Welcome to Part 2 in my Beginning Your Bathroom Remodel series. Last post we covered the big question of “to tub or not to tub”? That one is a biggie and I hope you gave it some thought and came up with a good solution for you. This post, we are going to dive into vanities. I hope you have started to get a picture of your developing bathroom in your head. You will need to use some imagination to picture your vanity. This one is tricky because you need to have an idea of the style of your bathroom. I’ll explain in a minute. Let’s get started.
So, have you decided where you would like your vanity to go? Do you envision one sink or two? Will it fit? You need preferably 30” for a one sink vanity and 72” for a two. You can go more narrow, but it sacrifices the actual counter space. It starts to feel crunched. If you don’t have 30”, there are other options including corner sinks or pedestal sinks. Both options have no counter space, but can visually open up the look of a small bathroom. But, no counter space – ugh!
Start searching around for vanities to get an idea of the style you prefer. Do you like a traditional cabinet style with the toe kick a couple of inches from the front or do you like the bottom to look like a piece of furniture? These often still have a toe kick but it is farther back so you can’t see it. Do you prefer a traditional look or a more modern shaker style? Look around on the internet. Chances are, the same style keeps catching your eye.
The most important thing to look at when buying a vanity is material. I wouldn’t recommend putting a vanity made of fiberboard in a wet bathroom. Yikes! There are plenty of wood framed vanities with plywood construction that won’t break the budget. I found a couple at Lowe’s and Menard’s when I was searching for my bathroom. All of them were $300-400. That’s very budget friendly.
If you have existing cabinets that are salvageable, consider refinishing them. This does take some effort, but it’s a great way to save in one spot to spend on the vanity top you are drooling over.
I refinished a cabinet for our upstairs remodel and it was fine. I used a primer meant to prime over oil base (such as stain in my case). There are several brands of this type of primer. It worked pretty well. I didn’t have to sand the stain off first, which was nice. I used regular latex paint but had to sand a bit in between coats so it wouldn’t get too gooey. It turned out nice but if I do it again, I am going to try some Behr alkyd enamel paint from Home Depot. I saw a post where someone tried it and said it sets up harder, so it looks more professional.
Keep an open mind when shopping for the vanity. I found a great deal on a new vanity that wasn’t the color I needed, so I refinished a new vanity. I wouldn’t recommend this unless you got a really great deal or can save on a free one. Just don’t let color or hardware deter you. Hardware can easily be changed for a few bucks. A salvage store could be a great place to look if you aren’t afraid to refinish.
Another place to save some money is to buy a vanity with a top and sink already attached. This works particularly well if you aren’t picky about the details. I saw some nice wood vanities with tops and sinks in the $400-500 range. That’s a steal. Keep in mind that sinks can run almost $100 by themselves. Also, don’t be afraid if the top has a three hole setup and you want a single hole faucet. Most single hole faucets come with a base plate that will cover the other holes.
If you need to buy a vanity top separately, you can choose from many different materials. Everything from solid surface and budget friendly to natural stones and OUCH! Be careful with your budget here. There are some beautiful materials, but be careful not to get something that’s too nice to use. All materials have their advantages and disadvantages so you will have to shop around and compare.
Make sure to check any custom stone places in your area for remnant pricing. That is where I get mine and I can get an exotic granite remnant with sink included, delivered, and custom installed for the same price as a big box store granite vanity top. No contest. Look somewhere else for those vanity tops. The home improvement stores are not the place.
You need to decide about your backsplash when you pick out your vanity top. Do you want to use a piece of the top material as a backsplash or will you be using tile as a backsplash? They need this information when you order as well as the size of your vanity and sink choice.
Some vanity tops have a sink incorporated into the design. Sinks also come in drop-ins, undermount, or specialty styles such as vessel sinks. The sink type and faucet mount information is needed when you order a top so they know where to put the holes.
After you go through all that and price out a vanity and top, I would check a local cabinet-maker and ask about custom pricing. This is not a last-minute and I am in a hurry option. It takes cabinet makers awhile to order in pieces, build, and finish a cabinet, so don’t go in there demanding something in a couple of weeks.
I first considered this option because I wanted some custom shelves inside my cabinet and my designer and I wanted the vanity painted a certain color. Slate is difficult to match is the lesson here. I could either refinish another vanity I found and build the shelves in or check with the cabinet-maker. So, I picked out the exact size, layout, door style, color, and even the furniture style legs and it will cost me about $150 more. For me, it’s worth it to get exactly what I want. It’s worth an estimate for sure. Also, check with your cabinet-maker about vanity tops. They typically sell those as well. You might get a package deal!
Don’t forget to think about plumbing as well. You can save yourself some money if you don’t have to move any pipes or drains. Check out how the cabinet mounts to the wall. Is it backless and do your existing pipes fit through? If they do, you’re a lucky dog!
That’s all my tips and tricks for vanities and tops and, therefore, the end to Part 2. I have created a printable for these posts so you can keep track of all your information as you go. It is available in my printables library. You can gain immediate access by signing up for my weekly newsletter in the side bar. Please contact me with any questions or leave a comment below. You can find me at [email protected]. I’ll see you in a couple of days for Part 3!