Home renovations made simple
Thinking of undertaking a bathroom renovation this year? You’re not alone. In fact, for Canadians, the second most popular area of the home to renovate last year was the bathroom. Understanding the average bathroom renovation cost for different types of bathrooms in your home (think powder room, main bath or ensuite, kids’ bathroom, or guest bathroom) can help you better plan the scope of your project and budget more accurately for your own bathroom renovation before you start.
Bathrooms can be one of the most important areas of your home to renovate, for many reasons. Older bathrooms that haven’t been renovated in a while or plumbing that malfunctions are both signs that it’s time to renovate your bathroom. As well as discovering and eliminating potential problems like mould or lead pipes (that can be detrimental to you and your family’s health), renovating a bathroom can drastically improve the functionality of your household and add value to your home.
While the average bathroom renovation cost in Canada can range from around $14,000 to over $20,000, depending on the size of the bathroom and the scope of work. Sometimes those bathroom remodel costs come from obvious big-ticket items like a bathtub or vanity. Other times the biggest differences in cost can come from behind-the-scenes work like plumbing and electrical.
One important factor to keep in mind when you’re planning a home renovation is that due to recent supply chain issues, COVID-19, inflation, and increased demand for products, materials and contractors, some of the cost and duration estimates of a bathroom renovation you may find online have risen in the past couple of years. Make sure you obtain up-to-date information on bathroom reno costs before you set out.
Toronto-based architect and contractor Beven Gray shares some timely wisdom for those looking to embark on a bathroom renovation: “The best advice I can give anyone looking to renovate their bathroom is to expect the unexpected. Today there are so many materials delays and shortages that if you don’t plan and order well in advance, you run the risk of not being able to get exactly what you want. Part of this is due to the pandemic but it’s also due to instability overseas which supplies many raw materials to goods manufacturers in China. I’d expect these circumstances to continue for at least the next year to year and a half, but it’s also entirely possible that we’ll be facing a new normal of generally longer lead times.”
Average bathroom renovation costs
The average cost to renovate a bathroom varies by the size of the bathroom, type of bathroom, type of home (i.e. detached house, townhouse, condo/apartment, etc.) and the quality of the fits and finishes. But it can also vary quite significantly by the contractor you choose, their cost of labour, any permits you may need to obtain from your municipality before work can commence, and any unforeseen problems that arise such as discovering mould or asbestos in the demolition phase.
A guest bathroom usually consists of a toilet and a sink or vanity, and can often include a bath or shower as well. On average, the renovation cost for a guest bathroom can range from $2,800-$7,600.
A powder room is typically a two-piece bathroom which comprises just a toilet and sink in a relatively small footprint and, hence, can be one of the cheaper types of bathrooms to renovate in a home. A small bathroom renovation cost can land between $2,800-$3,600. If you are constructing a new powder room where there is no existing plumbing, the installation of waste and water pipes will drive the cost up.
An ensuite or main bathroom, which is most often a three- or four-piece bathroom, can be one of the most expensive types of bathrooms to renovate. This is where homeowners often splurge on luxurious fits and finishes. In addition to a toilet, sink or vanity, and bath or shower (or both), the primary bath can often occupy a larger footprint than other bathrooms and contain extras like double vanities, additional pieces of furniture for seating or storage, and flourishes like heated floors. This kind of full bathroom renovation costs between $6,800 and $10,600.
A kids bathroom is typically a three-piece bathroom that includes a toilet, a sink or vanity, and a bath or a shower-bath combination. It typically costs between $6,800 and $7,600 to renovate. As a hard-working family bathroom, many people choose to invest a little more in this type of bathroom than a guest bathroom.
Partial bathroom renovation
A partial bathroom renovation may involve replacing just one or two features like the toilet or bath, the floor, or tiles on the walls. Partial bathroom renovations can be an affordable way to provide a facelift to an area of the home we use so much. A partial bathroom renovation can cost as little as $1,000-$2,500 depending on which features you’re renovating.
Look out for sharp price increases in bathroom renovations, cautions Gray. “Materials costs have gone up 30 to 40 per cent over the past couple years, and that’s for all materials across the board. On top of that, if you’re not able to get ABS or PVC fittings [common thermoplastic resins used for drain pipes] for your bathroom plumbing at the time you need them, you may need to get the more expensive steel or brass fittings. While material substitutions like this may cost more upfront, making the switch will often end up saving you much more than the cost of delaying the project in the long run.”
