Choosing a Bathroom Vanity

Location, location, location

If part of your vanity replacement means moving it to a different location in your bathroom, make sure you choose a spot that won't impede traffic flow or interfere with doors and drawers. Also, don't forget to ensure there is enough space above it for your mirror. Just as critical is the location of your plumbing. Moving the vanity or even changing the type (e.g. switching from floor-mounted to wall-mounted) will likely mean rerouting pipes and drains. If you choose to move the vanity away from other fixtures, the cost can go up even more. Be sure to budget accordingly.

Size matters

The size of your vanity should make sense with the size of your bathroom. Even if you need more storage, it won't look or feel right to cram a large vanity into a tiny bathroom. Consider your lifestyle, the function of the room (e.g. master bath vs. powder room), and how you will use the vanity-both surface and storage-and understanding the type of vanity you need will become clearer. Don't forget the height component. A vanity that is too tall or too short will quickly frustrate the user. The traditional height is 32 inches, but with some newer sink styles, you may want to increase the height to 34-35 inches.

Number of sinks

Provided you have the space, you have the option of selecting a vanity with double sinks. Here are a couple of tips:

  • Single Vanities

    As the most common size, single vanities with one sink are the best option for small bathrooms. If you want ample counter space, single vanities with a large width are best.

  • Double Vanities

    Perfect for a shared or family bathroom. Two sinks are generally best accommodated by a vanity width of at least 48 inches.

Know your mounting options

  • Standard Vanity

    This is the most common type of bathroom vanity. It has toe kick and is usually the best option for maximizing storage space.

  • Furniture Piece

    It looks like a chest or buffet, and is more decorative.

  • Wall-mounted

    These vanities do not have legs that touch the ground. They typically hang or float on the wall. It's a fairly modern look that works well for opening up floor space in a small bathroom.

Select Appropriate Materials

Select appropriate materials. Remember that a bathroom is a wet, humid environment, and it often doesn't get much time to dry before the next use. Good cabinet construction is essential, so be sure to choose a vanity whose materials will stand up to that kind of use. (Decorative vanities in a powder room usually don't get the same kind of rigorous use, so more delicate finishes and surfaces may be fine in that type of setting.) Some vanities may already be equipped with a countertop, but others may allow you to choose your own. Keep in mind that if you have children or less fastidious family members, you may want a more durable surface that is easier to clean, such as solid surface, laminate or engineered stone. Also be sure to check the cleaning requirements before you choose a vanity top; certain cleaners or common solutions (e.g. nail polish remover) can affect the finish and or cause discoloration.