bathroom. I have a pull down ladder to the attic going across the future wall there no matter how I lay it out so i'm already going to have to re-position or remove that (there is another access to the attic in another room)

  • B D
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    chiflipper, good idea on the valve toilet. Not a look that I had considered, but definitely could work to save some space.

  • PRO
    Beth H. :
    4 years ago
    last modified: 4 years ago

    I had to measure my own hallway. It's 34". I have a 5' X30" tub in the spare bath. It's a good size for the average smaller home. I would for sure go for the 5" tub as opposed to the 4'. borrow from the hallway. Because, why do you need that wide of a hallway? 3'5" is plenty wide.

    I have two glass doors that both swing open. For now, I'd just do a shower curtain. You can add doors down the road. they custom make them for your space.

    What is this waterproof drywall you're speaking of? not for the wet area I hope. no such thing. The shower/tub surround will have to be waterproofed if you're tiling.

    toilet, check around, you should be able to find an elongated. measure your space between the wall and where the actual sewer line (what the toilet sits atop) is. some are 10" and some are 12" or more. you want to order the right toilet for the gap.

    As for shower or tub, you may want to talk to a real estate agent for your area. If your homes are bought by young families, they're going to want a tub.

  • B D
    Original Author
    4 years ago

    Beth, thanks for your thoughts. Its not a bad idea that I can always add the glass shower door later if I want to.

    The comment on the drywall was in response to the first comment/response I got from Mindshift who said: "Don't forget to account for the thickness of water-resistant drywall against which you would install a tub or shower". So I wasn't sure if there is some thicker material I need to account for, but either way, I'll use it and then tile over it instead of using one of the pre-fab plastic surrounds that I've seen available.

    Thanks again.

  • mindshift
    4 years ago

    Sorry I'm so late getting back to you. I think that oddly sized fixtures can be off-putting. Many home buyers are looking for an "ideal" and they can't see past that. If the tub is well made and the bath is located where it's most needed a shorter size tub might not be a problem. If the bath will be used by children then its size is less important, but children grow into teenagers. acm voiced a concern I had about the location of this bath to nearby bedrooms.

    My mistake in calling it water-resistant drywall. It looks like drywall but it's better referred to as tile backer board. It's most often 1/2 inch thick but I have seen a Hardie brand backer that was only 1/4" thick and came in 3 x 5 ft. sections. HERE is a link to more info on these. There are several types with differing properties.

    On toilet location, I don't think "obstruction refers to the nearest wall or fixture. I think it refers to something directly in front of the toilet. Looking at your floor plan an angled toilet would not have anything in front of it. There might be room between the toilet and the vanity for a waste basket.