"a practical hands-on
   guide to bathroom


Vanity Demolition Tips

Demolition is more than taking a hammer and saw and going at it - take time to consider unexpected consequences.  For example - will this project affect possible neighbors such as common walls in a condo unit?  Make certain you don't have any objects on opposite walls that may break (pictures, medicine cabinets, etc).  If you are cutting through the wall, make certain you don't cut through both sides of the wall and damage the opposite side (wallpaper, painted wall, etc.)  Removing old vanities is normally done by breaking apart the old unit, unless it is to be saved to reuse or recycle. 

The mirrors above the vanity must always be removed for safety's sake.  Many mirrors are installed on E-Z mount mirror clips which makes removal and replacement easy.  Some mirrors are glued on and may require a professional to remove them (especially the larger mirrors).  Exercise care when removing glued mirrors - they may crack/break and cause severe cuts.  Don't be cheap with mirror removal - if necessary, have a professional remove the mirror and you can then install it later with E-Z mount mirror clips available at most hardware/big box stores.

As always, you need to make certain you have the water supply shut off when removing the old faucet since (in most cases) you should be installing new quarter-turn shut-off valves and drain(s) - see Vanity Faucet Install.   Normally the main water shut-off valve is located in the basement facing the street (but not always) - sometimes it is located in the utility room near the hot water heater or by the water holding tank if you are on a private well.  Main water shut-off valves may also be located outside the house in the ground (possibly next to the water meter) and may require a street key.  If your main water shut-off valve is not functioning, it is ADVISABLE to have it replaced by a qualified plumber (you should always have a functioning main water shut-off valve in case of emergencies).

Be careful to not damage the wall area if it is to be saved (wallpaper, paint, etc.)  Old caulking around the top should be removed with a sharp utility knife.  For safety reasons, always cut away from yourself if possible - utility knives don't care if they cut caulk or you.

When removing the old vanity, you may have issues with the flooring material.  For example - someone has tiled the floor and not installed the material under the vanity.  In this case, carefully remove the vanity so the floor is not damaged (if the floor is not to be replaced).

The drain should be replaced to the stack if it is cast iron or lead with new 1 1/2" PVC.  Make certain the drain pitch is correct - see Vanity Faucet Install.  In some cases, the drain and water supply lines will need to be relocated or replaced, depending on the drawer-door configuration of the new base. 

Finally, if it is possible to "recycle" the vanity base, top and faucet, try to do so to help someone less fortunate and minimize landfill waste.