A tangerine transformation in Los Angeles. Courtesy of Sweeten

Renovating can be a daunting process, so we asked Jean Brownhill, founder and CEO of Sweeten, a platform that helps people find expert advice and get matched with vetted general contractors, for her best remodeling tips and tricks.  

It’s official: You can’t look at that dingy, chipped tile one more day—but how much does it cost to remodel a bathroom? One number does not fit all. The price for a bathroom renovation will go up or down depending on the size of your space, the materials and fixtures you choose, and where you live. Let’s break it down even further.

What Factors Into the Cost of a Bathroom Remodel?

Marble slabs steal the show in this Los Angeles space. Courtesy of Sweeten

There are two main parts to any bathroom reno budget: labor and materials. For the former, the biggest cost driver is plumbing—moving supply and drain-waste-vent (DMV) lines to accommodate a new floor plan is expensive and time-consuming. If you leave everything in its place, your renovation will be much cheaper. The other major determinant is the skills required for your particular project. Fell in love with a complex mosaic tile for the shower? You’ll need a subcontractor with specialized expertise. This won’t be the case if you choose a basic brick or stack pattern.

Of all the materials you’ll need, tile is most likely to impact your budget. The price range, like the selection, is vast; it all depends on the material, whether or not it’s handmade, the shape and pattern, and how much you need. Your countertop surface will also play a part, especially if you need to get something fabricated or customized. The toilet and sink, however, are less likely to be splurges—that is, unless you’re in the market for something super high-tech.

One last factor you might not have considered is living at home during the process. This adds time on the clock for the crew (they’ll need to set up and clear out each day) and that, in turn, will add to your bottom line.

What Is the Most Budget-Friendly Bathroom Renovation?

This Long Island, New York, bathroom is like a mini tropical vacation. Courtesy of Sweeten

You have the most control over how much you’ll spend on materials and fixtures, like the floor tile and the vanity, so start there. Establish a price point you’re comfortable with and stick to it. Keep in mind that the fewer supplies you need, the less expensive the remodel. An easy way to reduce your budget is to tile just the sink surround versus the entire wall, floor to ceiling. When it comes to labor, a “rip and replace” renovation, in which you are simply replacing fixtures—the toilet, the vanity—but leaving them in the same layout, is your most wallet-friendly option.

While it might be tempting to DIY the project to cut costs, step away from the sledgehammer. You don’t want to save $500 demoing your vanity only to accidentally cause hundreds of dollars of damage to the plumbing (or even thousands if there’s flood damage!). Find a trustworthy contractor by doing your homework or enlisting a matchmaking service like Sweeten.

How Much It Costs to Remodel a Bathroom in 4 Major Cities

A minty fresh New York City bathroom remodel. Courtesy of Sweeten

First, let’s get one thing straight: The below estimates are averages. The cost of renovating a bathroom in a stand-alone house will not be the same as renovating one in an apartment. (The latter may have hidden extra costs and a longer timeline because of things like lack of parking space, limited accessibility, and extra coordination needed for materials deliveries.) Similarly, updating a tiny space is not necessarily less expensive than updating a larger one. (You may need five boxes of tile for the bigger room but a little more than four for the smaller room—which means you’re still buying five boxes.) Use these numbers as guidelines, not the be-all and end-all.

New York City

Pricing is based on a typical 5-by-7 or 5-by-8 bathroom, like what you would find in an apartment or condo. If you’re renovating a primary bath, however, a more accurate baseline is around $68,000. (It’s common to invest in high-end finishes for primary baths, which usually have a generous vanity area with two sinks, and they typically have an overall larger footprint with more room for customization.)

  • Full bathroom renovation, budget-level finishes: Starting around $18K
  • Full bathroom renovation, mid-grade finishes: Starting at $24.5K 
  • Full bathroom renovation, high-end finishes: Starting at $40K 

Dallas

Pricing is based on a typical 5-by-7 or 5-by-8 rip-and-replace bathroom (aka no behind-the-wall surprises) that includes a new tub-shower combo, toilet, and sink. FYI: The cost will go up when you add features like a double vanity, a separate shower from the tub, or specialty tile.

  • Full bathroom renovation, budget-level finishes: Starting around $10K
  • Full bathroom renovation, mid-grade finishes: Starting at $17K 
  • Full bathroom renovation, high-end finishes: Starting at $34K 

Chicago

Pricing is based on a typical 5-by-7 or 5-by-8 bathroom.

  • Full bathroom renovation, budget-level finishes: Starting around $15K 
  • Full bathroom renovation, mid-grade finishes: Starting at $21K 
  • Full bathroom renovation, high-end finishes: Starting at $36K 

Los Angeles

Pricing is based on a typical 5-by-7 or 5-by-8 bathroom that includes demo, plumbing work, and new finishes.

  • Full bathroom renovation, budget-level finishes: Starting around $15K 
  • Full bathroom renovation, mid-grade finishes: Starting at $26K 
  • Full bathroom renovation, high-end finishes: Starting at $55K 

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