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Last Updated on August 2, 2022

You and your bathroom have reached a point where you can’t go on. Things have to change. But your budget is small. It barely covers your needs, let alone those of an aging room filled with tired, old fixtures. What can you do? 

Cleaning Brightens Things Up

Cleaning brings out colors and lightens white surfaces. 

Cleaning painted walls is straightforward and easy. Cleaning ceilings, however, can be a chore. Flat, painted ceilings are less challenging than textured surfaces. Whatever you clean, be careful. Don’t get carried away and accidentally scrub off old paint and make it look worse. Check first on an out-of-the-way part of the wall to make sure you’re not doing more harm than good. .

What If My Bathroom Has Wallpaper?

Cleaning wallpaper is tricky. Stripping and replacing it is a big job. 

One option for dealing with unsightly wallpaper is to ignore it. Install a distraction, and hide as much of it as you can. A custom framed mirror, placed at a strategic point, can draw eyes away from unsightly wallpaper. So can paintings, posters, and wall art. Wall-mounted cabinets and shelves can store things out of sight and hide wallpaper at the same time. Just rely on adding decorations to your bathroom to cover what you can’t clean or replace!. 

Painting Walls and Ceilings

Painting can be a tedious and messy process, but it pays off if you own your home. 

For conservative to whimsical decor ideas, new paint is best. If you can’t afford it, look for budget-friendly paint at your local building supply or paint store. Ask if they have an order that someone returned. Make sure there’s enough of the same color to do the job. 

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Use caution when buying cheap paint. Pop off the lid and give it a stir. If you feel a rubbery layer on the bottom that resists mixing, don’t buy it. 

Bad Latex Paint Might Be Good For Your Bathroom

If latex paint freezes, it can form hard grains. Contractors avoid it. Stores can’t sell it as normal paint, they can’t dump it, and it takes up valuable storage space. Store managers are motivated to get rid of it at a deep discount, or even for free. Before you take a bucket back home with you, however, check its quality. Don’t take it if it feels firm, or pours like cottage cheese.

Once home, stir the paint well. Then sift it through a kitchen strainer with small holes, or something similar. That should separate the fine bits and leave you with a usable bucket of paint.

Updating the Tub, Sink, And Tiles

Bathrooms in older buildings may contain vintage tubs and fixtures. But not everything old is vintage, and dingy tubs and sinks can look almost new if you take the time to reglaze them. This kind of DIY job is a little tricky, but not out of the comfort zone for most people. Find reglazing supplies at building supply stores or order online. 

And if you update the bathroom – make sure to install the wax ring well.

If clutter is an issue, get rid of it. If you can’t do that, then like you do with decaying wallpaper, hide it. Use wall-mounted cabinets or shelves. 

Ugly tile, whether it’s on the floor or backsplash, is hard not to notice. You can paint it, repair it, or remove it. These techniques work best in limited areas, like a backsplash. 

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Retiling a bathroom floor is a large job best done by professionals. You probably don’t want to do it yourself. Before calling a contractor, clean the tile first and see if that brightens things up. Bleach is great for lightening dingy, white-tile floors. Use a mixture of one part color-safe bleach to two parts water, and mop gently. Another option for cleaning tiles is a DIY solution of vinegar and water.

Paint the Bathroom Vanity

The bathroom vanity is the center of your bathroom. Changing its color makes a strong visual impact, and can change the entire aesthetic of the room. 

In general, repainting a bathroom vanity requires the following steps: 

  1. Remove all hardware, doors, and drawers. 
  2. Thoroughly clean all areas you wish to paint.
  3. Strip or lightly sand the painted surfaces. 
  4. Apply masking tape to places you don’t want to paint. 
  5. Apply paint with multiple, thin coats until you get complete coverage. Don’t paint areas not previously painted. Allow adequate drying time between coats. 
  6. If you’re going to add a protective coating to the top of the vanity, now is the best time to do it. Make sure the paint is completely dry before you start..
  7. Re-install hardware, doors, and drawers. .

Painting a vanity isn’t hard, but it’s not quick. Take your time and pay attention to details.

Shine A Light On Your Bathroom Efforts

A new light fixture can make a big change. Department stores, surplus outlets, and building supply stores will have many models to choose from. If none of them suit your taste, look for unique light fixtures in specialty stores.

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Don’t overlook the wall switch. Does the light switch feel or look worn out? A new switch or unique switch plate helps bring a subtle dash of character to your bathroom.

Get Professional Installation

Make sure you understand how to install any electrical product. If it takes more than plugging it in, you might want to hire professional help. An electrician or contractor can install the new fixture and light switch for you. 

Finding Budget Minded Bathroom Fixtures

Check your area for architectural salvage yards and surplus outlets. Some of the best places don’t sell online, so be ready to do some leg work to reach these deals.

Architectural salvage companies get their goods from a variety of sources in the field. Don’t expect to find anything new (although you might be surprised). Be ready for rooms filled with vanities, custom mirrors, ornate plumbing fixtures, and more. 

Surplus stores are another place to find quality bathroom fixtures and accessories. Most products will be new, but selection may be limited. 

Worth The Effort 

Be tenacious! Update your old bathroom today with something simple and small, like a lamp, or wall art. De-clutter the sink. Buy a funky mirror. Before long, you’ll be in a dusty warehouse inspecting rows of bathroom vanities and talking about artisan door pulls.

Brooks Manley

Brooks Manley

Brooks is a marketer by trade, but has developed quite the passion for home design since becoming a homeowner in New Orleans. He'll be writing about he and his wife's favorite home decor products as well as simple tips and tricks for creating a home you love.

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