Bathroom Remodel Considerations
Second to a kitchen remodel, a bathroom remodel is the greatest home improvement you can make in terms of return on investment (ROI). Though the ROI on a bathroom remodel varies from year to year, the average return is 60 percent. (Some years it can climb to 85 percent, depending on market trends.)
As you might expect, your budget will determine the scope of your project. If money is tight, you might focus on paint. Light, neutral colors make a small bathroom feel bigger. And if everything else is in good shape, a little new paint may be all you need. If you’ve got a bigger budget, however, you may want to consider a few remodeling upgrades.
The first question you should ask yourself before undertaking any bathroom remodel is whether you want a shower, a tub, or both.
- Households with young children may make better use of a tub while older homeowners may prefer a simple shower. An older couple might also want a safety tub, although selling a home later on with such a tub could decrease its appeal.
- The showerhead is not to be overlooked. These days, many people opt for massaging showerheads and models that can remember your temperature preferences. Many modern, low-flow showerhead systems are designed to provide the same satisfying feel of a traditional showerhead, and models that detach from the wall are still popular as well.
- A basic showerhead can cost as little as $15.00, and a higher-end model complete with bells and whistles can cost as much as $600.00. Installation costs will vary depending on the features of the showerhead (temperature memory, aromatherapy, etc.), but it’s safe to assume that you’ll pay the average plumbers’ rate of about $50.00 an hour.
- If you’re remodeling in preparation for a home sale, you may be tempted to go with a higher-end shower with multiple spray heads, aromatherapy and a built-in sound system. But this is more likely to hamper a sale than it is to seal it (potential buyers may balk at something so “over the top”). If you’re planning to stay in your home, your choices should be limited only by your budget and tastes.
Average Cost: On average, it costs about $740.00 to $1,400.00 to have a bathtub professionally installed. The average cost to have a shower installed is about $1,200.00 to $2,000.00. (Note: This pertains only to replacement tubs and showers for which the proper plumbing and supports are already in place.)
Tile is another bathroom upgrade that can have a profound effect. Tiles are available in linoleum, ceramic, glass, stone and other materials. And they come in various sizes and colors. Different colors and shapes can make your shower stand out, while a unified look incorporating matching shower and floor tiles offers the appearance of a continuous floor design.
- Slate and other natural stones are popular, but you must be sure to check the porosity when you use them in your bathroom remodel. Some stone types require a lot of maintenance and some may simply be unsuitable for a shower. You may consider ceramics, porcelain, marble or even granite instead.
- Whatever material and color you go with, use tiles no larger than 6 inches on your shower floor. Tiles will need to be slightly angled toward the drain, and grout between the tiles adds slip resistance.
- Some people will save money by purchasing a premade shower pan. While this limits color choices, the low cost (around $100.00) makes them attractive enough that many people use these and use decorative tile only from the floor to the ceiling in the shower. This turns a plain shower pan into the foundation of an eye-catching shower.
Average Cost: The cost of your bathroom tiling project will depend on whether you go the DIY route or hire someone for the job. Tiles can be installed by the homeowner with a little skill and patience. But if you have any doubts about your ability, it’s generally worth it to hire a professional. The price difference is about $500.00 (for a 53-square-foot area — DIY: $200.00 to $300.00, contractor $700.00 to $800.00).
New toilets, sinks and fixtures are one of the best ways to give your bathroom a quick boost. In fact, even a tired, old sink can get a new lease on life with some updated hardware.
- Be sure that any new fixtures you buy complement the rest of the bathroom. Stainless steel faucets paired with brushed brass cabinet hardware will make your bathroom look cheap and cobbled together — no matter how much you’ve spent. The key to an attractive fixture upgrade is a uniform look.
- Today, toilets and sinks come in many different styles, most of which are high-efficiency models. Some offer an old fashioned look combined with modern engineering; others offer the sleek designs of the modern age.
