DIY Shower Remodel on a Budget (Complete Guide) 

Whether you’ve owned your home for ten days or ten years, there will come a time when you need to perform some remodels. One of the best ways to put a fresh spin on your home or boost its resale value is to redo your shower and bathroom area. The bathroom is one of the most essential rooms in your house, and it will help set the tone of your home. 

If you’re strapped to a tight budget and want to remodel your shower on your own, there are plenty of ways to do this. You might have to learn a few new skills, but they’ll serve you well during your time as a homeowner. From purchasing discount items to performing your own work, there are many ways to remodel your shower and bathroom while sticking to a budget. 

This article will look at many different ideas to help you remodel your shower on a budget. We’ll also explore different bathtub and shower options to help you get what you want without going broke. Additionally, there are many other updates to various parts of your bathroom that will make your shower look better, all of which we’ll explore. Let’s get remodeling! 

best small bathroom remodels
best small bathroom remodels
Importance of Remodeling your Shower on a Budget 

No matter who you are or how much money you have, almost everyone has a budget when they perform remodels and home updates. It doesn’t matter if your budget is $1,000 or $10,000. You must stick to the limit you set for yourself. This article will focus on sticking to budgets on the lower end of the spectrum since that’s usually more difficult due to the high price of showers and bathtubs. 

Regardless of your budget, however, you must find a way to stick with it. If you’re remodeling your bathroom, you likely won’t want to stop there. Next up will be your kitchen, your living room, your bedroom, and so on. You might even want to remodel more than one bathroom in your home. 

It’s also important to remember that you have other expenses in life to worry about. The bills will not pay themselves just because you spent too much on your DIY bathroom remodel. You also have your kids’ college and your retirement plans to think about. Overspending on an update to your home could put you in financial trouble if you’re not careful. 

What’s the Average Cost of a Bathroom Renovation? 

In terms of what you end up spending, there’s a massive disparity in the overall cost of a bathroom renovation. Labor costs are one of the biggest killers, so many people try to do some or all of the work themselves.

If you hire a contractor and pay others to do the job, you could easily spend between $5,000 and $25,000 on a bathroom remodel and between $2,000 and $15,000 for the shower alone. As a general rule, the more square footage your bathroom consists of, the steeper the price will be. 

However, by adhering to this article’s tips and tricks and doing all or most of the work yourself, you can remodel your shower and bathroom for $2,000 or less. The video below shows a DIY shower and bathroom remodel for $4000, but if you choose different materials, you can even spend under $1,000!

To spend less than $1000, you’ll likely need some creativity and even reuse some materials. You can use a fiberglass shower pan and surround it with a less expensive shower faucet instead of a tile. A shower curtain can be used in lieu of a shower door if you’re on a shoestring budget.

According to Ability Bathe, a professional walk-in shower installation can be done in about 48 hours.

Now that I’ve got your attention, let’s find out how. 

1. Look for Similar Materials that are Cheaper (but not too cheap)

If your heart is set on replacing your shower or tub and various other fixtures in your bathroom, you should start by looking for affordable replacement products. The goal is to find the expensive version of what you want and then look around for cheaper versions. 

Stores like the Home Depot and Lowes are great places to find expensive and cheap options. For example, you can go online and find the tile shower of your dreams, but one that you could never afford. Then, start exploring various websites for prefabricated versions of that shower made of out tile lookalike material. It won’t be as glamorous as the actual thing, but it’s as close as you’re going to get without spending a fortune. 

2. Let Paint Do Most of the Work 

Painting your bathroom doesn’t include painting your actual shower. However, it might shock you to see how much the outlook of your shower or bathtub changes when you spruce up the walls around it. A fresh coat of paint for your bathroom typically costs between $50 and $150, depending on the color you choose and how many coats you apply. 

The change that a fresh coat of paint will bring to your bathroom applies to every part of your home. You can paint the walls, the trim, and even the doors and ceiling in your bathroom to spruce it up and give it a fresh look. Once your painting gets completed, sit back and check out your shower to see if your outlook has changed at all. 

Peel and stick wallpaper is also a top DIY option for bathroom remodels if you don’t feel like painting. 

3. The Flooring You Choose is Crucial 

In the same way that a fresh coat of paint can change everything, a new bathroom floor can have a similar effect. Because of how wet your floors will get, waterproof flooring options such as bathroom tile or laminate are your best option. However, laminate or vinyl flooring is much cheaper than tile, and there are some pretty solid options available for an affordable price. 

Before getting ahead of yourself, replacing your flooring might not even be necessary. It’s possible to polish and shine your floor tile or cover parts of your flooring with rugs. Reshining and polishing your old floor is the cheapest option, but tearing it out yourself and installing vinyl or laminate in its place can cost as little as $75 to $150. 

4. Rework Your Bathroom Vanity 

If you’re turning your shower remodel into a full-blown bathroom DIY project, your vanity will be at the top of the priority list. The good news is that most vanities are made of wood or a similar imitation product and are pretty easy to work with. You can optionally paint your existing vanity a new color rather than tearing it out and installing a new vanity. 

