On this page:
- Estimating the Cost of Remodeling a Bathroom
- Why Update the Bathroom?
- What Influences the Cost of a Bathroom Remodel?
- How Does Your Project Measure Up?
- Preparing for Your Bathroom Remodel
- Cost Comparisons
- Level of Difficulty
Remodeling a bathroom can be a great way to upgrade one of the most essential areas of your home, whether just to bring the décor up to date or to transform it into a luxury home spa. Adding space and storage, changing out dated fixtures, or just sprucing up with new lighting, paint, or flooring, are all ways to improve the function, accessibility, and appearance of the space—and add value to your home.
Estimating the Cost of Remodeling a Bathroom
How are Bathroom Projects Priced?
Since the scope of remodeling or renovating an entire room can be quite broad, the cost of the job is generally presented as a whole by a general or remodeling contractor. Your contractor will calculate different aspects of the job according to their nature, such as estimating tile and flooring by the square foot or replacing a sink based on whether it is a one-piece vanity top or not, but the specific tasks in your remodeling project will determine the cost of both materials and labor.
How Should I Budget for My Bathroom Remodel?
Bathroom remodels are often one of the most costly home improvement projects, coming in just after kitchens in terms of complexity and expense. However, you can accomplish a lot on a small budget if the scope of the job is relatively narrow. In order to budget realistically for your bathroom makeover, take some time to determine how much work really needs to be done to bring it to the condition you have in mind and whether you need a pro to oversee the project and carry out all the work, or if you can handle some (or all) of it on your own.
What is the “Scope of the Job” Anyway?
If all your bathroom needs is some freshening up with paint and new light fixtures, you may be able to get the job done for under $500 and take care of the work yourself. But, if your motto for the project is “out with the old and in with the new,” you could invest $20,000 or more in order to get the high-end finishes you want installed by professional plumbers, electricians, drywallers, and tile setters. If you need to move some plumbing around or knock down a wall to get the job done to your specifications, your cosmetic renovation just turned into a full-scale remodel, and the scope of the work has widened considerably. As the job becomes more complex, more time, skill, tools, and supplies are needed, and the overall cost of the project goes up.
Why Update the Bathroom?
Form and Function
It’s essential to have all the fixtures of any bathroom working properly, but improving the décor can make the room, and even the entire home, more appealing to homeowners, guests, and potential buyers. Since bathrooms are one of the most difficult rooms to work in, bringing one current in both style and utility not only makes it a more enjoyable space, but can simplify cleaning and maintenance and reduce the potential for repair-related headaches that come with aging plumbing and fixtures.
Newer is Better
It’s not always necessary to replace tubs, showers, sinks, faucets, and toilets when renovating a bathroom, but it’s a logical time to do that kind of work if you already have the room out of service in order to make cosmetic changes. If new fixtures are in your plans, you will almost certainly benefit from improved efficiency and better function, whether from a low-flow toilet or shower head, energy efficient lighting, or a higher capacity or multi-function ventilation fan.
Everybody Loves a Brand New Bathroom
Remodeling a bathroom is one of those projects that almost always adds value to a home. Whether a sale is in your near future or not, investing in upgrades or improvements to the bathroom is a smart way to spend your home improvement dollars since an updated bathroom is both something you can enjoy and an attractive feature to potential buyers. If you are remodeling your bathroom with an eye toward selling your home, it pays to do a little research on what is attractive to buyers in your market so you can be sure the changes you make are desirable and get the most return on your investment.
What Influences the Cost of a Bathroom Remodel?
Sizing Up the Job
As with most remodeling projects, the size of the space is one of the key factors in the cost of the job. Some materials and installation services are measured and priced by the square foot, such as flooring, tile work, drywall, and painting, so costs are directly related to the area of the floor or walls. But in general, the larger a space is, the more time and material it will take to refinish it.
