Budget-Friendly, Easy Bathroom Makeovers

Need a bathroom makeover but can’t afford to flush cash down the drain? Here’s how to spruce up your bath without getting soaked.

Remodeling a typical 5-by-7-foot bathroom costs about $16,500, according to the Cost vs. Value Report from Remodeling magazine.

But you can get a lot of bang for a lot fewer bucks with some simple makeover ideas that’ll turn your bathroom into the pride of the house.

Small, affordable bathroom makeovers are the specialty of Tim Shaw, a Mt. Pleasant, S.C., handyman. We asked Shaw what projects he recommends — and what they typically cost.

So you know: A professional handyman charges $30-$60 per hour, and there may be a $150 minimum charge per job.

Quick fixes under $50

  • Replace the old shower head with a modern, low-flow shower head. You can get a sunflower-style head, which creates a rain-like spray, or a hand-held one, which hangs from above like a normal shower or can be hand-operated thanks to its attached hose. DIY cost: $40
  • Install a new tub/shower trim kit. Swap out the handles and nozzles on your shower with new ones made by the same manufacturer. This is an easy do-it-yourself job, with the kit costing just $20 to $50, depending on brand. Also, replace the toilet handle; DIY cost is about $20.

Spruce up for under $300

  • Paint the bathroom. A coat of mildew-resistant bathroom paint goes a long way toward freshening up your bathroom. A handyman or pro painter will charge $250-$350 for a 5-by-7-foot bathroom, including paint. Trim costs by removing mirrors, light fixtures, and towel bars yourself prior to painting.
  • Replace the towel and toilet paper holder, the medicine cabinet, and the shower curtain. These are simple DIY jobs that can transform the look of any bathroom. DIY cost: $250.

Makeovers under $1,000

  • Replace the sink, faucet, and vanity to improve the look and functionality of the bathroom’s main workstation. Handyman cost, including materials: $800.
  • Swap out an old two-handled shower for a single-knob pressure-balancing valve, and you’ll eliminate the risk of anyone getting scalded when another family member flushes a toilet and the cold water flow is interrupted. A licensed plumber will charge $800.
  • Resurface the tub. Removing a built-in tub often requires doing a lot of demolition to the bathroom, from the walls to the floor. But you can refinish your existing enameled cast-iron tub, making it look like new and changing it’s color (if it’s 1960s pink, for example). Pro tub refinishing is $700. Make sure you ask if they wear respirators and take adequate measures to protect against tub refinishing chemicals.
  • Add bead-board wainscot. This classic half-wall of painted wood dresses up the bathroom, modernizes the look, and protects the walls from dings and spills. A handyman will do this job for about $700.