A vanity provides handy storage space for large containers below the sink. It also adds a bit of cabinetry to your bathroom. Surprisingly, a vanity is actually the easiest type of sink to install. The cabinet will cover all the plumbing. Count on spending a day to remove a wall-hung sink and to replace it with a vanity.
Choosing a Vanity
If you have the space, get a large vanity. Not only will you have more storage, but you will gain more counter space by the sink.
For ease of installation and low maintenance, buy a unit with an integral sink and countertop, meaning that only one molded piece sits on top of the cabinet.
The cabinet should feel solid. Avoid units with doors made of particleboard. The cabinet should have a solid paint to protect against the humidity of a bathroom. A unit without a back will be easier to install than one with a plywood sheet that you have to cut for the plumbing.
For the countertop, synthetic marble may be your best bet. It is sturdy and has a surface that will stay shiny for years. Plastic and fiberglass will dull over time.
Remove the Old Sink
Shut off the water at the stop valves below the sink. If there are no stop valves, shut off the water to the house and drain a faucet on a lower level. Set a bucket under the P-trap, and disassemble it with a channel-type pliers or a pipe-wrench. If it looks worn, plan on replacing it. Disconnect the supply lines at the stop valves.
If you have a wall-hung unit that just rests on a wall bracket, simply lift it up and out. If it doesn’t budget, it may be connected to the bracket with bolts, which probably have rusted. Use a hacksaw to cut them.
Prepare the Plumbing
If you don’t have stop valves under the sink, now is the time to install them; they come in handy in emergencies. Choose an angle or straight stop made to fit your type of pipe. Install the valves and test by turning on the water. Measure to make sure the supply lines and the drain line will fit inside the cabinet. In most cases, this will not be a problem.
Secure the Cabinet
If your cabinet has a back, cut holes for the drain and the supply lines. It is often difficult to fit the pipes through small holes. Because the back will not be visible, you may want to make a large cutout that will easily accommodate all the plumbing. If pipes come up through the floor, you will need to cut precise holes in the bottom of the cabinet. For a neater job, use large drill bits rather than a saber saw, if possible.
Set the cabinet in place and check the top for level in both directions. If necessary, use shims at the floor or at the wall to make adjustments. Firm attach the cabinet to the wall with screws driven into studs.
Install the Faucet and Set the Top
Set the sink on its side and attach the faucet. Install flexible supply lines that are long enough to reach the stop valves. Make sure they are tight but do not over-tighten. Install the drain and tailpiece, using plumber’s putty where the outlet flange rests on the bottom of the sink. Install the pop-up drain assembly.
Lift the sink carefully onto the cabinet and position it so it is centered from side to side and tight against the wall.
Attach the Plumbing and Test
Crawl under the sink with a pair of channel-type pliers. Attach the supply lines to the stop valves and screw them on tight.
Install a new P-trap or reinstall the old one. Whether plastic or chrome, these pieces fit together with large nuts and rubber gaskets. Don’t attempt to do without a P-trap – it’s necessary to keep odors out of your bathroom. Attach the P-trap to the tailpiece and run the drain line out to the main drain line, which is usually positioned in the wall. Tighten all the nuts but avoid cranking down too hard.
Turn on the stops and look for leaks. Then turn on the faucet and watch the drain line for leaks. Finally, perform the ultimate test: lift up the rod to stop up the sink and fill the bowl with water. Open the drain, and look carefully for drips. Tighten any leaking joints and retest until everything stays dry.