It may also be necessary to install a new vanity top, which is a slightly more involved process but still doable by yourself. The key to installing a new countertop on a budget is to find a quality material that looks similar to granite or quartz but is much cheaper. 

Another good DIY option that will blow your mind in its simplicity is installing a new bathroom mirror. Whether you choose a new mirror with a wood frame or a metal one is up to you, but it should complement the rest of the bathroom. You can also replace the old hardware on your drawers and doors to rework your existing vanity. You can hire a bathroom designer to help you decide on the best course of action for your vanity, but it will run up the cost. 

5. Replace the Sink With a New One

While working on your vanity, you’ll likely notice your old sink and your old faucet. Old sinks and faucets aren’t just an eyesore. They also have a higher risk of leaking and causing water damage or high water bills. Installing new faucets and sinks that look better and are more efficient can cost between $100 and $300 when you do the work yourself. 

6. See if Touching Up Your Tub Makes a Difference 

Now that you’ve done a few of the less-involved options around your shower, it’s time to focus on the shower itself. You should go into any large or small bathroom remodel with the idea that replacing your shower is a last resort, and you should try to improve the looks of the old one. Touching up the shower is the most affordable way to remodel your bathroom when it comes to your tub or shower. 

Touching up your bathtub or shower involves:

  • Recaulking the seams.
  • Filling any scratches or gouges.
  • Polishing the surface with an appropriate cleaner.

If your shower isn’t too beat up, it will look as good as new! 

7. Replace Your Shower or Tub

If touching up or refinishing your shower or bathtub isn’t going to get the job done, you’ll have to consider a total replacement. Replacing your shower can quickly become the most expensive aspect of a bathroom remodel if you’re not careful. It will largely depend on the type of shower you currently have and the type of shower or tub you plan to install. 

Regardless of the new shower, you decide to install, tearing out your old one will significantly reduce the cost of the project. A shower consisting of ceramic tiles is more difficult and timely to rip out, but doing the work yourself will make a massive difference in your end cost. 

8. Material of the Shower 

The material of your shower will largely determine its cost.  

Tile 

A walk-in shower with wall tiles and subway tile, and floor tiles will be the most expensive shower option available. They’re undoubtedly the most eye-catching and aesthetically-pleasing option. Still, the additional cost of hiring a professional tiler to install it will cause significant stress on your budget.  

Acrylic

If you like the tile look but don’t want to pay to have it installed, you may want to opt for acrylic wall panels. Acrylic panels are an excellent option for your shower walls because they have a similar look to tile, but you can install them yourself. They’re usually stuck on or require a mild adhesive, and there are tons of design options to choose from. 

Porcelain

Porcelain is typically what shower tiles get made of. They look great and feel good on your feet, but they’re costly to purchase and install. Even if you have the DIY skill level necessary to install and grout shower tiles made of porcelain, they’re pretty expensive, especially to find a good option, such as black penny tile. 

Fiberglass 

If you’re ok with not having porcelain tiles or any lookalike options, a fiberglass shower is your cheapest option. Most prefabricated showers and bathtubs in homes get made of fiberglass, and there’s a good chance that the previous owners of your home had them installed during the initial construction. They’re easily the cheapest option for a new bathtub or shower. 

Glass Door Vs. Curtain

Choosing between a shower with a door versus a curtain is also an important option. Typically, walk-in showers with shower doors will be more expensive than installing shower curtains. However, if the overall look of the shower matters more than saving a few bucks on a shower curtain, you should opt for the door option. 

9. The Type of Tub or Shower Makes a Difference 

If this is your first time remodeling a shower or bathroom, you’ll likely be shocked at the number of different types of tubs there are. 

Jacuzzi Tub 

Jacuzzi tubs are the most relaxing and luxurious type of bathtub. They’re often slightly larger than traditional tubs and include the added feature of bubbles and jets to increase your comfort level, making them similar to hot tubs. However, they’re also one of the most expensive bathtubs and are likely to wreck your budget. 

Freestanding Bathtubs 

Freestanding bathtubs are right up there in price with jacuzzi tubs. They’re loved for the luxurious look and modern or vintage feel they give your bathroom. They’re usually made of porcelain, copper, or similar material and often have more difficult plumbing connections for DIY newbies. 

Tub/Shower Combo 

If you like options for cleaning yourself, then installing a tub and shower combo is the best route to go. While they include shower and bathing options, they’re not always more expensive than individual showers or tubs. However, replacing a singular option with the dual one may require reworking your plumbing pipes, which not all DIYers are comfortable with. 

Prefabricated Shower/Bath 

Prefabricated showers and bathtubs made of fiberglass aren’t as flashy as porcelain tile or acrylic, but they get the job done. Prefabricated showers and tubs are the cheapest options for a secondary or master bathroom remodel, and it’s something that will last for a long time. They’re significantly more straightforward to install than tile showers, and it’s a job you can likely do yourself. 

