Bathroom Renovation: Where to Save and Where to Splurge



Article_ScottTip bath save splurge

Next to the kitchen, the bathroom is the most important room when it comes to improving the value of your home. And while a bathroom renovation isn’t exactly inexpensive, you don’t always have to spend a fortune in order to get the best bang for your buck. Here are some recommendations for where you can save, and where you should splurge in a bathroom renovation to get the best return on investment (ROI).


SAVE – Flooring Material

In a bathroom practicality is the most important thing. While you can go with expensive bathroom flooring styles and materials it’s not recommended for ROI purposes. In the majority of cases ceramic or porcelain tile in a standard layout is your best bet.  These materials are practical, relatively inexpensive, and they won’t suffer from any water damage should there be a leak.


SPLURGE – In-Floor Heating

Heated floors are becoming increasingly popular, and they offer a good return on investment if they are in a bathroom that has no other heat source. They’re also great in bathrooms that are located in cold areas of the house, such as above the garage, in a corner of the house, or below ground level. I wouldn’t recommend redoing a bathroom just to put in heated floors in, but if you’re in the process of a remodel it’s worth looking into.

Reno to Reveal - Bathroom Saves and Splurges

SAVE – Toilet

No one ever bought a house because they loved the toilet. In some parts of the world there are fancy models that respond to voice commands or have built-in seat warmers, but these features have yet to take off in this part of the world. In North America all people want is something that’s clean and works well. So save your money for something that will have a bigger impact.


SPLURGE – Vanity

An attractive and practical vanity is a great way to add value to your bathroom, so it’s worth spending a little extra to get something smart. I always recommend getting as much storage as you can out of a vanity and sometimes this will require spending a little more on one that is designed so that plumbing is streamlined to make room for a drawer (it’s worth the expense). This is particularly important in the main bathroom (less so in powder rooms).


SAVE – Tub

It’s very important to have at least one tub in the house for ROI purposes, and fortunately they don’t have to be expensive. Tubs range anywhere from $150-$5000. The expensive models can be nice for all sorts of reasons, but when it comes to the return on investment it’s best not to splurge – acrylic and fiberglass models are just fine.  Also, whirlpool models are nice but the parts can be prone to failure and they require a lot of cleaning, so the ROI isn’t very good. Unless you want to splurge on the extras just for yourself, keep it simple and inexpensive.

Reno to Reveal - Bathroom Saves and Splurges


SPLURGE – Glass Shower Doors

If your bathroom renovation budget allows for it, frameless glass shower doors should definitely be considered. Glass ups the ante as far as style and sophistication go, and it also makes the doors splash-proof (as opposed to a curtain). Frameless doors are more expensive than framed but they require less caulking and provide less chance for leakage and mould – so even though they cost more at the beginning, they’re far more likely to give you a better return on your bathroom investment over time. Also, you can install them all the way to the ceiling so you can trap the steam inside.


SAVE – Lighting

Good lighting is essential in a bathroom renovation, but you don’t need to go with the most expensive models to get the best ROI. Keep in mind that you need lighting above the vanity, between the mirror and the edge of the vanity, and you need some overhead lighting. But remember that in the bathroom you want to avoid casting shadows anywhere. If you’re using pot lights make sure those in the ceiling above the vanity are close enough to the wall that they are not positioned directly over where someone will be standing in front of the sink. If they are overhead they will cast shadows which makes it difficult to shave, apply makeup, etc. In a bathroom you want lighting that will flood people’s faces with light. Just remember that a variety of lighting options (with controls) is an important value-add.


SPLURGE – Fixtures

Just like in a kitchen, it’s worth splurging on high-quality fixtures and hardware. One-handled, levered varieties of faucets are the most popular. They’re much more convenient for things like brushing your teeth and shaving. For shower heads going with a stylish, high-quality model is good, but don’t get anything too fancy if good ROI is your goal. Some of the huge rain shower heads are complicated to install and require their own water lines. When it comes to bathroom fixtures you want top quality but you don’t need bells and whistles (unless they’re just for your own enjoyment).

Inexpensive bathroom renovation



Photos courtesy of Skit Inc.

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Improvements you make to things like insulation and windows can sometimes translate into energy savings. While the improvements may seem pricey they can save you money over time.