Upgrading an old vanity or purchasing a new one from scratch may seem like a daunting task at first. But don’t worry, my guide is here to show you how to buy a vanity without losing your sanity! We will go through all of your installation and material options to ensure you are well prepared and feeling confident when it comes time to switch out that bathroom vanity.
Whether you are choosing a vanity based purely on function or style, the process is the same. You have to know your space limitations, know which type of vanity is going to fit your bathroom, and then make material selections.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Measuring For A Bathroom Vanity
The size and shape of your bathroom will help you make a lot of decisions. Your budget will too of course. If you are replacing a current vanity, then your job might be easy. You can simply find a new vanity with similar dimensions because you already know how it fits.
If you are building a new home or really refurbishing your existing bathroom, you will have to put a little more thought into the measurements of your new vanity. And that’s ok, it’s fun.
Bathroom vanities come in all shapes and sizes, so no matter how big or small your space is, I guarantee there are plenty of options for you.
But the most important thing you need to do is physically measure your space with a tape measure! No estimating, know to the inch how much room you have. You also have to take into consideration that doors and drawers may be opening, so make sure there is additional space available.
According to Lowes, most vanities come in widths of 24″, 30″, 36″, 48″, and 60″. Although you can definitely find smaller and larger options if necessary.
Most vanities come in depths of 17″ or 24″. When measuring depth, make sure you leave enough room to move around in your bathroom. You don’t want the vanity taking up all the floor space and you end up having to squeeze through to access the toilet.
Standard countertops are 31″ tall, but if you want taller you can find up to 35″. This is helpful if you or family members are tall- keeps you from having to bend down too much when using the sink.
Additional factors to consider when measuring for your vanity:
- Existing plumbing may dictate placement of your vanity (moving plumbing really increases installation cost if you are hiring a professional)
- Locations of electrical outlets and mirrors will help you decide on placement and dimensions
- If you are looking at dual sink vanities, you normally need at least 48″ of width
Types of Vanity
Knowing how much space you have to work with will really help you decide on which type of vanity you should be considering. Cost and style will also help you decide, as well as your storage needs. Bathroom vanities can be separated into 3 categories based on how they are installed.
Freestanding vanities are the most common and easiest to install. They are just like any other piece of furniture that sits on the ground. They come in all kinds of shapes and designs. There are a ton of foot options so you can have fun picking a style that you love.
Freestanding vanities are usually square or rectangular in shape, but you can also find round or oval cabinets for a different look. They can be single or dual sink and can offer a ton of storage. Most are made out of some type of wood. You can find some very elegant pieces made from exotic woods from around the world.
Wall mounted (floating) vanities, as the name implies, are hung on the wall. These vanities are usually a little smaller and offer a little less storage because you lose some overall vanity height. But they provide a sleek look that would fit well with a modernly designed bathroom.
Installation is more complicated that a freestanding because you have to make sure the bracket is attached directly to studs in the wall. Last thing you want is your new vanity crashing to the ground.
You can also find corner vanity units that fit nicely into a corner of your bathroom. These units are small and only fit one sink. These are perfect for small bathrooms that may not have enough room for a full vanity.
Corner units come in many sizes and designs. Many offer some storage as well. These vanities are easy to install, just like the freestanding. You can find some really nice, cozy corner units that can add style to your small bathrooms.
Top vs No Top
After you decide on which type of vanity you need for your bathroom, you should decide whether you want a vanity with a countertop included, or one without a countertop. Each has their benefits and drawbacks.
Getting a vanity with a top is easier because you have everything you need- simply install and start enjoying. Well, you will likely still have to install the faucet, but that’s no biggie. The downside to getting one with its own countertop is that you lose the power to customize your counter. You are stuck with the one that came with the vanity.
This might sound safe to you if you don’t enjoy designing or aren’t too worried about customizing. If you find a vanity with a top that you like, I say go for it.
However, if you want to customize your look a little further, you may want to go for a vanity that doesn’t include a top. This way, you can choose the material and look you want for your new counter. There are a ton of options for tops so you can really have some fun and find a look you love.
Vanity tops come in all the same materials that kitchen counters do. Here’s a list of some of the most popular options:
- Granite- folks love granite both for the limitless colors and styles and the durability. It’s scratch and heat resistant and will last forever. It also adds big value to your home when it comes time to sell.
- Quartz- this material is also very durable. It’s also stain resistant and waterproof, making it a smart selection. Quartz is fairly pricey though and the edges can chip is something is dropped on it.
- Marble- this stone is renowned for it’s elegance and beauty. Most are shades of white and gray, although there are several options available. Although beautiful, marble is a softer stone, which means it scratches and stains easily- sealing is recommended.
- Laminate- laminate is made out of plastic and particleboard/plywood to create an affordable material that comes in an endless array of colors and styles. Laminate tops aren’t as luxurious as natural stone, but they are significantly cheaper and can easily match any look.
