Emily Winters: Bathroom Shopping Bonanza

While everyone else has been frantically gathering the last of their holiday gifts, over here in bathroom renovation land, I’ve been clamoring over shower tile samples, crunching numbers, guessing what may be beneath the bath tub, and ordering floor tiles. If you missed the whole video reveal of my big wintertime undertaking (and first-ever bathroom renovation), check it out here.

My ambitious goal is to begin demo next week (pretty much as soon as our Christmas leftovers are packed away). We’re stepping around pry bars in the bathroom this week because I’m just that excited.

Tools in the bathroom.

While I’m not sure what we’re going to find when the shower and floor are removed, I do want to keep things moving along (this is my only full bathroom, after all, and even though there’s an extra toilet in the basement that will be usable, the shower install will need to happen quickly so that I don’t have to borrow other people’s showers all winter long. I’ve already done some shopping to make sure the key materials for the project are at my fingertips – see some of the products I’ve been considering and buying!

1. Shower tile:

For a long time leading up to this bathroom reno, I planned to replace the current plastic enclosure with a nice new plastic enclosure. “Shower kits are fast and economical,” the store displays informed me. And white, glossy, and easy-to-clean were absolutely desirable attributets. Although, when I started price shopping (know that my bathtub/shower budget is around $700-800) I realized that I could likely do the shower less expensively or for a similar cost if I chose a modest tile for the walls, so that’s what I’ve been shopping for this past week. I’m trying to keep the tile budget itself at a very low $3.00/sq. ft. so that I could also squeeze the necessary cement board, mortar, grout, spouts, and sealants from my original budget. To fill in the surround all the way to the ceiling amounts to 75 sq.ft. of space, but to fill in one foot short (to the same height of the current shower) is only 60 sq.ft. Decisions, decisions.

Tile shopping is where Pete and I have found ourselves butting heads a little bit (he has to have a say in the bathroom, considering he shares the space with me).

There are a few types of tile I’m considering for this project:

Subway tiles are always nice, and priced at 26-cents/each (or $2.08/sq. ft.), it’s easy to jump for joy at the idea of your shower tile (all 75 sq. ft. of it) only costing $156. (Of course that doesn’t include the costs for cement board, mortar, and grout, but it’s still less than $300, which is about the average price that I found for a good-quality plastic surround insert), and in the long run, will be a better investment.

Shower tile option. Subway tiles, amazing at 26-cents each!

Alternatively, I also picked out a pretty glazed porcelain tile that’s a special order item at Lowe’s. Big misconception debunked in the process: I hadn’t ever looked at the special order tile, always assuming incorrectly that the “special orders” would be out of my price range. On the contrary, I found at over a dozen affordable, beautiful tile options that could be available at my beck and call. Big win, here. The tile I’m swooning over in this next photo is actually a 20″x20″ wall tile, but according to the pros at my local store, it’s totally fine to use it on the bathroom shower walls if a sealant is used to coat the tile and grout. Priced at $2.48/sq. ft, it’s oh-so-affordable and different than what I’m used to seeing, but is it too big for a small bathroom? I’m wavering.

Possible shower tile? A glazed porcelain option.

There’s a third option on the table too, a gray textured AVILA tile (another special order at Lowe’s). I haven’t considered it much more than really enjoying the detail of the tile in the store, but available in 12″x24″ pieces at $4.98/sq.ft., it’s still a viable option, albeit a little above my budget. Maybe in conjunction with subway tiles I could make it work. Pete’s on the fence.

Possible shower tile? Pretty with a texture.

2. The bathtub:

It’s not actually in my possession yet, but for both cost efficiencies and accessibility, I’m picking an off-the-highest-shelf model from one of the local big box stores. Priced between $200-300, I’m planning to select one that’s at least 16″ deep, which seems just deep enough for a nice bath, but not too hard to step into. White. Preferably cast iron or porcelain on steel, not plastic this time around.

