6 budget bathroom updates

Try luxury vinyl tile for a beautiful, cost-effective alternative to traditional tile. CONTRIBUTED
Try luxury vinyl tile for a beautiful, cost-effective alternative to traditional tile. CONTRIBUTED

Refresh your space without a pricey renovation

The bathroom is one of your home’s big-ticket items. If you’re trying to sell your home, a dated bath can make or break a buyer’s interest. And a major bathroom renovation done for any reason can easily cost into the thousands.

Never fear! We asked around for some expert hints on how you can revive your tired décor without flushing money away.


The easiest and most obvious fix is to simply change out your accessories. “You can add a new shower curtain, spend a little money on it,” said Debbie Basnett, owner of Vintage Scout Interiors in Dayton. Use the new curtain as a jumping off point to add new towels, soap and toothbrush holders, rugs and other items.

However, don’t go crazy. “I like to keep it clean and simple,” Basnett said. Little baskets of soaps and potpourri belong to decades past. Keep it minimal for a contemporary feel.


A new floor makes a dramatic difference, and it doesn’t have to be a costly and time-consuming tile install. According to Ed Crislit, sales manager at the wholesale remodeling showroom, ProSource of Dayton, luxury vinyl tile or “LVT” is the most popular choice for bathrooms right now.

“Cost-wise, for product and installation, it’s a better price than tile,” he said. “It’s completely waterproof, lighter, much easier to install and not as intrusive.” Installation can be done without overhauling the entire bathroom or even doing any demo work. “It can be installed over most surfaces,” Crislit explained. “Even over existing tile.”

Adding LVT is a quick fix, too. Installation is easily completed within a day.


Aside from adding accessories, paint is one of the easiest solutions for breathing some new life into a room. For a high-traffic area like the bathroom, try to stick with satin or semi-gloss paints, which are easier to clean. Depending on the size of your bathroom, you may only need a gallon or two of paint. With paint and supplies, this project could easily cost less than $100.

Wallpaper is also making its way back in style. “The bathroom is a great place to add some wallpaper,” Basnett said. Concerned about steam damaging the paper? Basnett’s advice is to avoid natural fiber papers, such as grasscloth, in a heavily used bathroom. Otherwise, she said, “if the wallpaper is properly installed by a knowledgeable wall coverer, then there should be no issues.”


If you have an older, cast iron tub – either freestanding or alcove – Basnett recommended having it reglazed rather than shelling out for a new one. Although reglazing may seem to cost as much as a new tub, there’s more to the price of a tub than meets the eye.

“The cost of new tub also includes labor, a plumber, demo costs, adding tile on walls,” explained Basnett. “There are several companies around town that can reglaze a tub, which only takes around two days.” If you have a freestanding tub, such as a clawfoot, you can also paint the outside to brighten it up.

Total project cost for reglazing is generally less than $400.


Changing up your bathroom doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing deal. As long as it doesn’t clash horribly with your other fixtures or decor, you can upgrade your toilet or sink without changing out every single other item in the bathroom. Change to a pedestal sink to add space, go with a trendy shape or even add a second sink.

Many styles of sinks and toilets can be had for around $100 - $200 (just keep in mind the labor costs if you’re not a DIY’er!). Adding these fixtures will make a big difference in the look and feel of your space. Consider adding a sink and toilet now, then saving up and adding a new tub or shower later on.


You may not always think about your faucet handles, towel racks and light fixtures, but those details make a big difference, according to Basnett. These items tend to show their age, whether from wear and tear or just the style of them.

Even if you’re not confident in home repair and need a professional to install the items, project cost will still be far less than a complete renovation. Installing a new bathtub faucet and showerhead is a far cheaper than ripping out the bathtub! New faucets could even save your money if your old ones have slow leaks.

Make sure you take a good look at your bathroom’s overall décor when deciding on new hardware and be sure that it will flow with your design.