Opinions wanted - remodel bathroom before renting?

13 Replies

Hello BP!

I am seeking opinions from  experienced landlords. We will be renting out our current primary residence mid 2021 and I’m on the fence on upgrading the master bath. 
I don’t like our master bath tile and our shower area is showing signs of wear, but I’m not 100% sure if it would be wise to do so or if it’s better to wait a few years. If we do, I was thinking I’d update tile with white subway tile and neutral inexpensive floor and mud pan tile, and a new glass shower enclosure.

We are in Clarksburg, MD (DC metro suburb) and I want to hear from you if you think it would hurt our rent if we wait. Please see pics.

Thank you!

@Michelle Sullivan

Depends on how long you are willing to wait to recoup costs, I don't think it would give that much more monthly rent, it may make it easier to rent out quicker though. Are you going to use a property manager? They can be a good source to ask whether or not you should make a change to something since they do a lot of showings to renters.

I'd take actions to "stabilize" the existing bath so that it's completely functional, isn't going to allow water seepage anywhere and remember that you're not the one that's going to be living there. Everyone has their own tastes in finishes and colors and no matter what you do, some will love it and some not. Don't spend unnecessary funds. Put that money into a reserve account to replace the furnace that's going to break in 7 months.

I would get rid of the jetted tub so you don't end up having to do repairs to it when the tenants use product that clogs up the jets, or at the very least make sure they know that you do not warranty the jets and they'll be responsible for repairs.

If I were re-doing that bathroom for a rental, I'd removed the jetted tub, remove the tile from the bathtub deck and surround, go to a stone yard and get granite scraps cut for the deck and put vinyl bead board up on the face of the surround then drop in a garden tub of approximately the same size. Then I'd use duma wall directly over the existing wall tile in the shower and tub and lay an lvp (wood look) floor right over the existing tile. If I wanted to go all out, I'd probably buy a marble look laminate top for the vanity with no backsplash (from ikea) and get a couple of the square porcelain drop in sinks from MR direct and then put up a tiny tile backsplash under the mirror and replace the cabinet knobs with chrome to match the other hardware. To diy those changes would cost about $700 plus the cost of the drop in soaking tub ($500 ish) and it would look like a whole new bathroom. I would stick with an acrylic pan for the shower and  only replace it if it is cracked.

@Michelle Sullivan I don't get it. You want to upgrade the bathroom for a renter, that you didn't upgrade for you to enjoy?

Make upgrades based on what you would want if you lived there only if those upgrades pay for itself. And how do you know? Look at what rents are requested for properties around you of similar kind, i.e. Craigslist. If you do anything, first you need to make upgrades that don't have built in maintenance (like someone stated, non-jetted tub). Then go for improved utility, then for cosmetics. Or, maybe improve at lease renewal? Otherwise save money for repairs that will come sooner or later. To me, it is a break even analysis on the upgrade. If you can increase rent to cover the upgrade and then cash flow some more, then go for it.

Originally posted by @Michelle Sullivan :

@John Teachout

The only eyesore for me is that tile and aging shower.

Thank you for your help.

As I always tell my wife..' It's only a rental & we can't see it from our home'...if it's not broke let it go you can always do a major $$$ rehab later if & when you decide to sell it. But do any necessary PM on the shower.

We had a SFR that had the ugliest bathroom alcove for years, it was black & red tile including the ceiling BUT no-one complained & we always got above MKT rents.

When we finally changed it out using Bath-fitter (we only had 3 days downtime to do it), the new tenant (a veterinarian), was disappointed that we changed out the red & Black tile ???  But bath-fitter had to completely replace the leaking tub drain & corroded shower diverter, & that was a lot of work.


If you want $50 more in rent. Maybe !!

I would not, I would make sure the tenant understands about water damage

with a jetted tub.  I once over filled my  jetted tub and it caused damage .  Sheet

rock repair and painting.

I called myself Ha Ha  and fixed it ( about 30 hours ).

From a owners point of view, your rent won't even change or maybe $25 .

I would wait 3-10 years so that you can do more of a full update .

Then you have more options to get other items done,  Let your tenant pay

your mortgage and then do it with a more update with everything.

@Steve Milford we wanted to upgrade but were forced to change the whole HVAC system due to it having a leak and the refrigerant it had being banned by EPA.

@Jill F. thanks for noting the jetted tub issue. I’m very careful about using the jets...take pre showers and don’t out any products...so I expected a tenant would do the same. Didn’t even think of that not happening. I wonder if I can put a clause in the lease contract to hold the tenant liable for misuse. 

@David Avery you called yourself...that’s funny!

@Pat L. that’s why I was careful about my opinion of the tile. I personally think it’s hideous, but maybe someone in here likes it and I didn’t want to offend. Hahaha 

From what you all say, best case scenario, it would take me 2 years to recoup a $5k upgrade. I will save the money and invest where it works. 

Thank you all for your input, all great suggestions!

Hi Michelle, let your business mind take over, I think because you lived in this house you got emotions attached to it and that is where you are operating from. If you have minor issues like grout cracking or water stained glass those issues are cheap and easy, a full bath remodel on the other hand will run you into the thousands. I say clean it, shine it as though you are gonna serve food in it and you will be guchi. Good luck to you.