Low-cost bathroom remodels you can complete in one weekend

Check out these low-cost bathroom remodeling projects you can complete in just one weekend.

Low-cost bathroom remodels (Photo: Thinkstock)

Do you think all bathroom remodels are expensive and time consuming? Well, we have some good news for you.

"Even if your budget and availability won't allow you to completely overhaul your bathroom, there are plenty of small projects you can complete in a weekend that make a big difference," says Kathryn Cherne, owner of Design Inside, an interior design firm in Chicago.

Read on for five weekend warrior projects that won't break the bank…

Project #1 - Refacing the Bathroom Cabinets

Refacing is essentially a fancy way of saying sanding and re-painting, according to Abbe Fenimore, owner and principal at Studio Ten 25, an interior design consulting firm.


"If you don't have the budget or time to rip out your bathroom cabinets, painting them is a great way to update the space. When we purchased our 1950's ranch, the bathrooms were in serious need of an update, but we just didn't have the budget to replace everything to suit our style," she explains.

She goes on to say that when she compared the cost of replacing the existing vanity to simply painting the cabinets and replacing the hardware, the difference in time and budget was extreme.

"It would have cost us $1,800 for the costs of replacing the plumbing and cabinetry and it would have made our bathroom inoperable for 10-12 days. By refacing the cabinets ourselves, we managed to only spend $250, which included a bottle of liquid sander, two gallons of paint and new brushed nickel hardware," says Fenimore.

Cherne says there are various complexities and levels of refacing. For example, a few other options include replacing the cabinet doors entirely or re-veneering the doors.

"If you plan on re-veneering the doors, that is absolutely the domain of a contractor or tradesperson. They use special heat presses to adhere the veneer," Cherne cautions. "Depending on the level of refacing complexity, you may want to get some assistance."

Typically you can expect a project like the one outlined above to take two to three days, says Cherne.

[Are you ready to reface your bathroom cabinets? Click to find a contractor now.]

Project #2 - Install Tile Floors

While ripping out your floors and putting down new ones might seem like a huge affair, Matt Wien, manager at Marshall Carpet One, a carpet and design showroom in Mayfield Heights, Ohio, says installing tile in a small area can most definitely be done in a weekend.

And installing tile floors is the way to go. Why? Because a tile floor will ultimately get you the most return for your investment, says Wien. That's because unlike most other floors, tile adds residual value since it's a permanent fixture and doesn't need much maintenance.

So, is this a project you can complete on your own, or does it require the skills of a pro?

"You'll want to do your research first, but I've heard from a lot of homeowners that have successfully tackled installing tile floors in their bathroom themselves," he says. "However, if this project sounds like a DIY nightmare, the pros can usually complete this project for you in just a couple of days, depending on the size of your bathroom and the tiles you select."

Wien says you can expect to pay between $5 to $15 per square foot. And if you're bringing in the experts, he says that installation and grouting typically run anywhere from $4 to $6 per square foot, in addition to your tile cost.

[Click to find a contractor to help with your flooring installation.]

Project #3 - Reface the Tub

"If your home has the traditional bathtub and you're debating tearing out the old bathtub for a new one, think twice," says James Wheeler, principal designer of J. Wheeler Designs. "Most cities have companies that specialize in refacing bathtub surfaces."

Wheeler says this process involves an epoxy coating being sprayed over the existing bathtub.

Think this method sounds like a short cut? To some extent, it is, but Wheeler explains why you may want to consider this option:

"This method is a temporary fix that lasts for about 5 years, but will give you an immediate update and allow you to save for that new bathtub down the road."

Additionally, Wheeler says this is a project that can be completed in as little as 3 to 5 hours with the help of a pro, which means you'll have the rest of the weekend to kick back, relax and enjoy your new tub.

[Click to find a contractor to help with your bath refacing.]

Project #4: Change the Hardware

Once you have all of the pieces, this is another easy project that won't take longer than a day to complete.

"Changing out your cabinet hardware and plumbing fixtures is a great way to give a quick update to any bathroom. Hardware and plumbing fixture pieces can be found at all price levels, but if you only have a few pieces to change out, it may be worth the splurge," notes Fenimore.

Cherne says depending on the fixtures you select, this project could cost anywhere from $75 to $600. Before you go shopping, she also advises that you take note of your current hardware style. Here's why:

"If you have a 4 inch widespread faucet (where the knobs are separate from the faucet), you will want to purchase a similar replacement model to prevent you from having to re-drill and/or replace your countertop," Cherne explains.

To get started, turn off all water sources - most of them should have a knob on the pipe - before removing the old faucet and accessories. Then, you'll simply replace the old hardware with the new hardware.

"Most of this can be done without the help of a plumber if you're handy with basic tools, as it's a straight forward 'rip-and-replace' project," says Cherne.

However, Cherne says you'll want the help of a professional if you need to totally move your plumbing supply or if you don't have a shut-off valve for a particular water supply.

And even if an expert is needed, you should still be able to complete this project in a few days - expect the plumbing to take one full day.

[Click to find a contractor to help with your bathroom renovation.]

Project #5 - Replace the Mirror

This seems like such a small step, but Cherne says updating the vanity mirror is one of the best ways to give your bathroom a makeover without having to replace everything.

The best part? You can do it in just two days.

Cherne says mirrors typically run between $50 to $300. But she also urges you to consider this an opportunity to think outside the box:

"When looking for a replacement mirror, don't be afraid to look for mirrors in the home decor stores. We are huge fans of taking standard mirrors that you would typically see in a living room or bedroom and using them in bathrooms for an unexpected touch," says Cherne.

[Click to find a contractor to help with your bathroom renovation.]