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Bathroom Remodeling - Money Saving Tips

If this was my bathroom I would:

(a) Close the door and never set foot in it again.
(b) Burn it.
(c) Post toxic warning signs and string yellow caution tape across the doorway.
(d) Remodel.

Outdated Bathroom

You know I’m going to pick (d) ! This isn’t my bathroom, but for the purpose of walking through the important factors and considerations to keep in mind when thinking about a bathroom renovation / remodel, it’s a perfect example. The bathtub and shower don’t match the toilet, the toilet itself is disgusting, the vanity cabinet and the mirrored medicine cabinet are dated, and the sink faucet and the tub/shower faucet are less than appealing.

Make A Plan - Do Your Research

They say that on the list of the most expensive rooms to renovate, bathrooms are pretty close to the top. I say, it doesn’t have to be that way! And who are ‘they’ anyway?

Before making any changes or starting any demolition, it’s important to make a plan. Part of the plan-making process includes doing research into the costs associated with a bathroom remodel or renovation.

Money-Saving Bathroom Remodeling Tips

  1. One of the easiest ways to avoid spending extra money on a bathroom remodel is to not move any of the plumbing. Don’t change the location of the sink, toilet or tub/shower.
  2. Next, shop ’til you drop - go on a price shopping spree. The only way to find out what bathroom fixtures cost and to find the best products at the lowest possible prices is to shop around. Make a list of the items you’d like to change and start scoping out replacement costs.
  3. Save money on labor costs by doing all or most of the work yourself.
  4. Save money on disposal fees by donating old fixtures to re-use stores.
  5. Put together an inspiration board for a little perspective on the direction in which you’d like to go with your bathroom remodel.

Set A Budget for Renovations

It’s way easier to set a budget after you’ve familiarized yourself with the possible costs of a bathroom renovation. Let your price shopping guide you. Prioritize your list of needs, then pick and choose the areas or items where you can splurge or save. Add all potential costs to your bottom line. Prepare for the unexpected by adding at least another 10% to your total cost estimate. Don’t begin renovations if you don’t have the budget to complete them!

Look at the Whole Picture

Not only do you have to make individual product choices, but you also need to look at the effect those choices will have on other decisions. In the world of renovating and remodeling, one thing often leads to another, and one question often leads to another.


Look at the list of changes you’d like to make and think about what those changes will involve.

If you take out the tub and shower surround, chances are that the drywall behind it is going to be ruined. Removing the existing ceramic wall tile will undoubtedly ruin that drywall too.

Ask Yourself Questions

Do you want to replace the drywall behind the tub and shower surround and then cover it over again with a new combination tub and shower surround?

Is there a less expensive option?

Aside from the fact that removing the ceramic wall tile will likely cause excessive damage to the drywall it’s mounted on, is there any other logical reason for removing that drywall?

How to keep the mess of a bathroom remodel / renovation at a minimum?

Answer Your Own Questions

A new combination tub with shower surround can be cost prohibitive. A less expensive option would be to remove the existing tub and shower surround, replace the damaged drywall with cement backer board, install a basic tub, and then create a new tile shower surround.

Removing the tub/shower and drywall will allow you to inspect, repair and/or replace bathtub and shower water supply lines and drain plumbing.

Removing the drywall sections covered by ceramic wall tile will make getting rid of the existing ceramic tile a whole lot easier and a lot less time consuming. If you’re planning to use new wall tile, you’ll want to install new cement backer board anyway. If you plan to paint the walls, you’ll want to install new moisture-resistant greenboard.

Keep the mess at a minimum by doing all your demolition work at the same time and then doing all your wallboard replacement at the same time.


1 Ikea Hack - Bathroom Vanity Cabinet — SuzyRenovator { 04.17.08 at 1:10 pm }

[...] Bathroom Remodeling - Money Saving Tips [...]

2 Kat { 11.16.08 at 3:28 pm }

OK, but what if you’ve got a large walk-in shower that’s old, dated and just plain yucky and you’d prefer a tub/shower combo?

Both sets of former owners of my recently-purchased 10-year-old home were elderly and ill and unable to find, afford or just didn’t want to hire a good cleaning company. This is obvious by the poor condition of many, many things that still looked like new in the 16-year-old home I sold.

Whatever the case, there was no proper removal through cleaning and scrubbing of what appeared to be a decade’s worth of soap scum, body oil and dirt on the master bathroom’s shower walls and floor, and it has taken me three to four hours one day a week over four weeks to get rid of most of it. To accomplish this, I had to use quite a few chemically-laden cleaning products along with more environmentally-friendly cleaning agents and spend a lot of time crubbing and sanding, wiping and rinsing, spraying and soaking.

While cleaning the shower, I realized that the dimensions are larger than my second bathroom’s tub/shower combo (which apparently wasn’t used as much as the master shower) so that a tub/shower combo I prefer (I love to take baths but have a cousin staying with me and using the second bathroom) could easily fit in that space.

You say that a new combination tub with shower surround can be cost prohibitive and that a less expensive option would be to remove the existing tub and shower surround, replace the damaged drywall with cement backer board, install a basic tub, and then create a new tile shower surround. Would this work in my case? Do you think it would be possible to keep the “shower surround” and install a tub on top of the current shower floor after eliminating the shower doors? Of course, I would also need a faucet for the tub, but the plumbing and other fixtures are there already.

3 Suzy { 12.28.08 at 2:59 pm }

Hey Kat,

Anything is possible! You just have to make sure you do your homework and explore all your options. If it was me I’d carefully measure the area then go on a fact and cost finding mission to see what the size options are and discover how expensive those various options have the potential to be. It also doesn’t hurt to have an expert come in to give you an estimate.

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