10. Update the Shower Handles and Shower Head 

Whether you’re replacing the entire shower or not, installing a new faucet and shower head is a must. Old plumbing fixtures tend to get rusty or green with oxidation over time, and the only way to get them looking like new is to replace them. Installing new plumbing fixtures is much cheaper and easier than replacing the entire shower and might be enough to give it new life. 

11. Do the Work Yourself 

Regardless of what you decide to do to your bathroom and shower, doing the work yourself will be the best way to save money. The additional cost of hiring a general contractor and paying plumbers, designers, and other professionals will cost too much money to stick to a small budget. You can save big bucks during your remodel by taking the time to do the dirty work yourself and learning a few new skills. 

12. Shop for Used Goods 

People often don’t think about it when it comes to their bathroom is looking for used goods. It’s possible to find used goods at garage sales, surplus stores, Habitat for Humanity stores, and online resources like eBay and Craigslist. 

It might also be worth checking local plumbing stores for showers, tubs, and other bathroom necessities that are banged-up, on sale, or have a reduced price for other reasons. Persistence and research often pay off during remodels. 

13. Install a New Light Fixture 

Some fresh lighting in your bathroom, specifically in your shower or tub, will play a massive role in sprucing things up. Lighting is one of the most underrated aspects of your bathroom, and it could be as simple as installing new, fashionable light bulbs. If that doesn’t cut it, installing new fixtures might be necessary for a total bathroom makeover. 

14. Mix Things Up With Bathroom Decor or Wall Art 

Sometimes, overthinking is the worst thing you can do during a remodel. Simply adding some decor or wall art might be enough to give your new bathroom the desired look. Decor and art are available at home centers or stores like Target and Hobby Lobby at a very affordable price.  

15. Don’t be in a Hurry

If you’re on a fixed income, single income, or simply have other things you want to save for. You might have to take your time with the remodeling process. There’s nothing wrong with doing your remodel in stages and taking things one step at a time. Repaint the walls and rework the vanity one month, focus on the old shower or old tub the next month, and install new flooring down the road. 

As long as you have multiple bathrooms and can survive several months without one, taking the project in stages will ease some of the stress on your budget. 

16. Sell Some of Your Old Fixtures 

Another good tip is to sell some of your old fixtures if they’re not too banged up. There’s a good chance someone with an even smaller budget than yours is looking for secondhand bathroom equipment for their own remodels. Your sink, faucet, vanity, and anything in decent shape can get sold in a garage sale, and the proceeds will benefit your project. 

17. Learn How to Tile and Grout

If you have your heart set on having a tile shower or floors, but you can’t afford to hire an installer, you can learn to do the work yourself. All the information you need to get the job done is available online. As long as you’re eager to learn and enjoy the DIY lifestyle, there’s no reason why you can’t learn how to do your own tile and grout work. 

18. Reorganize the Area Around Your Shower

We’ve looked at reorganizing and redoing large items such as your vanity, flooring, walls, cabinets, and decor. However, the immediate area and things around your shower can also use a tune-up. Installing new towel bars or hooks is a good way to give your shower a fresh look at a low cost. 

19. Install an Exhaust Fan 

If you’re going to put all this work into redoing and remodeling your shower, you must take the necessary steps to protect your investment. One of the best ways to do this is to install an bathroom exhaust fan. Exhaust fans are instrumental in taking the humidity and moisture out of your bathroom and keeping your walls, decor, flooring, and everything else inside of it dry. 

If you currently have an exhaust fan, you should replace it with a more high-efficiency and high-powered option. If you don’t have one, you can replace your ceiling light with a dual light and fan option. Regardless of what you have to do to make it happen, a ceiling exhaust fan is a necessity, and they typically cost under $100 if you install them yourself. 

Related Questions 

Can I remodel my bathroom for less than $1,000? 

If you do the work yourself and shop around for secondhand or wholesale goods, you can easily redo your bathroom for less than $1,000. I’ve personally helped with several full bathroom remodels that included new floors, showers, decor, toilets, and everything else that cost between $500 and $1,000. 

When remodeling a shower or bathroom, what are some of the best secondhand store options? 

eBay, Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, flea markets, antique stores, garage sales, and Habitat for Humanity are your best options for finding quality secondhand goods. 

Is it cheaper to buy individual shower or bath features? 

If you know you have to replace your shower head, handles, and spouts, it’s cheaper to buy them as a set known as a shower trim kit. Buying everything piecemeal or individually can get expensive in a hurry, and things are usually cheaper when you buy them in a set. 

Can I perform my own shower remodel? 

If you’re willing to put in the sweat and hard manual labor and possibly learn a few new skills, there’s no reason why you can’t perform your own shower and bathroom remodel. 

Final Thoughts 

As you can see, there are plenty of cheap ways to give your shower and bathroom a fresh look. From the walls to the vanity to the shower itself, there are seemingly unlimited options for your shower remodel. Whether the shower in question is your master or guest option, you can save yourself a ton of money by doing the work yourself and taking the time to find cheaper versions of what you want. 

Photo of author

Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.
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