How I remodeled a tile bathroom with $300 and no demolition

 

I don’t often tackle a room remodel by myself- typically my adventures are limited to small projects- but not too long ago I took a deep breath and dove into one of my biggest projects: remodeling a tiny bathroom cursed with peach tile, peach walls, and an 80’s vanity.

Lacking the tools, funds, skill, and confidence to demo down to studs and remodel “properly” I decided, on a whim and a tiny budget, to see what would happen if I simply installed beadboard over the existing tile. I found wainscotting style MDF paneling on sale that I liked, but I think this same method would work for installing shiplap over existing tile (you’d just need to add a recessed line of waterproof caulk in the gaps of the shiplap boards).

BEFORE – What I started with:

$300 bathroom remodel - before
Honey oak cabinets, peach tile and a plate glass mirror with 80’s style vanity was the shameful secret bathroom in my house!

 

$300 Bathroom Renovation - featuring Paneling over Existing Tile
peach on peach on taupe… 8 yellow-tone lightbulbs were not helping!

 

$300 Bathroom Renovation - featuring Paneling over Existing Tile
So you get the full effect of the awfulness of the tile… a shot of the room after the mirror and vanity had been removed (and newly primed cabinet turned open shelving- with door removed and hinge holes filled and primed)

 

Tile Coverup / Beadboard Install over Tile: $63.00

I researched paneling over tile before I started the project, and discovered the main problem with this approach is a concern about moisture getting between the tile and the MDF paneling. To prevent this problem, the paneling all received two coats of an oil-based waterproof primer and caulking at the tongue and groove joints- paired with calking at top, bottom, and corners, hopefully locking out moisture long term. (2017 update: so far NO issues!)

The trick:

I discovered during this project that the trick to installing paneling over tile is to bypass the use of nails/screws if at all possible. Drilling through tile is difficult, messy, and requires special tools, but Liquid Nails can securely and permanently adhere wood or paneling even to slick tile. (You’ll need a caulking gun too, but check your local Habitat for Humanity Restore first, used caulking guns there typically carry a 50¢ – $1 pricetag rather than the $10-$12 pricetag you’ll find at a big box store)

Getting the paneling to adhere to the tile proved a challenge, and I’ll confess my first attempt at this project involved heavy 4×8 sheets of plywood beadboard which proved too heavy to adhere to the wall without nails & screws. I had to scrap this material, but luckily there’s no shortage of good uses for sturdy beadboard and it ended up having a second life as a photo backdrop.

On my second attempt, I used lighter, more flexible MDF beadboard panels which, because they went up on the wall in small interlocking sections easily adhered using Liquid Nails. I think this method would work equally well for pallet wood accent walls or shiplap style panels as long as your pieces were not huge or heavy. Liquid Nails worked great, but required some patience since I was concerned the combined weight of the panels peeling off the wall if I added them all at once, so instead I’d glue up one panel, wait for the glue to set a bit, glue up the next panel, etc. The tongue-in-groove joint on this type of paneling proved useful to secure the next piece while drying.

The paneling, purchased on sale, only cost about $60 for this small bathroom, and the trim all came from the ReStore for pocket change (one big perk of working on such a small room was that it was easy to find enough trim second hand!)

$300 Bathroom Renovation - featuring Paneling over Existing Tile
The wide beadboard paneling had to be installed with liquid nails, since the tile was too hard to screw through. I was able to secure some pieces with drywall screws, when the paneling extended past the edges of the tile.

Paneling over a partial tile wall creates a small issue of the growing bulk of wall treatments creating about a 3/8″ protrusion of the lower wall out from the upper half of the wall. I solved this issue by gluing a plain piece of trim along the top edge of the beadboard.

$300 Bathroom Renovation - featuring Paneling over Existing Tile
MDF paneling installed over tile, ready to be primed and painted.

 

Mirror & Lighting Update: $55.00

Changing the mirror and 80’s style vanity light made a huge difference in the room and hardly cost more than the price of the new light fixture! I removed the giant plate glass mirror from the wall (Not a fan of waste, I took the plate glass mirror to a glass cutter and had the mirror cut to fit in an antique frame for another bathroom).