Before I purchase and lug one home in the Jeep, I need make sure I understand the correct dimensions to get a tub that fits the space, and to make sure I’m measuring correctly, I’d rather wait until the space is gutted before I go buy it up (measure twice, carry a bathtub upstairs once).


3. The floors:

I really can’t stand the vinyl in the bathroom. With that said, would you believe it if I told you that I’m replacing it… with more vinyl? Yeah.

Bathroom vinyl tile.

The floor tile, special ordered from Home Depot, arrived earlier this week. The 12″x24″ vinyl tiles are a higher quality than what’s still in the bathroom today, and best of all, they’re groutable thanks to slightly beveled edges. Based on the store displays I’ve seen, I can tell you that they really do trick the eye into thinking that what’s laid is ceramic grouted tile, and I’m really excited to add this to my own home. The style, Cement, is warm and neutral, and at a cost of $1.69/sq. ft., it definitely didn’t break the bank to buy 3 boxes, or 90 sq. ft of tile (I rounded up to have a little extra on hand as cushion). In fact, with a 10% competitors discount I had on hand, the total order (with taxes) only amounted to $147.81.

Bonus factor, some light shades of brown in the tile nicely pull in the color of the hardwoods that flow throughout the rest of the second floor. It’s a little bit over-exposed in that first picture, just like my very pasty December skin, but darker and richer like this in real life:

Bathroom vinyl tile.
In the next few weeks, I’ll have to be focused on repairing the currently bowed floor and installing a new subfloor, but I’m really excited to see how groutable tile performs.

4. The vanity:

If you followed my blog as far back as last April, you’ll actually remember that I bought a sink and vanity at IKEA on a whim. Priced to move, the frame and porcelain sink top were so affordable, that I also splurged on a three-drawer cabinet to sit beside it. The display model looked like this (although it was doubled up with a second sink here):

I like me some Ikea bathroom vanities.

It still lives in boxes unassembled in my attic, but I’m looking forward to bringing it down one of these days and piecing it together. To accessorize it, I also bought a faucet at the same time.

Ikea faucet!

The total cost of the vanity, the sink, and the drawer unit was $366. Of course, it’ll all be among the last pieces to be installed, but I’m looking forward to the day.

Of course, there are lots of other costs I’ll be incurring too.

I’m leaving quite the cushion in my budget to account for necessities including (but not limited to, and in no particular order):

  • Hardiboard for the shower surround
  • Screws
  • Mortar
  • Grout
  • Primer for the floor tile application
  • Tub faucet, spout, and drain
  • Baseboard and window trim
  • Wall insulation (dealing with a few exterior-facing and attic-facing walls) and vapor barrier

Be sure to check back, because I’ll be sharing updates on my progress regularly.

Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Winters is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at DIYNetwork.com. You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at facebook.com/merrypad.

60 Responses

  1. [...] An overview of the materials I’ve been purchasing! Because what DIY-crazed girl wouldn’t love tile shopping? [...]

  2. [...] An overview of the materials I’ve been purchasing! Because what DIY-crazed girl wouldn’t love tile shopping? [...]

  3. [...] An overview of the materials I’ve been purchasing! Because what DIY-crazed girl wouldn’t love tile shopping? [...]

  4. [...] An overview of the materials I’ve been purchasing! Because what DIY-crazed girl wouldn’t love tile shopping? [...]

  5. [...] An overview of the materials I’ve been purchasing! Because what DIY-crazed girl wouldn’t love tile shopping? [...]

  6. [...] An overview of the materials I’ve been purchasing! Because what DIY-crazed girl wouldn’t love tile shopping? [...]

  7. [...] An overview of the materials I’ve been purchasing! Because what DIY-crazed girl wouldn’t love tile shopping? [...]

  8. [...] things I was most excited about doing (like the shopping, and the shower tiling) were behind me, and I knew that I had a bit more tedious work to perform [...]

