DIY Low Cost Bathroom Remodel Budget Breakdown

Well, it’s time. We finally tallied the receipts, logged every source, and figured out EXACTLY how much our DIY primary bathroom renovation cost us. Everything from insulation and cement board to fresh towels and shower curtain hooks. No hinge goes uncounted and no Pex fitting is too small. Welcome to the budget breakdown of our DIY low cost bathroom remodel.

Low cost bathroom remodel budget breakdown featuring a full gut remodel of a small bathroom with white subway tile, vintage floors, and a DIY vanity

I would like to preface this post by saying that budgets are relative. When we did our first small bathroom remodel, more than 10 years ago for under $1,000, spending even a dollar more felt unfathomable. We were doing projects on a shoestring budget. Fast forward to our current, new home in Vermont, which knock on all the circa 1781 wood in this home, is our forever home. We do projects more slowly, more intentionally and spend more on them.

When we renovated our first bathroom in our current home we upped the budget, clocking in at $1,700. We chose a few things to splurge on, like the luxurious marble subway tile and a bold Anthropologie shower curtain. Then, we combined the splurges with some budget choices like using a free sink and building a super basic bathroom vanity. It’s been a fun affordable bathroom for the kids and we still love it.

House of Hackney floral shower curtain from Anthropologie against a white subway tile bathroom with black grout

Now, we’ve just completed our primary bathroom renovation and upped the budget again to get the look we wanted for the space. Without further ado, I bring you the total cost of our DIY bathroom remodel.

The Grand Total – $3,598.21

We went into this project with a rough materials list and budget of $2,500 but with $5,000 tucked away in a savings account earmarked for the bathroom.

When we make our materials list and budget, there are always things we forget (the bathroom to attic transition and trim), things that come up (a broken toilet that needs replacing), things we underestimate (an increase in lumber costs during a time of rapid inflation), and things we mess up because we’re DIYers (buying the wrong plumbing fittings that weren’t returnable).

Let’s break down the budget further and I’ll share some of my favorite low-cost bathroom remodel tips.

House of Hackney floral shower curtain from Anthropologie against a white subway tile bathroom with black grout

Rough Construction Materials – $580.67

These are the not-so-glamorous things of a bathroom renovation on a budget and always the things I “forget” to factor into my DIY bathroom remodel budgets. My husband NEVER forgets these things so we make a great pair.

These are materials like studs, insulation, and screws. Nothing is more glamorous than spending $51.26 on screws. Note the sarcasm.

  • 15 Studs – $55.95
  • 15 Sheets of Cement Board – $274.05
  • 1 Roll of Insulation – $22.97
  • V-Groove Boards – $161.46
  • Plastic Sheeting Vapor Barrier – $14.98
  • Wood Screws – $16.28
  • Backer Board Screws – $34.98
Building a DIY bathroom wall to enclose a bathtub and shower surround and create a toilet nook in a small bathroom

Electrical Material Costs – $194.38

This is a category we splurged a little bit on. At least on the electrical line items you can see. While we normally pick the cheapest switches and switch plate covers from Home Depot, we opted to splurge for unique push button switches along with gorgeous switch covers from Rejuvenation. Worth every penny. Although, we still have to install them (doh!). They were on backorder while we were renovating and didn’t arrive until after the bathroom reveal.

  • Electrical Boxes – $8.48
  • Electrical Wire – $51.00
  • GFCI Outlet – $21.40
  • Push Button Switches – $43.50
  • Switchplate Covers – $49.00
  • Bathroom Fan – $21.00
Bathroom finish work phase installing the shiplap ceiling, cement board on walls

Plumbing Materials Costs – $125.70

This is one of those categories we overspent on because we are DIYers. But even with overspending on plumbing fittings, it was far less than plumbing labor costs. I’m so grateful that Colby learned how to plumb as it has been invaluable for plumbing emergencies in a rural location with few plumbers around.

