The Ultimate Guide To Bathroom Fixtures: Which Are Best For You?

bathroom in sunlight
simple bathroom decoratin

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Byline: Whether you're looking for a full remodel or a DIY project, this guide has everything you need to know for the before, during and after.

Let's take a guess. You've watched one too many episodes of House Hunters, and now you're convinced you need a new loo.

If you're among most homeowners, you know just how important it is you have a bathroom you love.

From the functionality to the aesthetics, your powder room should shine as bright as those brass faucets you've been eyeing.

But with so many options, the process of finding and purchasing bathroom fixtures that work for you can be intimidating.

Not to worry. With a couple of simple tips, you'll be taking a bubble bath in your new clawfoot tub in no time.

Where Do I Get Started?

The first step in upgrading your bathroom fixtures is establishing your budget and your style.

Luckily, the internet is a vast and beautiful place filled with tons of tools to help you do your research beforehand.

Remodeling isn't like the old days. A lot of people purchase their finishes themselves and only hire the handyman for installation.

Establishing a Budget

The not-so-fun-part. It's OK. Even Bill Gates has to set a budget.

If you're honest with yourself about your spending limit and swear a blood oath to not break from it, you'll do great.

Here are some pointers to help you not end up in a boatload of credit card debt.

checklist with pink marker

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Set Goals

The first step in establishing your spending limit is to write down your goals.

There may be bits and pieces of your bathroom you can salvage or are more recently updated.

Maybe you're not going for a full remodel.
As long as you establish what exactly you want to be done beforehand, it's less likely there will be any surprises down the road.

target range

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Get Specific

Saying you just want a new bathroom that looks a picture in Home & Garden ain't gonna cut it.

You need to be specific about what exactly you want out of your bathroom remodel.

Ask yourself questions like, “What do I like about my current bathroom? What do I not?”

Once you've established the specifics, you can start doing your research and get a solid quote together.

Opt for Financing

If you're planning on blowing it all out and starting fresh, financing may be a good option for you.

You can ask your mortgage lender, bank or home remodel-specific financers to get some ideas of how much you can borrow.

Just remember to pay attention to those interest rates. They can really add up in the end!

money tree

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Think About Resale Value

That hand-painted concrete tile trend is really taking off. But is the $2,000 you spend on a new backsplash going to be worth its salt in 5 years?

You can spend anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000 on a basic bathroom remodel.

According to Remodeling Magazine, you may get about 66% of that back when you go to sell your home.

If you're smart about the upgrades you make, you can recuperate almost all of it. Usually, that means cutting down on costs.

bathroom fixtures

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Hard Quote, Quote Hard

This is a big tip.

Always get multiple quotes from multiple contractors until you find one that's right.

That's not to say the cheapest one is the way to go. This project is your pride and joy, after all.

More likely than not, they're going to all be very similar. But it never hurts to ask!

On the other side of that, make sure you're asking for “hard quotes.” You never want to get into sticky situations where you get a bill, and it's different than what you expected.

Set Aside Some $$$

If you've watched enough HGTV, you know how often surprises can happen when you remodel.
Even the simplest fix can lead to uncovering a horrendous issue.

Case and point: remodeling is rarely as simple as it seems.

The good news is so long as you've reserved a bit of cash for surprises, you'll be prepared for whatever comes at you.

cash piggy bank

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Cut Costs

Last but certainly not least. This is one of the most important parts of budgeting out remodels.

Make sure you're exploring every possible option for bathroom fixtures. More likely than not, there's a cheaper option of that bathroom faucet you like somewhere out there.

All it takes it times and research to make sure you're getting your money's worth.

Find Your Flair

You have a style. Everyone does.

When you're considering a bathroom remodel, it's important to stay consistent with the current theme of your home. The only time you don't have to do that is if you're remodeling the whole thing. If that's the case, Godspeed.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself:

  • Are there certain colors you use more than others?
  • Do you prefer modern or traditional?
  • What magazines or catalogues do you subscribe to?
  • Which one of my friend's home do you like the look of?

These are good starting points to see which direction you want to go.

The other greatest invention for home improvement ideas: Pinterest.

If you don't have an account, open one immediately. You can thank us later.

As you will soon find out, there are a lot of different styles, types, and finishes for fixtures.

But hey, that's what we're here for. Keep reading.

Bathroom Fixture Do's and Don'ts

Please Do

DO start the process with a totally open mind. If you're going with a minimal remodel, there are certain features you probably can't change right now like tile, flooring or bathroom fixture placement.

That's OK. Do the best you can with what you have and leave the rest for another day.

DO consider painting. A little bit of Sherwin Williams goes a long way. If you have a vanity cabinet in great shape, consider painting it versus replacing it.

A bit of paint, a new counter space, and updated sinks and bathroom fixtures can make a world of difference.

