How to Paint a Bathroom Vanity like a Professional

Over the past few decades, contractors and home builders have consistently installed oak vanities in new bathrooms. While there’s nothing wrong with wood vanities, the humidity of a bathroom can begin to make them look washed out over time. Whether you’re an expert DIYer or are new to the game, repainting your bathroom vanity is a fun and easy weekend project. As with any other paint job, it requires some preparation and lots of patience; follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to a shiny "new" bathroom vanity.

Materials & Preparation

As with any other DIY project, collecting your materials beforehand is essential. Materials can vary depending on the condition of your vanity, but here’s a list of the basics: a high density foam roller, household cleaner, alcohol, primer, sandpaper, foam brush, acrylic latex-based paint, painter’s tape, and plastic sheeting. You’ll likely create a mess during the project, so it’s best to protect your walls and floor with the plastic sheeting. From there, remove the vanity drawers and doors, and remove all hardware. Wash the doors and vanity with a solution of two ounces of household cleaner per gallon of water. After the doors and vanity have dried, rub down the surfaces with alcohol. This will remove any residual gunk and prepare your vanity for a fresh coat of paint.

Prime & Paint

Acrylic latex-based paint, whether sprayed or brushed, needs an undercoat of a compatible primer to ensure proper adhesion. Use 150-grit sandpaper to sand the exposed surfaces, scraping loose any peeling paint. Once you’ve finished sanding, use a vacuum or tack cloth to wipe away the excess dust. Before you actually begin painting, apply two coats of primer to the drawers, doors, and vanity. Once dry, it’s time to paint. A high quality acrylic latex-based paint will work fine, or you can buy a paint that’s formulated specifically for cabinets. Typically, you’ll need at least two coats of paint to eliminate any burn through and/or eliminate the wood look.

Replace Hardware & Reassemble

If you want to give your vanity a totally new look, consider changing the drawer knobs and door handles. While your drawers and doors are separated from the vanity, fill the existing holes with wood filler and allow them to dry. Once dry, mount the new pulls and handles for a brand new look. Once the new hardware has been installed or the old hardware has been replaced, it’s time to reassemble the vanity. Start with the bottom drawers and work your way up, making sure to fix any broken drawers or cracks along the way. Be patient – it can take a day or two for the paint to dry completely, and the last thing you want is to have to paint a scratched or damaged vanity all over again.

Other Tips

If you don’t have a window in your bathroom, wear a dust mask while sanding and painting to avoid breathing in dust or fumes. Be sure to follow the recommended drying requirements for the primer and paint, otherwise the final result may not turn out as desired. Some stores carry a specialty paint designed for cabinets – this paint can be used on vanities and does not require a primer. Regardless of your DIY skill level, repainting a bathroom vanity is a relatively easy home renovation task – you’ll save time (and money) by not having to hire a pro!

How to Decorate a Small Bathroom Vanity

More than just a place to wash up, bathroom sinks and vanities are a part of your bathroom you can decorate in your own style. From antique cabinets to modern designs, there are countless style options when it comes to the vanity itself – but why not expand your creative touch beyond the vanity design? If you’re concerned about decorating your bathroom vanity due to its small size, you can still pack a powerful decorating punch with the right accents and fixtures. Here are some tips for organizing, decorating, and keeping your small bathroom vanity a clutter-free and fully-functional extension of yourself.

Focus on the Essentials First

When it comes to decorating your small bathroom vanity, it’s important to pay attention to the essentials. Put your daily supplies out first, such as soap holders, toothbrushes, and cups. From there, examine how much space is left over. If there’s sufficient room, you can add a picture frame or a small vase of flowers. If the vanity looks cluttered with the essentials, adding more clutter to the countertops will only decrease the functionality of your bathroom vanity. Fortunately, there are ways to decorate small bathroom vanities without adding knick-knacks and accessories to the already crowded countertops.

Consider Small Accent Pieces

If you’d like to keep your countertops as clutter-free as possible, consider using small accent pieces as decoration. Switching up the knobs on your vanity is a great place to start. If you have an antique vanity, head to your local antique store for a selection of beautiful vintage knobs. Those with modern vanities can easily find glass, quartz, glass, silver, or metal bathroom vanity knobs online. Not only is decorating with small accent pieces an easy way to add personality to your bathroom, but it’s perfect for those on a budget: you can easily find vanity knobs for as low as $3 both in stores and online.

Backsplashes, Walls, and Panels

One of the easiest ways to decorate a small bathroom vanity without sacrificing space is to focus on the backsplash, walls, and panels surrounding the fixture. From pegboards and pennies to old maps and even chalkboard paint, a creative and fun backsplash is guaranteed to be a conversation-starter among family and friends. For creative inspiration, read our article about innovative and inexpensive backsplash ideas. When it comes to walls and panels, consider painting them in a fun or funky color – just be sure it doesn’t clash with your vanity or the rest of your bathroom décor.

Fresh Flowers and Natural Light

If you’re fortunate enough to have the luxury of a bathroom window, take advantage of the light it produces. While bathroom lighting fixtures are great solution for bathrooms that are low on light, nothing quite compares to the beauty of natural light and the convenience of fresh air. During the spring and summer months, consider keeping a small vase of daisies, roses, or lilies on the countertop of your bathroom vanity. During the fall and winter months, create your own seasonal displays with leaves, twigs, branches, bark, sprigs of holly, or a bit of evergreen straight off the Christmas tree.

