Nowhere in our home is the age of a room easier to see then in our bathrooms. Countertops, fixtures, paint, and flooring are continually reminding us that it is time for a freshening up! Let’s talk about making a cheap small bathroom remodel ideas today!
The downside to renovating and remodeling a small bathroom is that it is absurdly expensive. You can build a new house in the neighborhood of $100 per square foot, updating a bathroom can easily cost double that. Yikes! In today’s blog, we are going to discuss how you can give your bathroom a partial facelift without breaking the bank.
The most common recommended flooring products for bathrooms are ceramic tile, rolled sheet vinyl, hardwood, or luxury vinyl plank floors.
Pinterest shows off a ton of beautiful ceramic tile photos, and DIY projects can be found on styles to choose from. It’s easy to see why this is flooring type comes first to mind for bathrooms. However, all these stylistic options and possibilities come with a few drawbacks. Ceramic tile is so much more than a pretty tile face. Ceramic tile is also:
- Difficult to Install
- Porous ceramic tiles Stain Easily
- Tile Grout becomes Unhygienic over time
- Slip & Fall Concerns
Ceramic tile is the hardest flooring option to install, as it requires mastic, a type of glue. Ceramic tile also requires grouting and the use of specialized tools to install. Since value is the biggest concern in this blog, we will skip the ceramic tile talk, which leaves us with a resilient floor, or a wood floor.
We recommend engineered hardwood if you have to have hardwood in your bathroom. Engineered hardwood is more moisture-resistant than solid hardwood. However, the only reason I would use wood in a bathroom is if the same product, or type of product, is in the adjoining room or hallway. If that is the case, run your wood flooring in the same direction as the existing floor. You can learn more about installing a hardwood floor in our blog How to Instal Hardwood Floors.
If you’re really interested in have a wood-look floor, check out our luxury vinyl plank section below. Luxury vinyl plank is waterproof and it looks pretty convincing with their wood grain visuals.
Rolled Sheet Vinyl
Rolled sheet vinyl was the floor of choice for many years. It was and still is quite inexpensive. The floors made today are gouge- and tear-resistant, which makes them last a lot longer. Most floors can be loose laid, which is a huge plus in a DIY application, both for saving aggravation and money. Glue is not free!
Being that you are doing a bathroom, you should be able to pick up a small roll balance for about $1 a square foot. Just measure the longest distance in each direction, and you will have the size of the vinyl piece that your job will require.
Unroll the vinyl as best you can, and bump one side against your longest wall, usually the tub. This side will require very little cutting. Then you should place a somewhat heavy item, like a toolbox or teenager, on the new floor. That will keep the vinyl from moving. If it moves, you will probably have a gap. Sort of like a haircut!
If you are using a loose lay piece of vinyl, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the expansion room around the perimeter. Because this vinyl is not attached to the floor, it will expand and contract. Not leaving enough expansion space will cause the vinyl to wrinkle, as the edge will hit the wall.
Luxury Vinyl Plank
The final, and probably the best option for your cheap small bathroom remodel is a luxury vinyl plank or LVP. Why is Luxury Vinyl Plank the best?
- LVP is the easiest to install. You do not need to wrestle a big sheet of vinyl, or glues, or mastics, with no floor prep. Just lay the first few boards down along your longest wall, cut the last one to fit, and click them together and repeat!
- If you make a mistake, throw that board away and grab another. Make a mistake with sheet vinyl and…well. You know. Time to buy another piece!
- When you buy sheet vinyl, you will have a lot of waste. With LVP, you only buy to match your floor space.
FYI…we always have tiny lots of LVP that we need to sell yesterday! Small applications like baths and foyers are perfect for small lots. Take advantage of any store that needs to get rid of small lots of flooring and work that angle to negotiate a great price. Tell the salesperson you are looking for a 100 or 150 sq ft lot. He will probably not get excited about selling you something he loses 50% on. But, he can keep it another 3 months if he wants. The choice is his! At ReallyCheapFloors.com we are always sitting on these small lots and usually sell them for 99 cents sq. ft. Some lots under 200 sq. ft will go as low as 50 cents sq. ft!
- Luxury Vinyl Plank is one of the toughest floor options on the market. You can read more about LVP in my earlier blog, What is Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring?
Installing Your New Small Bathroom Floor
Assuming you have selected and installed your flooring, it is now time to reinstall your toilet. Start with replacing the wax ring in the floor. You do this by using a putty knife to remove the existing wax ring. Yeah, it’s yucky. And it gets on everything. Keep a roll of paper towels and a trash bag close by.
After removing the old ring, drop your new one in. Then put your new toilet bolts (I recommend using new ones, even if you are keeping your toilet) in the flange. The heads on the bolts are shaped so that you can slide them in the slots of the flange, then twist them so they cannot come out.
Now you have a target for the holes on the side of the toilet. Now you need two people for this job. One person lifts the toilet over the holes, while the 2nd person guides the bolts in. Easy peasy!
Be sure to put the flat plastic things on before you put the nuts on. These will hold the plastic domes on.
