A Worthwhile Investment

 A Worthwhile Investment

Remodeling a bathroom can add value and beauty to a home

Eric Spangler

Remodeling a bathroom is one of the best investments a homeowner can make. The return on investment for a bathroom-remodeling project is typically between 70% and 75%, says Cathy Johnson, who co-owns Kitchens by Design in Kettering with her husband, Miles Johnson.

The key to getting the highest rate of return on that newly remodeled bathroom, however, is making sure the materials, fixtures and colors will appeal to the largest number of home buyers when it comes time to sell, she says.

Someone could have a very high-end and a very expensive bathroom remodel completed that’s very specific to the homeowners own tastes and they will have a hard time selling the home because the bathroom doesn’t appeal to a broad range of buyers, says Johnson.

“We always used to say to ‘stay neutral’ and now we’re just saying ‘stay relevant’ to hit the most audience that you can,” she says. Staying relevant could mean making sure the house has at least one bathtub, says Johnson.

Having at least one bathtub in the home is important to reach the maximum number of homebuyers because families with children like to have a bathtub, she says. By only having a shower or showers in the home would possibly eliminate those families with children from being interested in buying the home.

“I think families who have children look to having a tub for them and some women very much look forward … to having a good soak in the tub,” says Johnson.

Many people who already have a bathtub in one of their other bathrooms are looking to install a glass-enclosed shower only in the master bathroom, she says. “They are more than happy to lose the tub in the master bath,” says Johnson. “We are definitely seeing more showers then we are tubs.”

The trend to install massage tubs with water jets in the master bathroom is giving way to the fully glass-enclosed showers, she says. “The more glass you have seems to be the better,” says Johnson. “We don’t do very much of the bypass (sliding) doors anymore. It’s more of the swing doors,” she says. “They’re more custom designed.”

Another popular trend is the no-barrier shower, which means people don’t have to step up to get in the shower, says Johnson. Not only is that a popular options for many families, but it’s also important factor for elderly homeowners who want to stay in their home as long as possible, she says.

For shower fixtures Johnson says traditional showerheads are still very popular—and to some extent, the rain showerheads—along with detachable, handheld showerheads. “Handheld showerheads are huge,” she says. “You take it down, you can spray yourself … you can reach body parts, so it’s a good thing.”

Another way to stay relevant when remodeling a bathroom is to install an adult-size toilet, she says. Standard toilet bowls have rims that are about 14 or 15 inches above the floor, while most adult-size or “comfort-height” toilets are 17 to 19 inches high which makes it easier to sit down and stand up from the toilet, Johnson says.

The taller toilets are popular with all generations, she says, not just the elderly. The company has an example of both sizes sitting side by side in its showroom and nine times out of 10 people choose the taller toilet to install, says Johnson. “It’s just easier to lift off, so they are very popular.”

Another way to stay relevant and reach the maximum number of homebuyers at the same time is to use luxury vinyl tile as flooring, she says. “It’s not like your old rolled-out vinyl or your linoleum,” says Johnson. The luxury vinyl tile comes in planks or squares so they look like tiles and they are pretty much water resistant, if not waterproof, she says.

For a while heated tiles and floors were all the rage in bathroom remodeling projects, but the luxury vinyl tile flooring has become more popular, Johnson says. “This still gives you the warmth without having all of the mechanical things that can happen with heated floors,” she says.

Their price points—which range from good, better and best—and the fact they look like expensive, high-end materials can explain the popularity of luxury vinyl tiles, says Johnson.

“It’s one of those things where you do get what you pay for,” she says. If a homeowner chooses a luxury vinyl tile in the better or best category the product will hold up well for a long time, Johnson says.

The neutral colors that have been a part of the bathroom scene for a while now—the gray and whites—are finally starting to be replaced, she says. “One of our suppliers that we’ve been with a long time just sent us and entire trifold of all these colors in green/blues and even a few reds, yellows, soft pinks for things like vanities and that type of thing,” says Johnson. “We’re seeing a lot more color being introduced because it’s been a little bit vacant the past few years.”

In addition to the colors, the lighter wood stains for cabinets and vanities have seen their popularity increase. “What we’re seeing from the industry is that some of the lighter woods are coming back,” she says.

Whatever material, fixtures or colors one chooses for a new bathroom many just want the feel of a spa, says Johnson. “Whether it’s a bold man’s type of look or something in some soft, traditional look—just something that’s very Zen and spa,” she says.

So what will a new bathroom remodel cost? Of course it depends on the materials and craftsmanship needed to install certain materials, but homeowners can plan on spending between $12,000 and $25,000 for a new bathroom, says Johnson.