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Your day starts and ends at this unique piece, so we show you how to install a new bathroom vanity with ease.
Choose a New Model
The most important question to consider when you’re planning how to install a bathroom vanity: What will fit? If you’re replacing an existing bathroom vanity, measure its height, width, and depth, noting if you have room to gain in any direction, or any existing features (such as mirrors, outlets, or doorways) to work around. Measure the location of your drain, too. Keep those measurements close when you’re on the hunt for a new one. To save time, filter your search by dimensions on retailers’ websites. Ideally, choose one that extends all the way to the wall—leaving small gaps means stuff will inevitably fall into that space.
Note: To comply with standard building codes, the edge of your vanity must be at least 18 inches from the center of the toilet.
With open legs and finished sides, freestanding vanities usually include a countertop and sink and often look like a piece of furniture—they’re great for small spaces. Built-in vanities look like base cabinets, run all the way to the floor and wall, and generally have more counter and under-sink storage. With these pieces, countertops and sinks are sold separately. Going from built-in to freestanding? You may need to know how to patch or replace floors when you remove a bathroom vanity.
A single vanity is between 18 and 48 inches wide. Double vanities can range from 48 to 72 inches. If you plan to add or subtract a sink within your vanity’s existing footprint, call a plumber to reroute plumbing.
Never replace a bathroom vanity with a pedestal model if one with storage will fit. In fact, the only place a pedestal makes sense is in a powder room. When shopping, think about your bathroom storage needs: do you prefer closed storage for personal items, open storage for towels and decorative purposes, or a mix? Drawers are great for small stuff, while cabinets can accommodate plumbing and taller items.
As one of the largest elements in a bathroom, a vanity has the power to make a big statement. The color, finish, lines, and hardware will help set the tone for a modern, traditional, farmhouse, or rustic bath.
“One of our biggest thrills: creating more storage! A new vanity checks that box while adding color and style—truly the total package.”— Drew
Shop New Scott Living Vanities
How to Install a New Bathroom Vanity
1. Disconnect the Plumbing
Before you remove your bathroom vanity, turn off the water to your sink and turn on the faucet to release any remaining water. Underneath the sink, place a bucket below the pipes and disconnect the curved section (the P-trap) by loosening the slip nut at the top with a basin wrench and pulling it down off the drainpipe. Next, use an adjustable wrench to disconnect the water lines (they look like hoses) from the valves, making sure your bucket is in place to catch any remaining water.
2. Remove the Old
Use a utility knife to cut the caulk that connects the sink to the wall, and remove the sink and counter from the vanity base. Remove the screws that secure the vanity to the wall, then gently pull it away from the wall. Repair the wall and flooring as needed.
3. Prep for the New
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how to install the new bathroom vanity. Usually, you’ll want to measure and mark the position on the wall for the vanity’s height and width. Locate studs. If the vanity doesn’t have an open back, measure and mark the plumbing locations and cut out pipe holes with a hole saw.
4. Install the New Vanity
Slide it into position and check that it’s level. If it doesn’t have adjustable feet, use shims, as needed, to adjust the height. Drill pilot holes into the studs and attach with screws, or use heavy-duty wall anchors as needed. To install a countertop, if needed, add a thin line of caulk to the perimeter to adhere it in place. Caulk where the countertop edge meets the wall for a smooth finish.
5. Connect the Plumbing
Your new faucet should come with detailed instructions for installation. In general, put on the gasket, insert the faucet through the mounting holes, and tighten the nuts using a basin wrench. Next, install the drain, applying a bit of silicone between the rubber gasket and the bottom of the sink. Secure it with a lock nut. Install the ball rod and lift rod. Apply plumbers’ tape in a clockwise direction at each of the connections, then connect the supply lines to the faucet bolts and to the water valves. Finally, apply a rope of plumbers’ putty underneath the sink-drain ring and then attach the P-trap to the new sink-drain line. Test all connections for leaks and enjoy the spoils of your hard work!
What You’ll Need to Install a Bathroom Vanity
- tape measure
- adjustable wrench
- utility knife
- drill/diver & bits
- stud finder
- hole-saw kit
- basin wrench
- silicone caulk & caulk gun
- plumbers’ tape
- plumbers’ putty
1. See What It Comes With
Often vanities will include hardware, the countertop, and sometimes even the faucet! Read carefully to make sure you are cost-comparing apples to apples.
2. Measure Everything
Before you plan how to install the bathroom vanity, make sure it fits! Besides the spot in your bathroom where your new vanity will go, don’t forget to measure all doorways, tight corners, and hallways to make sure it will fit in your home.
3. Recycle, Repurpose
You figured out how to remove the bathroom vanity, now what? If your existing vanity is still in good shape, consider taking it to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore to give it a new life.
4. Know When to Call a Pro
If you’re not comfortable with basic plumbing—or your project requires you to reroute or add lines—bring in a licensed plumber, who can get it done and ensure any changes meet the building codes for your area.
By Drew & Jonathan | Feature photograph by Kelsey Hansen | Rebecca Hay vanity photograph by Mike Chajecki
This article originally appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of Drew + Jonathan Reveal, Drew & Jonathan’s home and lifestyle magazine.