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How To Save Money Remodeling A Bathroom

Whether your remodeling a master bathroom, full bath, half bath or something very small with just a toilet and sink, there are lots of great ways you can save money on a bathroom remodel. House flippers and home builders have been using these techniques to make big money for years, and so can you. Even if your bathroom remodel is just a small DIY project it’s possible to save money. And who couldn’t use a just little bit more money these days. Bathrooms are among the most expensive rooms in the house per square foot and remodels can get expensive. Especially right now with the cost of materials being so high. The average bathroom remodel is between $6,500 – $20,000. Luckily, there are a few easy ways that can bring the cost of a bathroom renovation way down without sacrificing quality or style.

The best ways to save money on a bathroom remodel are easy to do. Things like keeping the layout where it is so you don’t have to pay an expensive plumber or electrician. Doing some of the easier work yourself. Buying finishes on sale or using vanities that are complete with sink and countertop attached. Choosing designs that are inexpensive like wallpaper or shiplap. Buying fixtures that are stock and compatible with out existing plumbing And keeping things simple.

Ahead we’ll discuss all the ways you can save money remodeling a bathroom just like the pros.

Don’t Change Your Bathroom’s Layout

One of the easiest ways to save money with a bathroom remodel is keeping the existing layout.

Changing the bathroom’s layout means moving plumbing lines, vent pipes and drains located inside the walls and floors. Then you’ll also have to re-wire switches, outlets, lighting and possibly the fan. That may also mean running a new exhaust pipe through the exterior wall and patching the old one. You’ll have to do demolition work that may include framing and plywood which means additional costly repairs. Once you start making changes it always leads to all sorts of extra work.

Try to leave walls, especially load bearing walls, where they are.

If you can keep a bathroom remodel to cosmetic changes it can save a bundle. Avoid hiring a framer, plumber and electrician if you can or keep their work to a minimum.

By keeping the existing bathroom layout you’ll also avoid changing the window locations. This can save a lot. Whenever you change window locations you not only have to change the framing and install the window but you also have to repair the old window hole.

Instead of making changes to the layout think of cosmetic changes that make the bathroom feel bigger. Focus on designs, colors, and style. Try using a lighter paint color, bigger tiles and larger mirrors.Or use vertical shiplap instead of drywall to make the ceiling feel taller.

There are lots of thing you can do to a bathroom without changing the layout, framing, plumbing or electrical

beautiful bathroom remodeled on a budget

Only Make Cosmetic Changes

You can completely transform a bathroom with nothing more than cosmetic changes. Here are a few ideas that are cosmetic only.

  • Paint. A new color scheme can do a lot for an updated bathroom.
  • Mirror. Simple changes like an in style black frame mirror can be part of a cosmetic remodel for very little money.
  • Vanity. Cabinetry is a big part of your bathrooms design. Buy in stock and one piece if you can which includes a sink and countertop.
  • Tub/Shower/Toilet. Updating the major aspects of a bathroom can be done without spending a fortune or changing the bathroom’s layout.
  • Tile. Your bathroom tile is another huge part of the design and can be updated without altering the layout.
  • Accessories. Small details are a big part of your bathrooms finished look too. Get some new towels, window treatments, plants, artwork or other accessories.

Sticking to cosmetic changes will save you a bundle when it comes to your bathroom remodel. A new mirror,fresh coat of paint and a plant or two can really brighten up a bathroom and they don’t cost much.

I always recommend remodeling the existing bathroom first before spending a lot of time and money. In some cases, updating the simple things can make a big difference and they don’t cost much to change.

It’s About Style Not Money

Believe it or not, it’s not that hard to remodel a bathroom on a tight budget. The most beautiful bathrooms look like they do because of style, proportions, color and aesthetics and not cost. I’ve seen some really ugly bathrooms that cost a fortune to renovate and some fantastic ones finished for under $1,000.

If you can’t afford an expensive bathroom designer, look at pictures. I love looking through pictures of beautiful bathrooms. Use what others have done as inspiration for your next bathroom remodel. Find the look you like and duplicate it for less.

Figure out an overall style and stick to it. Modern, contemporary, farmhouse, colonial or traditional. It doesn’t matter which you choose just make sure to stick to it. Tight designs look better than a mishmash.

Round black frame mirrors, small plants and cute accessories are all very in style and don’t cost much.

simple cheap bathroom remodel with wood vanity

Wall Paneling

There are cheap alternatives to tile. Instead of finishing your walls with expensive tile work, try paneling. Shiplap or wainscoting are both wonderful options that don’t cost much to install. Especially if you the work yourself.

