update bathrooms to increase rent

17 Replies

I just purchased a duplex  with a vacant apartment that can get $950/month (current rent for the other side) but the bathrooms look kinda outdated and pink. The kitchen isn't so bad but I'm wondering what kind of increase in rent do you think I can get if I updated this one and a half bathrooms with a simple white subway tile to replace the pink and new vanities with storage? Is it worth it to spend time retiling this bathroom my self or is it fine and won't command much more in rent? I'm trying to put my personal preferences aside.

Full bathroom

Half bathroom

Check properties in your area and see if higher can even be had. If no one else is getting higher rent in your neighborhood then you would be over improving for the area. 

You might be able to change the color by reglazing with out ripping out and replacing.

@Tim Lemons Yeah it’s bad but it’s in good shape ! I would do research on painting or covering that before I’d tear it out . It depends on the neighborhood . I would be reluctant to rip that out unless it was in a high class B plus area . Proper paint and paint techniques can do wonders for cheap

@Tim Lemons

This is one of the frequent times when I have to agree with @Dennis M. but I have different reasons this time.

You're pretty much screwed on space in both bathrooms. No matter how much you try to improve the spaces, they're both just cramped and the only way to get around the main problem is ripping out walls and flooring and doing some rerouting of main DWW plumbing. I'd bet a lot of money the stack in the main bathroom is situated either in the middle or at the end of that privacy wall.

With those problems in mind, the rest of it is going to be trying to put lipstick on a pig. Look away from the pink and take in the space issues.

Jim how could a guy best cover that tile ? Could you get special primer and paint it ? What could be a cheap lipstick remodel on a ugly tiled bathroom like this ?

We had one where the bathroom was circa 1960's in fact the (felt like 500lb) cast iron tub had the made in 1961 stamp on it. It was a bedroom & a small den. Took it back to the studs.

We got $525/month b4 the rehab. We redid the kitchen again back to the studs. Then using Lowes SOR & various damaged cabinets ($981). Formica counter top, new scratch & dent appliances & immediately got $825/mo. Excellent school district was also a bonus.

@Dennis M. thanks. Redirecting the hot water heating lines for that old register under the counter was a logistical nightmare but thanks to Pex it was a twist & fit. We also added a complete fire sprinkler system in this multi to get it up to code to qualify it for 6 units vs the old 3 unit it was originally zoned for. 

Originally posted by @Dennis M. :

Jim how could a guy best cover that tile ? Could you get special primer and paint it ? What could be a cheap lipstick remodel on a ugly tiled bathroom like this ?

Sadly, Dennis, I don't have a good answer to that. I have yet to find long-lasting tile paint that looked acceptable over the long haul and didn't need to be professionally applied.

Plus that, the OP's got that pink bathtub to deal with. Tub refinishing is always a challenge.

I assume the place is a small house, given the size of those space-challenged baths.

As a rental, I'd leave it all as is. But if the OP is planning to sell it soon and has the skills, that main bathroom should go down to the studs and a 4-foot tub should go into the back wall with a tiled alcove and one of my beloved Amazon $200 shower towers with 8 water jets. Toilet should move to the shower outlet position, sink should shrink down to a 16-inch vanity, or even better, a wall-mounted faucet and a vessel sink on a pretty little custom vanity.

The key here is to convince the buyer that "it's small but it's NICE."

The downstairs powder room should also go down to the studs. Turn the toilet into something fancy like a modish 1-piece. Again, shrink down the sink to a vessel sink + wall-mounted faucet, but pick a very different style from the upstairs. White or at least very light-colored tile to create the illusion of space. And dimmable 5000K LED daylight lighting. Get it as white and bright in there as you can, mostly for the publicity shots with the wide-angle lens.

If the OP doesn't have the skills, I doubt he could get the jobs done for outlays small enough to make the numbers work. Another house a fixer could make some bucks in where no one else can.

@Pat L.

Regarding the 500 lb cast-iron tub...I have felt your pain. Gee. why don't the gurus ever talk about cast-iron tubs in the get-rich-quick seminars? 

You know how everyone on those cute little shows always want everything "updated"?  Putrid pink aside, would a better color help you attract a higher quality tenant as just opposed to a rent increase?  

I just have this mental picture of young renters, and being pregnant and nauseous in that bathroom...

@Wesley W. the guys I had tearing it out got to keep it as part of the payment.

They totally gutted the bathroom (mold & all) & the kitchen $200 & took all the debris away.

Then they installed all the new insulation & drywall throughout kitchen, bathroom outside foyer & hallway down stairs $250.

I paid for materials & did the mudding, finishing & painting but they worked like dogs.

I would look into getting the tile and tub re-glazed and paint the walls, few accents and call it a day....

Don't even try and "paint" the tile...it wont last....

Doubt you can increase the rent enough to justify a full bathroom remodel

@Dennis M. I have painted ugly outdated ceramic tile in a couple bathrooms in my own home. You can use a special primer, the last one I used was shellac based. Worked really well and dried fast too. I think it was zinsser, from Home Depot. Then you can paint any color you want. I chose white semi gloss. It’s held up for years just as well as any paint. I even painted the ceramic tile inside the shower. But I used an epoxy in there. By the way they do sell epoxy for tub and tile, but I was brave or crazy and used appliance epoxy spray paint! Guess what it worked and that was four years ago. 

Originally posted by @Laura Srocki :

@Dennis M. I have painted ugly outdated ceramic tile in a couple bathrooms in my own home. You can use a special primer, the last one I used was shellac based. Worked really well and dried fast too. I think it was zinsser, from Home Depot. Then you can paint any color you want. I chose white semi gloss. It’s held up for years just as well as any paint. I even painted the ceramic tile inside the shower. But I used an epoxy in there. By the way they do sell epoxy for tub and tile, but I was brave or crazy and used appliance epoxy spray paint! Guess what it worked and that was four years ago. 

Thank you so much for that Laura  

Your welcome! I’m only about to start the investing in rentals journey, but I’ve spent my whole life with champagne taste and a beer pocket book. So I’ve figured out how to get the look I want as cheaply as possible. Also I’m an artist and I have also figured out how to paint almost anything. I also used that primer on my kitchen counter, then a faux granite with latex and a coating of epoxy clear finish. Turned out great. No one knows unless I tell them. I always tell them though.