Do not overtighten the nuts, as this can break the bottom of the toilet. I like to push down on the toilet, and even work it back and forth a little, mashing down the new wax ring and helping the toilet to settle, then you don’t need to tighten the nuts so much.
I am sure there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube that do a much better job than I have on toilet installation instructions. While you are there, check out videos on trim installs, because I am terrible at that!
There you go! You have a new floor in your bathroom, and you should have spent less than $200!
Small Bathroom Rehab Challenges
I will try my best to outline what to look forward to when rehabbing your bathroom. You can save a lot of money and not have to risk a shoddy job from a neighbor contractor. When doing a bathroom renovation, there are 2 major expenses: labor and materials. Let’s talk about labor first.
If you have ever redone a bathroom, then you know it moves at a snail’s pace. Working in such a small area hampers your every move. If you have to put down a new subfloor, you can be assured that there will not be one full sheet of plywood that is nailed down. Oh no! Every piece has to be cut to fit. Some might even resemble a Massachusetts Congressional district when you get done!
And painting? Oh boy. Cutting in around tubs, mirrors, etc. can get tedious.
Now put yourself in the shoes of the contractor. Being that he did not get out of bed to break even, he has to charge for all that wasted or under-utilized time. And it adds up. You can expect the labor bill on a bathroom to run from $500 for a light remodel to over $10,000, especially if custom tile or a new shower is included.
The number one way to save money on a bathroom rehab is to do this work yourself. Will it be as good as the contractor would have done? Probably. Maybe better. Will it take longer? Bet on it! The second main way to save money on flooring is by buying your own materials.
Contractors have a great way of helping you choose the best-looking floor, the best looking cabinets, best-looking vanity mirrors, the best-looking bathtubs, or bathroom accessories. This isn’t a bad thing! However, it isn’t the cheapest approach to remodeling your bathroom.
We recommend searching cheap bathroom remodels ideas on Pinterest and other blogs to find the best value in bathroom upgrades. We are positive that we have the best value flooring for your remodel. However, your flooring is just a part of your bathroom. Handling the remodel of your bathroom, staying on budget with buying a vanity mirror or other fixtures can make a world of difference.
What Needs to Be Done to Remodel A Small Bathroom?
Today we are going to focus on flooring and the work involved in replacing your existing floors. The labor involved:
- Pulling the toilet (easy)
- Removing the existing trim (easy)
- Installing the flooring (depends on the flooring you select)
- Replacing the trim (moderate)
- Setting the toilet (easy)
Toilets can be intimidating, but no longer! To start, turn off your water supply. That should be easily done using the turnoff behind your toilet. At this point, you should flush your toilet a couple of times to get most of the water out.
Disconnect the Water Supply
Then you want to disconnect the water supply line from the tank. Do this at the point where the supply line enters the tank, as there will be a large plastic nut there that is easily unscrewed. You shouldn’t need any tools for this.
After you unhook the line, there will be a small amount of water come out. This is what was left in the tank. Just clean it up with a towel and move on.
Remove the Bolts in Your Toilet
Now we need to pop the plastic dome covers off of the bolts that hold your toilet to the floor. There should be one on each side. After popping those off with a screwdriver tip, remove the nuts from the exposed bolts.
After you get the nuts off, you are ready to remove the toilet. Don’t be intimidated, as it really is easy. Have a plan on where you are going with the toilet, as there will be some water that cascades from the bottom. Don’t worry…. it’s clean!
Put it in the Bathtub!
I like to set the toilet in the bathtub or shower, so I do not splash water all over the house. Be careful, though, as the toilet is easily broken. If you are changing your toilet out for a new one, you might go ahead and carry the old one outside. But have a mop handy!
Now you can grab your claw hammer and a large flat head screwdriver to take off the trim. Or, if you have it, a pry bar.
Plus or Minus Screwdrivers?
Side note…our CFO, Tracey, refers to screwdrivers as plusses or minuses. Huh? When she told me that I had no idea what she was talking about. Then she pointed one at me. Sure enough, all screwdrivers either have a plus or a minus on the end!
You take up your trim, it may break. Don’t worry about it, as trim is cheap, and you probably needed new trim anyway.
Rip Up Old Vinyl?
Now you probably have an old vinyl floor down. If it is not glued to the floor you can take it up. If it is glued, leave it. You heard me. Leave the sheet vinyl glued to the floor. Taking up glued down vinyl is a lot like taking on a second job, or a second spouse. Do you really need another one of those?
What do you gain by taking it up the old sheet vinyl? Experience. Valuable experience. You can use that experience to know you will never do that again! It may be better to take my advice and don’t do it the first time. If you still want to remove the linoleum or sheet vinyl from your floor, here a blog on how to remove vinyl flooring from your small bathroom.
At ReallyCheapFloors.com, we don’t want to sell too much luxury vinyl plank at half what we paid for it, but we do when we have to to get rid of those small lots we talked about in this blog! If we can help you with any of your flooring needs, please do not hesitate to pick up the phone and call us or send us an email. We would love to help.