Bathroom Makeover

Remodeled bathroom
Completed bathroom budget remodel.

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While you could hire a contractor to remodel your bathroom, the bill could run as much as $7,000 to $8,000. We’ll show you how to do it on a tight budget by purchasing the materials from the home improvement center and doing the work yourself.

The bath we are renovating is about 50 years old and measures only 4’ wide by 9’ long. With the exception of the shower, all of the fixtures will be replaced and a vent fan mounted in the ceiling. While many of the items we used were available on the shelf at the home center, we were able to special order hard to find items from their catalog.


We started by removing the old toilet. After turning off the water, the handle was held down until the tank had drained. Next, a bucket of water was poured in the bowl to force out much of the remaining water.

Draining a toilet.

After the water supply line and bolts holding it to the floor had been removed, the toilet was taken out and the wax ring scraped away. The sink was then disconnected and removed along with the vanity. Once the fixtures were out of the way, the peel and stick tile floor could be pulled up and the glue scrubbed off using a degreaser and bleach.

Electrical Work

In order to accommodate a larger mirror over the vanity, the electrical outlet and light switch had to be moved. This required cutting a hole in the drywall along with adding an additional switch for the vent fan. Since the drywall was already in place, a “pop-in” or remodeling electrical box was used that doesn’t require nailing to the studs.

NuTone vent fan.

After the hole for the NuTone combination vent fan and light had been cut in the ceiling, the power was turned off so it could be mounted and wired from the attic. While the fan is extremely quiet, it is efficient as well, allowing the air in the room to be exchanged every four minutes.

Floor Tile

Once the old tile floor had been cleaned, chalk lines were popped in both directions to mark the center of the room. To keep the chalk lines from being rubbed out, they were sprayed with hair spray to fix them in place.

The new tiles for the floor were porcelain, rather than ceramic, which is more durable and a bit more expensive. They were installed diagonally on top of the old tile floor using a stiff mixture of thin-set adhesive. A portable wet saw and tile nippers were used to make the curved cuts around the toilet flange while a scoring cutter was used for straight cuts.

Trim and Painting

Any holes in the drywall were patched and finished. Then new window facing were installed along with baseboards, before the bath was painted.

Narrow profile sink.

Bathroom Fixtures

The vanity for the bathroom was made by RSI Home Products and special ordered through The Home Depot. It features a narrow profile that fit in perfectly with the bathroom. The faucet was made by Kohler and installed before the top was set in place. A sliding glass door for the shower went in as well.


The Rockton duel flush toilet from Sterling has two flushing modes that use either 0.8 or 1.6 gallons per flush. While the eco-friendly toilet was expensive at $680, it can save a family of four up to 6,000 gallons of water a year.

Finishing Up

The mirror over the vanity was screwed directly to studs in the wall. Since there was no stud available to hold the towel holder, it was attached to the drywall with Molly bolts, which hold much better than plastic anchors.

When our bathroom budget makeover had been completed, the change was dramatic. While we spent about $2,500 for materials, we probably saved twice that much in labor by doing the work ourselves.

Other Tips From This Episode

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Revitalizing a Tile Wall

Revitalizing a Tile Wall

To remove soap scum and hard water deposits from a tile wall in a bathroom, mix one part muriatic acid with five parts water. Since muriatic acid is a harsh chemical, mix it outside. Follow the warnings on the bottle, and wear rubber gloves and eye protection.

Apply the mixture with a nylon scouring pad in small circles over the tile. After rinsing the solution off with cold water, the tile will look as good as new. (Watch This Video)

Best New Products with Emilie Barta:
Kohler Cimarron Comfort Height Toilet

Kohler Cimarron Comfort Height Toilet

The Kohler Cimarron Comfort Height Toilet is a taller toilet with a comfortable 17” high seat, the same as most chairs. The standard model is economical as well, using either 1.4 or 1.6 gallons per flush. An EcoSmart model is also available that requires only 1.28 gallons, 20% less than most toilets. Kohler’s exclusive Drylock system makes installation easy.

The Cimarron toilet is available at The Home Depot.
(Watch This Video)

Ask Danny:
Mold & Mildew

I’m really concerned about mold in my house. Is it that dangerous?
-Gene from California

Mold & Mildew

There is still disagreement among doctors on just how dangerous mold really is. It definitely can cause problems for those with asthma and allergies, and children are particularly at risk. On the other hand, we all breathe in millions of mold spores each year with little negative effects. It’s best to play it safe by repairing any leaks that can cause mold growth and providing adequate ventilation in kitchens and bathrooms. An environmentally approved cleaner can be used to remove any existing mold. (Watch This Video)

Power tools used on Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford® were provided by Ryobi.


  1. For those going the whole bathroom remodel. Some contractors may not strip the bathroom down to the studs to fully renovate a bathroom. Removing drywall can show hidden problems from water that leaks through tile grout or to add insulation to an exterior wall or add insulation to the interior walls to cut back on noise issues.
    Changing fixtures is a great low priced alternative to a full remodel.

