When it comes to creating a budget for a ‘typical’ bathroom, you’ll quickly find that every project is unique.
There is no one-size-fits-all budget, or even a reliable per-square-foot average price. However, most designers and space planners see costs for a bathroom remodel starting at around $6,000.
The sky's the limit is as far as the maximum price you’ll pay, but if you don’t adorn the room in gold you can expect it to cost less than $30,000, even for a major reconstruction.
The key to creating an accurate budget for a bathroom remodel is to spend the time asking questions and researching the answers that apply to your specific project.
We cover several of these topics below to give you a template to work from while planning your bathroom remodel project. Consider each point as you put together your overall plan.
With any home improvement project, the size of the space matters. While it might not take many more materials for an extra few feet, costs can add up quickly.
You might be looking at an extra $100 or it could cost you thousands. This is important information to consider when selecting materials.
For example, if you have a flooring material option that’s $4 a square foot or one that’s $6 a square foot, it may not make a big difference for a small space.
In fact, you may simply use up the rest of the box of laminate flooring or be able to cover the wall with the rest of a gallon of paint without buying more.
When calculated on a per-square-foot basis, however, if a small bathroom is four feet by five feet you’ll have 20 square feet of flooring. At $4, that’s $80. At $6, that’s $120.
Now look at a large bathroom that’s 14 x 20. That’s 280 square feet. Flooring at $4 will run $1120 while the $6 flooring will add up to $1680.
As you can see, the small bathroom might only cost $40 to upgrade materials while a large bathroom not only costs more for any flooring choice, but is exponentially more expensive when you upgrade.
The same compounding math means you’ll pay more for sheetrock, mud and tape, paint, wallpaper, texturing, trim, and other supplies.
The bottom line is, the larger your bathroom is, the more it will cost for a remodel. However, size isn’t the only factor.
Material costs are an important factor in your overall budget. You need to be as precise as possible if you want to stay within budget too.
During the planning stages, visit several home improvement and floor covering stores. Gather as much information about your options as possible.
Material options are constantly changing for everything from tile to flooring to paint. Costs for just about everything are on the rise too, so even if you had a plan two years ago, you may need to rework the numbers.
With the sheer number of options for each product, you’ll have some wiggle room in your budget. For example, maybe you can go with a less expensive vanity in order to get the tile shower you want.
Similarly, you can bypass the tile shower in favor of a larger window. This is only possible because there are a million types of vanities, options in windows, and styles of showers.
The point is, you need a line-item budget in order to consider each individual element in your bathroom remodel.
Will You Hire a Professional?
This is a huge consideration. Are you planning to hire a general contractor to do the work? If so, will this person complete the project start to finish or do you plan to do some of the work yourself?
If it’ll be a shared task, you’ll need to calculate the costs, and the related cost savings, of the work they will do versus your contributions.
While a general contractor will oversee subcontractors, timelines, supply deliveries, etc., if you’re tackling your bathroom remodel DIY style, you may still hire out some of the work.
For example, you may choose to hire a plumber to reroute pipes in the walls or employ an electrician to tackle the wiring. In addition, you may see the need to hire a professional for tile installation, flooring, or framing and installing a larger window.
Beyond your material costs, you need to get bids and include the costs associated with hiring any professionals you hire.
Obviously it costs more to hire workers than to do it yourself, but be realistic about what you can tackle. Consider time allowances. If you only have one bathroom, you’ll need the job to be done in a timely manner.
If you work 60 hours a week, you may not have the time available to realistically get a bathroom remodel done within a reasonable time.
Similarly, consider your skill set. Making a major mistake can lead to huge costs.
You may also need to factor in the cost of renting tools if you don’t own the ones you’ll need. This can be anything from saws to drywall lifters.
Outside of the cost of hiring professionals, your largest expenses will go toward materials. This is where you’ll see a huge variation in costs. For example, flooring can range from $2 to $20 per square foot depending on the type of material and installation requirements.
Similarly, a tiled shower is going to cost more than a shower surround. A cast iron tub will be more than a fiberglass option.
These material cost comparisons for your bathroom funnel right down to the options for towel racks, sinks, mirrors, and exhaust fans.
In order to get an accurate estimate of costs, start by deciding what your priorities are. Is it essential you have a step-in shower? Do you require ADA counter access? Is the goal to make the space larger?
Whatever your priorities are, put them at the top of the budget and hunt down accurate numbers. From there, see what you have left for the rest of the room. This is the best way to make decisions about what will stay and what will go when it comes to making the hard decisions.
