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Update your bathroom on a budget

Image of the colourful home of @annalysejacobs

Update your bathroom on a budget

Who said a beautiful bathroom has to cost the earth? Read on to find out how to get creative with the budget you have available – and achieve stunning results.

Decide what you can live without

To cut the cost of a bathroom renovation, start by identifying what you need to include and what you can live without. For example, if you enjoy a bath only very occasionally, do you really need one? For the best of both worlds, opt for a shower-bath to save the cost of a separate bath and shower.

Keep sanitaryware in its current position

If you’re planning to move sanitaryware to new positions, you’ll need to call on a plumber to relocate the pipes. Design note: moving the toilet (and therefore the soil pipe) is quite a costly, labour-intensive option, so if you’re on a strict budget, keep the toilet where it is.

Stick to the same style

Save money when you’re replacing your toilet and basin by sticking with the same styles as your existing pieces. This way, the overall space will need fewer changes. For example, instead of swapping a standard toilet for a wall-mounted model, keep the standard design. A wall-mounted toilet will need its workings to be hidden behind a wall, which will cost more and may not be compatible with your existing plumbing. For the same reason, opt for an exposed shower rather than one with concealed valves.

Source your own trades

There are specialist companies that can supply the whole workforce for your bathroom renovation, but this option will add costs. Sourcing tradespeople yourself is cheaper and also adds an element of security, as you’ll be doing your own research, checking references, meeting the individuals concerned and discussing what you want and how much it’ll cost. Just be aware that this approach takes time and careful management, as well as knowledge of which people to bring in when.

Tile with caution!

Unless you’re planning a wetroom, you don’t need to tile your bathroom from floor to ceiling. This is good news for those of you on a budget because part tiling is cheaper in terms of labour and costs. Design note: ceramic tiles are generally cheaper than natural stone. You can always invest in a marble-style ceramic tile if you want the look for less.

Splash out on paint

You can save money by partially tiling your bathroom and using less expensive paint elsewhere. Just be aware that if the bathroom gets hot and humid or lacks adequate ventilation, you may need a specialist bathroom paint – typically, this is wipeable and super-tough. It can withstand steam and condensation so that your walls don’t start to flake and will also be resistant to mould and mildew.

Get rid of grubby grout

Beautify your bathroom on a shoestring budget by regrouting – it’s a brilliant way to spruce up your tiles. Before you can start, you’ll need to take out the old grout. Check out ‘how-to’ videos online for tips on using a grout rake or electric grout remover. If you don’t want to go to the expense of regrouting, grab a grout pen and use it to apply a thin waterproof coating directly over grubby grout lines. Not all grout pens are created equally, so always check reviews. Have a read of our blog on how to regrout tiled surfaces for more detail on all of this.

Get creative with stencils

Don’t despair if retiling is a bit beyond your budget. Stencils exist for exactly this reason! Cheap, cheerful and available in a wide range of patterns, they work well on walls as well as floors. I suggest checking out one of the many ‘how-to’ guides online if you’re a newbie stenciller.

Refresh tiles with a lick of paint

Why live with wall tiles you hate? It’s simple to paint over them using specialist tile paint. Step one: thoroughly clean the grout joints with grout cleaner and dry them, ideally with a lint-free cloth. If the grout is in poor condition, regrout before painting. Step two: remove dust, dirt and grease by cleaning your tiles thoroughly using sugar soap. Also clean with a mould spray if necessary. Allow the tiles plenty of time to dry. Step three: get creative! (Read more here: Create a whole new look with tile paint).

Look for LVT flooring

Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) flooring is a practical option if you covet the look of timber or stone but don’t want the associated maintenance issues of natural materials. It’s super-easy to clean and, in the bathroom, its waterproof properties mean that you don’t have the worry of water damage. LVT is compatible with underfloor heating, but check with your supplier for any temperature restrictions.

Cut costs with clearance items

Think thrifty when buying new bathroom sanitaryware and furniture, and bag former showroom fittings. Clearance items will also save you a lot of cash.

Save pennies on your WC

If there are few more miles in your WC, why replace it? Save yourself some pennies by updating its cover, seat and lid.

Resurrect an old piece of furniture

There are plenty of affordable vanity units available, but if you hanker after a bespoke touch in your bathroom, why not give an old piece of furniture a new lease of life? Be sure to check the dimensions first, making sure your bathroom is big enough and that you have adequate countertop space to accommodate a basin. Design note: if you’re upcycling a wooden piece, be sure to seal the surface with marine-grade varnish (try Ronseal) to protect it from water. You could also tile the surface or cover it with a slab of marble.

Cash in on old fixtures

Cash in on old fixtures that are still in good condition by selling them on auction sites. You can then put the money towards your new bathroom.

Buy quality

You can bag bargains when it comes to bathroom plumbing fixtures, but be careful of offers that seem too good to be true. Cheap fittings may end up costing you more because they’ll deteriorate and need to be replaced more quickly than better-quality items. Top tips: choose the highest-quality fixtures your budget allows and make savings elsewhere – for example, choosing a basic unbranded sink and top-quality taps.

Shop around for affordable storage

Space permitting, splash out on cheap and cheerful freestanding bathroom storage. On a practical note, it’ll provide a place for all your lotions and potions (provided you clear them out regularly!). Plus, you can crack out the paints and replace the door handles if you want a personalised look.

If your bathroom is compact, try to get as much off the floor as possible with affordable floating shelves. Use stylish containers to store your essentials – you could customise the containers with name labels to avoid accidental sharing.

Go big on small details

If you’re on a very tight budget, focus on small touches that will make a big difference. For example, think about replacing a shower curtain that’s seen better days, updating tatty towels or investing in a stylish new toothbrush holder or soap dispenser (see the featured image, top, the bathroom of @annalysejacobs). Throw in a few finishing touches such as scented candles and bathroom-friendly plants.

Featured image: The bathroom of @annalysejacobs shows that small details can make a big difference.

Want more? Now you’ve got your bathroom sorted, don’t miss our other money-saving blogs: 25 ways to update your kitchen on a shoestring and 10 ways to update your bedroom for under £50.