  • Pex Pipe – $29.97
  • PVC Pipe Fittings & Drains – $77.10
  • Pex Fittings – $18.63
Small compact tub with a long lead time framed in a small bathroom makeover

Main Fixture Costs – $967.54

Some of our biggest expenses were in the main fixtures category, including the plumbing fixtures. This category includes a new tub, toilet, and shower hardware. I spent a lot of time searching for just the right tub and shower hardware for an affordable bathroom that didn’t lack style. We had some space constraints for this DIY small bathroom remodel and needed a 4′ tub to make it all work. I found a 48″ deep soaking tub from Wayfair that perfectly fits the bill.

One of the key design elements when initially drawing up the bathroom design plans included a shower system. One of those wall-mounted, shower heads, nozzles, and tub spout combos. They are a statement piece in a bathroom.

Gold exposed shower hardware with rainfall shower, dark floral shower curtain, white subway tile shower

Unfortunately, shower systems are often budget-drainers costing anywhere between $500 and $1500. I found the look for less with this budget-friendly gold shower system on Amazon. The reviews were suspect so we went in on a wing and a prayer. It did require some tweaking to get it to connect (the fittings were odd sizes) and not leak. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this new fixture for a novice at plumbing. But it worked out great for us!

​Replacing the toilet was not planned. But our old toilet was not in tip-top working order and rarely functioned well. Insert all your favorite toilet jokes and toilet humor here.

While we wanted to keep the old toilet to stretch our budget, we decided it was a good time to replace it. I’m so glad we did! The Kohler Elmbrook Revolution toilet we chose is amazing and I want to replace the other two toilets in our home now.

  • ​48″ Drop-In Soaking Tub – $460.55
  • Shower Hardware – $158.99
  • Light Fixture – $99.00
  • Toilet – $249.00
Small bathroom remodel with white subway tile, black grout, wide pine floors, dark wood vanity, and white trim painted Benjamin Moore White Dove

Vanity Costs – $310.63

Our initial bathroom vanity plan was to find a vintage dresser or cabinet and retrofit it to be a bathroom vanity with a vessel sink and a new faucet. Kind of like the buffet turned bathroom vanity we did in our first home. It’s a great way to stretch a tight budget and adds so much character to a bathroom.

But alas, we couldn’t find a vintage furniture piece to fit our tight space between the bathtub and the attic closet door. So we built one.

We designed the vanity to look high-end, like the Arhaus Conrad furniture line. Building tutorial coming soon. While spending over $300 for a vanity isn’t as low as originally budgeted, it turned out beautifully and lower cost than buying one out of the box.

  • Vanity Wood – $113.60
  • Vanity Legs – $51.76
  • Vanity Hardware – $12.61
  • Vessel Sink – $52.46
  • Sink Drain – $23.21
  • Sink Faucet – $56.99

Note…we also had stain and poly costs associated with the vanity but we used those for other finish work in the bathroom so those items are included in the finish work budget.

DIY bathroom vanity built but unfinished, traditional style legs and reeded door fronts with a curve

Tiling Costs – $410.92

Tiling was both a splurge and a budget. A splurge in that tiling an entire bathroom, wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling, is not a cheap way to finish the bathroom walls. But it was also a budget since basic white ceramic tiles, especially subway tiles off the shelf at Home Depot, are an inexpensive finish choice for wall tiles.

Just learning how to do our own tile installation and grouting has been a big budget saver over the years. I can’t imagine how much labor costs would be to hire tilers to do the shower tile let alone an entire bathroom.

X-shaped tile spacers used for installing white subway tiles on bathroom walls

One way we could have saved money on tiling was to mix our grout. But we opted for the convenience of using pre-mixed grout. It cost us a bit more but boy was it convenient to open a bucket and just grout. It made it simpler to grout in the fringe hours instead of dedicating big chunks of time to it.

  • Tile – $225.00
  • Mortar – $49.98
  • Grout – $135.94

Finish Work Costs – $490.83

Ahhh….the finish work. The part of a DIY project that moves a project from the construction zone phase to the finished product. I love working on the finish work in remodels, like trim and paint. It’s so satisfying. I also don’t mind spending money on this step since you can see it!

