A Plumbing Challenge Worth Considering: Adding a Basement Bathroom


basement bathroom st. louisNo doubt about it – building a basement bathroom makes life better in many ways. For one, it boosts the value of your home, making it a truly livable space. If you have a guest bedroom, kids play area, home office, or workout space in the basement, an adjacent bathroom lets everyone enjoy the space without having to climb upstairs to use an upper-level one.

Before making a decision whether to include a bathroom in your basement remodel, consider the disadvantages as well: running water down to and back out again from the basement is challenging and installing piping and drains beneath a concrete floor is noisy and not inexpensive.

Basement Bathroom Design Considerations

While it’s usually a smart remodeling project, a basement bathroom is not one to rush into. Address these issues with your contractor before you start, and it increases the likelihood of your remodel going off without a hitch.

  • For budgetary reasons, the aim should be to locate the new bath as near to existing plumbing and electrical setups as possible. This is typically achieved by situating the room directly below an upstairs kitchen or bathroom.
  • What is the main use of the bathroom? Is it a full bath for guests, a place to shower after your workout?

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Finally, what type of bathroom do you envision: a full bathroom with tub and shower, a half-bath, or a powder room? Unless you’re also building a basement guest room, you may not need a shower at all. If you want to include one, consider a smaller corner one rather than a bathtub.

Drainage Considerations

Installing toilets, showers, and sinks in a basement are challenging. The gravity assist known as “fall” or “slope” that upper levels bath enjoy works against a lower level room. There are several options to get around this issue, but anything you install must meet local code requirements. There are two main issues that need to be considered:

  1. Is your home’s existing plumbing drain deep enough? If not, you may need to have a sewage ejector pit and pump installed.
  2. Are the existing drain lines properly vented?

Even if your current configuration meets all requirements, you’ll still need to ensure the flow rate is sufficient to remove waste and you may need a backwater valve. If the drainage lines aren’t deep enough, you’re looking at removing part of the floor and excavating the ground below it.

The Final Design

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Ready to accept the plumbing challenges and move ahead with your basement remodel? Here are some other design tips.

  • Toilet options. There are four popular options including a pressure-assisted toilet that uses air pressure to force waste through the pipes. Other models are a self-contained up-flushing toilet, a sewage-ejector system, and an eco-friendly composting toilet.
  • Lighting. Set a softer mood in a below ground bath with little natural light by using a combination of overhead fixtures and wall sconces.
  • Storage. You usually don’t need as much in a basement bathroom, even if it’s adjacent to a guest bedroom. A minimum number of towels and bath related products are all you need, so a small vanity or open storage should work just fine. Just make sure your guests have somewhere to put their toiletry bag.
  • Flooring. Basements are colder than other parts of the house, so choose an engineered  flooring that’s warmer to the touch like Armstrong’s Alterna brand. And since there’s always an option of flooding in a basement, consider a floor that’s totally waterproof and can protect against water seepage.
  • Ventilation. Most basement bathrooms don’t have windows, so a high-power ventilation fan to the outside to control moisture is a must.

Learn More

Adding a bathroom to your finished basement gives it an extra feature the entire family and your guests can enjoy. With the proper layout and fixtures, it can be as warm and inviting as any of the main level bathrooms. Though it may not be a simple task, it’s one worth serious consideration.

If you’re ready to add a bathroom to your home’s  basement, or to learn more about your available options, schedule a consultation with us today. We look forward to meeting with you!

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