We have now successfully completed 2 DIY bathroom remodels. Our small bathroom design on a budget and most recent DIY bathroom remodel on a budget were 2 totally different experiences. Through our first bathroom remodel, we learned a lot of tips and tricks along the way that saved us some headaches when it came to the second bathroom. It’s a daunting project and process but it can be done! I’m so pumped at how much money we saved and how great they both turned out, that I just have to share what we learned with you. Here are 10 tips I came up with to help you have a foolproof DIY bathroom of your own and hopefully save you some heartache in the process!
1. DO YOUR RESEARCH. This is probably a given, but before embarking on such a large project, research research research! Look up images on Pinterest and get an idea of what you want. Look up prices on everything you can possibly think of. Read blog posts and books on bathroom remodel tips. Just get really familiar with what a huge project this really is so that there are no surprises later down the road! We made a list of every single thing that had to be done no matter how tiny it was. This really helped us not get overwhelmed when we were in the middle of the remodel.
2. SET A BUDGET. It’s SO important to give yourself a budget with these types of projects. We were pretty strict with our budget for both of our bathrooms because we knew how quickly the costs could get out of control. It’s also important to be realistic and not set a budget too low that will just stress you out because it’s not possible. If you do your research, you should have an idea of what kind of budget is realistic for you.
3. SHOP AROUND. Now, to make your budget actually work, it’s important to shop around for every single item. I know this can be a pain and be time consuming, but it’s really what ended up saving a ton of money. Don’t just go to one store and buy everything there. We compared prices on everything! Yes, we had to drive across town to get specific tile that was cheaper and I can’t even tell you how many stores I went in to get the best prices on towels, but it was worth it! We also looked for coupons, discounts and sales for many items. It takes some patience but it really pays off!
4. CUT CORNERS AND SPLURGE A LITTLE. Know where you want to cut corners cost-wise and where you want to splurge. Cosmetic details like towels, artwork, towel racks and soap dispensers were definitely areas where we cut corners. Everything was on clearance or discounted. Although I really wanted to buy a shower curtain from Urban Outfitters for $70, I decided the white one we already had was fine. We also went with very basic ceramic tile. We thought about adding some more intricate details in the tile, but in the end the cost just wasn’t worth it. However, it was important to us to get good quality materials, like mold resistant backer board, a nicer toilet (we went with a really cheapy one for our first bathroom and learned our lesson!), high quality paint and other details that honestly aren’t as fun but are more important in the long run.
5. BORROW TOOLS. The amount of tools needed for a bathroom remodel is kind of endless. We quickly learned to borrow as many as possible. If there are tools that you know you will only use for this project, send out a text to a few friends or a message on Facebook and I guarantee someone you know has the tool you need! It’s a lifesaver.
6. BUY TOOLS. This might seem counteractive to saving money, but for the second bathroom, we ended up purchasing the tools that we ended up borrowing and using over and over again for the first bathroom. It made sense to just invest in some of the items that we knew we’d need for this project and future ones. And we can return the favor and lend them out to other people!
7. STORE CREDIT CARDS. I’m all about being debt-free and being smart with money, but credit cards can definitely work to your advantage in these situations. (Don’t tell Dave Ramsey I’m saying this!) Obviously, if you can’t trust yourself with a credit card or won’t immediately pay off the balance, don’t do this. But if you know you have the self-control, consider signing up for a Lowe’s or Home Depot card. We live closer to a Lowe’s and went there every single day for this project. If we used our Lowe’s card, we got perks and discounts which really added up and saved a significant amount of money in the end.
8. TAKE TIME OFF WORK. I think one reason why large projects like bathrooms and kitchens are so overwhelming is that they take over your life and home. The mess is crazy! For both of our bathrooms, Reid took off a week of vacation time and that was one of the smartest decisions ever! It’s not fun to spend your vacation on a project, but having the freedom to work on it nonstop for a week straight and pretty much complete it is just the best. It was intense for sure, but it didn’t drag out, the mess only lasted a week and then we were done. I would highly recommend trying to take time off work and just knock it out.
9. YOUTUBE IT. When we attempted our small bathroom, we quickly realized how inexperienced we were. Since Reid was doing the bulk of the work, it didn’t take long to realize that there are so many tiny things that he had never done before. This is where Youtube was a lifesaver! We looked up everything on Youtube and there were videos for everything! Problem with the plumbing? Youtube video. How to neatly caulk around a shower? Youtube. Best way to finish off the trim? Youtube. There really is no excuse for not knowing how to do anything anymore!
10. ASK FRIENDS TO HELP. For both of our bathrooms, we were blessed with friends and family that gave some of their time to help. We really couldn’t do it without them. I know it’s not fun to ask for help, but you will be surprised at how eager people are to give an hour of their time. And you can always return the favor by helping with their future projects. Also just having someone else there to share in the joys and miseries of your DIY project is so important.
I hope some of those tips are helpful to you if you are thinking of embarking on a large project like this one. With all the tools and resources out there, anyone really can do it! Good luck. 🙂