A bathroom renovation can add beauty to your home and boost its value. If you have a small bathroom, you’ll want a remodel that makes the most out of the space.
Fortunately, there are lots of interior design tricks to make a tiny bathroom feel like a spa getaway.
But even a small-bathroom remodel can cost big bucks. Here are some tips on how to redo the loo without taking a bath on the investment.
Basics of Remodeling a Small Bathroom
Here are some things to consider when remodeling a small bathroom:
• Bathtub. Installing a new bathtub typically costs about $7,000, HomeAdvisor says, although the price tag can run the gamut.
• Sinks. Ditto on price. There’s a vast difference between a porcelain pedestal sink and a unit with a marble countertop.
• Toilet. There are several types: one-piece, two-piece, in-wall, high-tank, and integrated toilets (with bidet). A two-piece toilet may cost $100 to $300. The labor cost for any toilet ranges from $100 for a simple installation to several hundred for a wall-hung toilet, which must connect to the studs.
• Tile. Bathroom tiles for the floor and walls come in a wide range of materials, colors, and styles. Classic ceramic subway tiles run about $2 per square foot, while marble tiles cost around $6 to $9 per square foot.
• Fixtures and hardware. Faucets, shower knobs, lighting, and towel racks can be an inexpensive way to spruce up your bathroom if you stick to mid-priced materials.
• Storage. Cabinets and shelves add stylish functionality to a small bathroom.
• Length of the project. A bathroom renovation can take weeks. If you have a second bathroom, great. Otherwise, you may need to seek temporary accommodations or plan a vacation.
• Labor. Labor costs can eat up the majority of any small-bathroom remodel. The more you can DIY, the more you’ll save.
Average Cost of a Small-Bathroom Remodel
Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer — generally defined as anyone who has not owned a principal residence in the past three years — or an existing homeowner, you might be interested in a low-budget small-bathroom remodel.
What constitutes “small”? A small bathroom typically measures around 40 square feet. A half-bath with only a shower can be 20 square feet or less.
What constitutes low budget? For low-end fixtures with DIY labor, expect to pay about $70 per square foot (vs. $250 per square foot for high-end fixtures installed by a contractor), according to HomeAdvisor.
You probably didn’t ask yourself How much does it cost to remodel a small bathroom? when you were plugging numbers into a home affordability calculator, and in any case, the answer isn’t clear cut.
The average cost of a small-bathroom remodel is $6,500, according to HomeAdvisor, but depending on the quality of materials and need for installation, the cost can range from $1,500 to $15,000.
Professional labor can cost around $50 to $110 an hour. Tile installation and plumbing generally rack up the most work hours.
Recommended: How to Find a Contractor
Is Removing a Tub a Good or Bad Idea?
Bathtubs tend to take up a lot of space. When remodeling a small bathroom, you may be tempted to remove yours and replace it with a walk-in shower.
But most people love a long soak in a hot bath. Whether you’re planning to put your home on the market within a few years or you need to sell your house fast, removing your bathtub may reduce your buyer pool, especially if you only have one in the house.
10 Low-Cost Ways to Remodel a Small Bathroom
If you don’t have the financial means or the DIY know-how to do a gut renovation, there are more affordable ways to transform your bathroom and make it feel like new.
1. Salvage the Bathtub
A small-bathroom remodel with tub replacement can really inflate your costs. For around $300 to $600, you can have an old tub reglazed or refinished and put the savings toward some rubber duckies.
2. Tilt Toward Reasonable and Limited Tile
Tile can be another high-ticket item when it comes to a bathroom remodel. Luckily your bathroom is small. To save money, consider lower-cost porcelain and ceramic tile. You can also create a tile wall accent rather than full-on tile.
You might want to tile either your floor or walls but not both. Peel-and-stick tiles (often vinyl) can be a budget-friendly option for flooring.
3. Refresh With Light Paint Colors
A fresh paint job is a surefire way to revitalize any space, and the cost to paint may be the lowest among ways to transform a room. Light colors will make a small room feel larger.
To create the illusion of more space, match the wall color with the floor tiles and go with white for the ceiling. Light, continuous color from floor to ceiling will help elongate the room.