If you have low ceiling, installing vertical shiplap can make the ceiling feel taller. This is a very simple change that can make a big impact for very little money.

Another benefit of wall paneling is that it covers damaged walls. Avoid expensive repairs by covering them up with a more attractive option.

Wood makes a bathroom feel warmer and more inviting and it’s a versatile look. We use paneling in just about any style bathroom.

Open Shelving

One of the cheapest bathroom remodeling options you can add are open shelving. They don’t cost much but can make a big difference depending on how you decorate them.

Small plants in the bathroom are very in style at the moment and they go nicely on an open shelf.

Open shelving can create the illusion of depth in smaller rooms which makes them feel larger. And they’re a lot less expensive than cabinetry. A few covered baskets on high shelves can store your private items, towels, soaps and washes.

Make sure the shelf material matches the style of the bathroom. These are small decisions that can make a design feel tighter. Match woods and metallic finishes.

budget bathroom remodel with wood vanity and farmhouse sink

Paint

Almost nothing is cheaper or easier to update the entire look and feel of a bathroom than paint. It can truly transform a room.

Try a new paint job on not only the walls but also the door. I’ve played a lot with bold bathroom door colors for years and have had some great success. I almost always keep the ceiling white and the walls light. However, I’ve seen some absolutely stunning dark bathrooms so light colors aren’t always the answer. Don;t be afraid to try something bold and new with your bathroom colors.

You can also paint wood in the bathroom like shelves, cabinetry or the vanity. Many people don’t realize that you can paint a vanity just like kitchen cabinets.

Try a colorful feature wall. Not every wall has to be the exact same color. If your walls and ceiling are light then try something dark and vibrant.

Countertops

Save the vanity but change the countertops. Some vanities look dated but it’s not the cabinets fault. I can’t tell you how many times I see people do this. They throw out the entire vanity just because the countertops need an update and the new cabinets looks the same as the old. Just change the counter and save some big money.

If your shopping for a countertop stone make sure to ask for a remnant. These are the leftover pieces from a larger countertop. Typically kitchen countertops won’t use the entire slab so the leftovers are sold much cheaper. Using remnants can save a lot.

cheap bathroom renovation gray tiles white grout

Do It Yourself

Remodeling a bathroom by yourself can save a lot of money. Every part of the job you can do by yourself is money you’ll save on labor expenses. In an average bathroom remodel, about half the total cost is in labor. This means a lot of potential savings.

If you don’t have the experience or tools to handle the entire remodel yourself, do what you can and hire pros for the rest. But use them sparingly. This ties into our previous tip of not changing the layout. If your remodel is just cosmetic it becomes an easier DIY project. Once you get into framing, plumbing and electrical you’ll probably need the help of some pros.

If your not sure about how to do a specific aspect of the remodel then look online or here on our website for help. We’ll be posting instructions and step by step videos on how to remodel a bathroom by yourself soon, so check back.

Updated Lighting

Changing the builder grade lighting that came with your bathroom can make a big difference. Modern recessed lighting trim kits are much nicer than they were even 10 years ago and they don;t cost much.

Changing your bulbs to a whiter LED can not only brighten up the room but also save money on electricity in the long run. And the light feels a bit more modern.

A new light fixture or some sconces can also make a big change. Try not to add new ones, rather, update what’s existing.

save money remodeling a bathroom simple vanity with marble

Use A Prefabricated Tub Or Shower

Custom tiled showers are beautiful and may be on your wish list, but a prefabricated shower is much cheaper. They come in a kit that’s easy to put together. Simply install the base, then the walls and finally the glass doors. Everything you need to create a brand new shower comes in one box and can be installed in a few hours.

Most house flippers and home builders use a prefab kit in at least one full bathroom. They’re good to have in the house because kit walls are much easier to keep clean than tile. The walls are one piece and easy to wipe down. This makes them great for washing large items or pets.

With prefab tub/shower combos, the tub acts as the base. Install is basically the same either way. Your either going to set a shower pan on the floor or a tub.

Prefab shower/tubs make a great DIY project that only cut down on material costs but also labor. Some kits even come with standard fixture locations cut out so there’s no measuring involved.

Another benefit is long term maintenance. You won’t have to worry about cleaning grout because there isn’t any.

These kits are typically made from lightweight materials. A shower kit can easily be installed by one person. However, the tub kits are bigger so you may need some help getting it in place.

If you plan on installing a prefab tub or shower kit in your next bathroom remodel then make sure to buy some mold resistant tubes of silicone. Use silicone wherever two pieces of the kit join. For example, where the walls meet the base. Most kits come with small tubes of silicone but I like to buy my own.

