Budget Bathroom Makeover With A Wow Factor

5 Materials
4 Hours

I’m really excited about this particular project, because I think it’s something that alot of people can do from a skills perspective, doesn’t require many tools and it’s quite affordable. Our master bathroom was dated and boring, built 16+ years ago, it was badly in need of some modern charm and character.

Here's the before pic

You can see here the original garden tub, which works fine but is pretty plain and dated. I considered replacing it, then building and tiling the enclosure but when we added up the expense, even to do it ourselves was around $1,500. So we decided to keep the old tub and try to improve the overall look. I had come across vinyl tiles at Lowe’s and had purchased a couple to experiment with and then started doing some research on application. Turns out, you can grout between these tiles for a realistic tile-like look. I could have used regular tiles but the wall plate above the tub would have gotten pretty thick and actual(porcelain or ceramic) tiles would have been too thick on the side of the tub and stuck out from the very top.

Design and choose best starting point

Take a few minutes to plan out your design and where you will want to start. There’s a removable plate on the left side that I had to remove and tile separatley but wanted to match up when re-atthached. Which is why I started on the opposite end (right side). I also wanted the most visible corner to have the fewest cuts. These tiles are cut using a straight edge and razor blade.

Attach tiles to surface area using cualk

These tiles come with adhesive on the back side, but that adhesive is only good if you are doing a floor and have the help of gravity. I chose to caulk the back of each but you could use any waterproof adhesive. Remember to leave enough space between each tile for the grout.

Add edging tiles around top

I shopped around for a curved tile (porcelain) edge that would hide the ugly white wall plate edge. Installing with regular tile adhesive and then used the same grout as the vinyl tile.

Apply grout

I purchased the premixed grout that was recommended for the tiles. It was the same method as grouting regular tiles, cover all the spaces and then wipe off the excess with a large wet sponge.

Then I grouted the edging tiles. Remember to add some painters tape to protect the wall where you will be grouting to avoid having to touch up paint. If you need specific grouting instruction, see my  tutorial, it’s the same basic process…use spacers, apply grout, then wipe off excess grout with a wet spounge.

Wait 24 hours for the grout to dry and then caulk the edges. I like to take a little extra time and tape both edges for the caulking.

In addition to the tile work along the tub, I painted the end walls and cabinets a deep navy to really highlight my garden wall that goes with my garden tub.

All done – This is my new happy place! Keep an eye out for my next two blogs, which will be the bathroom vanity wall and then shower update.

Check out phase 2 ....Vanity upgrade


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Flawless Chaos

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

3 of 5 questions
  • YavieK
    on Mar 25, 2020

    Can the vinyl tile be installed over porcelain tile? Also how did you finish the right edge that butts up to the shower? If you have a video you can share that would be great. Thanks in advance! Love this project.

  • Denise
    on Mar 26, 2020

    How long will it last. Over time will it loosen, especially if it gets wet

    • Flawless Chaos
      on Mar 26, 2020

      Hi Denise, longevity is certainly one of the aspects you will want to consider before doing this yourself. My tub is old but still works and I wasn't ready to spend the money to do a full remodel/replacement. My tiles and grout are very solid now and I made sure to caulk all edges so water can not get under, but that being said...these most likely will not last as long as actual tiles. For me this project was something to do to my bathroom to make it to the big remodel...which I would see happening in another 5 to 10 years. Styles change every 10 years, so it's good to consider how much you are spending on "trendy" looks.

  • Kay
    on Jun 25, 2020

    Looks like marble style backsplash on the walls arond the tub.. I inherited the same with the rest of the tiny room tiled but what type of paint did you use? I Iove your project and desperately need to cover the mismatched dated walls!

Join the conversation

2 of 49 comments
  • Gigi
    on Mar 26, 2020

    This is excellent! One of the cleverest things I’ve seen!

  • Beth
    on Mar 29, 2020

    I love it!

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