Cabinets (Bathroom Vanities) Buying Guide

Cabinets (Bathroom Vanities)
  • Getting Started

  • Cabinets in the bathroom mostly refer to tall linen cabinets or wall-mounted medicine cabinets. Base cabinets in the bathroom are called vanities. Used for mounting sinks and faucets, or for sitting to prepare hair and make-up, some of the designs now look like furniture, rather than the box type of the late 20th Century. Plumbing locations for the sinks, tubs and toilets will affect the size and location of the vanity. If the plumbing is moved to accommodate faucets or drains, the price of the project will increase. Electrical outlets for hair dryers, etc. must be GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) types due to water in the bathroom. This safety measure must not be overlooked.Type of bathroom— is this a family use room, a powder room used infrequently by visitors, or master bathroom with a spa-like feel?  Vanity size will depend upon storage space needed ,Style of the home — the bathroom vanity/cabinets will blend with the ambiance of the surrounding rooms. Size of the room and doorways must be considered for installing larger furniture-type vanities. The height of the cabinet is important for choosing sinks, such as recessed or vessel sinks that will add to the overall height and affect installation of the faucet.  The total height of the unit, with vessel sink, should not exceed 36-inches. The height of sinks should be 32-inches to 36-inches off the floor. Standard height vanities were designed to be 32-inches high and to accommodate a family with children who would need to reach the sink. Comfort height cabinets are 36-inches high for ease of use by adults.

  • Types

  • Cabinet base-types were used for vanities for decades. The depth of the cabinet can be 17-inches or 24-inches. Heights are 32-inches or up to 36-inches with widths from 12-inches out to 60-inches. Cabinet base style vanities offer drawers, and closed shelves for storage.

    Furniture vanities are the most popular types at this time and come in many styles for design purposes. Usually designed as stand-alone or freestanding units, but not always. Furniture vanities may be found with integral sinks, or be fitted for recessed and vessel sinks. Realize the top drawer of a furniture vanity will not be usable for storage since the sink and plumbing will close off the drawer area.

  • Styles

  • Freestanding units, such as many furniture type vanities, are easy to position in a room around plumbing, electrical and heating. They come in a wide variety of architectural styles and colors to work in any type of bathroom.

    Built-in vanities require attention to detail for size of room, plumbing, heating and electrical.  They also are created in many designs and colors for creating a functional yet beautiful bathroom.

    Wall-mounted cabinets are used for vanities in accessible bathrooms and powder rooms where space is a consideration and storage is not the main issue.

  • Materials

  • Like kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities are constructed of a variety of materials.

    Glass: Clear or tinted glass can be molded, cut and formed into contemporary styles of vanities as well as countertops and sinks.

    Metal: A variety of metals are used to create contemporary and antique styles of pedestals for sinks.

    Wood: Solid wood is rarely used in the bathroom unless in furniture style units. Engineered wood products like particleboard, MDF and plywood are used as the vanity box or base with a laminate surface imitating wood or wood veneer surface.

  • Price Considerations

  • The size of the vanity is the biggest contributor to the price. Styling is also a large consideration.

    Specialty materials such as glass fronts in the doors, metal work for decoration also impact upon the price.

    Countertops and integral sinks can add to the cost of the unit when comparing vanities — but realize if they are not part of the package, the price of the sink and countertop must be added to the budget.

    Plumbing and/or electrical — if they are needed to install GFCI boxes or to relocate pipes for faucets and drains — increase the cost of the project. Try to purchase vanities that fit the faucets and drains where pipes are originally located.