Use a thick amount of silicone and make sure it says mold resistance. Silicone prevents water from getting behind the walls through the seams.

Save Money On A Vanity

One of the biggest mistakes I see amateur flippers and homeowners make is overspending on a vanity. Experienced pros don’t order custom. You can find a beautiful stock vanity with sink and countertop attached online or at Home Depot for much less. If your trying to remodel a bathroom on a budget then never use anything custom made. It’s just way too expensive.

Try to buy a vanity with the countertop and sink included and installed. A one piece vanity will save you time and money. The install is super easy because all the measuring and cutting is done for you. Simply put the vanity in place and secure it to the wall. No cutting or installing countertops or sinks and no drilling holes for plumbing.

Some vanities even come with faucets attached. This can save you even more time and money.

Vanities that come one piece are cheaper because they’re mass produced in the styles people want. Don’t waste money custom making a vanity that may not be any nicer then what you can buy stock for less than half the price. Stick with main stream styles that are priced right and often on sale.

Look online for deals. Since one piece vanities are mass produced and in stock you can generally find a deal.

freestanding white tub with marble floors

Keep The Tub

Whenever I remodel a bathroom I try to save the tub. Especially if it’s a good quality tub. New tubs can be very expensive but older tubs can cost even more. If you have a pedestal or cast iron tub it can be valuable and worth saving.

Give your tub a deep cleaning with a baking soda and vinegar solution. This simple mixture works great and won’t damage the tubs finish.

If the tub has a tile surround that needs remodeling then carefully chip away the tile. Then remove the backer board.It may be drywall, plaster or concrete board. Make sure to cover and protect the tub while doing demo work around it.

Once the tub surround is removed, install new back board and then tile. Or you can use prefab tub shower walls. They come in a kit and are super easy to assemble.

Whenever I’m in this situation I always prefer installing new backer board and tile. Since I’m already saving money by reusing the tub I don’t mind spending a little bit on new tile. And I love the white subway tile look. It’s really cheap and looks great.

Another benefit of keeping the tub is that the plumbing is done. Again, keep the bathroom layout as is if you can. It’ll save you a lot of money on a bathroom renovation.

If you keep the tub I recommend spending a few dollars on a new drain trim. A shiny drain ring can brighten up an old tub more than you think. Just make sure to match the finish with your fixtures and shower door.

Change The Toilet

The one thing I almost always change in a bathroom remodel is the toilet. They’re not that expensive and easy to change.

Toilets are sometime overlooked when it comes to style. These days I’m doing more and more bathroom with a modern design so I need the toilet to match. An older toilet with the wrong design can really throw off the look of a bathroom.

If the style of your old toilet is OK for the new look then consider at least changing the seat. It’s super easy and cheap.

If you change the toilet get a standard one that doesn’t have a lot of special features. Those extra features are what drives up the price and won’t add a dollar to the value of you home.

Make sure to match the color of your toilet to the tub and sink. And try to get the same manufacturer if you can. Kohler’s white toilet is a little different then other manufacturers so you need to be careful with this. Just because your toilet, sink and tub are all white doesn’t mean they’ll be an exact match.

When you change a toilet make sure to buy a jumbo toilet wax ring. You can buy them on Amazon for around $15. They make seating the toilet easier because the wax is really thick. This is especially helpful if your installing a floor over the old one.

Summary: How To Save Money Remodeling A Bathroom

Whether your remodeling a master bathroom, full bath, half bath or something very small with just a toilet and sink, there are lots of great ways you can save money on a bathroom remodel. House flippers and home builders have been using these techniques to make big money for years, and so can you. Even if your bathroom remodel is just a small DIY project it’s possible to save money. And who couldn’t use a just little bit more money these days. Bathrooms are among the most expensive rooms in the house per square foot and remodels can get expensive. Especially right now with the cost of materials being so high. The average bathroom remodel is between $6,500 – $20,000. Luckily, there are a few easy ways that can bring the cost of a bathroom renovation way down without sacrificing quality or style.

The best ways to save money on a bathroom remodel are easy to do. Things like keeping the layout where it is so you don’t have to pay an expensive plumber or electrician. Doing some of the easier work yourself. Buying finishes on sale or using vanities that are complete with sink and countertop attached. Choosing designs that are inexpensive like wallpaper or shiplap. Buying fixtures that are stock and compatible with out existing plumbing And keeping things simple.

If you have any questions or comments about how you can save money remodeling a bathroom Email any time.

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