A tile preview and a budget that almost flew the coop…

So there was a lot of excitement this past weekend what with all of the demo and such (which you can read about by clicking here and here).  So exciting, in fact, that I’m pretty sure we’ve used up all of our remaining health units for a little while (too bad it’s not like Zelda and I can’t just drink some magic potion – yup, I’m a dork).  Dragging our butts back to work this week was really tough, especially since I think I have perma-club hand right now from grabbing on to crow bars and sledges all weekend long.  But the show must go on and we’ve got a tight timeline.  My big sis is coming out for her Oregon debut in early May and we’re out of town two weekends between now and then.  I shared a bath with my sis growing up and I vowed I would never do it again!  Haha!  Sorry, J-Bird, but I had to call you out!

With that timeline breathing down our backs we decided last night to make some pretty important tile decisions, namely the floor/wall tiles and countertops, which you can take a sneak peak at here:

I apologize for the crappy iPhone camera quality, but you kind of get the idea.  The black cabinet door is the same finish as the cabinets that are presently sitting in our garage (though we ordered a different door profile).  We are going with white subway tiles (sitting on the door) in the shower, backsplash on tub and counter and any other place we can think to cram them.  A warm gray marble floor (on the bottom) and an icy gray composite countertop top off the whole thing.  The sinks will be integrated into the counter and will be white which saves us the hassle of picking out two sinks!  We had to special order the marble and grout (more on that once it actually comes in), but don’t get any crazy notions in your head!  We ended up saving a boatload of money over our “dream” floor.  We’ll give you full details later on the tiles when we start laying them, but there is a pattern here that we haven’t discussed which all boils down to the Benjamins…

Tile is one of those areas where you can blow a budget pretty quickly and we made some executive decisions based solely on pricepoint so let’s just talk about budget, shall we?  Just to throw it all out there, we’ve been scrimping and saving and have given ourselves a 10K budget to get this bathroom whipped into shape (and mold free) which we’ve broken down into these rough categories:

  • Cabinetry – $3,000
  • Light fixtures/hardware/knobs/faucets – $1,000
  • Construction/demo/lumber/backerboard/supplies – $1,000
  • Tile/mortar/grout/supplies – $1,000
  • Counters/sink – $1,000
  • Shower door – $500
  • Toilet – $500
  • Miscellaneous – $2,000

All told that’s exactly 10K.  Now I’m not entirely sure how much some of these things are going to cost and, in the end, I estimated high as much as I could and thus far we’ve come in blissfully under budget on everything so far (including our tiles!).  We’ll do a final budget breakdown once the project is completed, but if ten thousand seems high to you, then just remember that this is a five-piece bathroom (as in, two sinks, one shower, one tub, one toilet = five pieces).  Most baths are three piece baths (tub/shower combo, toilet and sink = 3 piece bath) and so a budget for that size bath is naturally going to be smaller.  In fact, a little over a year ago, one of my favorite blogs, Young House Love, ripped their 50-year old 3-piece bath down to the studs and rebuilt it to a modern, albeit cozy, masterpiece!  In fact, check out this lovely before and after (and you can read all about this transformation by clicking here):

Young House Love's old bathroom before...

Young House Love's Bathroom AFTER the amazing transformation!

Needless to say, when I saw that transformation and their teeny tiny budget, I was so inspired to tackle our beast of a bathroom.  And when I realized that they got rough estimates for a professional contractor to come in and do their bath for 10K, decided to do it themselves and budgeted 3K and came blissfully under budget at 1800K, then I knew we could do the same!  Especially since without estimates, Dr. J and I are pretty certain our bath would be in the 20-30K range to have professionally renovated (possibly more!).  Fortunately for Young House Love, they had already replaced their loo and lighting, which probably saved them around $300 at most, but that’s still a pretty respectable budget all told.  So using their formula that a 3-piece bath = 3K, we figured that a 5-piece bath would be around 10K given that not only is the square footage about double (hence more tile square footage/backerboard, etc), but we also have additional items in the way of more faucets/plumbing/sinks and so on.

So back to the tiles.  We have many tiles and surfaces that are coming into this area.  We have white subway tile for the shower, tub surround backsplash and counter backsplash.  Mind you both our tub and cabinets are a full 7 feet long each, so all of that tile adds up.  Then we’re going marble on the floors and tub deck (we’ll be tiling the tub deck top and putting wood picture frames underneath to have better access to our plumbing later on down the line – and who knows, maybe we’ll leave some beer bottles in there for good measure).  Then we also have to figure out a surface for our shower floor (still debating that one, though it’s only about 10 square feet, so should be easy on the wallet) and any accent tiles to bring in an extra zing!  But the great majority of floor tiles have been purchased and we still haven’t spent $500 yet!  Remember, we gave ourselves a $1,000 budget, which will also likely include buying a tile wet saw which we plan to go halvsies on with my Father in law since he needs one too.  Grout and thinset won’t set us back that much and we already have trowels and spacers leftover from Dr. J’s dad’s tiling projects, so I’d say we’re in pretty good shape.