DO think about lighting. It's often a low-cost and simple fix. You can even swap it out yourself. This interior decorating trick can make a whopper of an impact on your home, not to mention your self-esteem.

There's nothing worse than bad bathroom lighting. Nothing.

DO know your colors. With all of the tile and light colors, bathrooms have a tendency to look and feel a bit cold. Depending on your palette, opt for a warm gray versus a cool one to heat the space up. It will look better AND feel better.

DO consider the type of paint you use. Usually, when buying paint, the people at the store will ask what room you're painting. Typically, semi-gloss is the way to go since it repels moisture. Pretty important for a bathroom!

If you're updating a guest bath, you should be safe going with an eggshell or satin finish.

DO pay attention to finish colors. Not all brass and bronze finishes are made alike. Be very careful if you're mixing and matching brands. You don't want to end up with towel hangers in a different color than your faucet.

antique brass faucet handle

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Please Don't

DON'T be afraid to introduce a bit of color. A nice pop can add quite a bit of personality to a basic space like a bathroom. This especially rings true for powder rooms. Let your imagination run wild!

DON'T forget about Feng Shui. Functionality is just as important as style. If your current bathroom arrangement isn't working for you, consider making some small adjustments, so it flows better.

DON'T sweat the small stuff. If you're frustrated with botched grout or a couple cracked tiles, just take a deep breath. You're probably the only one who can see it. Consider a strategic mirror or rug placement to keep your worries at bay.

DON'T sacrifice storage. If you're thinking about knocking out your linen closet for a larger shower, make sure you have enough storage elsewhere to make up for the loss. The same goes for swapping out a cabinet sink for a pedestal.

DON'T underestimate the power of a double vanity. If you have the space, this small addition makes a big impact on functionality and resale value.

What Exactly Is A Bathroom Fixture?

You would be amazed how far some simple upgrades can take you. Before you go and tear out your entire bathroom, consider the impact upgrading your fixtures would have.

But with so many options, your brain probably feels like the whirl in a whirlpool tub? Here's a guide.


That place where you brush your teeth, wash your hands and store all of that makeup that's 3 years past its expiration date. The sink is one of the most important fixtures in your bathroom both for aesthetic and functional reasons.

It's also one of the most used ones so make sure you're going with a quality product. Wear and tear on these bad boys will show up very fast.

These are the most common options to choose from.

Drop-in Sink

Also known as self-rimming sinks, these are the kind that are installed over a countertop. If you have an existing cabinet, you can simply swap out the countertop and the drop-in sink for an easy and cost-efficient switch.

drop in sink

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Undermount Sink

As the name suggests, these are installed underneath the countertop of your vanity. These sinks are typically customized and require some sort of hard surface like granite, marble or concrete in order to work.

Because they're often specially made, replacing these can be quite difficult.

Vessel Sink

A vessel sink is like a bowl that sits on top of the countertop. You've probably seen them at upscale restaurants or fancy office spaces.

These can be a great option for a bathroom that doesn't get a ton of use. They can also be found in a number of fun materials likes glass, stone, wood, and ceramic.

Pedestal Sink

These are freestanding sinks that are supported by a column, or pedestal, underneath. These are a great option for small bathrooms or powder rooms since they don't require a lot of space.

One downside is that plumbing is not hidden and they offer no storage.

Console Sink

This throwback design is great if your overall style is vintage. A console sink is a wall-mounted sit that usually sits atop two or four legs.

Many people opt for two of these in a small master bathroom versus one large double vanity.

Like the pedestal sink, you can see the plumping with these, so if that's not to your taste, we recommend stick with a vanity.

Wall Hung Sink

These are freestanding sinks that are installed directly onto the wall. They don't require a pedestal or legs as they're typically small and light.
These can be a great option for people looking for a solution to an impossible small powder room.

Vanity bathroom tops

These full sink and countertop combos are a great one-stop shop if you don't feel like fussing with sourcing them individually.

You can find vanity bathroom tops in an array of materials like woof, granite, marble or tile.

They're a great option if you're not picky and just looking for something simple, modern and stylish.


AKA that giant thing your 2-year-old likes to splish-splash in. Or what about the one you bought years ago with the hope of a bi-weekly bubble bath that ended up being more like bi-yearly.

Maybe it's a shower-tub combo; maybe it's a freestanding tub if you're one of the lucky ones. Regardless, bath design, features, and materials do vary! Here are the most common ones you'll find.

Standard Tubs

The most common one you find in homes. These typically are a shower-tub combo. What it doesn't impress with bells and whistles, it does make up for in cost reduction and generally getting the job done.

They're also usually the same size. So, if yours is a few years beyond its prime, it's a simple swap out for something shiny and new.

Soaking Tubs

As you can tell by the name, these guys are meant for some serious soaking. They're typically built deeper than standard tubs for the full experience, although they can be wider and longer too.