Modern Bathroom’s Bathroom Vanity Buying Guide

While it might not be the most exciting part of a bathroom remodel, choosing the right bathroom vanity can complete (or completely ruin) your bathroom design. If it’s placed awkwardly in a high traffic zone or doesn’t match with other décor, the rest of your bathroom will suffer the consequences. Since they’re an essential part of a bathroom renovation, they can dictate the overall look and feel of your bathroom. Whether you’re going traditional or modern, our bathroom vanity buying guide can help you select the very best vanity for your home.

Do You Have Room?

Before shopping for a bathroom vanity, scope out how much room you actually have in your bathroom. If you’ve always wanted a double vanity but realize you don’t have the space, this could save you the headache and financial hassle of having to purchase and return an oversized vanity. While double vanities offer more storage and the convenience of more than one person being able to get ready at the same time, the truth is, not many people actually have the space. Once you measure your space and decide how much room you can dedicate to a vanity, it’s time to decide on a style.

Will it Match Your Design Plan?

At the end of the day, your bathroom vanity will have to match the design of the rest of your bathroom. If you’re going for a traditional look and feel, you should browse wood or antique bathroom vanities, as their soft tones and warm colors will perfectly fit in with the rest of the room. If you’d like to take a more modern approach, a modern bath vanity in a dark color or with a sleek glass sink may be your best choice. Regardless of the bath vanity you choose, it’s important that it matches with your sink, faucets, and other bathroom fixtures – so pay attention to your bathroom in its entirety.

Pay Attention to Plumbing

If you’re like most, chances are you’re remodeling on a budget. If you need to change your bathroom’s plumbing in order to install your new vanity, it’s going to take a huge chunk out of your budget. Even switching from a traditional floor-mounted vanity to a wall-mounted version could mean you’ll have to reroute pipes and drains. While locating a vanity far from other bath fixtures might look great, it’ll require a higher cost for rough plumbing. If you’d like to make your bathroom remodel as cost-efficient as possible, experts recommend replacing your bath vanity with one that’s almost identical.

Choose an Appropriate Countertop

While you may not have a choice depending on the type of vanity you choose, some vanity retailers allow you to choose your own countertop. Choosing a good surface for your vanity top is crucial, as it needs to hold up to the rigors of your particular situation. For example, a decorative vanity in a powder room doesn’t require the same amount of durability or resistance as a vanity in the family bathroom. Also, be sure to keep an eye on the types of cleaners you use in your bathroom – certain cleaners could permanently damage the countertops of your vanity.

How to Refinish Wood Vanities

Wood vanities are a great way to add warmth and charm to any style bathroom, but changes in humidity, age, and normal wear and tear can take a toll on even the most maintained wood vanity. Fortunately, you don’t have to rip out your old wood vanities and replace them with new ones – refinishing a bathroom vanity is a relatively simple DIY project. Giving your vanity a new coat of stain or a fresh coat of paint can transform its look, add years to its life, and save you money.

Preparation

Before you get started, make sure you have all the items you’ll need to refinish your wood vanity. Since the project is relatively simple, you probably have most of these items available in your toolshed. If you don’t already own them, they can be purchased or rented from a local home improvement store.

  • Cleaning product
  • Sponge/soft cloths
  • Screwdriver
  • Painter’s tape
  • Sandpaper
  • Hand sander
  • Shop vacuum
  • Stain or primer and paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Polyurethane finish

Once you have all the items, go over the bathroom vanity with a cleaning product to remove all signs of hairspray, makeup, soap scum, deodorant, and other products that may have accumulated over time. Next, remove the drawers, handles, and knobs from your vanity. Place the handles and knobs in a plastic bag so you can easily put them back on once you’re finished.

Strip the Paint

Place the doors and drawers on drop cloths on a flat surface. Make sure the area you’re working in is well-ventilated, as some strippers, stains, and paints have strong fumes. Apply a chemical stripper to the doors and drawers with a paintbrush; once the stripper has been left standing for the recommended amount of time, scrape away the old finish. Wipe down the wood with a clean cloth. Use the hand sander and 180-grit sandpaper to remove any traces of the old finish. Be sure to work with the grain of the wood, and avoid applying too much pressure.

Before stripping and sanding the rest of the vanity, place painter’s tape on the wall around the vanity – this will prevent any paint from getting on the surrounding walls.

Prime, Paint, Stain

Once the paint has been stripped, it’s time to prime, paint, or stain the wood. Before getting started, use the shop vacuum to remove any excess dust from the vanity. If primer isn’t included in your paint, you’ll have to prime the wood before painting – it’ll help the top coat adhere to the wood and will help the paint last longer. Let the primer dry completely, which can take anywhere from one to ten hours. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for recommended drying times. Once the primer is dry, apply either the stain or paint. Once the paint is dry, apply a polyurethane finish designed for the bathroom. Let the polyurethane dry completely before reattaching the cabinets, drawers, and hardware.

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.