  9. [...] An overview of the materials I’ve been purchasing! Because what DIY-crazed girl wouldn’t love tile shopping? [...]

  10. [...] for Satin Nickel, the curves and lines went well with the Ikea GRUNTAAL faucet for the vanity that I already bought (I even brought the real GRUNDTAL faucet with me on my shopping excursion to make sure it would [...]

  11. [...] An overview of the materials I’ve been purchasing! Because what DIY-crazed girl wouldn’t love tile shopping? [...]

  12. Howard says:

    Hi, I am remodeling the main bath that serves two bedrooms and guests. It has a jacuzzi type tub that I bought years ago at a very good sale. Replaced a perfectly good cast iron tub (wow what a job getting that sucker out) with this fiberglass tub. It has shower head on a new faucet. I opted for reasonably good wall tile and granite flooring. Putting in lots more tile than was originally there as well as a new vanity with glass vessel. Been buying stuff and storing it. Problem was – getting the project going. Now it is though and I can't wait until it is done. I have had a two year delay in getting this bath done because I lost my wife of 44-1/2 years just before finishing it and just haven't been able to get going again.

    I also have plans for the master bath in the future – I was going to do a tub and walk in tiled floor shower – incorporating the two closets that you walk between to get to the now tiny room with a toilet and a step in shower (pan with wall tile). So, the new bath will be much larger, but a really tight squeeze for a tub, walk in, two vanity sinks, cabinets, etc. I'm thinking now that since I have a full bath on the main floor and another full bath/laundry room on the first floor, I may just leave out the tub in the master bath and have lots of room there. My late wife loved a tub and that is why it was in the plans – but my new wife (of 8 months) doesn't use a tub at all so a large walk in shower with multiple heads seems to fit our life style much better. It will also simplify relocating the toilet and having to figure out what to do with the floor heat register that is in the new walk in shower footprint.

  13. Amy says:

    Hi, love your blog! I'm a neighbor just from the west of you. Nope, not the 'Wild West,' although, it's Buffalo, and we do have some Wild Wings, but I digress… My curiosity has just gotten the best of me, since we are living logistically pretty close on the map, and I'd just like to really know which IKEA you snagged the vanity from?! Did you venture across the border into Canada or just head down to Pittsburgh? I'm trying to plan a trip and wonder which IKEA store you'd really recommend for WNYers. It'll be my first mecca, and I'm excited to snag a great deal or two or ten – or however many will fit in the back of my Jeep. :-)

    • emilywinters says:

      Hi Amy in Buffalo (I was raised around there so I know the area quite well). The vanity was a lucky find when I was in D.C. last spring (I believe it was the College Park, MD location), but I usually go to the Burlington, ON or Toronto locations (Toronto is newer and bigger). We have so much trouble getting large purchases back over the border when we go to the Burlington though (because of the dollar limits), that if we know we're going to make pricier purchases we hold out until we're en-route somewhere else. College Park happens to be near where some friends live, so it can be convenient, but I know that a lot of other people head down to Pittsburgh to shop. Haven't been there myself, but if you're going to spend more than $150, it's probably worth the extra drive!

  14. Myra says:

    Emily, Thanks so much for all your hard work and fantastic ideas! I just have a question, my friends and I all have different opions about….. I am redoing my only bathroom, and live on a very fixed income, so what is your opionion of buying items as you see them, (esp on sale) even if you won't be using them for a while. I know that it is a gamble in case you find something better laterbut that is just one of the trade off. I know you did that with the vanity that you bought @ IKEA. I figure that if I love it now I will love it in 6mos!!!!
    Thanks again & I'm looking forward to seeing your work.
    Happy New Year,

    • emilywinters says:

      Hi Myra! I'm 100% for buying materials when you find a bargain. Not only can you buy what you like at a great price, but you'll also be less likely to buy something just because you need it RIGHT THEN. If I hadn't bought the vanity when I found it, for instance, I might be spending the same amount of money (or more) on a vanity that I like less just to satisfy the immediate need. I guess how much you buy in advance of doing the project depends on how much storage space you have, but it's what I do all the time. Seize the opportunity!