Some soaking tubs are standalone, and some are combos. Just depends on your needs!

Whirlpool Tubs

These had their hay day back in the '80s and '90s, but better design still makes them a great option if you're looking for the hot tub experience indoors.

The jets are designed to pull in and push out water to create a massage-like experience. They're great if you're an athlete or have frequent aches and pains that need relieving.

Due to the whole whirlpool thing, they're typically more expensive than a standard tub.

Air Tubs

Similar to a whirlpool tub with the added addition of, you guessed it, air. Instead of the jets shooting water, these puppies shoot water.
The overall experience is the same with the added bonus of less cleaning. Some people find these tubs more relaxing than your typical whirlpool because the force is less concentrated.

Combination Tubs

If you're looking for the whole deal, they exist. There are many soaking tubs that have the depth, width, and length you love with added whirlpool technology.

Just expect to pay quite a bit more. If you're a frequent bath taker, it's more than worth it.

Walk-In Tubs

These are less about look as they are functionality. People with less body motion ability or physical disabilities can often greatly benefit from the effects of taking a bath.

However, they may have difficulty getting in and out of the standard tub. Walk-in tubs are specially designed with a door that seals shut when closed.

You get in. No water gets out. Everyone wins.

Types of Tub Installations

Now that we've covered types of tubs, we should probably let you know about the different installation types.

Depending on the layout of your bathroom, you will need to purchase one of the following.

Alcove Tubs

Your standard tub is also an alcove tub. This is when the shower and bath combination is combined with three walls and open space on the fourth side.

This is the cheapest and easiest option if you're looking to replace your current setup.

bathtub with stained glass window

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Freestanding Tubs

Also known as stand-alone tubs. These exist on their own and do not require walls.

They can be tucked into a corner or space if desired, but can also just hang out in the middle of your bathroom. Pretty neat, actually.

The most common type of freestanding tub is the claw foot tub, but you'll also find more modern options with a foot-less base.

Corner Tubs

As you can tell by the name, they're typically installed in the corner of a bathroom along three walls to save space.

These are a different shape than a typical tub. They tend to be more round or triangular than oblong.

Corner tubs are a great option for people who want the benefits of a stand-alone tub without an ample amount of space.

Undermount Tubs

This is basically like putting a jacuzzi inside your home. Undermount tubs are enhanced with a deck or rim around the tub, so you have more space for your favorite bubble bath soaps and candles galore.

They're also very big and can usually fit multiple people. Who wants to go swimming?


Faucets 101. There are four basic types of bathroom faucets. That means much simpler than sinks and bathtubs! Each one of them is quite different, so there isn't much room for confusion.

You just have to pick what fits your style, budget, and needs, and you'll be shopping in no time.

Please note, if you're replacing your current faucet setup or going for a whole new faucet, sink, vanity combination, pay attention to the holes and the sizes of what you're buying!

Single-Hole Faucets

These all-in-one faucets combine the spout and lever. They're great for smaller sinks that wouldn't have room for a full faucet set.

tap black faucet kitchen sink

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Center-Set Faucets

These types of faucets fit standard three-hole sinks. The center style will usually also have a single lever or two handles mounted on a plate.

Widespread Mounts

This is a full faucet set with a spout and two handles. Since these are pretty larger, you typically won't see them on smaller sinks although mini versions are available.

Wall-Mount Faucets

These types of faucets are gaining in popularity. Some styles are more modern while others are a throwback to more vintage fashions.

They work well if you have a vessel-sink or a freestanding sink.

barcelona water tap thirst brass

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Shower Heads

This is one of the more fun upgrades to make in a bathroom. A new showerhead can make a world of difference in your life.

Say goodbye to poor water pressure and say hello to the future of getting clean.

Here's a brief run-through of the different types of showerheads on the market right now:

Single Spray

The standard showerhead for the budget-minded shopper. These have a single level is one of the most commonly-purchased bathroom fixtures because it's kind of hard to mess up.

If you're not one for frills or fancy features, the single spray shower head is probably a good option for you.

Rain System

These have soared into the popular market in recent years. If you've always struggled with the intensity of water pressure, this is a good option.

The way the rain shower works is it disperses a light, but consistent water flow at a large diameter than traditional ones.

It's amazing, really. If you're in the market for a new showerhead, we recommend giving one of these a try.

Handheld System

The handheld system is a consistently good option for every household. Most of them come with multiple pressure levels so you can adjust to your liking.

Plus, there's the added bonus of being able to remove the showerhead.

If you're a dog owner, the handheld showerhead is your new best friend. No more expensive baths at the groomer when you can do it all at home.

shower head shower


Body Spray/Shower Panels

If you're looking for the full spa experience, then the body spray and shower panel option is for you. These can only be installed if you're doing a complete renovation of your shower, so make sure you tell your contractor early.

