Planning a bathroom? Here's where to spend and where to save

Moving or improving? Either way, if your bathroom is ripe for a makeover, we’ve got some tips to help you allocate your budget

You’ve had enough. You can’t use that cracked basin or sit on that wobbly loo any more – it’s time for a whole new bathroom. But is it really worth forking out thousands on a shower screen? And will you regret cutting costs with that cheap-as-chips vanity unit? Well, wonder no more, as we reveal exactly what you should be investing in, and where you can save your pennies.

Related: The one quick bathroom fix that will instantly add value to your home

Where to spend – Taps

bathroom with tiled wall and ceramic disc bathroom tap

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Why spend on taps? Bathroom taps need to be robust and durable. Features to look for include ceramic discs, which don’t wear out like rubber washers do, so you won’t find yourself having to screw the tap ever-tighter to turn it off, and anti-limescale technology, which prolongs a tap’s lifespan. New taps might also save water using a spray, which consists of lots of tiny individual outlets that produce gentle drops.’

Where to spend – Composite baths

white bathroom with cast- stone bathtub and wooden flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Parmiter)

Why spend on a composite bath? For those who love long soaks, it’s worth investing in a cast- stone bath. Cast stone is great at retaining water temperature, so you’ll save the cost of heating any extra you have to add to your old tub. The mineral-packed surface will resist wear and tear in the long term, too, as scratches can be easily polished out.

Where to spend – Shower enclosures

bathroom with blue walled tiles, white flooring and glass partition

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Why spend on a shower enclosure? A more expensive enclosure will have precoated glass protection for easier cleaning. Also, its thicker glass is less likely to crack – go for 8-10mm on flat panels and 6-8mm on curved glass.

Related: Bath shower screens – our pick of the best

Where to spend – Furniture

white bathroom with table top basin and wide mirrors

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Parmiter)

Why spend on furniture? We all need more space to stash our two-for-one shampoo offers these days, but it’s important that storage is well made. Go for wood veneer where possible, or a hard-wearing lacquered finish – neither will date or look cheap.

Where to save – Lighting

bathroom with wooden finish which contains squared mirrors and white wash basins

(Image credit: Future PLC/William Goddard)

Why save on lighting? Lighting is often overlooked in bathrooms, but your budget doesn’t need to stretch to a professionally designed lighting scheme. Just fit a dimmer switch, so you can transform the mood at a twist of a button, and buy a mirror with lights built into the sides. Lighting around a mirror should come from the sides, as well as from above, to avoid shadows on your face when applying make-up or shaving.

Where to save – Tiles

white ceramic mosaic tiling with white flower vase

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Why save on tiles? New printing processes can create highly realistic interpretations of natural stone, marble and wood on ceramic tiles, so you can save hundreds on the cost of tiling of your bathroom without sacrificing the overall look. Using mosaic tiling is also a great option: it’s on trend, but also cost effective, as you don’t need to use much of it. Cut sheets in half or use fine strips between larger plain tiles to create vertical features behind a basin or horizontally around a bath.

Where to save – Bathroom suite

White bathroom with wooden flooring, grey walled tiles and white window

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jamie Mason)

More bathroom advice: 6 simple ways to make your bathroom beautiful

Why save on a bathroom suite? If you are on a limited budget, buy an entry-level bathroom suite and allocate the majority of your funds towards premium fittings, such as the shower and taps. Keep the design as pared back as possible so there’s less danger it will date – you can always make a fashion statement with tiles, towels or a striking basin mixer tap.

Amy Cutmore
Amy Cutmore

Amy Cutmore is Editor-in-Chief, Homes Audience, working across the Future Homes portfolio. She works on titles including Ideal Home, Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc, Top Ten Reviews and Country Life. And she's a winner of the PPA's Digital Content Leader of the Year. A homes journalist for two decades, she has a strong background in technology and appliances, and has a small portfolio of rental properties, so can offer advice to renters and rentees, alike.