In a lot of cases, the cost of labor per square foot goes down as the size of the job goes up and the work becomes more efficient for the contractor and tradespeople involved. Even so, the labor on bathroom projects often works out to be more expensive per square foot than other rooms since they are usually smaller and can be a little tougher to navigate—especially with the fixtures in place.
The extent of your remodel project is a significant detail in estimating the cost of the job. A basic update with simple cosmetic changes such as painting cabinets, walls, and trim and changing out a shower door and light fixture is a fairly quick and simple job that could cost less than $1,000, but replacing any or all of the fixtures changes the scope of the job substantially, especially if you choose high-end or custom products and finishes. Relocating plumbing, upgrading the wiring, and changing the layout of the room takes the job to a whole new level, and can make the difference between a one-week update project and a month-long overhaul.
Are You Pitching In?
Labor costs are often equal to or greater than the cost of materials on a significant remodeling project, so your level of involvement could make a big difference in the bottom line. Performing some of the work yourself can save quite a bit on the cost of the job, or free up some funds in your budget to splurge on a high-end item you couldn’t otherwise afford. Even if you don’t have the skills or time to tackle installing a tub or tiling the floor, handling simpler tasks like demo and disposal or painting and hanging mirrors and accessories can shave several hours’ worth of labor from the tab.
How Does Your Project Measure Up?
A Total Transformation
If your remodel project involves structural changes, rewiring, or relocating any fixtures, it could cost at least twice as much as a project with similar finishes that doesn’t require system or structure changes. The difficulty and expense of re-routing wiring or water, drain, and ventilation lines is typically determined by accessibility, so the harder it is to get to the pipes or wires, the more the job will cost.
Some common upgrades are only marginally more expensive than standard replacements, such as adding a second sink in the same vanity, while switching from a tub/shower combination to separate fixtures or changing the location of the toilet are much more involved and costly. When it comes to structural changes, the extent and nature of demolition and construction will determine the cost of upgrades like enlarging the space or adding a door or window.
Tubs and Showers
Of the primary fixtures found in most bathrooms, tubs and showers are often the most expensive single item on the to-do list. If your bathroom renovation includes a bathtub or shower, the type you choose could have a big impact on the budget. For example, choosing a standard acrylic tub and shower combination could add $600 or so to the job, compared to several thousand for an elegant freestanding tub, a custom shower, or a drop-in or jetted tub and custom-built surround.
Sinks and Vanities
With almost endless possibilities for sinks, counters, and vanity cabinets, the style of a bathroom can be defined by these essential, practical fixtures. The size of the room and design theme may place some limitations on your options, but the potential costs could start as low as $100 for a modest pedestal sink and exceed $5,000 for custom vanity cabinets with a granite counter and high-end vessel sink.
A surprising range of options and pricing makes your choice of toilet a bigger factor in the renovation budget than you may expect. A basic two-piece toilet may cost less than $100, while a high-performance, specialty, or designer toilet could cost over $1,000.
Due to exposure to water in a bathroom environment, it is important to select flooring that is suited for the job. Fortunately, there are a number of options in every price bracket. Your choice here can cause some swing in the budget since an economical choice of sheet vinyl flooring can cost considerably less than a ceramic tile floor, and even a mere fraction of a natural stone tile installation.
Often overlooked, there are several small details that can make a huge difference in the transformation of a bathroom, and they all affect the bottom line—even if just a little at a time. Be sure to plan for everything from cabinets, trim, light fixtures, and mirrors to exhaust fans, towel bars, and faucets. This part of the budget is sometimes a bit of a gray area, but these choices can account for $500 or more, even on a modest renovation, so be sure to include every fixture and accessory in the planning process.
Preparing for Your Bathroom Remodel
What Can You Keep?
When planning for your bathroom project, determine what elements of the room you can keep, and what needs to go. Bathroom renovations can be disruptive and costly, so if you have doubts about the longevity of any of the fixtures, it will probably be more cost-effective to replace them while the room is undergoing renovations than later on—especially if damage to the subfloor or walls develops from a leak or other failure. However, if your tub, toilet, and sink are in great shape and don’t detract from other upgrades, there may not be any reason to replace them at this point, and keeping them can save hundreds, if not thousands, on the cost of the project.
