Updated, renovated bathrooms can make a home more appealing to potential buyers and may even raise the market value of your home. But it can also be quite expensive, with materials and labor easily running thousands of dollars per bathroom. But savvy homeowners can cut those costs considerably by doing some of the labor themselves and making smart design and purchasing decisions.
Whenever Possible, Do the Labor Yourself
Labor alone can account for 60 to 70 percent of bathroom remodeling costs. This doesn't mean you should attempt to complete all projects on your own. If your remodeling plans include relocating the toilet, for example, but you have no experience or expertise in plumbing, allow room in the budget for a licensed plumber to complete that part of the job. But if you're handy with tools and can follow instructions, you can complete many of the tasks involved in remodeling a bathroom yourself.
While you may think your bathtub or tile need to be replaced, often a good, thorough cleaning will suffice. Invest in some industrial-strength cleaning supplies if needed and get to work. If you're not satisfied after the first cleaning, do it again, and if necessary, again. Sometimes the tub or tile can't be salvaged no matter how much elbow grease you put into cleaning them, but if you can avoid replacing by cleaning, it's worth the effort to try.
You'd be surprised how much difference a fresh coat of paint can make when remodeling a bathroom. Painting is inexpensive, makes a dramatic difference, and is simple, even for a beginner.
An old, outdated vanity mirror can make your bathroom look, well, old and outdated. Replacing that old mirror should be a relatively simple project that will go a long way toward bringing your bathroom up to date. If your bathroom has two sinks, consider using two smaller mirrors rather than one large one.
Refurbish Your Existing Vanity
Replacing a bathroom vanity can be costly and complicated. Instead of replacing it, add a fresh coat of paint and update the hardware on cabinets and drawers.
You don't have to choose high-end countertops to have a high-end look. Instead of natural stone, check out alternatives such as cultured marble. Most vanities are standard in size, so you shouldn't need a custom-made countertop. Installing a standard, one-piece, "drop-in" countertop on your existing vanity is a relatively simple project that can, in most cases, be completed in an afternoon.
Replace Sink Fixtures
Updating your sink faucet and fixtures can make a huge difference and is generally not as difficult as you might think. Make sure you have the proper tools, follow instructions carefully and have patience.
To add the final touches to your inexpensive bathroom remodel, replace accessories such as towel bars, soap dishes, shower curtain, towels and rugs.
Keep an eye out for clearance sales at your local hardware or building supply store and snap up bargains when you see them. Remember, though, clearance items are usually non-returnable, so make sure what you buy is what you need.
Kate Harmon attended Southeastern Louisiana University and has been a writer since 1988. Before settling down to raise a family, Harmon worked for six years as a stringer, reporter, and editor for Ponchartrain Newspapers. More recently, she has worked as a freelance writer, Web designer and graphic artist.