Bathroom reno ideas for under $1,000 - MoneySense

Bathroom reno ideas for under $1,000

Bathrooms really do add value to a home, but can be time-consuming and expensive. Instead of a complete gut and redesign update the look of your washroom with these relatively simple and cost-effective solutions.


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I’m told it will take another week before I can officially put the drop-cloths away and find a permanent home for my vacuum. In that time my hubby will have completed:

  • The upstairs kitchen reno;
  • Completely painted all the interior walls and doors;
  • Installed new light fixtures and updated plug receptacles (the old one were circa: 1980s!); and
  • Finished our new main-floor bathroom complete with slate tile shower and a floating vanity.

That’s quite a lot considering he’s been (essentially) a one-man show.

But our more-extensive-than-we-planned renos were a shocking reminder: updates don’t have to be expensive.

While my previous blog post focused on some simple and effective ways to update your kitchen, I’d like to turn the attention towards the bathroom.

FANCIER FAUCETS IN THE BATHROOM: It’s an obvious way to update a bathroom, but sink and shower faucets can add a bit of sparkle to a tired room. Look for water efficient models — some of which can cut water usage by as much as 30%, such as Delta’s WaterSense bathroom faucet, available at most big box hardware stores. Expect to pay $600 or more for a set of matching shower, tub and sink faucets.

REPLACE NOISY VENTILATION FANS: Believe it or not a noisy bathroom screams 1970s (and can thoroughly detract from your enjoyment of that room). Replacing a fan with an updated model will cost between $130 to $230, but will dramatically reduce the fans rattling noise. Look for fans with a “sone” rating of 1 or less. These fans are about as loud as a fan on a quite refrigerator. Also remember to select a fan that will provide adequate air flow for your bathroom (room size and air flow should be listed on the box). You can also find Energy Star-rated models at big box hardware stores that can help you save on your electricity bills, as well.

UPDATE THAT BATHROOM VANITY CABINET: When looking to update a very outdated bathroom you’ll need to focus on the bigger elements, such as the tiles and vanity. With the vanity it pays to shop around. Big box stores will offer off-the-shelf as well as semi-custom options at prices ranging from $100 to $1,000. IKEA is also another great option if you want a more contemporary look at around the $300 to $600 price point (although there are cheaper and more expensive options). Another option is to check out local kitchen-and-bath retailers for damaged and undelivered orders (you’ll need to ask the store clerk specifically about these options). For those really trying to update a bathroom on a budget check out, where you can find vanities for cheap or try your local ReStore, the national chain of stores run by Habitat for Humanity.

INSTALL NEW SHOWER DOORS: Frosted and patterned glass doors as well as doors with large, brassy looking frames are no longer in style and can date your bathroom quickly. If you’re looking to just replace shower bathtub doors, you can pick up a new set at a big box hardware store for about $350. If you’re looking for a frameless shower expect to pay $1,500 to $2,300 for a 4×4 enclosure.

TILES, TILES, COSTLY TILES: Chances are you have at least one bathroom where the tiles are a strange, outdated colour, or chipped, stained or even dull and hard to clean. The ideal solution would be to replace the tile, but even in a relatively small bathroom (say 200 sq. ft) this remodel can cost well over $1,000. Instead, consider refinishing your tub and tiles. The cost to refinish both the tub and the surrounding tile is between $700 and $900 with the best prices on the white, off-white and beige finishes. Still, for a more unique look you can certainly find a refinisher that offers other colours and even stone-like finishes.