How New is New?
If your dream bathroom has a different layout than your real-life bathroom, be sure to consider the potential costs of transforming what you have into what you want. Leaving plumbing, wiring, walls, windows, and doors in their existing locations can help keep the job simple and much less expensive than moving things around. If the current layout is serviceable, you can save on the overall cost of the job, and may have space in your budget to upgrade to better fixtures.
Since bathroom remodels are usually expensive and inconvenient, try not to do it more often than necessary. Plan your design for longevity and flexibility if you don’t plan to make a habit of updating your bathroom every few years, and be sure to consider how the room’s use may change in the time between renovation projects. For example, vessel sinks and deep tubs can be tough to navigate for young kids, and large showers can provide easier access than standard tubs for those with limited mobility.
It is important to get multiple estimates for any project to ensure you get a fair price for your area and so you can choose qualified pros, but since bathroom projects often involve pros from several trades, it can be challenging to gather and evaluate and estimates and bids. Working with a general or remodeling contractor can simplify all aspects of the job, starting with the pricing, so be sure to include a few of these experts in the pricing and planning phase of the job.
|$3,250 - $6,800||$7,200 - $15,500||$12,800 - $21,500|
To get an idea of the potential cost to remodel your bathroom, try comparing your project to a few of the features in our example, in which a 100 square foot full bath is updated with new fixtures, flooring, and finishes, with relevant structural, plumbing, and electrical changes.
Bathroom 1: Just Freshening Up $3,250 - $6,800
- • Flooring: Installing economical sheet vinyl provides a durable, water-safe floor at a budget price of $200 to $600.
- • Tub and Shower: Replacing an existing tub with shower surround with an in-stock acrylic system costs $600 to $1,000. Another $200 allows for a quality tub and shower faucet kit.
- • Sink and Vanity: A single sink, stock vanity cabinet, and one-piece top adds about $200 to a renovation of this caliber. Topping it off with a mid-grade faucet will cost another $150.
- • Storage: Installing a few stock cabinet pieces and shelving units can maximize storage space for under $500 since no structural changes are required.
Bathroom 2: Stepping Up $7,200 - $15,500
- • Flooring: Ceramic tile provides a durable and attractive upgrade. With the preparation involved and the skill required, tiling the floor of this bath will cost between $10 and $30 per square foot.
- • Tub and Shower: Upgrading to a jetted tub with a separate prefabricated shower stall will add at least $3,000 to the bottom line, by the time plumbing changes and faucets are figured in.
- • Sink and Vanity: A single vessel sink installed on a stock vanity cabinet with a solid-surface counter raises the bar on this project and adds $1,200 to this job.
- • Storage: With limited space after adding a shower to the room, storage is at a premium. This budget allows $800 for custom cabinetry to supplement the vanity.
Bathroom 3: Maxing Out the Space $12,800 - $21,500
- • Flooring: Natural stone tile changes the character of this bath, but at a price of $18 to $40 per square foot.
- • Tub and Shower: Ditching the tub and installing a steam shower adds $4,500 to the cost of this job.
- • Sink and Vanity: Double sinks are a must in a remodel like this, and installing them in a high-end vanity with top quality faucets will cost at least $3,200.
- • Storage: Reworking a room to suit a steam shower allows for a little customization for a built-in linen closet along with shelving to complement the vanity. From frame to finish, expect the change to cost $1,100.
Level of Difficulty
There are some aspects of a bathroom remodeling project that are perfect for a beginner to intermediate level do-it-yourselfer, but when it comes to significant plumbing installations, electrical work, or structural changes, a high level of skill is required—and possibly a license. Even if you don’t plan to get your hands dirty on the job, it can take quite a bit of time and good organizational skills to coordinate contractors for the project, which makes it a great job for a remodeling contractor who can handle all the details, scheduling, permits, and payments.