  15. lindathyme says:

    Doing a complete bathroom remodel on my parent's 1960 ranch-it's in a 'time warp'…..everything original. First the toilet-and I know the subfloor will be bad from the tank sweat dripping all those years. Then the less-than-functional tub/shower. I think I will leave the creamy yellow tile that's in perfect condition (I like it and I'll save lots of $$) and will just put in a new bathtub and plumbing for the shower. Any damaged tiles can be replaced with a border of the white subway type I think. The sink vanity was built by my dad-it's in pretty good shape so I'll just paint it and replace knobs. At least it's real wood! I love the recycled glass counters-since it's small that might be my 'splurge' ! New sink and faucets, and looking at a Marmoleum floor (trying to be as 'green' as possible). I'm tackling as much as possible myself, keeping a reserve of names to call for the 'best left to the professionals' stuff. I'm excited to be able to watch as you start your project so I can follow along! Love your ideas!

  16. Sandy says:

    I installed 18 x 18 RomaStone luxury vinyl tile sold at Lowes. It is a groutable vinyl tile. I put it in my bathroom first, and loved it so much that I put it in my laundry room and kitchen. I also helped my son put it down in his dining room and kitchen. It's his first house and it's fixer upper to say the least. We covered up the ugliest gold and brown floor you've ever seen. Talk about a facelift. I am sold on groutable vinyl tile.

    • emilywinters says:

      Sandy – I'm so happy that you had a good experience with the groutable tile! Love to hear it. Mine has yet to go down (2 weeks into demo/rebuilding) but I really can't wait to see how it looks myself.

  17. [...] the Christmas tree). I had already started shopping for bathroom accessories (like I mentioned last week, the new Ikea vanity and the concrete floor tiles were in my possession), but before I went crazy [...]

  18. Colleen says:

    Looking forward to watching it all come together!

  19. Way to go, Emily! I love that Ikea sink and vanity. So modern! :)

  20. PEX tubing says:

    color is amazing!

  21. [...] via: Emily Winters: Bathroom Shopping Bonanza Category: Home Tags: Bathroom, Bonanza, Emily, Shopping, [...]

  22. Melody says:

    I"ve been looking at similar tile for the kitchen. I'll be glad to hear how the installation goes and the finished product looks.

  23. scott says:

    I am always contemplating not doing a bathtub when i remodel. I always liked walking into a big shower. i am actually thinking of robbing some space from the bedroom next to the bathroom's plumbing to make the walk-in-tiled- shower room bigger and also am thinking of running 2 shower heads for when my wife and i want to conserver water. BUt not putting in a bathtub may be a selling issue if we were to put the house on the market. our downstairs bathroom does and will always have a bathtub. Not sure if having a killer shower facility without a bathtub would hurt resale or not. not that we are planning to put the place on the market anytime soon. ???? good luck with your project and i can't wait to see the progress…..

    • emilywinters says:

      I'm a huge fan of walk-in-showers also. With multiple showerheads. When my folks renovated 2 full bathrooms in their home, they did stand-alone showers in both, but put a separate whirlpool in one beside the shower. It's not a huge bathroom, but fits very well and I can't help but think that in a world that's becoming more and more focused on aging in place, that walk-in showers are more favored. It's when families have kids that I think that tubs are still the necessity. If mine wasn't the only bathroom, I'd vote for a shower (no tub) for sure.

  24. Michelle says:

    Yay! This is exciting! I was looking at the same flooring for my bathroom reno! Let me know how the install goes.

    Michelle from http://www.the236.net

    • emilywinters says:

      You'll be sure to see it here – I've never installed groutable vinyl, although I've played with not-groutable and ceramic tiles. I'm excited to see how it goes.


About Emily Fazio 


I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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