When purchasing a vanity top separately from the vanity itself, you have more options on where to buy as well. You can always go to Home Depot or Lowes and search for tops and get plenty of options. Or, you can go straight to a natural stone dealer and choose your slab and have them cut it for you. Keep in mind this will be more expensive, but it makes for a fully customizable product.
Type of Sink
You may have a sink in mind and are trying to find a vanity to fit that sink. This is a fairly common situation. Maybe you saw an awesome sink on tv or in a hotel and you want to try and mimic the look in your bathroom? Sounds good. But the type of sink you want may actually help you figure out which vanity you need.
For example, if you have already found a vessel sink, you will have to find a vanity top that will specifically fit to hold a vessel sink. These are very common and are easy to find. They are often referred to as “single vanities”. In this case, you would be buying the vanity and top separately.
Or, if you haven’t already purchased said vessel sink, you could even find a vanity with a vessel top and sink included. All in one piece. Most likely a freestanding vanity that would be easy to install.
Same goes for an undermount sink. Most vanity tops are designed for an undermount sink (and many include a sink basin), so if you know this is what you want, it will make the decision making a lot easier.
Simply switching out the vanity top is a relatively easy way to spruce up your bathroom and give it a new look. If the vanity itself is in good shape, you may be better off just replacing the top with the type of sink you want included.
Some vanities come with sinks and some don’t. Just something to keep in mind during your search. If you aren’t familiar with the different styles of sink, you may want to check out my sink guide.
A Few More Considerations
Knowing what size you need and what type of vanity you want is the best way to start your search. As you go through the process and start considering materials and styles, there are a few more things I think you should keep in mind as you compare vanities.
I know price is usually the first thing we consider because we have to be realistic about what we can afford. Just know that vanities come in a wide range of prices and it all depends on what type and style you pick.
For example, you can find a simple 24″ freestanding square vanity for $130. You can also find a 72″ circular dual vanity for about $3000.
Price is influenced by:
- Size- larger vanities cost more than smaller ones. A 24″ vanity will be cheaper than a 30″ vanity of similar quality based on size alone.
- Material- solid wood vanities will cost more than composite materials. Likewise, natural stone tops will cost more than laminate or other cheaper options.
- Wall mounted vanities tend to cost more than freestanding. That said, high-end freestanding vanities can cost just as much.
- Single sink vanities cost less than dual sink vanities.
- Brand- some brands are just more expensive due to name alone.
Just know that you can find a vanity that will meet your needs regardless of your price range.
Some vanities come with a backsplash and some don’t. Personally, I like them. Our vanity tops came with a backsplash and I think it really completes the look. It also works functionally to keep water off of your walls.
The inclusion of a backsplash doesn’t really affect the price much.
Most vanities do not include a faucet. Even the vanities that come with a top rarely include a faucet, so just know you will be purchasing one separately. Some vanity combos might include a faucet that matches the hardware of the cabinets. These are nice if you want to keep everything in sync.
You also have a lot of options with faucet placement when buying a new vanity. You can actually search for vanities based on the faucet type and placement. Most vanity tops are pre-drilled for the faucets and you normally get one of 2 options:
- Centerset faucet- the faucet and hot/cold handles are all on one plate, typically designed for a 4″ 3-hole installation system.
- Widespread faucet- this is where the faucet and the hot/cold handles are spread further apart. For widespread faucets, the pre-drilled holes are anywhere from 6-16″ apart.
I recommend you find the right vanity first and then decide on a faucet to match. I also recommending finding a faucet that matches the hardware of the vanity. Makes everything look nice and sleek.
Tip: changing the hardware on a vanity is one of the easiest and fastest ways to really upgrade your look. If you find a vanity you like but aren’t sold on the handles, change ’em up!
Don’t forget about the mirror. You have to make sure there is enough room to fit a minor over the vanity. If you are just replacing an existing vanity, odds are you already have a mirror mounted and don’t have to worry.
Some vanities actually come with a matching mirror. These can be nice deals and they also make it easy to ensure everything matches.
The video below sums everything up nicely, thanks Lowe’s.
Putting It All Together
The vanity is usually the centerpiece of the bathroom. It’s paramount in determining the style of your bathroom, but it’s also a piece of functional furniture that has a job to do. We brush our teeth, shave, and wash our hands at our vanities every day. It’s important to find one that can keep up to the job at hand.
Learning how to buy a vanity is really just knowing what your options are and figuring out what you want. A little education goes a long way. In conclusion, I suggest you do the following when starting your search:
- Measure your space (include extra wiggle room)
- Determine what type of vanity you want: freestanding, wall mounted, or corner
- Decide whether you want a vanity with a top or without. If without, pick your vanity top separately
- Make decisions based on material, cost, and style
- Choose a faucet to match
And that’s it. Don’t let it get too complicated and please try to enjoy the process! Upgrading your bathroom should be fun and exciting, not stressful.
If you have any questions or comments, leave them below and I’ll get back to you soon.