John’s Reno Tips: Giving Your Bathroom A Makeover

Photo above: © Sylvain Lalande

Remodelling the bathroom is no small task and if not properly planned, mistakes can be catastrophic. Before getting started, here are a few reno tips from John Gordon, owner of Your Reno Guys.

Q How do heating systems for tile floors work and will they be too thick?

A There are two main types of in-floor heating systems for tiled floors: hydronic and electrical heating cable.

While hydronic heating has many benefits, it needs to be incorporated into the entire design of the house. It would typically replace primary heating systems.

Electric heating cables on the other hand, normally provide supplementary heat to warm tiles. Especially in northern regions like Ottawa, many people find floors too cool for comfort. With electric heating cables controlled by a separate thermostat, homeowners can set the temperature to their preference based on the time of year.

It is recommended to install an uncoupling membrane on all tile floors with electric heating cables to reduce the risk of cracks. Protecting against the expansion and contraction of floor materials, the membrane allows for natural movement to happen without causing stress to the tiles and grout on top.

 A look below the surface of the DITRAHEAT system.
A look below the surface of the DITRAHEAT system.

The combination of heating cables and uncoupling membrane can result in thicker floors and uneven transitions between heated tiles and regular flooring. To avoid this build up, Your Reno Guys prefer to use Schluter®’s DITRA-HEAT system. It allows heating cables to be snapped into place within the uncoupling membrane making the total assembly thinner.

Q How do I prevent mould from growing in my new tiled shower?

A Mould requires moisture, food and warmth to grow. In order to stop mould at least one of these conditions must be removed. This can be challenging to do in a shower area where there is plenty of all three.

The best way to prevent mould, is by making sure the shower area dries out completely between uses. Installing and using a bathroom fan is a good start. It is also important to build a waterproof enclosure, guaranteeing all moisture either goes down the drain or evaporates after each use. This can be done by installing tiles on products like Schluter®’s KERDI membrane or KERDI-BOARD building panels which ensure there is no opportunity for moisture to be absorbed and held in the walls or floor.

Q We want to remove the Jacuzzi tub from our master bathroom. What can be done to use the space and make it a comfortable, functional room?
A Large soaker tubs with jets were common for many years and although some homeowners continue to enjoy them, many people are realizing the area could be put to better use. A desired trend is to expand showers, install benches, rain shower heads, linear drains and shorter or non-existent curbs.

By using the right materials and construction techniques, what would have been an extremely expensive and difficult-to-build shower in the past is now much more attainable. New construction materials are a large part of this change. Preformed shower trays, ramps, wall niches, as well as wallboard and building panels with pre-applied waterproof membranes, make it much easier and faster to build unique designs.

Showers no longer require a 6” curb and 4” drain in the centre. Linear drains are gaining popularity as they can be disguised along the shower wall. Also, in many instances the curb can be completely eliminated allowing a smooth transition between the bathroom floor and shower.
The realistic possibilities for bathroom renovations have changed dramatically in recent years so dream big and speak with an expert about how to make it happen.

John Gordon, owner of Your Reno Guys, has been a renovations contractor for 20 years. Visit for more information about John and the services he offers.