Depending on your definition of “renovate,” you can easily upgrade a bathroom for $3,000. Your improvements will largely be cosmetic and include changes to tile, wallpaper, paint and surfacing upgrades, rather than changing out toilets, sinks, tubs and showers. Whether you want to improve your bathroom to sell your house or just to make improvements for yourself, planning and careful execution will ensure you get the most bang for your buck, rather than sending your funds down the drain.
An obvious renovation to any bathroom is the paint. If you haven’t re-done the walls since you bought the house, you may have been stuck with the previous owner’s taste. If you’re making changes for yourself, don’t worry about choosing the “right” color. Go crazy and get that pink or mauve you want -- you can always re-paint without busting your budget when it’s time to sell the house. Use a high-gloss paint, which will stand up to moisture. A good can of high-gloss paint should cover a typical, non-spa bathroom for $50 or less.
If your bathroom came with wallpaper, you have several options. You can paint over the paper if it’s in good condition. You can remove it and paint the walls. Or, you can remove it and replace it. Depending on your skill at wallpapering, you might end up with a botched job that looks bad or requires a re-do. If you’ve never removed or hung wallpaper before, get expert advice from the trusted websites, DIY books or a visit to your local home and garden center. To determine whether you can afford to have the room papered by a professional, measure your bathroom carefully so the contractor can give you an accurate price for paper and labor. According to Cost Helper, wallpaper costs anywhere from $25 to $50 per roll for budget paper, with contractors charging from $30 to $60 per roll. Plan on one roll covering roughly 30 square feet of wall.
The best flooring options for a budget bathroom renovation are vinyl, tile or a wood-like product. Vinyl might be your best option from cost and labor standpoints, especially with vinyl tiles so easy to install. If you won’t be spending much on paint or wallpaper, you might budget more of your funds for tile or a laminate flooring. These latter options will take more work or cost more for labor. The HomeWyse website estimates the cost of a budget tile job at $5.75 per square foot, including materials and labor, with a more expensive tile job coming in at roughly $11.50 per square foot. That’s anywhere from $500 to $1,600 for a tile floor for the average bathroom. Most national home center websites have a flooring calculator to help you calculate laminate flooring costs.
To save money while making your tub, shower, vanity and wall tiles look like new, consider resurfacing. A low-end vanity can cost approximately $300 installed, according to HomeWyse. Take the doors off a tired old vanity and strip and repaint them, adding new handles for an updated look. Instead of replacing your toilet, tub, shower or wall tiles, reglaze them to give them a new shine. The Bathtub Refinishing Association of America estimates the cost of reglazing a tub at $400, or twice the cost of a new, low-end bathtub. By the time you pay for all of costs associated with installing a new tub, however, you can spend most of your $3,000 budget.
Work with a Real Estate Agent
If you are planning a renovation to sell your house, meet with a real estate agent to get her recommendations on where you should spend your money. She might advise you to spend your money on your walls instead of your floors. She might tell you that a new tub, shower or toilet is more important than cosmetic changes. If so, check to see if your town or city offers tax credits for the installation of a low-flow toilet or shower. With your tax credit, a new toilet, installed, should cost less than $500. A new pedestal sink will cost you anywhere from $200 to $550, according to HomeWyse.
Sam Ashe-Edmunds has been writing and lecturing for decades. He has worked in the corporate and nonprofit arenas as a C-Suite executive, serving on several nonprofit boards. He is an internationally traveled sport science writer and lecturer. He has been published in print publications such as Entrepreneur, Tennis, SI for Kids, Chicago Tribune, Sacramento Bee, and on websites such Smart-Healthy-Living.net, SmartyCents and Youthletic. Edmunds has a bachelor's degree in journalism.