Low-cost ways to remodel your bathroom

Diana Bocco
Are you tired of waking up to an outdated bathroom every morning, but can't afford to renovate it? Good news: You can change the entire look of your bathroom with just a few modifications and very little money.

Are you tired of waking up to an outdated bathroom every morning, but can't afford to renovate it? Good news: You can change the entire look of your bathroom with just a few modifications and very little money.

Here are five renovation projects that will give your bathroom a whole new look - without emptying your wallet.

#1 - Bathtub Refacing

Refinishing an old bathtub can completely transform the look and impact of the room, says Rob Williams, a renovation expert and co-founder of DC Home Buzz, a real estate brokerage firm.

"Old, chipped, dingy tubs can be transformed into something that's appealing and fresh without a large investment," Williams says.

What makes bathtub refacing such a great project? Williams says the only other alternative to help change the look of your tub is to replace it. But that requires demolishing the old tub and tile, paying to have it hauled away and dumped, and then paying again for the new tub, tile materials, and installation. That could easily set you back over $1,000, according to Williams.

On the other hand, refinishing a tub could be just a few hundred dollars, depending on whether or not you want to do-it-yourself or hire a professional, according to Williams.

You could refinish a tub for less than $150 if you decide to do it yourself, but you might end up with an uneven job or hours spent trying to figure out the steps, Williams says. If you hire a professional, you'll spend between $300 to $400 on the project, but the job should be superior and finished at a faster pace, explains Williams.

[Do you want to refinish your bathtub? Click to find a contractor in your area now.]

#2 - Flooring Replacement

As the base of the bathroom, a floor replacement can make a huge impact to your bathroom, while making a low-impact dent to your wallet.

In fact, porcelain and travertine tiles can run as cheap as $1.83 per square foot at your local home improvement store, says Christopher Lowell, an Emmy award winning home design expert. To make these cheap tiles appear high-end, Lowell recommends staying away from high-gloss finishes that can look cheap.

"A good, even, matte finish that looks natural is always the best," Lowell explains.

And if you're thinking about installing the tiles yourself in order to save a few bucks, you may want to reconsider. According to Lowell, bathrooms are notorious for requiring a lot of cutting around fixtures and base cabinets - things that are best left to a floor expert, says Lowell. For a ballpark figure on how much professional help will cost, Lowell says he often doubles the price of the tile square footage.

As far as design is concerned, Lowell suggests avoiding strong colors, unusual textures, or anything that calls too much attention. Instead, he recommends going with something simple that fits every decor. That way, if you decide to remodel again or repaint later on, the floor will still match and you won't have to spend money on replacing it again, he says.

[Ready to install new floors in your bathroom? Click to find a contractor in your area now.]

#3 - Updating Light Fixtures

Replacing bathroom light fixtures can help transform any bathroom space, according to eco-shui designer and creator of DesignLEAN, DeAnna Radaj.

"Lighting fixtures are part of the 'bling' of the room and can really help uplift or detract from your design scheme," says Radaj.

If that's not enough reason to replace them, Radaj says newer, shinier fixtures also improve lighting and safety (after all, you'd like to see what you're doing when applying make-up or shaving, right?). Plus, Radaj says updating lighting is a perfect DIY project, as long as you have the proper tools for the job.

And this small renovation project isn't too pricey either.

"New fixtures can be found for under $50, making it one of the ultimate inexpensive upgrades," says Radaj. She does add, however, that prices do vary depending on materials and the scope of your renovation.

[Need help remodeling your bathroom? Click to find a contractor in your area now.]

#4 - Repainting of Refacing Bathroom Cabinets

If your bathroom cabinets are a standard size and the cabinets themselves are in good shape, you may want to consider refacing them as it's a much cheaper option than buying a completely new set of cabinets, Williams explains.

In fact, "Refacing is about 50 percent less expensive than replacing your cabinets and takes about half the time," according to Mike Goubran, owner of Carolina Custom Homes and Renovations in Rock Hill, South Carolina.

In addition to being a budget-conscious renovation, Goubran adds that refacing, or replacing cabinet doors, is also a high-value remodel as it allows you to change the entire look of the room.

For an even cheaper option, Goubran says you can easily repaint your bathroom cabinets for $20 or less. But for the best results, it's important that the cabinets are in good shape, with no cracks or splits.

[Do you want to reface your bathroom cabinets? Click to find a contractor in your area now.]

#5 - Updating Bath Fixtures

If your bathroom fixtures are more than a decade old, chances are they're dated, according to Lowell.

When it comes to shopping for fixtures, Lowell says you should think about it as shopping for jewelry.

"You can spend a ton on designer brands in upscale bath boutiques or you can replicate the perception of them at your local building supply store," Lowell says. What's important is that you choose fixtures that have an upscale spa look and feel like they actually belong in the room you're upgrading, he adds.

So what works for that upscale look on a budget?

Brushed nickel, antique bronze, pewter finished, or very good quality brushed chrome are better choices than inexpensive brass or porcelain that have the appearance of 'stamped out' decals on them, Lowell says.

"If it says more motel than hotel/spa, you're going in the wrong direction," Lowell adds.

When it comes to prices, Lowell says you can get a smart looking bathroom sink set for about $200.00 to $275.00 in good building stores with well merchandized bath departments.