Monthly Archives: November 2016

Minimum and Medium Level Remodels

You want nothing more than a nicer, prettier bathroom.  You have been perusing Pinterest, walking wistfully down the bathroom fixtures and tile aisles in the local Home Depot, and talking to your neighbors.  But can you translate bathroom dreams into bathroom reality?  Only money can tell.

Money is the sticking point in any remodel.  Throw enough money at any home project and it will get done.  Problem is, most of us do not have a bottomless bank account to draw from.

 How much will your bathroom remodel cost in a realistic sense and what will get done?

1.  Minimum:  Do-It-Yourself Surface Remodel

Cost:  $1,000 to $5,000

When you take on the work of remodeling your bathroom yourself, costs are slashed dramatically.  Costs can go as low as the high hundreds, as long as you are satisfied with a surface remodel.

A surface remodel means that core elements–plumbing, electrical, and wall structure–are left untouched.  Shower or tub, too, are only minimally restored.  Nothing is moved and the footprint–or plan–stays the same, more or less.

A surface-level, light bathroom remodel might look something like this:

  • Replace floor with luxury vinyl plank.
  • Remove old vanity and replace with a ready-to-assemble (RTA) vanity and sink.
  • Install new toilet.
  • Install new mirror.
  • Paint the walls.

2.  Low-Medium:  Remodel Using Contractor and/or Sub-Contractors

Cost:  $15,000 to $17,500

This estimate is based on a 35-40 square foot bathroom, which can be imagined as a larger guest bathroom for a small house, or a small master bath for a large house.  All fixtures and other items quoted are basic and functional. The remodeling contractor would do the following:

  • Install a standard porcelain toilet.
  • Lay down moisture-resistant vinyl wallpaper or paint with latex paint.
  • Install a 30-by-60-inch porcelain-on-steel tub.
  • Install ceramic tile surround, around tub, with basic four-inch square tile.
  • Install a solid-surface vanity counter with integrated sink. Install single-lever shower temperature and pressure balanced shower control.
  • Install recessed lighted combination mirror/medicine cabinet.
  • Lay down ceramic tile floor.

For Contractor Remodels, Location Affects Estimates

Location barely affects the minimum do-it-yourself remodel because outside labor is not involved.  But it does affect any remodel that uses contractors and/or trades (sub-contractors).

California and the Pacific Northwest max out the bathroom remodeling estimates, with figures reaching $18,000. Southern states (east of the Mississippi) have the lowest bathroom remodeling costs, ranging around $15,000.

Data Sources

Giving ballpark estimates for home remodeling jobs is a slippery task. Without taking into account every factor–bathroom condition, locality, time frame, and far more–bathroom renovation estimates can vary considerably.

Even if you were to nail down these flexible factors, three contractors would give you three different estimates.

Remodeling magazine’s annual Cost Vs.Value report compares changes in job costs with Realtors’ perceptions of what those jobs bring to a home’s price at resale.

For example, you may covet the idea of including a self-sanitizing toilet, or those lovely heated floor tiles when you remodel or add a bathroom, but the cost to value benefit would likely not reflect well in an increased resale price.

How to Keep Your Bathroom Cleaner Longer

I hate cleaning the bathroom. It’s a chore; I don’t like being on my knees on the hard tile floor scrubbing soap scum off the bathtub or brushing my toilet. (In fact, I don’t like cleaning anywhere much at all.) And I’m sure not a lot of my readers like doing it, either.

But there are some things that you can do to avoid dirtying your bathroom too much, so that you need to clean it less often. I actually have adopted some of these habits, and they have helped me quite a bit!

Brush your teeth face down

Well, I’ve always done it this way, but I see a lot of people who brush their teeth facing the mirror. You know what that does, though? It sends lots of little toothpaste bubbles on the mirror and everywhere on the countertop.

I’ve noticed that if I bow my head and keep it close to the sink, most of these bubbles end up in the sink and rinsed away. Silly? Maybe. But I find it saves me a lot of mirror-cleaning.


Wipe your shower walls every time

What’s more time-consuming? Scrubbing your shower walls for hours every few months, or taking an extra minute to wipe away the moisture after each shower? I sure prefer the second option.

Not only does this extra habit keep mold at bay, but your shower/bath walls will look extra clean for longer periods of time, and scrubbing will be much easier and less time-consuming. Think of all the soap scum and body oils that don’t get to dry on your wall because you wiped it away!

Flush every time

Well, I’m actually a bit conflicted about this one. On the one hand, flushing every time avoids dirty (and smelly) buildup in your toilet. On the other hand, it wastes a lot of water.

If you care about a sparkling clean toilet bowl every day, I suggest you flush with every use. It’ll sure help keep it clean.

You can also use those “clean as you flush” products like Scrubbing Bubbles so you don’t have to actually scrub very often.

Personally, I don’t mind a little grime if it saves water, especially if you just keep the lid closed the rest of the time. But that’s a personal choice, so you make your own!


Wipe your counters after putting on makeup

Makeup can be an annoying source of dirty grime on bathroom counters. Have you ever tried to scrub out set makeup stains from counters and corking? It takes a lot of work.

So instead of leaving that foundation powder or the bits of eyeshadow that fall off your brush and on the counter, you can just take a second to wet a bit of toilet paper or paper towel, and clear it right off. It’ll keep your counter cleaner and much, much easier to clean once you have to scrub it.

Dazzling Showers Tips

If you are considering adding a tile shower or renovating an existing one, there are many more options to choose from than the ordinary porcelain or ceramic wall tile we’re all familiar with, and different ways to install them beyond the ordinary grid pattern seen in so many bathrooms.


Many of your options will involve newer materials that you may not be aware of, while other options involve style variations you may not be familiar with. We’ll also mention some tile manufacturers that can be helpful sources in your search for a truly exciting shower treatment.

Traditional ceramic or porcelain tiles are fine for showers but don’t overlook the possibility of using a natural quarried stone product. While considerably more expensive than traditional tile, natural stone give a truly luxury look to your home.


One good source of both information and products is Arizona Tile. The example shown here is Jura Beige, from a limestone quarry in Eichstatt, Germany–Medici Walnut Bathroom Shower Tile, ST-205


Note: Arizona Tile really has gorgeous tile, and it’s the go-to place if you’re looking to break out of the rut. John Huarte and wife Eileen began Arizona Tile in 1977 in San Diego and now service primarily the Western U.S. from 25 locations. While Arizona Tile does have a healthy range of porcelain and glass tile, they excel with granite, marble, limestone, travertine, slate and onyx slabs and tile.