One of my best tips for saving money on the finish work is to buy the lumber you need for trim from a local lumber yard, not at a big box store. Most pine boards were about half the cost at our lumber yard compared to Home Depot just down the road. It adds up and can save you so much money especially when your goal is sticking to an affordable bathroom budget.

​A line item in our finish work budget we didn’t factor in was stain samples for testing the finish on the new flooring transition board from the bathroom to the attic closet. I went through 10 samples. Although it was probably more. I lost count after my third trip to the hardware store. And samples aren’t cheap clocking in at $9.99 each.

Also, when did primer and paint get so expensive?! It’s almost twice the cost compared to our last bathroom renovation 8 years ago!

  • Trim Boards – $118.00
  • Primer – $74.98
  • Paint – $72.99
  • Stain Samples – $99.90
  • Stain – $54.97
  • Polyurethane – $69.99
Staining bathroom floor transition to try and match the 200 year old wide pine floors

Bathroom Accessory Costs – $863.92

And finally, the finishing touches, the bathroom accessories. Everything that makes a bathroom a bathroom. Things like hand towels, toilet paper holders, shower curtains, shelves, and more.

When choosing bathroom accessories I always like to go the high-low combo. The things I prefer to splurge on are great bath towels and a bold shower curtain. The items I prefer to save on include hooks and vintage items, like the vintage cabinet gifted to us.

The shower shelf was probably the biggest splurge we made. Not because it was the most expensive item in our otherwise affordable bathroom, although it’s close, but because it was more than we usually spend on this type of item.

Brushed gold shower shelf from Anthropologie on a white subway tiled wall with black grout

But the shelf we sourced was the one. Exactly what we wanted, the right size, and right features with a spot to hang washcloths. It was the end of the project, we had already spent more than we intended and opted to purchase the shelf we wanted even though the price felt too high. I’m so glad we did as it’s the perfect piece.

  • Mirror – $80.00
  • Shower Curtain Rod – $58.00
  • Shower Curtain – $78.00
  • Shower Curtain Hooks – $7.99
  • Shower Shelf – $248.00
  • Bath Towels – $68.00
  • Hand Towels – $36.00
  • Washcloths – $23.97
  • Bathmat – $58.00
  • Towel Hooks – $28.99
  • Toilet Paper Holder – $35.99
  • Soap Dispenser – $19.99
  • Toothbrush Holder – $26.00
  • Toilet Tank Basket – $16.99
  • Art Print – $39.00
  • Frame – $10.01
Vintage black bathroom wall cabinet for storage hanging above a toilet in a white subway tiled bathroom

Are Affordable Bathroom Renovations Possible If You Have To Hire Out?

One of the biggest reasons we tackle home improvement on our own is because of budget. We’re perpetually learning new skills and expanding our capabilities to stretch limited budgets. When the average cost of a bathroom remodel is tens of thousands of dollars, it would take us 5-10 years to save up the money to update our outdated bathroom.

We never take it for granted that we have the skills to adjust our plumbing, install a ceiling, or frame a shower for a budget bathroom makeover. Even without those capabilities, it’s possible to save money with a partial DIY bathroom renovation on a budget.

Try serving as your own general contractor and hire out the parts you aren’t comfortable with. It may take longer and you may not have the connections a general contractor does, but it could save you some money. We’ve done it before on numerous occasions. For bigger electrical projects we always hire out and it’s not as expensive as you might think.

White vessel sink with a gold faucet sitting on top of a dark stained wood vanity against white subway tile with black grout

Would You Do Another Budget Bathroom Remodel

Absolutely. I love going the DIY route and thankfully we still have one more bathroom to fully gut remodel in this home. And if I’m being truly honest, I’m itching to give the kids’ bathroom a fresh coat of paint. Paint is one of the ways to make a big impact on a small space without much of an additional cost.

So thank you for hanging with us as we share all the details of our low cost bathroom remodel. This space has come a long way from its 70s plywood days. With a little love, a solid overall design plan, new tiles, and plenty of sweat equity, we were able to achieve a bathroom renovation on a budget.

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