"a practical hands-on
   guide to bathroom


Vanity Base Installation

Vanity base cabinet installation can be very simple or create many challenges.  I'll try to discuss the most common things to consider before the actual installation as well as issues that arise during installation.

Be certain that the vanity cabinet is in good condition before disposing of the packing box.
Many cabinet
s have defects or damage that occurs at the factory and it is only discovered by you the installer (some manufacturers have poor quality control systems).  If the cabinet is damaged, in most cases you need to return it in the same box.  Check for defective drawer systems, nicks and scratches.  When you purchase the cabinet, you may want to get a "touch-up kit" for any future minor damages that may occur in the course of cabinet use. 

Most cabinets do not come with hardware (knobs and pulls) so this is something you need to purchase and install yourself.  Many knobs and pulls are shipped with screws that are too short for the doors and drawers, so you will probably need to get longer ones at the hardware store.  Take the knob or pull with you to be certain the thread size is correct.   When installing the hardware, measure twice and cut once.  Mistakes are difficult to correct - if they occur, you may need a backplate to cover the mistake (and that doesn't look very good).

If the new vanity is physically different from the original vanity - perhaps wider, higher or different drawer/door configuration - you may have to change some of the bathroom
components.  For example - if a higher cabinet is installed, an old soap dish may have to

  be removed or an electrical wall outlet may have to be raised.  An extremely important
consideration is to be cer
tain the hot and cold water supply lines do not interfere with the new drawers.  The drain should be in good working order with the proper slope for correct drainage, be correctly vented and any old lead or cast iron should be replaced with 1 1/2" PVC pipe.  Connecting to old ABS (black) pipe must be with a stainless steel mission band (or equal) or if connecting to cast iron use a rubber multi-tite donut fitting.  Don't cut corners on the plumbing materials as it will usually come back to haunt you.

When installing the base cabinet, occasionally a tile floor will have been installed up to (but not under) the cabinet.  If the existing floor is to remain and the new cabinet does not fit exactly in the same footprint as the old cabinet, it may be necessary to put in a filler (piece of scrap plywood) in the tile void and place the new cabinet on the filler.  A new cabinet toekick (or even two toekicks if you need to fill the space) and toekick cap can be placed over the filler to give it a finished look.

Be certain the cabinet is level and properly secured with screws to the structural members

in the wall - such as 2" x 4"s.  Do not use nails - screws hold better and can be easily
removed if needed.

 Make certain you do not drive your screws into a water line, drain line or electrical line in the wall (mark these items before actual cabinet installation).  I have actually seen screws pierce water lines or drain lines without any significant leaks until many days, months or years after the fact.

When screwing through vanity bases to attach them together or using filler strips (if needed), predrill a smaller size hole than the screw to be used and apply dish liquid on the screw to avoid the wood splitting. 

Some people like to install an electrical outlet in the cabinet - this is a NO-NO!  Installing a toilet paper holder or towel bar (not a grab bar) is acceptable; however, it must be installed with an acceptable anchor or proper wood backing block.  Be certain whatever accessory
you are installing will not damage or interfere with any drawers.  It can be very embarrassing
to install an accessory and not be able to use the drawer!