The average bathroom remodel isn’t cheap:
So, if you’ve got a more modest budget—say $5,000 or less—does that mean you can’t remodel your bathroom? Not necessarily. You’ll just have to get a little more creative with how you use your funds. (For example, this bathroom remodel was done for just $439!)
And that’s what this article is for: to help you find some ingenious ways to scale back your bathroom remodel budget without sacrificing your grand vision. You don’t have to do all of these things; they’re meant as ideas to help you make your budget work.
But first, you should understand where the money in a typical remodel project usually goes.
According to The Kitchen and Bath Association, the budget usually breaks down like this:
Notice that the first 4 items on the list make up the majority (65%) of a bathroom remodel budget. So, the bulk of this article will show you ways to cut costs in those areas. Let’s start with labor.
The idea to reduce the largest expense in a bathroom remodel is twofold:
We’ve grouped some of the most common bathroom remodel tasks into 3 groups to help you assess which parts you can actually handle yourself and which you can avoid altogether.
And remember: Taking on more than you can handle can actually cost you more in the long run because you could have to pay someone to come fix it later.
You have some basic tools and have done some DIY work in the past. You can likely handle:
You have completed several larger home remodeling projects and enjoy learning new skills. In addition to the tasks above, you might be able to also:
We advise leaving the following bathroom remodel tasks to a licensed professional:
The next biggest expense in most bathroom remodels is the cabinetry and the pulls and knobs. If you have a large bathroom and/or want some nice custom cabinets, it’ll be hard to cut costs here.
But if you have a smaller bathroom and are okay with some unconventional choices, you can do it more cheaply. Here are a few of our favorite ideas.
If your cabinets are in pretty good shape but need some freshening up, consider refinishing them. You have 2 refinishing options:
Re-staining your vanity
Your options for stain really depend on whether you want to go lighter or darker than the cabinet you already have.
To go lighter, you have to remove the existing stain or finish. You remove the existing finish in one of two ways:
To go darker, you can sand down to bare wood if you want. But you also have a couple of other options:
An example gel stain vanity makeover. For a how-to tutorial, check out the article on designingvibes.com
An example vanity transformation using a stain+polyurethane combo.
Painting your vanity
Another option to refinish your bathroom vanity is to paint it. While that may sound simple, there are some important steps you shouldn’t skip:
Here’s a good step-by-step process for painting your bathroom vanity.
Are you pretty handy? Love finding flea market deals on old furniture? Then instead of refinishing your existing vanity or replacing it with a new one, you could use an old dresser.
Here are some examples:
Photo source and tutorial: Beneath my Heart
And here’s another one that was turned into a vanity with a double sink.
Photo source and tutorial: Shades of Blue Interiors
Another large expense in a bathroom remodel is replacing fixtures like your sink, shower stall, toilet bathtub, etc.
If you’ve got some ugly colored fixtures, you can paint some of them:
However, there’s a limit to how much you can cut costs on these fixtures. So, this is likely where a good chunk of your money will be spent if you want a serious bathroom upgrade (like one of these awesome toilets).
Tired of those old, 90s-style brass faucets? Want the look of sparkling nickel or rubbed bronze? Paint to the rescue! (Sensing a pattern here?)
Before/after painted faucet by Sincerely Sara D
Of course, the ways to reduce your bathroom budget aren’t limited to the 4 major areas above. Here are a few more creative ways we’ve seen homeowners keep their remodel budgets down: