Bathroom Building Code

Well, don’t laugh.  Rather than looking at the bathroom building code as a limitation, look at it as a way to let you know how far the shower must be from the tub or the sink from the toilet.

What we give you in this guide is a generalized look at common bathroom building codes.  We do not pretend to give you an entire set of codes, nor do we attempt to make sure that the code applies to every single of the 19,429 of the municipalities in the United States.  Yes, building codes do vary from city to city, county to county.  So, general guidelines, folks.


  • Minimum ceiling height is 7 feet.


  • 4 inches minimum spacing from side walls.
  • 21 inches front clearance.
  • 4 inches minimum from another sink.
  • 4 inches minimum from tub.



  • Must have anti-scale mechanism on faucet.


  • Shower floor should be at least 30 inches by 30 inches.
  • Door should have minimum 24 inches clearance.
  • Must have anti-scale mechanism on faucet.

Tip:  Because rules vary, the only way to really know the bathroom building code for you is to contact your local building department.


  • Must have low-flow, water-saving feature.
  • Minimum 21 inches front clearance.

Lights and Electrical

  • Any lights over tubs and shower must be UV rated as waterproof and vaporproof.
  • At least one light switch controlling light.
  • All receptacles must be GFCI (GFI).
  • Whirlpools need dedicated GFCI protection.
  • Wall switches minimum 60 inches from tubs and showers.
  • Must have minimum one 20 amp circuit for GFCI outlets.
  • Must have minimum one 15 amp circut for lights and vent fans.

Master Bath Remodel

It’s far more invasive, expensive, and upsetting to your family’s routine than remodeling a kids’ bathroom, guest bathroom, or half-bath.

But with a little planning, a master bath remodel can go along smoothly.  Learn some master remodeling tips to keep costs down and your spirits high.

1.  Keep Room’s Footprint

The first and most important thing you need to consider is whether you want to keep the bathroom’s same size.  Expanding the size of your master bath means either:

  • Expanding into other interior spaces (which means decreasing bedroom, closet, or hallway size); or
  • Pushing toward the exterior of the house.

The very minute you expand outward, your cost shoot up 1,000% (an exaggeration, but not too much).  So, it’s almost mandatory that you stay within the confines of your existing house.

Master Bathroom

2.  Three-Quarter or Full Bath?

A 3/4 bathroom has a sink and toilet, plus either a tub or shower. A full bath has both a tub and shower.

Do you think that a master bath necessarily entails having a full bath?  Keep in mind that you need to have the space in order to have a separate shower and tub, and we mean plenty of space.

If you absolutely must have a full bath, but you don’t have the space, then you have no choice but to install a shower/bathtub combination.

3.  Whose Bathroom Will You Use?

“Master bath” implies that your house has a second bathroom that you can use while the first one is out of commission.  If you have no other options for bathing, then you’ll need to move out to a friend’s or relative’s house, or go to a hotel, for at least 2 weeks during the bath remodel process.

4.  Leave Plumbing and Electrical in Place

Electricians and plumbers are the most expensive component of your master bath remodel.  To control costs, minimize your electrical and plumbing work.

You can save wads of money on master bath remodeling simply by leaving the basic services (plumbing and electrical) in the same places.  No, I’m not saying that you need to keep the same fixtures (toilet, sinks, lights, etc.); it’s understood that those will go.

But the locations should stay the same.  For an average-sized master bath remodel, moving plumbing and electrical can, by itself, run you $4,500 or more.

Wouldn’t you rather spend that $4,500 on something else?

5.  Bathroom Flooring Choices

Not every type of flooring is appropriate for bathrooms.  Some of the better types of bathroom flooring are:

  • Ceramic tile
  • Granite tile
  • Sheet vinyl
  • Vinyl tile

Bad choices are:  laminate flooring, solid wood flooring, and engineered wood flooring.  And of course:  carpeting.

3/4 Bathroom – “Hey, Where’s the Rest?”

Bathrooms are funny things; they are apparently subject to interpretation.  The 3/4 bathroom is one example.  What is this three-quarters bathroom and how does it differ from other bathrooms?

And why do they call it a 3/4 bathroom in the first place?

The Full Bathroom

Full Bathroom

Call it what you wish.  My thoughts are that, since we’re speaking in terms of fractions, why not call this a 4/4 bathroom?  Or, hell, at least call it a 100% bathroom.  I doubt my wishes will be heeded though, because “full bathroom” is pretty much lodged in bathroom terminology, and consists of:

  1. Toilet
  2. Sink
  3. Shower
  4. Bathtub

Got that?  Now, let’s cut it in half:

The Half Bathroom

Half Bathroom

This is where things get tricky.  This room is sometimes called the half-bathroom.  That is, when it’s not being called the guest bathroom.  Or the powder room.

One thing is clear:  you cannot bathe in a half bathroom.  It’s a very small room–sometimes as small as 16 square feet–giving you and your guests the chance to wash their hands after that big, greasy meal you served.  Or for a quick movement of the bowels.

  1. Toilet
  2. Sink

The 3/4 Bathroom (Three-Quarter)

Three Quarter Bathroom

So, we’re somewhere between a full bathroom and a half bathroom now, right?  Yes, but things still get a little hazy.  What is clear is that the three-quarter bathroom must have a toilet and a sink.  But what is the remaining quarter, a tub or a shower?

A 3/4 bathroom can be either:

  1. Toilet
  2. Sink
  3. Shower

Or it can be:

  1. Toilet
  2. Sink
  3. Bathtub

In most cases, it is the former (toilet, sink, and shower), simply because due to space considerations, this works out best.  But in theory, a 3/4 bathroom could also mean a toilet, sink, and tub.