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A better bathroom on a budget

The Home Depot

Looking to upgrade a dated or dingy bathroom on a budget?

Replacing a tub requires small-scale demolition and can cost several thousand dollars. A cheaper alternative is to have it refinished.

Expect to pay $350 to $500 for the tub and another $200 or so for a tile surround.

The process takes several hours. Cleaning and preparing the surface is key because the new finish will accentuate irregularities, such as dust or dings.

Avoid epoxy coatings, which tend to yellow, and look for a two-part acrylic urethane, which retains color well. Multiple coats (usually four) are best. Because a bath mat can harm the refinished tub, ask about adding a nonslip surface on the bottom.

With normal wear and tear (but no abrasive or bleach-containing cleaners), the finish should last up to 20 years. Companies typically offer a five-year warranty. Some other low-cost bathroom projects:

Update your vanity: For cabinetry, look at stock or semi-custom options from big-box stores or a kitchen-and-bath retailer.\

If your cabinet is in good shape, replace just the top. Home Depot carries the Pegasus line of granite vanity tops with built-in, undermounted sinks (from $175 for a single bowl to $889 for a double bowl).

Replace a noisy fan:
Fans with a "sone" rating of 1 or less sound like a quiet refrigerator. Check out Energy Star-rated models by NuTone at Home Depot ($129 to $199).

Replace shower doors:
Those made by Sterling feature CleanCoat, a glass-surface treatment that sheds water and makes cleaning easier. List price starts at $169 for a standard framed bypass door.

-- Patricia Mertz Esswein, Tribune Media Services

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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