"a practical hands-on
   guide to bathroom

Vanity Purchase Tips
For the purpose of this site, we are discussing vanities and pedestal sinks.  For the most part, we will discuss vanity base cabinets and a variety of top materials (cultured marble, quartz or solid surface).  Any of those tops can have an integral sink (except quartz), undermounted or overmounted sink or a vessel sink.  We will concentrate on the practical, back-to-basics good quality approach rather than trend setting products that have a short fashion life.   

A vanity consists basically of three parts - vanity base, vanity top and faucet.  Also, instead of a separate vanity base and vanity top, you can have a pedestal sink (which combines the base and top).  These pages will cover both.  This website does not cover vessel sinks (the sinks that sit on top of the vanity top). 

Also, when purchasing your materials, always keep quality in mind since it will be cheaper in the long run.  If improperly installed, good quality materials will be just as bad as cheaply made materials

Purchasing a vanity base: 

The most important thing to do is to measure your space to see what length will fit your space.  Because of the wide variety of manufacturers and vanity door/drawer configurations available, at the moment don't be concerned about door/drawer configurations.  For your information, most vanities come in a depth (front to back) of either 18" or 21".  21" is standard.

Second thing to do is look at where your faucet plumbing is coming out of the wall (where your current bowl is).  You need this information before you can decide your drawer/door configuration.  You can't have any drawers directly under your bowl (the drawers will block the faucet plumbing). 

The third thing to decide is door/drawer configuration.  Again, there are numerous options available.  As an example, for a 30" wide vanity you can purchase one with two doors and no drawers or a door on one side and drawers on the other.  If you have space for a 60" vanity and want two bowls, you can either put two 30" vanities next to each other or get one 60" vanity.  Most manufacturers offer numerous configurations - you should not have any problem finding the one you want.  A rule of thumb is the more drawers, the more expensive the base will be.

Another thing to think of is the height of the vanity base.  Most people nowadays are installing the 35" high vanity bases (which are kitchen height).  The standard ones that have been installed for years are 30" high.  The higher ones are easier on the back (one doesn't have to bend over so far) and they're wheelchair accessible (for people who need that). 
The higher one is a little bit of an issue in a children's bathroom, but the logic is that the
vanity will last longer than the children will be short.

The last thing (and the most important to some people) is the type of wood/material the cabinet is made of (maple, cherry, birch, oak, hickory, etc.) the color and the door style.  Again, there are numerous options available.  Keep in mind, currently, cherry wood and glazes on other woods are the most expensive.  Oak wood and some laminates are the least expensive.  Bases can be made with real wood fronts with particleboard elsewhere; however, for a few more dollars, bases with plywood (not particleboard) and dovetail drawers may be worth the cost.  Also, a lot of bases are not sold with knobs or drawer pulls.  There are many many different styles that can be purchased and installed on the base.

Try to avoid purchasing vanity base "kits" that need to be put together.  They are normally built cheaply and are low quality.  

When you have purchased your product, click here for installation instructions.

Purchasing a vanity top

Most vanity tops are made of a solid material - laminate, cultured marble, solid surface, quartz, granite, etc.  I don't recommend a tile vanity top - it's difficult to do properly and it's

hard to keep clean.  Also, most vanity tops are custom-made - you can buy some in a big
box store already made, but it may be hard to find the exact size you need.

Measure the size you need.  Add 1" to the width and 1" to the depth of your vanity base - it looks better when the top overhangs the base (unless your vanity is in a "nook" with walls on both sides - then measure from wall to wall for the width).  Then decide where you want your sinkbowl to be.  If you want it in the center of your top, you can just tell your manufacturer you want the sinkbowl in the center.  They will measure from the middle of your drain hole to one side and center the bowl on the top.  If, for example, you have a 60" base and have one sinkbowl on one side, measure from the middle of the drain hole to the shortest side.  Then tell your manufacturer where you want your sinkbowl situated - for example - 16" on center from the right side.  Another example - if you have a 60" base and have two sinkbowls, measure the same way for both bowls and tell your manufacturer that one bowl is situated 16" on center from the right side and the second is situated 15" on center from the left side. 
You also need to tell your manufacturer the size of your vanity faucet (see below -

Purchasing a vanity faucet).  Most common sizes are 4" and 8" width.  They will drill the
faucet holes in your top.   

Next thing to decide is what material you want it made of.  Cultured marble and quartz are the two most common materials.  You also need to decide if you want a backsplash or any endsplashes and, if you do, how high do you want them to be.  The standard height is 4" from the top of the vanity top.  Both items are a personal preference.  They make it easier to clean the walls around the vanity, but you don't have to have either if you don't want them.  Just tell your manufacturer your decision

Part of your material decision will be color, ease of cleaning and type of sinkbowl.  All the materials come in many different colors and looks (solid, speckled, veining look, etc.).  All are easy to clean (because they're a solid panel - no grooves).  Different materials will have different types of sinkbowls - for example - laminates, quartz and granite have to have an
undermounted or overmounted sinkbowl of a different material (the bowl cannot be the

same material as the top).  There are many manufacturers that sell sinkbowls.  Cultured
marble and solid surface materials can have a sinkbowl made of the same material
as the top which means you can have a seamless top (easiest to clean - no joints).  Ask your
manufacturer for specific information about their product

If you have purchased your product, click here for installation instructions.

Purchasing a vanity faucet:

There are many different manufacturers, styles and finishes available.  I highly recommend not purchasing any faucet that has plastic plumbing fittings (the lavatory pop-up should be brass for example).  You will understand the reasoning when you install it. The quality of the
faucet is very important; perhaps more than anything else in the vanity.  It will get significant

use under normal circumstances and should be a brand name so, if parts are required,
they will be readily available.  When getting faucets that are on sale or close-outs,they may
be missing parts so examine the faucet before paying.  Normally close-outs are not
returnable.  If you need help, ask a knowledgeable salesperson to examine the faucet
for any possible missing parts.  Frequently close-out faucets are those that were purchased by someone and then returned with some parts missing.  Be especially careful with foreign faucets which may have parts difficult to obtain

Vanity faucets come in three sizes - single hole (single handle), 4" centers or 8" centers (the distance from the middle of one faucet handle to the middle of the other faucet handle).  The size you choose is a personal preference, but you need to be sure it fits the faucet holes in your vanity top.  One-piece 4" faucets are generally the least expensive and typically used on smaller vanities.

For people with physical limitations, a 4" single handle or a 4" hands-free faucet may be a
good option

The most common and easy to clean faucet finish is polished chrome.  Brushed nickel is also
a very popular finish.  The rule of thumb is that any finish other than chrome will be higher in
price.  Many other finishes are available other than these two.  When purchasing the faucet,
pay close attention to how to clean it.  A lot of cleaners will deteriorate the finish - most
manufacturers recommend a damp cloth with a protective wax on it

If you have purchased your product,
click here for installation instructions.

Purchasing a pedestal sink

There are many different manufacturers, styles and colors available.  Measure your space available.  Most people choose a pedestal sink because they don't take up as much room as a regular vanity base.  Something to keep in mind when choosing which style is that a lot of pedestal sinks don't have much horizontal space to sit "stuff".  If the bathroom is used by someone with a lot of "stuff" sitting around and you want a pedestal sink look, make sure to
purchase one that has larger horizontal space on top of it.