Once the mirror was removed, I discovered layers of wallpaper below the mirror and, to my horror, a giant hole in the wall where a medicine cabinet had previously been removed. Patching the hole and repairing the wall behind the large light required learning to patch drywall and “mud”, but it wasn’t too difficult and the result looks great!

 

DIY drywall repair where large medicine cabinet was removed from bathroom wall DIY drywall repair where large medicine cabinet was removed from bathroom wall DIY drywall repair where large medicine cabinet was removed from bathroom wall
I was impressed how easy it was to fix a large hole in drywall, I just screwed furring strips to the back of the drywall, cut a new piece of drywall (50¢ at the ReStore!), screwed it to the furring strips, and patched the gaps.

The new light ran about $50 and the vintage medicine cabinet I hung in place of the old mirror was a $5 garage sale find.

 

Sink & Vanity Upgrade: $151

In my first and undoubtedly most horrible experience experimenting with plumbing, I pulled the old vanity, sink, and faucet out of this bathroom and took it straight to the curb! In it’s place, I installed a space saving sink and vanity from Lowes, at $119 (I liked it SO much and thought it was such a great value that I went back and bought a second vanity for the other downstairs bathroom!) I say “installed”, but actually, I got to the 99% installed point and became hopelessly stuck, with a broken pipe, and had to go without water for nearly a full day until a plumber could arrive to rescue me! Yikes!

Since lowes no longer carries this model, I’ve removed the link to the “Style Selections Euro Vanity Espresso Belly Bowl Single Sink Bathroom Vanity” but a similar vanity can be found here.

I finished the vanity with an impressively classy basic faucet (also, no longer sold by, unfortunately), which was only $32.

$300 Bathroom Renovation - featuring Paneling over Existing Tile

 

Paint: $40

I primed with Zinzer Oil Based Primer, then used Benjamin Moore “Wind’s Breath” on the paneling,  Benjamin Moore “White Dove” for the trim, and Benjamin Moore “Camouflage” on top.

$300 Bathroom Renovation - featuring Paneling over Existing Tile
This closeup shows the tall cabinet converted into open shelving and the trim that covers the gap between the upper wall and slightly protruding lower wall.

 

Finishing Touches

I removed the door from the tall built-in cabinet, primed and painted it inside and out, to convert it from an 1980’s era honey-oak eyesore into clean and modern open shelving- used to feature a collection of vintage washroom/first aid products.

$300 Bathroom Renovation - featuring Paneling over Existing Tile

 

vintage washroom shelf decor- vintage band aid tin, red cross tape, and di-gel

$300 Bathroom Renovation - featuring Paneling over Existing Tile

Upgraded outlet covers alway feels like a cheap investment for something that makes a big impact on the room.

upgraded wall outlets make a huge impact

I ditched the standard fare all-look-a-like towel and toilet paper holders for an industrial style towel rack I found second hand and a horse bit turned toilet paper holder.

$300 Bathroom Renovation - featuring Paneling over Existing Tile

english horse bit toilet paper holder

reproduction soap dispenser paired with vintage whiskey decanter of mouthwash

 

vintage pelham horse bits as equestrian wall decor
Wall Art: Vintage brass Pelham bits.

 

How I remodeled a tile bathroom with $300 and no demolition

$300 Bathroom Renovation - featuring Paneling over Existing Tile 

 

$300 Bathroom Renovation - featuring Paneling over Existing Tile $300 Bathroom Renovation - featuring Paneling over Existing Tile

 

BEFORE:
$300 bathroom remodel - before
$309.00 LATER:$300 Bathroom Renovation - featuring Paneling over Existing Tile

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3 thoughts on “$300 Bathroom Remodel – Installing Paneling over Tile”

  1. Beautiful job! I ended up here while trying to find [non-existent] advice on putting wainscotting over mirror. I, too, can only use adhesive. No screws through mirror!

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