Remodeling a bathroom is a major undertaking even when you hire a professional, since it requires plenty of design decisions, careful demolition and installation, and skilled electrical and plumbing work. But overhauling your bathroom as a do-it-yourself project? That's a whole new ball game – but it can be done.
Most homeowners chicken out when it comes to updating their bathrooms. As much as 83% of homeowners who renovated their bathrooms in 2019 hired a professional for at least part of the job, according to the 2019 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Study, which surveyed 1,360 homeowners.
But a DIY bathroom remodel can be successful if you take your time and approach every step of the process with plenty of research and preparation. As long as you have access to another bathroom while you’re working, you can take the time to complete each aspect of the project right.
“Always give yourself more time than you think you’ll need,” says Kevin Busch, vice president of operations for home improvement company Mr. Handyman in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Here are eight bathroom remodel projects to consider:
Update the Tub or Shower
The shower or tub in your bathroom is likely the focal point of the room, so if it looks outdated or needs repair, it's worth the investment.
You can reglaze a tub that’s seen better days, though it’s important to follow the process of cleaning and prepping the space to reduce the chances that the glaze will crack. Replace old, cracked caulk surrounding the tub and shower, and consider installing a pebble tile shower floor in a plain shower basin, which is a popular look that will make the shower look more luxurious.
A simple way to upgrade your shower or tub is to focus on the faucet and showerhead. “Consider upping the tech in your bathroom with light therapy shower heads or shower heads that stream your favorite playlists (or) podcasts, which not only updates the look of the space but also adds therapeutic touches,” Caroline Harmon, trend strategy manager for home improvement company Lowe’s, wrote in an email.
Tile the Floor and Walls
New tile can help brighten a space, add a level of waterproofing and make your bathroom easier to clean.
“Laying tile can be a time-consuming project that appears ambitious, but it’s a great project for DIYers that have the time and patience to do it right,” Harmon says. “Properly prepping a tile floor and selecting tiles that best fit your project’s needs are critical when installing tile floor properly.”
Tile comes in all shapes, sizes, colors and patterns to match your budget and preference. You may also consider peel-and-stick tile that might make installation easier. As with any DIY project, you should research how to install tile before doing so. YouTube tutorials can be helpful, and by watching more than one from beginning to end before starting the project, you'll begin with a bit more knowledge.
Replace the Vanity
For a project that requires relatively little skill but changes the entire look of the bathroom, trade out the vanity for something new. A vanity with drawers or cabinet space beneath the sink can increase your storage options in the bathroom.
“Replacing a vanity is a lot easier than in a kitchen where you’re replacing a whole wall of cabinets,” Busch says.
Add New Light Fixtures
You’ll be surprised how new lighting can make a room feel new. Trade out a dated over-the-mirror fixture for one that matches your preferred design style, and make sure you’re using lightbulbs that are bright enough.
Hang a New Mirror
It’s time to trade out the cheap funhouse-style mirror the last homeowner hung before you bought your house. Especially if you’re strapped for storage space, a mirror upgrade to a medicine cabinet can help keep your bathroom looking clean and uncluttered.
Hang Hooks, Shelves or a Towel Rack
Improve and update your storage options by replacing hooks or towel racks, and consider hanging shelves or floating cabinets to hold extra rolls of toilet paper, towels, cleaning products and toiletries.
Embrace a New Color
An easy cosmetic update and a typical last step in remodeling a room is giving the walls a fresh coat of paint. Bathrooms are a great place to get a bit more daring with color and pattern that might intimidate you in another part of the house.
[Read: How to Declutter Your Home]
Opt for Trendy Finishing Touches
Even if the DIY work you’ve done on the bathroom isn’t exactly perfect, you can draw the eye away from any flaws by finishing it like you would any newly renovated room. Harmon recommends adding a plant or two to the bathroom to liven up the space.
Additionally, update your bath mat and towels with new options that embrace current bathroom trends. Teak bath mats and other finishes that evoke the feeling of a spa are currently popular and can help make your bathroom feel new, Harmon says.