To paint you a picture, the body spray/shower panel option is where you have outlets fitted from top to bottom on two adjacent or facing shower walls so you can get a full-body massage while you shower.

They also come with tons of options like a steam shower, multi-shower, etc. Where do we sign up?

Ceiling Mount

The ceiling mount shower head is like a rain shower head installed on the ceiling. You get the luxury of consistent water pressure that covers a larger surface area.

It can either be installed into or fixed to the ceiling of your shower, which can increase contractor costs.

These features in a shower make a big impact if you're looking to resell your home any time soon.

Sliding Bar

Have a family with kids of all ages? The sliding bar shower head is probably for you. The convenient bar is installed on the side of your shower, and the head can be adjusted depending on the height of the person using it.

You see these a lot on hotels. They're a great option for a couple with large height differences or growing families who foresee a lot of use in the future.


This small upgrade can make a huge impact on your bathroom. You would be amazed how dated light fixtures can make your space feel.

The good news is lighting is trending right now with interior design, so there are tons of options to choose from. Plus, a lot of them are very budget-friendly.

Just remember that when choosing lighting, it's good to stay consistent with the same style and materials you have for your other bathroom fixtures.

Vanity Lighting

As you can guess from the name, vanity lighting is the lighting that's found over your bathroom vanity. It's also the most common choice for bathrooms.

They are usually placed above the mirror and are made of a material that matches the rest of your finishes.

There's a lot of new, more modern options for vanity lighting so it won't be hard to find one that you not only love but that also elevates the overall aesthetic of your space.

Plus, it's easy to install it yourself!

Wall Sconces

These were en vogue back in the day but are making a modern comeback. Wall sconces are placed at either side of the vanity mirror.

They can offer a subtle design element that also adds ambiance and a bit of bathroom fixture flair.

Ceiling Light or Recessed Lighting

In addition to vanity or wall lighting, many bathrooms also offer overhead lighting options. A ceiling light is your typical above headlight, often placed in the center of the room.

You can add a bit of intrigue by replacing your standard ceiling light with a new fixture or pendant option.

Many people are also opting for recessed lighting in their bathrooms. This is something to consider if you're going for a full overhaul.


When updating your bathroom fixtures, it's better to do all and not just a couple, so the overall style remains consistent.

Luckily, there are so many cost-efficient options to help give your bathroom a simple makeover without breaking the bank.

Besides the big bathroom fixtures like tubs and sinks, it's good to remember not to leave out these small but impactful features.

  • Towel hangers
  • Toilet paper holders
  • Shelving
  • Accessories like toothbrush holder, soap dispenser, etc.

A Quick Guide To Bathroom Fixture Materials

When shopping for new bathroom fixtures, you should consider these three things when choosing the material and finish you go with:

  • Cost
  • Design
  • Quality Not all of E

Not all of Earth's resources were created equal. As a general rule of thumb, you'll want to stick to:


Brass was a popular option back in the day that is making a come back again. Except these brass fixtures are a bit different than the ones, we used to find in homes.

Many of them feature modern, sleek styles that compliment both traditional and cutting-edge homes well.

When it comes to faucets and shower-fixtures, brass is a solid bet for withholding the test of time. It is less likely to leak or corrode and therefore a great option for bathrooms.

Stainless Steel

On par with brass as a sustainable resource, stainless steel isn't likely to rust or corrode over a short amount of time. There are, however, quality differences between which ones you buy.

Make sure the stainless-steel fixtures you opt for are made from a reputable brand.

Otherwise, they may not hold up to the everyday wear and tear a household bathroom sees.

Zinc and Zinc Alloys

This is the other material option you find for faucets and bathroom fixtures. Compared to the others, this is the cheapest and less durable of the three.

However, you'll get a good 5-10 years of use before any real damage shows.

Just in time for your next bathroom upgrade!

Types Of Fixture Finishes

Now that we covered materials, it's time to talk finishes. This is a fun and easy way to give your bathroom a whole new look without doing a full remodel.

Plus, with so many different options, it's hard to not get a little nerdy about it.

Your typical hardware store will feature these finish options:

  • Polished Brass
  • Satin Brass
  • Oil-Rubbed Bronze
  • Copper
  • Satin Bronze
  • Polished Nickel
  • Brushed Nickel
  • Chrome
  • Matte Black
  • White

Time To Start Remodeling

Feeling better about tackling your loo redo?

Remember, being realistic, setting a budget and a plan for what you want to do is the best way to tackle any home projects.

Once you have a set goal for what you want to accomplish and the spending you have to accomplish it with, you'll be ready to go shopping.

Home improvements are really rewarding and worthwhile projects that can help you love your abode even more.

bathtub in the middle with tv on the wall

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