Factors to consider for a bathroom renovation
Here are some of the key factors to consider that can impact the overall bathroom renovation cost.
A major cost of renovating a bathroom that many people overlook when creating a budget is the cost of demolition. Old fixtures like toilets and bathtubs have to be removed with care to make sure existing plumbing is turned off, closed or capped, and not damaged in the removal process. These items are large and heavy and may require specialized disposal.
Likewise, removing materials such as stone and tile can be hard and time-consuming work. The cost of demolition for the average bathroom can range from $900 to $1,400. If mould or asbestos are discovered in the process, costly remediation may be necessary, potentially adding $1,800 to $2,200 to remove mouldy drywall, and up to several thousands for asbestos removal.
Labour can cost $40-$140/hour and sometimes more, depending on the specialty and the labourer’s qualifications and level of experience. General labourers without specialized qualifications tend to charge less than specialists like plumbers and electricians. For bathroom renovations, it’s worth investing in a qualified contractor to perform the work so your new bathroom will not only pass any required municipal inspections but also stand the test of time. It is much more expensive to fix the damage caused by leaks and improper plumbing and electrical work than it is to hire a qualified professional in the first place.
A bathtub may seem like a pretty straightforward item to purchase, but the range of options and prices is vast. The most affordable tubs (typically those moulded from acrylic or fibreglass) can cost just a few hundred dollars and are often lightweight and easy to install. Once you add features to these tubs such as ergonomic back and arm support, or jets and warming functions, they can start creeping up to the $1,500 to $3,000 range – especially when buying from well-known brands.
More expensive bathtubs are crafted from natural stone like marble and stone resin, Japanese-inspired exotic hardwoods or, for a more chateau-chic look, consider metal options made from cast iron, brass, nickel or copper. These are typically (but not always) free-standing tubs that cost $3,000-$8,000 or more. In addition to the higher price tag, these tubs are significantly heavier and often need special structural consideration to support their weight.
Bathroom cabinetry such as a vanity or storage unit can range in price. A ready-made unit from a hardware or big-box store that includes a built-in sink and countertop may cost a few hundred dollars, while custom designed and built cabinetry boxes (excluding the countertop, sink and hardware) can cost a few thousand dollars. Factors such as the cabinetry material (i.e. particle board vs. hardwood), joinery (glued vs. dovetailed joints), and style (frameless vs. face frame) can impact the cost, as well as the cost of labour. The cost of hardware such as handles and hinges can range from a few dollars each to $20 each depending on the size, brand, base and finish material (steel or zinc alloys are much more economical than brass but have less hard-wearing finishes, especially in wetter areas).
The shower is another key bathroom fixture that can range widely in price depending on the type you choose. Shower kits that include a moulded acrylic floor and walls, as well as a glass door can cost $600-$3,000. They don’t typically include the shower hardware (shower head and controls) which can cost $200-$2,000 depending on the brand and materials. Alternatively, you can opt to purchase a shower floor and glass door separately, finishing the remaining walls in tile or stone, or create a fully custom shower enclosure in tile or stone with custom glass walls and door. Custom options may start around $3,000 and can climb to $10,000 or more depending on the materials used and complexity of the design.
The cost of flooring depends entirely on the type of material you choose. Ceramic costs $1.30-$2.10 per sq. ft., linoleum is $6-$9 per sq. ft., porcelain (a tough type of ceramic) is $7-$11 per sq. ft., and marble is $20-$23 per sq. ft. Keep in mind that installation costs extra. Linoleum is relatively easy to install while marble requires more time and attention to detail.
If you’d like heated floors in your new bathroom, you’ll need to purchase an underfloor heating system and have it installed by a professional. A typical heated flooring kit can cost around $650 for 40 sq. ft., not including installation. Keep in mind that a heated floor will also require an electrician to wire in.
The cost of a toilet can range from around $120 for a hardware store basic to north of $1,500 for a higher end brand. It’s worth spending a little more for a toilet that works well and will last (keep in mind that some of the cheaper versions have weak flushing mechanisms). Contractors also tend to advise sticking with name brands that are easier to find replacement parts for.