  2. Ray,
    I am remodeling myself. Somewhat stubborn in my ways of doing things. I have been told to use a vapor barrier on the walls over top of the stud walls (and insulation)then apply the concrete/hardi/duraroc board.Others have told me it is not needed. When I ask about the grout lines being porous and a potential leak (as when I would see it as a kid- several years ago), they (friends/handymen) tell me I am being too picky. My response is I do not want to replace this again when I am 75 years old! What is your two-cents on this. The person that was going to “help” used nails (instead of my preferred screws and pounded them bent over, too) ineed to pull out what is there and put up a vapor barrier, then re-do the walls. I want it done correctly. time was at one time critical, now we are just used to not having the extra/primary bathroom.
    Thank you,

  3. I actually have a question. What is the best cauking material for sealing between the top of the bath tub and tile. Also I accidently used omni grip maximum strengh adhesive in shower, mistakenly advised to use by home depot, what is good to remove this, to use in between tile, to keep clean. I would appreciate any advice/help on this. Yours truly Udom

  4. I think it’s important to recycle also when possible, and to save money as well. There is a great site called its a non profit org that you can donate your used items to if they are in good shape, as well as buy designer bath and kitchen items at a dramatic savings.. check it out. We are talking 50k dollar kitchens for under 10k. New bathtubs for under 250..etc. the inventory changes daily..but its a GREAT site. The kitchens are what are SPECTACULAR tho..

  5. I have a question. What color paint did you use? Place of purchase and code would be nice. Did you paint the ceiling the same color? If not what color is that?

  6. I’ve had several comments on the paint color used in this bathroom makeover. We had an extremely talented decorator named Tammy Coates help us on this project. She was responsible for all the color choices and, apparently, made a big splash with this color. It definitely made the walls “pop” and greatly compliments the cabinetry and flooring. The paint was a custom mix and it is a “Signature Color” from Valspar. Here is the information directly from the label. The paint expert at your local home center should be able to mix it properly with this information:

    Valspar Signature Base 2
    LA709 Gold 3 Interior Eggshell
    105-1Y12 115-18 111-1Y46

    This was the color used on the walls. The ceiling was actually several shades lighter.

  7. I have a very small bathroom. Can the tiles on the bathroom walls be painted instead of ripping them all off? the house is 50 years old and we don’t want to put alot of money into it, just enough to make it look half way decent. Thanks, Becky

  8. I am new to your site: pretty darn good. I usually go to HGTV and DIY-but:why do you tile over tile already on the floor? Doesn’t that really screw up the height of the floor and the relationship of that floor to the abutting floor?

  9. That’s a great question, Theodore. In many cases, you are absolutely right. Drastic height differences in floor surfaces can be annoying, especially when it prohibits doors from operating, and, it’s a tripping hazard. In this particular case, though, the old floor tile was slightly lower than the carpeted area in the adjoining room and the addition of the new tile brought the two surfaces on an even plane.

  10. my bathroom tile was applied directly to the sheet rock. Water got through the grout and the sheetrock failed. I am re-doing the damaged rock with cement board. How do I transition to the sheet rock that is still good? The cement board and sheet rock are not the same thickness.

  11. Eric, that’s a pretty common problem. Have you already put up the cement board? My solution was always to shim out the studs before installing the backerboard. That way, it was on the same plane as the drywall. I suppose you could make up the difference with added thin-set, but if the difference is more than 3/16″, then you’re wasting a lot of adhesive.

  12. My wife and I have been painting our bathroom walls. The walls all had wallpaper on them and it was all removed and the walls were all primed with the same primer. One of the walls is giving us a bunch of trouble. The paint wants to dry with blotches and blisters and bubbles up in spots. We have painted several coats on the wall, but it seems to only get worse, not better. The roller marks seem to stay visable in some areas also. Was there something that we did or are doing wrong? Is there a solution for this wall or do we have to cover it and start over?

  13. We have almost finished re-habbing our bathroom. One Problem we have found, is that the wall where the sink/vanity fits into, is not level. This is creating a gap between the wall and the sink countertop and backsplash. If we push the vanity on the back wall, the gap on the right of the sink is very large, and not of the same size. If we push the vanity towards the right wall, there is still a gap, but now there is one on both walls. We thought about trying to cover up the gap with a shelf, but can’t find one. Any Suggestions?

  14. We are about to remodel our master bathroom. We have a lot of mold issues; black mold growing on the sheet rock walls and the wooden window frame. In our remodel, is it necessary to replace the sheet rock walls or can I just try to get the mold off another way?

  15. I need to know how to remove the large mirror in my bath (covers a double sink area) without breaking it. I plan to replace it with individual mirrors over each sink.

  16. How do I change out a bathroom fan that is located in the ceiling of the shower? Fan has a grill which can be removed and the fan seems to be plugged into an outlet that was installed in the ceiling area. The fan seems to be in a metal pipe that goes through the roof. Do I unscrew the metal pipe somehow and remove the fan as a unit or take down all the pipe and the fan will be screwed to the inside of the pipe? How to find a small bathroom fan? This fan lasted almost 30 years so I am not complaining.

  17. I have a black ceramic sink that has a lot of scratches that look white and make it appear like is dirty all the time. How can I make it look black and shiny again please. I can´t replace it now. Thanks

  18. Installing a new bathroom in the basement. How do i install the toilet flang (Spelling??) that the toilet bolts to?

    we have the ruff plumbing in the floor from when the house was built. the tile is installed. should the flang have been installed before the tile?

  19. I read that you should coat cement board with a thin layer of water with a paint brush and let it dry for 24 hours before installing. This is in order to precondition the board to spills that may occur once the tile is in. It made sense to me because the expansion has already occurred before tiles were installed…Is this true…Would you recommand this??

  20. We have a large mirror over the vanity in our bathroom. I think it is attached with some kind of clips. What is the best way to remove it? I to replace it with two framed Morris.


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