There are a few spaces where spending money makes sense when it comes to your home. The general advice is that the kitchen and bathrooms are two spaces where you’ll see the most bang for your buck. That also holds true when it comes to a budget bathroom remodel, and we wholeheartedly agree.
You’ll find that we’re suckers for cheap & easy renovations.
Even though you’ll see the highest return on remodeling a bathroom or kitchen, it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. We did our budget bathroom remodel for under $500 bucks. Not only that, but we did it ourselves in a weekend. Trust us, if we can do it, anyone at any skill level can do this project too.
Below, we’ll cover the do’s and dont’s for a bathroom remodel on a budget and even take you step-by-step through our process and break down the costs.
How to Remodel a Bathroom on a Budget:
Our goal when planning this bathroom remodel was to have a space that looked great & was functional. However, we didn’t have a lot of time and didn’t want to spend a ton of money on the project. So with those things guiding our budget bathroom remodel, we dove in. Here are a few tips on how to keep your costs low:
1. Keep the Layout
By keeping the bathroom layout the same, we were able to save a ton of time and money. Focus more on the appearance as opposed to trying to change where the toilet, sink, or bathtub are. You will spend a ton of time removing these things and more money than you anticipate buying replacements and making them work in the space.
2. Use What You Can
Along the same lines, using what’s already in the bathroom can be a budget-friendly option for your remodel. Can you reuse the vanity? How about refinishing the tub as opposed to tearing it out and replacing it? You’re going to notice these things when it comes time to pay the bill.
3. Low-Cost, High Visual Updates
This may come as a surprise, but all toilets look pretty similar. There are $1,000 toilets that look nearly identical to a $100 one. When it comes to doing a budget bathroom remodel, you focus on low-cost, high-return updates. This includes paint, faucets, wallpaper, mirrors, light fixtures, etc.
Our Budget Bathroom Remodel
Now that we’ve established the guiding principles, we can dive into our particular project. You’ll find a list at the bottom of this post with all the items we used and bought.
For a little background, this is a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo that we purchased in December of 2021. It wasn’t terrible, but everything looked straight out of the ’90s…and not in the cool way that grunge and mullets are coming back.
Our goal was to turn this space into a short-term rental so we needed it to be durable yet also picture well. We wanted something that popped when you saw it and stood out from the competition.
We decided to keep the tub, toilet, and vanity to keep costs down. The vanity was flaking a little, but we could bring it back to life with a little love, sandpaper, and paint. With that, our budget bathroom remodel was underway.
The first step was to remove the old cabinet above the toilet. This left some spots on the wall that we had to patch with some spackle and sand down to make it smooth.
Next, we removed the mirror which was flaking around the edges giving the space a very dated look. Under the mirror, we found some pretty sweet wallpaper that had apparently been painted over in other spots.
*A tip when removing a mirror is to put a bunch of tape on it. That way, if it cracks, even if you’ll have 7 years of bad luck you hopefully won’t have any glass to clean up.
Now it was time to get started on putting our budget bathroom back together.
We decided to paint the bathroom, again because this is a very low-cost but high-return item. The color we went with was Glidden’s Pine Forest, which is a dark green that would tie in with some of our other design choices in the apartment.
Those of you with keen eyes might’ve noticed that we didn’t paint the entire wall. That was purposeful because we were planning to go with board & batten halfway up the wall. As a result, we measured how tall the beadboard was that we were going to use and only painted an inch or two below that line.
To install the board and batten, you will need to remove all the things from the walls including the toilet paper holder, the outlet covers, and the light switch covers.
Buying 8 ft sheets of beadboard and cutting them in half to get our 4 ft. height helped keep our costs lower than buying 4 ft. sheets of beadboard. Because our bathroom was small, it didn’t take many of these panels.
To adhere the panels to the walls we suggest using liquid nail adhesive on the back of the panels, and if you want to over-kill it like me, then you can also use a few finish nails to hold it to the wall.
*Another tip is to nail in the groove of the beadboard, this makes hiding the nail holes much easier.
I used a circular saw to cut the sheets in half and a jigsaw to cut the panels where there were electrical boxes or wall outlets. You could also use a multi-tool, a handsaw, or a utility knife.
Next up was to install wallpaper. We decided to use a fun wallpaper pattern on the back wall of the bathroom to add some depth and color to the space that we never could’ve achieved with paint.
Make sure to clean the walls really well, but don’t use anything that will leave a residue as it may affect how the wallpaper sticks.
Next up is the trim. Because we were doing this in a bathroom, we opted to use PVC molding. We chose this, as opposed to wood, because it is more durable in high-humidity conditions like bathrooms, it’s lighter, and it is already white with no need for painting.
The reason that you do the wallpaper before the trim is because the trim covers the ends of the wallpaper and helps keep it from peeling away from the wall.
For the top of the beadboard, we used cap molding. As you may have guessed, cap molding is designed to cap something. It has a small space behind the lower part letting it rest against the wall above the beadboard and against the beadboard below. For the bottom against the floor using a PVC 1×4 helps the trim feel a little more substantial.
After the cap molding and baseboard are on, we suggest using lattice trim to cover the vertical gaps between the beadboard panels. It’s easy to cut, it’s incredibly cheap, and because it’s very light, you only need a little bit of liquid nails and don’t need to use any actual nails.
Now that your board and batten is done, you can caulk all the nail holes and gaps. This really adds to the fit and finish of the project and brings it the extra mile.
Because we chose to reuse the old vanity, we now had to paint it as the paint was flaking off. Choosing to use a KILZ primer as a base coat really helped the top coat adhere better. Painting the vanity took a little time, but it was a huge part of our budget bathroom remodel as it saved us hundreds of dollars and hours of time uninstalling and installing a new one.
Now it’s the home stretch. We chose to use gold finishes in the bathroom. This included the drawer pulls on the vanity, the faucet, the toilet paper holder, the hand towel hook, the light fixture, the mirror, and even the shower curtain.
Here’s the before and after:
There you have it! A budget bathroom remodel that not only looks great, is cheap, and also is durable. At this point, this space has been on Airbnb for over 1.5 years and the bathroom has held up tremendously.
Budget Bathroom Remodel Tools & Supplies
Here are all the tools we used to complete this budget bathroom remodel:
- Circular Saw
- Flathead Screwdriver
- Nail Gun
- Caulk Gun
- Paint Brush
- Paint Roller
- Painters Tape
- Putty Knife
- Sanding Block
- Utility Knife
Here are the supplies we used:
- Wallpaper – $39.21
- Mirror – $107.99
- Light Fixture – $41.03
- Faucet – $68.00
- Bathroom Hardware Set – $34.79
- Drawer Pulls – $9.99
- Shower Curtain – $19.99
- 4×8 Beadboard – $68.34
- PVC Trim (Cap Molding, Baseboard, & Lattice) – $23.98
- Green & White Paint – $35.34
- Liquid Nail – $3.28
- Silicone & Caulk – $17.06
- Kilz Primer – $14.98
Not only were we able to do this budget bathroom remodel on a shoestring budget, but we were also able to get it done in a weekend! It didn’t take a month of remodeling. Hell, the only time we cut any power or water was when we were replacing the faucet and the light fixture.
Best of all, it looks great and helps our place stand out when scrolling on Airbnb. It doesn’t get much better than that!