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Fast and cost effective ways to update your bathroom

It’s possible to modernise your bathroom without ripping it out and starting again. Matt Jackman from Which? Local-recommended Classic and Contemporary Bathrooms in High Wycombe shares his advice on simple, cost effective bathroom improvements.

Bathroom plans with pencil

Fast and cost effective bathroom updates

Bathroom suite

Updating the suite to a contemporary colour or style is an easy way to improve a bathroom. 

The bath and basin can usually be replaced by a bathroom fitter without problems, although you should expect damage to a few tiles in the process. These can always be replaced with spares.

Deteriorating or old-fashioned bath panels can be removed and replaced and cast iron baths can be re-enamelled by specialist restoration professionals.

Replacing a toilet can be trickier as modern 'back to wall' toilets require different plumbing to older models. A straight like-for-like swap is usually possible, though.

In some instances, a plumber may need to make changes to the plumbing in order to fit a new suite, which can add to the cost. 

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Bathroom shower

'Exposed' showers are ideal if you want to add a shower to a bathroom which doesn’t currently have one. These are fitted directly onto the wall rather than being concealed behind it, so disruption to the bathroom is minimal.

Old showers can often be given a new lease of life with a replacement cartridge.

The riser rail can also be replaced, assuming the holes are in the same place and are concealed by the fascia plate. Some manufacturers can supply replacement fascia plates if this is worn or scratched.

You could also consider swapping the shower head for a modern, eco model which can reduce water consumption.

Bathroom flooring

Vinyl flooring, which today comes in realistic wooden and tiled effects, can be a smart and cost effective alternative to a tiled floor. It's easy to clean and can feel warmer underfoot than tiles.

Because the vinyl is only a few millimetres thick, it can be fitted independently of a complete bathroom re-fit and can sometimes even be installed on top of existing tiles.

Vinyl tiles are usually supplied in boxes. You can buy them yourself to save money, though a professional will need to fit them in your bathroom.

Bathroom tiling

Replacing bathroom tiling is not a simple job, as the wall often comes away with the tiles.

Depending on how well they're fixed, it's sometimes possible to put new tiles on top of existing ones. 

To restore dirty grouting to a bright white, try a specialist cleaning product. You could also re-seal the bath and basin, though this can be a messy job and is perhaps better tackled by a handyman or bathroom fitter.

Bathroom lighting

Improved lighting or an illuminated mirror can brighten up a bathroom at low cost.

A qualified electrician will be able to install LED downlighters, which are cheap to run, in more or less any bathroom.

Bathroom storage and accessories

Freestanding accessories, such as towel rails and trolleys, are a no-fuss way to improve storage. Wall-mounted cabinets are usually easy to add too, provided you have space.

Small accessories, such as shower baskets and toilet roll holders, can sometimes be attached using adhesive pads or suction fittings.

Addition of a heated towel rail usually involves substantial work. But replacing an existing one without major disruption is sometimes possible if the pipes are in the right place. 

Extractor fans can usually be retrofitted in a bathroom. They remove damp air and are a worthwhile investment since they help prevent mould and improve the longevity of grouting.

About our expert trader

Matt Jackman from Classic and Contemporary Bathrooms in Hugh Wycombe

Our expert: Matt Jackman

Matt Jackman is the director of family business Classic and Contemporary Bathrooms Ltd in High Wycombe.

Matt worked as a bathroom fitter for eight years and now works in the company's showroom, assisting customers with designing and specifying their bathroom.

Which? members have praised Classic and Contemporary Bathrooms Ltd for their 'invaluable advice' and outstanding attention to detail.

Read reviews for Classic and Contemporary Bathrooms Ltd