- Whether you plan to live in your home for many years or are remodeling it to put it up for sale, high-efficiency plumbing and electrical fixtures are a good investment. Even people who aren’t particularly concerned about the environment can appreciate the lower utility bills.
Average Cost: Typically, the homeowner supplies the toilet to be installed by the professional. Most toilets cost about $100.00 to $200.00. Installed, the total cost generally falls between $200.00 and $400.00. Installing a bathroom sink costs around $300.00 to $500.00.
DIY bathroom remodelers often overlook towel racks and hangers, but they can tie a room together when they match the rest of the décor. Cabinet hardware such as hinges and handles can also be the perfect accent to finish off a bathroom. They should match the style and the finish of the sinks, towel racks and showerheads hardware. After all, it just wouldn’t do to pair rustic country cabinets with sleek, modern faucets and spouts.
Average Cost: The cost of towel racks and cabinetry hardware ranges from only a few dollars for basic models to more than $100 for designer names. The cost will depend entirely on the style for which you’re shopping.
The floor is the visual foundation of any room. What you do with the floor essentially defines the space. You have many options for your bathroom floor. And, since it’s a small space, costs are easily kept to a minimum — although choosing high-end material can still make it quite expensive as well as the price to rip out the existing floor.
- Linoleum costs about $5.00 to $7.00 per square foot. It’s great for bathrooms as it’s waterproof and resistant to spills. Because linoleum expands and contracts, you must let it acclimate to the room before installation.
- Marble costs about $16.00 to $18.00 per square foot. It’s a beautiful choice, but installing it correctly generally requires the help of a professional. The downside to marble is that it’s prone to cracks and staining, and it requires regular maintenance.
- Ceramic costs $1.00 to $1.60 per square foot. It’s durable, easy to clean and naturally germ-resistant. The color of ceramic tile varies greatly from lot to lot.
- Porcelain is a tough, slightly more expensive sub-type of ceramic; it costs around $6.00 to $9.00 per square foot. The porcelain manufacturing process allows for a variety of design. But, because porcelain has a low porosity, it requires a special setting compound. Ask the manufacturer about which compound is best; don’t rely on the sales person.
- Wood is sometimes used as an accent on a bathroom floor. The cost varies according to the type of wood, which should be chosen carefully as it will be exposed to near-constant moisture.
Plumbing and Electrical
When remodeling, there is one rule of thumb: if you don’t have to modify or move it, don’t. Any changes made to the internal electrical or plumbing systems inside of your walls will require permits and contractors.
Use existing plumbing and electrical systems whenever possible. As you’re recouping only around 60 percent of your investment, completely moving things doesn’t usually pay off. If you absolutely must move things (to make room for another addition, for example), be sure to hire a reputable contractor and, if possible, make the blueprint for your home’s wiring and plumbing available.
Moving the plumbing isn’t as difficult when you have a basement or good crawlspace. Oftentimes, the plumbing is run beneath the house and involves very little work between the walls. The work must still be done by a licensed plumber or electrical contractor, but it’s much less disruptive to the interior of your home.
Remodeling a bathroom comes with many of the same requirements and considerations as adding a new bathroom. But there are differences, especially where electrical and plumbing are concerned. In a remodel, you don’t usually have have to install new systems, but an additional bathroom will require new lines.
- Electrical and plumbing alterations must be done by licensed professionals, and the structure must be able to carry any additional weight (heavy tiles, a large luxurious bath tub, moving a wall, etc.). Anything that involves changes to the house’s structure, such as enlarging a window, will also require the services of a professional.
- Even if you have the skills to DIY your bathroom remodel, you may still need to pull permits. Check with your state and local codes before beginning work. This will prevent a situation in which you have invested hundreds or even thousands of dollars in a project only to have to tear it all out due to ordinances. It will also prevent a situation in which great injury results from improper materials, construction or installation.
- Be sure that your bathroom has proper ventilation or a window and ensure that the electrical system is on a GFCI. A GFCI, or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, is a circuit that will cut power to the line if it detects something unusual in the current such as excessive moisture, a faulty component or a short circuit.