Bathroom Remodel: How Toilet Installation Affects Cost


Bathroom remodeling is one of America’s favorite home improvement projects. And no wonder. The bathroom is a small space with a big impact … and perhaps a price tag to match. If you’ve taken at the cost to remodel a bathroom lately, you know it runs the gamut from modest all the way to the-sky’s-the-limit. What contributes to this cost? Well, obviously, an over-the-top luxurious home spa rain shower and soaker tub or a marble-topped, hand-carved cherry wood vanity will eat up a supersized chunk of your savings in a hurry. But did you know that a humbler plumbing fixture, the toilet, can also substantially affect the cost of your renovation? Get the facts.

  1. Two-piece vs. one-piece vs. wall-mounted style. The traditional two-piece toilet, comprising a separate tank and bowl bolted together on installation, will cost you less than a more streamlined one-piece style, where the tank and bowl are molded as a single unit. Your third option, a wall-mounted toilet is actually two pieces as well, but only the bowl is visible while the tank is concealed inside the wall; it looks sleek and saves space, but it is quite pricy, especially when installed as a retrofit. This type of toilet also requires installation by an expert plumber who will open up your bathroom wall to mount the toilet tank and frame.

  2. Shape of the bowl. A round-bowl toilet will be less expensive than an elongated style. At a standard size of 16.5 inches compared to 18.5 inches, it will also take up a slightly smaller percentage of your limited floor space, making it the better choice for a small bathroom remodel. However, most adults find the round shape to be less comfortable.

  3. Color choice. A plain white toilet will be easier on your wallet than one in a brighter hue. In addition, although there is a certain appeal in ordering a commode with a name like Deep Black, Regal Blue, or Jamaican Beige, just remember that dramatically colored toilets, like -- say -- avocado kitchen appliances, will likely go out of style a lot faster (and appeal less to buyers, if you plan to sell your home in the future) than subtler shades.

  4. Seat material. Surprise, surprise. The price to purchase a toilet normally includes only the bowl and tank, while the seat is extra. How much you’ll end up paying for your brand new toilet seat will depend on the material it’s made from. Thermoplastic is usually the cheapest, then thermoset and medium-density fiberboard, with the most durable, solid wood, at the top of the range.

  5. Installation. Toilet installation generally starts at about $150 for labor costs alone and can rise to as much as $800 plus if (for example) a heavy fixture must be hauled up or down stairs or you find problems -- such as previously undiscovered plumbing leaks --that will make the work more complicated.

  6. Positioning. As a rule, you will save substantially on your bathroom renovation when you simply replace plumbing fixtures, keeping them in the same layout. If you are seriously considering a new arrangement, though, be aware that the toilet is the most costly of all your bathroom fixtures to reposition. Moving the large diameter toilet drain lines is a time-consuming, pricy proposition. Don’t forget to pull (and pay for) the correct permit for the repositioning.

Laura Firszt writes for

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