What will your budget let you renovate?
Home prices are high and interest rates are rising, so many homeowners are opting to stay put and renovate rather than search for a new house. According to Houzz’s 2018 study of renovations in the U.S., 51 percent of Houzz users have plans to renovate in 2018, with a median budget of $10,000. But how far can your budget get you? We're breaking down the cost of some popular home renovation projects to help you figure out the best ways to spend your remodel money.Kitchen
It doesn't matter if you're a gourmet chef or a microwave connoisseur – you want a welcoming kitchen that makes the space worthy of spending time, not just prepping food. A kitchen renovation is the most common planned project for homeowners, according to the Houzz study, with 31 percent of respondents noting they plan to remodel their kitchen. But it's also a costly project. Remodeling Magazine's 2018 Cost vs. Value report breaks down the national average cost for kitchen remodels as such:
Midrange minor kitchen remodel: $21,198
Midrange major kitchen remodel: $63,829
Upscale major kitchen remodel: $125,721
How much you'll spend all depends on your planned makeover. Read on for a breakdown of some popular kitchen updates.Kitchen: cabinets and countertops
Kitchen: cabinets and countertops
Cabinets and countertops are two of the most visible aspects in a kitchen, not to mention that they take up the most space. You have a lot of price wiggle room when it comes to material and installation of both: The installation for countertops alone can range from $1,700 for butcher block to $14,000 for quartz, according to HomeAdvisor. For a kitchen with 30 square feet of counter space and 40 linear feet of cabinets, here are some cost estimates for materials, based on HomeAdvisor information:
Budget: $3,600 for stock cabinets, butcher block countertop.
Midrange: $13,800 for semicustom cabinets, midrange quartz or granite countertop.
Splurge: $52,050 for custom cabinets, concrete countertop.
Kitchen: new appliances
If you're not looking to drop $50,000 on surfaces, consider freshening your kitchen with new appliances. Stores like Home Depot and Lowe's often offer significant discounts if you purchase kitchen appliances in a package deal, with the added benefit of having the same brand appliances that match in color and style. Consider these budget options to replace your fridge, range, dishwasher and microwave all at once (based on prices listed as of Sept. 14, 2018). You're more likely to get a deal on appliance purchases close to the end of the month, on a holiday weekend or just after the new year.
Budget: $1,234 for mixed brand.
Midrange: $2,794 for Whirlpool Kitchen Suite through Lowe's.
Splurge: $6,476 for Bosch Kitchen Suite through Lowe's.
Kitchen: knocking down walls
Removing a wall tends to cost the same in every room, but these days it is commonly done in the kitchen to create a more open floor plan. Wall demolition costs vary based on whether the wall is load-bearing – meaning it's a key part of the house's structure – or if there is plumbing or electrical wiring running through it. HomeAdvisor provides national averages for the cost of removing a wall:
Budget: $300 to $1,000 for a wall that doesn't bear any weight.
Midrange: $1,200 to $3,000 for a load-bearing wall in a single-story house.
Splurge: $3,200 to $10,000 for a load-bearing wall with two or more stories.
The second- and third-most popular home renovations, according to the Houzz study, both fall under the bathroom category, covering guest or secondary bathrooms and master bathrooms. Current design trends show homeowners want a spa experience in their bathroom, whether that means a rain-style showerhead, double vanities or exquisite tile work. Remodeling Magazine separates the cost of remodeling a bathroom into two categories, based on national averages for 2018:
Midrange bathroom remodel: $19,134
Upscale bathroom remodel: $61,662
Beautiful tile in a bathroom can make the room a showpiece in your home, not just a necessary space for privacy. But depending on your tastes, new tile can get pricey. Home renovation cost estimate site RemodelingCalculator.org notes the material and installation costs increase with the intricacy of the design and rarity of the material. Based on Remodeling Calculator's estimated costs, here's some pricing to consider:
Budget: $4.60 per square foot for ceramic tile, $3.80 to $6.70 per square foot to install.
