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Where to spend (and save) on your bathroom remodel

If it makes the bathroom feel luxe or needs to last forever, be prepared to drop some cash. The rest is negotiable.

Bathroom remodels are about trade-offs. If you’re spending a good chunk of money on things like stain-resistant shower doors, porcelain tiles, or a fancy vanity, you might have to opt for budget-friendly materials elsewhere. Here’s where you should stick to your budget and when you should really invest, according to actual pros.

Where to save

It’s possible to get a high-end look for less than $10,000, says James Tapia of Global Housing Contractors.

Toilets

You don’t need a fancy toilet to have a nice bathroom. Tapia recommends American Standard. “They make a very good toilet, out of the box.”

Floor tiles

Floor tiles have a big impact on the bathroom, so they’re often a place pros recommend spending a bit more. But you can save money by doing your homework. “Competition between tile distributors has increased, and there are a lot of players in the market,” says Michael Big of Big Brothers Development. “This means with a bit of shopping, you can find gorgeous tiles at competitive pricing.” Another pro tip: Look for ceramic tiles that mimic granite.

Bathroom accessories

Big box stores and online retailers have surprisingly good deals on towel bars and storage. Don’t spend extra money on this stuff.

Related: Everything you need to know about bathroom tile

Where to splurge

Pretty simple rule of thumb: spend money on things you don’t want to end up fixing or cleaning every week. Here are Michael Big’s suggestions.

Shower doors

“The Original Frameless Shower Door Company has a product called StayCLEAN — a protective glass that helps eliminate soap scum and hard mineral deposits. This eliminates that problem and is worth every penny.” The right glass shower door can also make a huge difference for a small bathroom design.

Heated floors

“Many people think these [are] a very cost prohibitive product. With items such as the Schluter Ditra-Heat, not only can you have a very durable floor, it’s also an easy addition to any bathroom remodel.”

Plumbing fixtures

“Having body sprays and a rainfall shower might add more in both material and plumbing costs, but after a long day at work the master bathroom at home should feel like a spa.”

Related: Here’s what goes into a state-of-the-art luxury bath

How to stay on budget

Most clients either way under or overshoot their budget, says Tapia. “Under-budgeting happens because people don’t understand the real cost of things. On the flip side, people get overwhelmed thinking a new bathroom will cost them way more than it actually does and try to cut corners where they really don’t have to.”

How to get around these pitfalls? “I always start by suggesting my customers research online the real mechanics and prices of their bathroom. The internet makes it so easy to learn what things cost.”

You can get free cost estimates on Thumbtack for everything from toilet installation to interior painting, based on real pricing information provided by professionals across the country on millions of projects like yours. See all the cost estimates here.