You may only be updating a part of your bathroom, like replacing the vanity. Or you might be doing a comprehensive remodel that takes the room down to the studs and builds it back up.
Obviously those two options are going to look very different to the budget. Take measurements of your space so you have an idea of size when calculating material costs. How big is the opening for the vanity? The shower?
Make sure you know building regulations. This may be another consideration in your material costs. For example, you’ll need a certain amount of clearance on all sides of the toilet.
There may also be regulations outlining the type of fan, wiring, lighting, or plumbing materials you can use. While we’re on the topic, yes, you need to visit your local municipal planning department.
Bring in a plan for your remodel and ask about required permits and inspections. You may just need to pay a small fee for making an upgrade or you may find yourself at the mercy of the department when it comes to laying out your bathroom plan.
Do yourself a favor and don’t skip this step. Building regulations are in place for your safety and to reduce problems to your home down the road. Taking shortcuts could not only cost you fines later on, but it could literally result in the loss of home or life.
Bathroom Flooring Materials
Let’s talk a little more about the types of bathroom flooring and their associated costs.
Concrete may be a material you hadn’t first considered. However, it’s a durable surface that’s ideal for a bathroom or other area that frequently encounters water and moisture.
Concrete is relatively at around $2 to $6 per square foot, but it’s easiest to install during an original build or during a complete bathroom overhaul. If you’re working in a basement, you may find you already have a concrete floor to work with.
Linoleum is a natural product, made from linseed oil. It’s a great choice for the environment. However, it does scratch and indent easier than vinyl since it is a softer surface.
Linoleum runs between $2 and $5 per foot, so it’s also a reasonably-priced option. Some linoleum requires professional installation.
Planks, Tiles, Vinyl, Wood, and Laminate
This is, without a doubt, the most ubiquitous flooring on the market. Recent years have introduced a ton of laminate, wood, and vinyl hybrids.
You can get straight vinyl flooring or composite wood coated in a laminate finish. You can get engineered hardwood with a pressed core, solid core, or even a tile core. Then there are planks of vinyl, squares of laminate, and a number of options in between.
Head into any flooring store and you’ll find these products take up the majority of the showroom real estate. Prices vary wildly.
Glue down options may be best installed by a professional, while click together flooring offers a rewarding DIY project. Look for these products to run $3-$10 per square foot.
Ceramic and Porcelain tile
Again, there is a wide range of costs. Expect $4 to $14. Consider the pros and cons of different products, tile sizes, shiny or matte finishes, brand warranties, patterns, and colors.
Travertine and other stones are very popular for bathroom floors because they are durable and waterproof. As with other options, prices vary, as does the quality of the materials.
Options for Bathroom Vanities
Vanities can take many shapes. Inasmuch, you can build your own. It’s the perfect way to create a custom build to meet your needs.
However, if you don’t feel building one from scratch is the right answer, you can refinish components of the one you already have. This is a great option if it’s already the size and layout you want, but it’s due for an update.
You can replace the sinks or countertops. Similarly, you can refinish the cabinets with paint or stain.
Then there are options for a custom built vanity or prefabricated vanities that come in standard sizes. If you decide to purchase a ready-made vanity, there are endless combinations of countertop materials, cabinet colors, and sink designs.
Refinish or Buy New Fixtures
Another major consideration in your bathroom budget is the need to replace light fixtures. If you’re adding additional fixtures you can buy new or find a used fixture at a second-hand store.
For existing fixtures, you can replace them or refinish them. Most existing fixtures accept paint quite well. It’s a quick and easy way to convert brass into metallic gray, hammered metal, or other options.
Look at the Rustoleum spray paint section of the home improvement store for ideas.
When pricing out materials and contracted labor, where you live might be a contributing factor to price. Some areas of the country are simply cheaper for labor costs, especially in rural areas versus the city.
On the other hand, it might cost substantially more to have materials shipped to rural locations.
Remember the Finishing Touches
When we think about how much it costs to remodel a bathroom, the expenses of labor, flooring, and a new shower probably come to mind. Once everything is in place, however, you still have some finishing touches to add.
Include the cost of towel racks or hooks, safety handles, and shelving. You may also want smart devices such as lighting or a showerhead.
Remember to budget for mirrors, an exhaust fan, light fixtures, baskets or totes for organizing, wall art, and even the soap dispenser and a waste basket.
You’ll need bath mats, hand towels, washcloths, bath towels, and perhaps a shower curtain.
With all these considerations you should be able to put together a viable budget for your project as well as an accurate projection of timelines.
Learn more Tips on Bathroom Remodeling and also consider What Should You Not Do When Remodeling a Bathroom?