Our floor tile ended up coming in at around $3/square foot, which is a far cry from some of our dream tiles (Carrara Marble could’ve set us back as much as $12/square foot):

…and our other “dream” floor was actually a Porcelain tile called Fabrique Blanc Linen, which was about the same price as the Carrara:

Gorgeous?  Yes!  Practical….maybe?  Worth an $800+ investment in a 70 square foot space?  HELL NO!  So as much as I love Carrara and think it’s one of the all-time classic beautiful surfaces for any bath, my budget is more important than the color of my floors.  And we thankfully picked a color that looks like dirt….which fits into my whole philosophy that floors (carpets, rugs, wood, stone, etc…) should ALWAYS be dirt colored.  God, it makes your life so much simpler!  And in the end…marble is marble!  And we will have marble floors….all 70 square feet of slippery fall-on-your-face marble that looks good even when you’ve cracked your head on the wet floor….oh, yea, it’s gonna be beautiful!  And seriously, folks….if you’re worried about slipping, buy yourself a damn rug!

Moral of the story?  A bathroom doesn’t have to be completely high end to be enjoyably gorgeous!  And giving yourself a budget ahead of time (and breaking it down ahead of time) is the absolute best way to stay on track.

We’re renovating our bathroom and it’s a doozy!  You can see a rough plan and reasons why by clicking here.  You can also see the demo process by clicking here and here.  This project is ongoing, so stay tuned while we whip this bathroom into shape.


26 thoughts on “A tile preview and a budget that almost flew the coop…

  1. You only mentioned the price difference between your marble and porcelain tile not the fact that you can’t use traditional cleaners on marble (have to be pH neutral), that marble stains, etches, discolors from hard water and mineral deposits, and needs to be sealed every 6-12 months. I agree it’s gorgeous but on a heavily used floor isn’t that practical. To keep it looking really nice you’ll have to buffer it and eventually replace it long before the porcelain will have a problem. We found a great alternative for our main bathroom which we’ll be renovating this year:


    And a second porcelain that looks like marble choice here:

    Oh and we’re getting the American Olean for $2/sf so it’s a win-win!

    • All very valid points. We’ve had marble in the past (at least in previous homes) and always use pH neutral/green cleaners, so we’re covered there. Sealing isn’t a huge deal. Fortunately, the marble won’t be in the shower and we plan to use rugs for drips, etc. I’d never put marble in a kids’ bath, that’s for sure, but we’re not overly messy people, so I think it’ll be fine :-). Thanks for the tidbits, though!

  2. That’s great you can share the price of the tile wet saw with your f-i-l. We borrow our neighbor’s tools & I always wonder how we should compensate him since we don’t have to buy our own.
    Great demo pictures. Can’t wait to see the “After” photos.

    • Hi, HudsonHero –

      We’ve found that beer is always a good “payment”. Pizza and doughnuts work too!


    • No problem, HudsonHero. We’re nothing if not shamelessly addicted to bribing our volunteers. Be sure to time your bribery appropriately. Morning = doughnuts and coffee. Afternoon = beer and pizza :-).

      • Usually my husband provides them free labor for some of their projects. Coffee and doughnuts benefit everyone though. 😉 A latte is even better.

        And I provide free safety advice – unwanted but needed! (I use to write for a safety company and know too many scary safety stories). I even took pictures one time of my generous neighbor for one of my “don’t” posts. Happily, he is still alive.

  3. Love your choices! Can’t wait to see the final product. Just my two cents, I love our marble. We have it on both bathroom floors and showers and haven’t had problems. True, it is softer and more likely to be damaged than porcelain. Though, tons of old church floors have survived years of use and abuse, my bathroom also can. Based on the photos, I’m assuming you’re in either Lowes or Home Depot. We bought our marble there (for about $5 a square foot) and it has held up wonderfully, even in the main bathroom which is used most often, kids and all. If you like it, go for it.

    As for your budget, I think you’ve definitely over estimated on the pricing, so you should stay completely within your budget, barring any huge issues. Good luck!

    • YAY! Great news on all counts, especially our budget! Hey, better to OVERestimate and be pleasantly surprised than UNDERestimate and be taken through the wringer – phew! thanks for stopping by! Good seeing you again!!


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  18. Loved your bathroom remodel..our 1977 built home also came with basic builder’s model vanity/sinks too. I’m glad you gave your expenses breakdown because we want to update our bathrooms also. Realizing that prices may vary from your area of the country than ours. We used to do all our own remodeling with the exception of plumbing and my husband would go next door and helped the neighbor with his home remodeling projects..but wouldn’t tackle ours. That was over 8 yrs. ago and his physical and strength abilities have changed so we are having to hire contractors. Your figures give me an idea of what to expect and you did most of it yourself. See how much you saved? It is always so satifying knowing you did it yourself and all turned out well. Thanks for sharing all this information. It is very helpful. What project is next on your list?

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