Wall mounted toilets give a sleek modern feel to a bathroom, but can also cost a few hundred dollars more to install because of added labour costs. Some modern toilets even come with programmable settings like seat warmers, motion sensors for opening and closing, bidet-style cleaning functions and even music and lights! Needless to say these can cost significantly more. It’s worth doing a bit of research on flow, gravity versus pressure-assist flushes, features like insulated tanks and online reviews of flushing performance to help make your decision. One thing to watch for: double check that the toilet you buy includes the toilet seat, not all of them do!
Tile and stone
Much like flooring, the cost of installing tile and stone on your bathroom walls, inside the shower, and for backsplashes will vary significantly by the material you choose, averaging between $3 and $20 per sq. ft. Waterproofing membranes installed behind tile are essential in bathrooms. They typically cost around $100 for a roll that covers 54 sq. ft. If you have any special features like shower niches, they will require a dedicated shower niche waterproofing system costing $50-$100.
Sinks can cost anywhere from $50 to $1,000 depending on the size, material and brand. Keep in mind that the cost of the sink typically won’t include the cost of the faucet or any associated plumbing. Countertops can range from a few hundred dollars for a ready-made off-the-shelf version to a few thousand for custom quartz, granite, or marble.
One of the most important tips when it comes to plumbing is: If you can work with what you’ve got, you’ll save a ton of money. That means keeping the waste and water pipes in the same place for the toilet, sink, and bathtub or shower. Moving any of these, particularly waste pipes, is a colossal undertaking that can easily require removing walls or cutting through ceilings or floors in other parts of your house. Water pipes, being significantly smaller than waste pipes, can sometimes be relocated more easily depending on the layout of your space, but will still cost a good deal in labour and materials (copper pipe is pricey).
Also keep in mind that any major modifications to plumbing will require building permits and inspections. The plumbing involved in dismantling old fixtures and installing new ones is relatively straightforward, can use existing materials, and doesn’t take too much time for a plumber to complete.
Installing new electrical features in your bathroom such as new lights, switches, and outlets can be a great way to transform the feel and functionality of your space. In contrast to plumbing, electrical rewiring is often relatively easy so long as it can be contained to the room you’re renovating. Outlets typically cost around $80 each installed, and $150 per pot light. Electrical work will also require a building permit and inspections, so make sure you understand how much this will cost and how long it may take to obtain the permit before you start the project.
Gray has some good advice for planning ahead when it comes to fixtures and hardware: “Many companies that sell bathroom fixtures like sinks and toilets will hold an order for you until you’re ready to pick it up. If you know what you like and want, in terms of these fixtures and hardware like taps, knobs, hooks and toilet roll holders, it’s worth ordering these four to five months in advance of when your contractor tells you they’ll be starting the installation phase to ensure they are ready to go when the time comes.”
Read more: Best bathroom renovation ideas
Cost Calculator for a Bathroom Renovation
One of the most important steps before embarking on your bathroom renovation is to estimate the cost for your specific project. Start by determining what type of bathroom you’d like to renovate and note how many fixtures it contains (i.e. is it a two-piece or a four-piece bathroom?). Try Smart Reno’s bathroom renovation cost estimator to get a good idea of the ballpark cost to renovate your bathroom.
How to find the best bathroom renovation contractor near you
Remember, not all bathroom renovation contractors are made equal. Hiring the wrong contractor can lead to major problems down the road that may not be covered by your insurance. It’s important to find a reputable contractor with the right credentials for your project.
Gray says: “Finding subtrades like plumbers is really tough right now. Many of them are run off their feet with the increase in demand, and are booked months in advance even for small jobs. As frustrating as it can be, you want to be happy with who you’re working with, especially when it comes to something as crucial as plumbing. Right now, you can expect to wait eight months to a year for any good tradesperson or contractor. Whatever you do, do not hire someone who tells you they can start tomorrow. That’s a clear indicator that they aren’t any good at what they do!”
Undertaking a bathroom renovation may seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right preparation, a good idea of your remodelling budget and the costs associated with your project, as well as a trustworthy contractor to guide you through, you’ll be well on your way to that beautiful bathroom you’ve always dreamed of.
Smart Reno helps you find trusted contractors
With so much to think about when it comes to bathroom renovations, it’s important to find a contractor you can trust. Before you commit, Smart Reno offers up to three free quotes from bathroom contractors near you to help you make your decision, and can assist with renovation financing.
Calculate the cost of your home renovation project with our cost estimator
This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.