Midrange: $6.70 per square foot for granite tile, $5.45 to $7.50 per square foot to install.
Upscale: Up to $25 per square foot for custom mosaic tile, anywhere from $15 to $300 per square foot to install.
Bathroom: moving plumbing and drains
Plumbing changes are often one of the most expensive parts of a renovation. If you're looking to relocate the toilet, shower or sink in your bathroom, the cost to move both the plumbing for water and the drains can add up quickly. Home improvement marketplace and information site Porch.com – a former U.S. News contributor – estimates the national average to move one plumbing line costs between $653 and $802 – and that’s just for the work. Be sure to factor in the cost of new fixtures and any additional work related to opening up the floor and walls.
Budget: $653 to $802 to move shower.
Midrange: $1,306 to $1,604 to move shower and toilet.
Splurge: $1,959 to $2,406 to move shower, toilet and sink.
To renovate a bedroom that's more focused on the furniture inside than the four walls means a simple bedroom remodel should be fairly attainable for someone with a small budget. Often a fresh coat of paint can do the trick to bring new life to a bedroom, but sometimes a little more work is involved. Home remodeling cost guide Fixr estimates the national average to completely remodel a room – from replacing the drywall on the walls and ceiling to new flooring – at nearly $8,000.
Budget: $200 for paint and painting materials.
Midrange: $800 for high-end painting, professionally done.
Splurge: $7,880 for new walls, floors, etc.
Bedroom: master suite addition
Sometimes, though, the bedroom you have isn't the one you want or need. Master suites are frequently high on the list of homebuyer wants, but they're also not always common in older houses. Making an addition to a house is an extensive project that will cost you a lot of money, but your investment does come back to you, at least somewhat, in the increase in property value. Remodeling Magazine notes a master suite addition recoups just over 48 percent of the cost in resale value for upscale projects and more than 56 percent for midrange projects. Here are the average costs for both projects, per the Cost vs. Value report:
Midrange master suite addition: $123,420
Upscale master suite addition: $256,229
Easily transforming your closet to fit all your clothes and having extra room for storage is the dream for many, but a custom closet can cost you. The overall price tag will vary depending on the size of the closet and how customized you want the space to be – a hanging rod and a couple shelves can put you back a few hundred dollars, but once you factor in wood finishes, built-in shoe racks and rolling drawers, that price tag climbs. Here's what Fixr estimates for closet costs:
Budget: $400 to $1,000 for small closet.
Midrange: $300 to $3,000 for walk-in closet.
Splurge: $400 to $6,500 for custom closet.
Once your kitchen, bathrooms and bedrooms are right, it's time to tackle those rooms that aren't as frequently used but can make a big impact on your daily life. A revamped laundry room can be just the ticket to taking the household chore of cleaning clothes from a hassle to downright enjoyable. The cost to redo or build a laundry room varies based on what you have already and whether you need plumbing and electric moved. Fixr breaks down the range of costs depending on if flooring is replaced, whether appliances are new and if professionals are required.
Midrange: $6,000 to $7,000
While it's more out of necessity than luxury, your roof is certainly a major home improvement project to consider if you’ve experienced leaks or it's near the end of its functional life (about 25 years). It's possible you'll only need repairs done to the existing roof to ensure the rest of your house is protected from the elements, but you may need an entirely new roof installed.
Budget: $334 to $1,243 for repairs.
Midrange: $2,380 to $12,100 for new asphalt shingle roof.
Splurge: Up to $84,000 for a new slate roof.
She has appeared in media interviews across the U.S. including National Public Radio, WTOP (Washington, D.C.) and KOH (Reno, Nevada) and various print publications, as well as having served on panels discussing real estate development, city planning policy and homebuilding.
Previously, she served as a researcher of commercial real estate transactions and information, and is currently a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors. Thorsby studied Political Science at the University of Michigan, where she also served as a news reporter and editor for the student newspaper The Michigan Daily. Follow her on Twitter or write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.