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Pro survey: the best bathroom brands, value boosters, and cost-saving tips

What to know before you remodel according to 500 bathroom remodeling experts, from contractors to plumbers, tile layers, and electricians.

Stop putting up with that bathroom you hate. You may not know what it costs to remodel your bathroom, where to get the stuff you need, or even what kind of stuff you want. But you can find out.

Thumbtack surveyed nearly 500 pros — including contractors, plumbers, electricians, tile installation specialists, and handyman — to tell you how much bathroom remodels cost, how long they take, and what brands to buy.

Best bathroom brands

A trip to your local home improvement store should give you a sense of the range of materials and features to look for in a toilet, sink, bathtub, or other fixtures. But which brands are trusted by the pros?

The pros surveyed by Thumbtack overwhelmingly prefer Kohler across the board, with some popular runners-up. Here’s what they buy.

Best toilets

  • Kohler (87%)
  • American Standard (72%)
  • Sterling (30%)

Best faucets and showerheads

  • Kohler (66%)
  • Delta (59%)
  • Moen (57%)

Best sinks and bathtubs

  • Kohler (68%)
  • American Standard (42%)
  • Moen (35%)

How much a bathroom remodel costs

Professionals are 61 percent more likely to say that labor costs — not materials — are the biggest cost factor in a remodel. That said, high-quality materials often push up the cost of labor, too. “Items like these have very low tolerance for error so not only is the labor very expensive, but the project duration is double what it normally would be,” says Michael of Big Brothers Development.

When it comes to spending more money on a remodel, pros recommended splurging on tiles (25%), the shower (13%), and small fixtures like shower heads and faucets (13%).

These investments pay off, too, according to pros. The top bathroom remodel upgrades to increase the resale value of your home are:

  1. Update or add tiles
  2. Add or replace fixtures
  3. Update vanity
  4. Update countertop
  5. Update cabinets

More than half of all pros said updating or adding tiles is a top home value booster, making it 42 percent more likely to be recommended than the next most popular update (adding or replacing fixtures).

How long a bathroom remodel takes

Pros agree that most aspects of a bathroom remodel take less than three months to complete, and most of them take less than a week.

What can you get done in less than a week?

  • Add or replace lights (90%)
  • Update paint or wallpaper (86%)
  • Add or replace vanity (86%)

Pros said that many projects can get slowed down by unexpected water damage or wood damage (like a bad subfloor or termite infestation).

Other factors that slow projects down?

  • Changing the bathroom plumbing (26%)
  • Selecting and purchasing materials (24%)
  • Correcting DIY mistakes (17%)

When it comes to materials, avoid problems by getting things that are already in stock, says Brian Ernest with Ready to Sell Renovations. “Go to the store and make sure it’s on the shelf. Check online and make sure there is ample quantity of what you need.” If you’re using special order items like custom cabinets, wait until all materials have arrived before breaking ground.

Popular bathroom design ideas

Here’s what the pros had to say about the biggest interior design trends they’ve seen in recent projects.

What changes have the biggest impact on look and feel?

  1. Update or add tiles
  2. Replace or refinish bathtub, toilet or sink
  3. Replace or update shower
  4. Add or replace fixtures
  5. Update countertop

What are the most popular upgrades at the moment?

  1. Colorful or specialty tiles
  2. Shower bench
  3. Marble countertops

Which bathroom styles are most popular right now?

  1. Modern or contemporary
  2. Classic
  3. Rustic
  4. Vintage

What are the best ways to make a small bathroom feel bigger?

  1. Update paint or wallpaper
  2. Add or update a mirror
  3. Add or replace lights
  4. Update or add tiles
  5. Update vanity

Why most people update their bathroom

Thumbtack also looked at data from real home remodeling projects across the country to find out what most often drives homeowners to take on a bathroom remodel. Here’s what we learned.

Top 3 reasons people remodel their bathroom?

  1. Update the bathroom’s look (39%)
  2. Replace furniture and fixtures (36%)
  3. Fix water damage (9%)

Most popular bathroom fixtures to replace?

  1. Bathtub and shower (17%)
  2. Tiling (14%)
  3. Sink (13%)

How big are the bathrooms Americans most often remodel?

  1. Small (25–50 sq ft) (49%)
  2. Medium (51–75 sq ft) (30%)
  3. Large (76–100 sq ft) (14%)

Do you need to move your toilet, shower, or sink?

  • Less than half of all homeowners plan to keep bathroom fixtures in their current location.
  • People are twice as likely to move their bathtubs and showers as they are to move their toilets or sinks.

Methodology

There are 250,000 pros on Thumbtack, one of the largest local services companies in the United States. We surveyed nearly 500 of these professionals who specialize in bathroom remodels — including contractors, plumbers, electricians, tile installation specialists and handymen — with multiple-choice and free response questions about how long it takes to remodel a bathroom, what it costs, and what brands pros recommend to their customers. We coupled our survey data with aggregate research on trends in customer bathroom remodels, drawn from thousands of requests for bathroom remodeling submitted on Thumbtack in the past year.