Updated bathroom in an apartment

Bathroom upgrades can help investment property owners command higher rent, appeal to more renters and fill vacancies faster. But you don’t want to inadvertently commit to fleeting design trends that can date units within a couple of years, or upgrades that require frequent, costly maintenance.  

Instead, focus on quality, durable updates and finishes that are built to stand the test of time.  

Here are six bathroom upgrades that can pay off in rental units.  

1. Embrace the color white

“The best idea to keep your bathroom fresh and updated is by using all white,” says Ben Gold, founder of Philadelphia-based real estate investment company Recommended Home Buyers.  

Using white for walls, vanities and countertops offers a timeless blank slate that property owners or renters can build on. “You can always add things like rugs and towels to make the entire bathroom up to date with the latest trends and styles,” Gold says. 

2. Add shower doors

“Shower doors will make your bathroom feel more modern and up to date without having to shell out a great deal of cash,” says Andre Kazimierski, CEO of Improovy, an online marketplace that connects property owners and managers with painters. “They’re also far more durable than shower curtains and will last longer because of stain resistance, ease of cleaning and prevention of bacteria growth.” 

Want more renovation tips? Read about five kitchen upgrades that pay off at rental properties. 

3. Install tile floors and walls

Installing tile floors in rental unit bathrooms is a great way to give them a “luxury” finish that’s also cost-effective, says Todd Saunders, CEO of FlooringStores, a site that matches property owners with flooring and contractors.  

“Tile is a durable, waterproof finish that will last for decades to come and protect your floors and walls from water damage,” Saunders says. “It’s also a material that’s easy to buy in bulk and keep in storage for multiple units.” 

4. Improve your water flow

“A bathroom with good water pressure, a nice shower head and a clear, reliable drain is one that’s going to require fewer service calls,” says Leonard Ang, CEO of iPropertyManagement Leasing, an online resource hub for property owners.  

Good water flow is also attractive to renters, he says. But it’s not a feature they can see just by looking at the bathroom. Ang recommends encouraging prospective renters to test out the shower and sink when touring the unit.  

5. Reglaze the bathtub

Has your unit’s cast-iron bathtub seen better days? Consider reglazing it rather than buying a brand-new tub, says Shad Elia, CEO of real estate investment company New England Home Buyers. 

 “This can run from $500 to $800 [per tub], but it’s far less expensive than replacing the bathtub entirely,” Elia says. “To make the bathtub appear brand-new, use a bright white finish.” 

6. Replace the hardware

Alyssa Carpenter, who owns three rental properties in the Round Rock, Texas, area and manages 10 additional units throughout Texas, recently renovated a bathroom in an Austin duplex. She made sure all the hardware — including doorknobs, shower hardware and towel and toilet paper rods — matched the rest of the unit. Then, she installed new granite countertops that matched the hardware, painted the cabinets with the same color scheme and installed a new toilet. 

“While these renovations are not truly timeless, they modernized the unit for under $1,000,” Carpenter says. 


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