How to Choose the Right Bathroom Vanity

While it’s not necessarily the most glamorous part of a bathroom remodel, choosing the right bathroom vanity can make or break your bathroom design. If your vanity is placed in an awkward position, uses mismatched materials, or doesn’t have enough storage space, the rest of your bathroom will suffer. While a beautiful bathroom ensures you’re happy with your surroundings, functionality is just as important as aesthetics. Here’s some professional tips for choosing your bathroom cornerstone:

Size

When it comes to any type of remodel, working within your home’s established architecture is part of the equation. By evaluating your lifestyle, size of the bathroom, and the demands that will be placed on the vanity, the preferred size will become evident rather quickly. While your storage needs do impact the size of your vanity, taking the size of your bathroom into consideration is more important. While 32 inches is the go-to height for bathroom vanities, many modern designers recommend purchasing a vanity that’s between 34 and 35 inches. Ultimately, you should choose a vanity that will offer comfort and convenience to those who will use it, regardless of the size recommended by designers.

Placement

As far as placement goes, access and plumbing are the two areas of primary concern: your vanity shouldn’t disrupt the flow of traffic, and it should be placed near current plumbing. Additionally, homeowners should think about cleaning and vanity door swing space – if the surrounding areas aren’t accessible for cleaning and the cabinet doors would get in the way of foot traffic, another vanity design should be considered. While changing your bathroom’s plumbing in order to install a new vanity is a possibility, it’s going to account for a large chunk of your budget and, in most cases, is not ideal.

Materials

Since vanities are placed in hot and humid environments, it’s important that your vanity can withstand environmental stress. With that in mind, wood veneers, laminates and thermofoil tend to work well in bathrooms. Although hardwood is an attractive choice, hardwood vanities should be properly sealed and lacquered to prevent damage from wear and tear over time. Although lacquer can protect wood, it doesn’t make it indestructible. If a clear finish or lacquer is used, water will still affect the wood if it’s left standing on it. These types of vanities are recommended for use in guest bathrooms or bathrooms that aren’t used on a consistent basis.

Do Your Research

Although this applies to any form of decorating and remodeling, it’s worth noting once again: be sure to explore your options before finalizing a purchase. Keep an eye out for seasonal sales, such as Modern Bathroom’s Labor Day Sale, and remember that price doesn’t always translate to taste. If you can’t afford a designer edition of a bathroom vanity, look for an imitation in a local warehouse. Choosing the perfect bathroom vanity can make or break the look and feel of your bathroom, so take your time, be creative, do your research, and work with the space you have.

Pedestal Sink or Vanity: The Great Debate

Although bathroom sinks come in a variety of styles, colors and materials, deciding between a pedestal sink and vanity is a classic debate. While many homeowners can easily decide on a sink color and style, choosing between a pedestal sink and vanity tends to be one of the hardest decisions. Some interior designers claim you can’t go wrong with either, but there are things you should take into consideration before deciding which style is right for your home. While pedestal sinks and vanities do the same job at the end of the day, they have several major differences that might make one a better fit for your home.

Space

A design rule of thumb states that the more floor space that’s visible, the more open a room will feel. If your bathroom feels cramped and small, a pedestal sink is the best choice for you since the open base of a pedestal sink can help even the smallest areas feel more spacious. Vanities, especially vanities with two sinks, tend to be significantly larger than pedestal sinks. While they can be the perfect addition to any bathroom, some bathrooms are simply too small for bathroom vanities. Note: if you’re replacing an existing vanity with a pedestal sink, the floor might need to be worked on, depending on what’s underneath the existing vanity.

Storage

Since vanities are larger than pedestal sinks, they also offer significantly more storage space - especially if your vanity comes with a long storage cabinet under the sinks. These cabinets tend to span the length and width of the vanity, and are a great place to store cleaning supplies, toiletries, and extra bath linens. If your bathroom is low on space but you need extra storage, you can offset the lack of storage under the sink elsewhere in the bath, including over-the-toilet shelves, open shelving with baskets, medicine cabinets, or a set of drawers. If storage and floor space are equally important, consider a wall-mounted vanity or console sink - something that can offer more storage while freeing up valuable floor space.

Maintenance

Pedestal sinks are easier to clean, due to their size and simple design. Since vanities have more features, including drawers and cabinets, dust and grime are more likely to accumulate. Additionally, the countertop of a vanity adds time to your regular cleaning schedule. Depending on the type of material chosen for the vanity, staining could be an issue as well. For example, marble and granite must be sealed to prevent staining and water absorption. While pedestal sinks are easier to clean than vanities, both are typically easy to clean and only require mild soap and water.

Installation

While most homeowners can install a vanity without too much difficulty, pedestal sinks tend to be a bit harder to install. Since pedestal sinks have no cabinet area to hide plumbing lines, unsightly holes, and water supply lines, everything must be installed so the connections are obscured. In order to do this, the drain must be centered perfectly and the supply lines must be installed at the correct height and close to the center of the faucet valves. For those on the inexperienced side, this can prove to be difficult. For these reasons, it’s usually recommended that plumbers install pedestal sinks.

Bathroom Demolition: How to Remove Old Vanities

Before you can remodel your bathroom, you’ll have to demolish it – this includes removing existing vanities and fixtures so your bathroom is prepared for the facelift you’ve always dreamed of. Whether you’re a total novice or somewhat of an expert, it’s important to take the time to demolition the right way – after all, a successful demolition isn’t about who can swing the hammer the hardest. There is a process to the demolition phase and it requires a plan and lots and lots of patience. Here are some tips for demolishing your existing bathroom without creating extra dust.

