Renovating a Bathroom? Experts Share Their Secrets

Renovating a Bathroom? Experts Share Their Secrets

New bathrooms don’t come cheap.  The average cost of a mid-range bathroom renovation — replacing all the fixtures, the tile, the vanity and the toilet — is now almost $20,000.  If you’re planning a high-end remodel that involves moving fixtures and installing amenities like heated floors, it will cost you much more than that.

Still, there are ways to keep costs down. Interior designers and building professionals offer some tips on how to save money without sacrificing style.


Because tile can be expensive — and labor even more so, uses it only in the shower, for example by laying a simple subway tile in a staggered pattern up to the ceiling.

And instead of edging it with a border tile, substitute polished aluminum trim to hide un-glazed tile edges for a clean, timeless look.


Don’t pay for an entire slab of granite when all you need is a small piece to cover the top of a vanity. Stone fabricators often sell remnants.

The same goes for tile: looks for closeouts at stores where overstocked and discontinued lines are sold for as much as 80 percent off.   It pays to ask about closeouts at any remodeling store you happen to visit. Don’t be shy, if you see a showroom changing displays, run in! They will be happy to sell display models at steep discounts — everything from vanities to toilet bowls.


Whenever possible, opt for a decorative mirror instead of a medicine cabinet. A mirror adds style to the space and opens up a wide choice of price options. You can also go as big as the room will support, so the space ends up looking bigger and grander.


Most people think about saving on material, but they forget that labour can account for as much as 40 percent of the overall budget. Keeping the bathroom layout the same, so you don’t have to move the plumbing, and choosing products that do not require a huge amount of installation labour are some of the best ways to keep costs down.


“Builder grade” and “contractor grade” are marketing terms for the most basic fixtures in a product line. And in this case, you get what you pay for: They tend to be made of less durable parts and can scratch and wear more quickly.  Investing in a higher-grade fixture may cost more up front, but it could save you money in the long term. You may not see the words “builder grade” on the box, but salespeople will let you know, as a point of comparison. Another clue: The higher end tends to be heavier and feel solid.


The number of handles required to operate the temperature and flow of the water in your shower and tub may not be high on your list of renovation priorities, but all those parts add up. More valves equal higher costs.   A pressure balance valve with a single handle to control both the water temperature and flow is often cheaper than a thermostatic valve with two or more handles.  Each valve has to be separately installed, and plumbing pipes have to meet those valves which add labour costs - that’s why fewer is better.

When it comes to finishes, standard polished chrome is typically less expensive than other options.  

And if you have your heart set on an expensive material like marble, consider using it as an accent rather than covering the entire bathroom in it. Using the marble on the floor, and a simple white subway tile in the shower not only saves you money, but also allows the marble tile to stand out and become the star of the show.


Bathroom Vanities by Virta