The Steps for Roughing in a Bathroom


The "rough in" stage is the first step in renovating or building a bathroom. Before adding in the finishing touches, such as flooring or tile, you rough in the basic plumbing structures and the major bathroom elements, including the bath and shower, toilet and sinks. Before undertaking a rough in yourself, consult your local building codes and laws -- in some areas, only licensed plumbers are authorized to do a rough in.

The Rough-In Diagram

  • Typically, producing a diagram is the first step to roughing in a bathroom. A rough-in diagram uses simple lines to show the arrangement of pipes and vents for the entire room, leading to each of the bathroom elements. The diagram typically shows the sizes of various pipes, the fittings used to link them together and the pipes used for ventilation.

Roughing In the Pipes

  • Once you have the rough in diagram, the first stage of physically roughing in the bathroom involves laying down the pipes that carry water and waste to and from the bathroom. Once you have set out the pipework system according to your diagram, you can test them for leaks even before you connect the toilet, sinks and other elements. Use a crimper to attach stub-out elbow connections where the toilet and other elements would attach. Run water through the system, checking for any leaks.

Roughing In Toilets, Baths and Sinks

  • Finally, the rough in process involves connecting the bathroom plumbing to all the bathroom's facilities, such as toilets, bidets, bathtubs, showers and sinks. Typically, the manufacturer provides "rough in measurements" for each element, which indicate the ideal spacing between the nearest wall and the element's drains. For example, for toilets, the distance between the toilet drain and the nearest wall is 12 inches, sometimes simply known as the "rough in." In addition, the rough in process may include the installation of basic valves, known as rough in valves, which control the flow of hot and cold water even before it comes through the faucets of any bathroom fixtures.


  • Depending on the building codes in your area, you may need to apply for building permits for either new construction or renovations either before or after the rough in stage. In some cases, you need to present the rough in diagrams before a municipal housing board or community association in order to continue with the roughing in process. Check on the requirements in your area to determine whether you can draw up the rough in diagrams yourself, or whether you need to have an architect or licensed contractor draw them on your behalf.

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