4. Upgrade the Showerhead
Don’t have the means to totally redo your shower? A high-quality showerhead can add a new and luxurious experience to your bathroom. Rain showerheads start at a few hundred dollars.
5. Replace Light Fixtures
Swapping out old fixtures for new ones can do a lot for an outdated bathroom. Many affordable bathroom light fixtures are available at home improvement stores, or you could consider recessed lighting.
6. Add Shelves and Storage
To lend a sense of height to your small bathroom, try adding an open shelving unit above the toilet for extra storage space. Decorate with photos, candles, and bottles of colorful bath salts.
7. Make Accessories Sing
Perk up your tired bathroom with a new shower curtain, fluffy hand towels, and a plush bath mat. A pop of color against a newly white-tiled wall can make a big splash.
8. Consider Sliding Shower Doors
Shower doors that open on hinges can take up a lot of space in a small bathroom. For around $100 to $300, you could buy a sliding glass door unit. You’ll pay an additional $200 to $300 for installation.
9. Add a Mod Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
A large, long mirror that stretches over the sink area can add the illusion of more space and help brighten the room with reflective light. Home improvement stores offer reasonably priced bathroom mirrors, including ones with cabinets for extra storage.
10. Pedestal Sink vs Vanity?
While a pedestal sink can create a sense of space, it can also come with a higher price tag than a vanity sink because drain pipes and water supply lines have to be obscured. A vanity also provides storage.
Ways to Finance a Small-Bathroom Remodel
When the budget for your small-bathroom remodel exceeds the amount in your piggy bank, there are several financing options.
Slapping down a credit card is an easy way to finance your small-bathroom renovation. If you have a 0% interest card, it can be a smart way as well, plus you could earn travel or other bonus points.
But if you have a high-interest card, or don’t think you’ll be able to pay off the debt before that 0% jumps to 21%, that could spell trouble. You could end up paying a lot more for your new tub in interest charges, and could hurt your credit if you can’t make a payment.
A personal loan for a small-bathroom redo can be a good option.
With a home improvement loan, you’ll receive a lump sum from a financial institution and repay it with interest in monthly installments. These loans typically offer same-day funding with no collateral required.
Approval and the rate offered are based on creditworthiness and other personal financial factors.
If you own your home and have sufficient home equity, you may be able to qualify for a home equity line of credit (HELOC), using your home as collateral.
A HELOC rate is usually lower than that of a credit card or personal loan. You only make payments on what you spend, and the borrowing limit can be higher than with a credit card or personal loan.
Most HELOCs have a variable rate. There may be minimal withdrawal requirements, plus fees and closing costs. If you default on a HELOC, you risk losing your house.
A small-bathroom remodel can pack a big punch and raise your home’s value. Focus on a few key upgrades and design elements to make a small bathroom more inviting.
How to finance a bathroom redo? SoFi offers home improvement loans for $5,000 to $100,000. The loans come with a fixed rate, absolutely no fees, and fast funding.
With a HELOC brokered by SoFi, you can access up to 95%, or $500,000, of your home equity to remodel a bathroom or any other area of your home.
How can I cheaply renovate a small bathroom?
Doing it yourself will save the most money. Ideas include refreshed paint, an interesting shower curtain and fluffy towels, and new lights, shelves, and new hardware. It’s a good idea to leave plumbing and wiring issues to a pro.
How much is a small-bathroom remodel?
The average cost to remodel a small bathroom is $6,500, according to HomeAdvisor. That said, the price point can vary widely based on your tastes and the extent of the project. And the one constant with any remodeling project is that you will spend more than you planned.
How much does it cost to DIY a small bathroom?
A DIY reno of a 40-square-foot bathroom could cost about $4,000, HGTV notes. Add a 30% overage allowance for a realistic budget of $5,200.
What is the best way to remodel a small bathroom?
Start with a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves. Read up on types of toilets (it’s true, the unsung toilet comes in many varieties), sink fixtures, and lighting. That will help inform your budget and whether you need to hire a contractor.
Photo credit: iStock/Drazen_
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