Have a Plan

Before beginning a demolition, you should either rent an industrial-sized dumpster or a truck to haul the debris to the landfill. Be prepared for tons of dust and grit, as removing plaster and tile will cause quite a mess. If your vanities and other bathroom fixtures are still in good condition and you feel guilty tossing them in a landfill, you may wish to consider donating them to organizations like Habitat for Humanity – they’ll get a second life in someone else’s home. If you’re working with a hired team, let them know about your donation plans ahead of time so they won’t damage or trash them upon removal.

Collect Tools & Supplies

Whether you plan on performing the demolition yourself or with a hired crew, you’ll need the following tools and equipment in order to perform the demolition properly: sledge hammer, utility knife, wheel barrel, large shovel, shop vacuum, heavy duty gloves, face gargles, face aspirators, duct tape or construction tape, screw drivers and wrenches, old towels, a large bucket, and high intensity light.

Although you’ll have to buy most of the above items, some of the larger tools, like wheel barrows and sledge hammers, are available for rent. Before renting, compare the purchase price and the rental price. In some cases, it may be cheaper to buy the tools and either sell them in a yard sale or save them for later use.

Turn Off the Water Supply

Before beginning any demolition job, think about what household elements you’ll be dealing with. Water? Gas? Electricity? All of the above? In the case of bathroom demolition, it’s important to turn off the water supply. Before removing a bathroom vanity, turn off the water supply below the sink by twisting the hot and cold nozzles. Turn the handles the opposite of their current position, and test both faucets to ensure the water is turned completely off before you move forward with removing the vanity.

Next, you’ll want to unscrew the supply lines that flow from the piping in your wall to the faucets. You can do so by wrapping a wrench around the nut that connects the line to the faucet and turn it until it becomes loose enough to unscrew by hand. If your home has copper pipes that have corroded over time, spray a plumbing liquid lubricant into the joint before beginning the process.

Remove Drain Pipes

Disconnecting the plastic piping that connects your drain to the hole in the wall is one of the easiest parts of a bathroom demolition and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. If you’re having trouble with turning the pipe connectors, try using a dry rag to get a better grip. If you’re dealing with a double vanity, the job is still simple but you’ll have to disconnect both before trying to pull apart the sink. Once the drain pipes have been removed, you’re ready to remove the vanity and cabinets.

Vanity Countertops & Cabinets

If the countertop is attached with silicone caulk, you’ll have to use a utility knife to loosen the countertop where it attaches to the cabinets. In some cases there are clamps securing the bathroom countertop, which can be removed with the appropriate tool. Once the bathroom countertop has been lifted, discard of it in an appropriate area. Now that the countertop is off, it’s time to remove the cabinet. Using a screwdriver or screw gun, remove the screws. Once the screws are removed, you should be able to remove the bathroom vanity.

After removing the vanity, cap off the drain pipe to prevent sewage gases from escaping into your home. Either push a large rag into the drain pipe or use plastic and tape to cover the opening. Now that your old bathroom vanity is removed, you’re ready to install your brand new bathroom vanity.

Four Bathroom Vanity Installation Tips

Although bathrooms begin to look dated very quickly, it’s not cost-effective or practical to renovate them completely every few years. Instead, you can improve the look of your bathroom with a few simple changes – like incorporating a brand new bathroom vanity, or updating your cabinetry. In an effort to save cash, many homeowners are opting to take the DIY route, and choose to install vanities and other bathroom fixtures themselves. Here’s four tips for installing a new vanity in your bathroom:

1) Consider Your Needs
Before purchasing a new bathroom vanity, take some time to plan out your installation. Why did you get rid of your old vanity? Was it lacking counter space? Did you want an extra drawer? Once you have an idea about what type of vanity you need, measure the space you have to work with. Take your time and be sure to carefully measure the area; measure two or three times to ensure your measurements were correct the first time. Although bathroom vanities can be purchased online, many homeowners enjoy visiting showrooms where they can touch the items and truly get a feel for how it will look in their bathroom.

2) Don’t Forget About Plumbing
Although you can go from a pedestal sink to a vanity, it’s important to remember that you’ll probably have to re-do the plumbing within the wall to make it work. If you have to make any adjustments at all to the plumbing, you’ll probably have to rely on the services of a professional, which can blow your budget out of the water. You’ll need to install faucets and water lines to the sink before you can install most countertops. Once your water lines, faucets and drains are installed, put a line of silicone caulk around the edge of the countertop and set the top in place.

3) Make It Easy on Yourself
When you’re ready to install your vanity, start by making it easier on yourself. Remove all drawers and mirrors, take off the doors, and don’t try to set the vanity in place with the sink top attached. (Note: Always check manufacturer installation instructions first before removing doors or sinks.) Line up the new vanity with the wall, and measure where the pipe holes and drill holes need to match. Cut the holes at least 1/2" bigger than the pipes to ensure easy installation. Mark where a stud is on the wall, and mark the same location on the inside of your cabinet. Now you’re ready to slide the vanity into place, fit the pipes through the holes, and attach your vanity.

4) Keep Things Leveled & Secure
Now that your vanity is ready to be attached and has been pushed against the wall, you can begin to level the cabinet. Use a level to measure from wall to wall, to ensure the vanity sits evenly. If you need help balancing the vanity permanently, use a few wooden shims under the base. Once your vanity is level, you can secure it to the wall with a few screws. Many experts recommend using at least three 1-1 1/2" screws per wall stud.