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Vanities for Small Bathrooms

Cabinet Installation in Less Than an Hour

As Seen On
by Jeff Patterson in DIY Bathroom Remodel
Check the entire vanity cabinet perimeter for nails or screws

New vanities for small bathrooms add style and increase a home’s property value, no matter how tight the space.

A lot of people think they can’t install a bathroom vanity but it’s not that hard and doesn’t require any expensive tools.

Plus, you can do this bathroom update in an evening or over the weekend in less than one hour.

Here is a list of tools you’ll need for this project:

  • Crescent wrench
  • Channel locks
  • Bucket
  • Utility knife
  • Level
  • Wood Shims
  • Stud Finder
  • Drill

So, today’s tutorial will show you how we installed a brand new 30 inch bathroom vanity cabinet in my sister’s bathroom in less than one hour.

Step 1: Remove the Old Vanity Sink  

Does your sink look like this one?

How to replace a bathroom vanity

Then you’re probably ready to replace it with a modern look.

Fortunately vanities in small bathrooms are easy to replace and the first step is to turn off the water to the bathroom faucet. Do this by turning the shutoff valves to the faucet completely to the right and off.

Turn off water to the bathroom sink

Turn the faucet on and check that no water is coming out of it. If your shutoff valves are not working you’ll need to turn the water off at the water main in your house.

The next step is to disconnect the vanity sink from the P-trap. Place your bucket under the P-trap to catch water then use channel locks to loosen the nut on the vertical section of P-trap pipe.

Loosen the P-Trap nut

The last step in removing the vanity sink top is to remove the water supply lines from the shutoff valves.

Use a crescent wrench to loosen the small nuts that connect the supply lines to the shutoff valves. Again, place a bucket under these nuts to catch water that is still in the lines.

If you can’t fit a bucket under the supply lines place a thick towel on the bottom of the vanity to soak up any residual water.

Loosen the nuts that connect the water supply lines to the shutoff valves

You could also remove the nuts that connect the supply lines to the actual sink faucet. This is a bit harder and requires a special tool called a basin wrench ($12-$20 here in the states). I actually did this instead of loosening the nuts on the shutoff so that I could have a picture of the process.

Remove water supply lines on the underside of the sink with a basin wrench

The vanity sink is now resting on top of the vanity cabinet. Most of the time the sink has been glued to the top of the cabinet with caulk.

Use your utility knife to score the caulk and then pry the vanity loose by hand. You can use a crow bar to help with this process but I try to be as careful as possible so as to not ruin the wall(s) next to the sink.

Score caulk that holds the vanity sink to the vanity cabinet

 

Step 2: Remove the Old Vanity Cabinet 

This step should be short and sweet. Usually there are only 2 or 4 nails/screws securing the vanity cabinet to the bathroom wall.

If the installation was done correctly the nails or screws will be in wood studs.

Our old vanity cabinet was attached to the wall with 8d penny nails. I wedged a pry bar between the wall and vanity cabinet to loosen the nails. If you’re lucky and have screws simply loosen the screws with a drill or screwdriver.

Remove the vanity cabinet by prying loose the nails that hold it to the bathroom wall

Make sure you check the entire perimeter of the vanity cabinet for nails or screws. Our old buddy in the picture below had 4 nails holding it to the wall.

Check the entire vanity cabinet perimeter for nails or screws

Once all the nails or screws are removed you should have a free standing vanity cabinet.

Feel free to set it out for the garbage man or call your local Habitat for Humanity Restore to see if they want it along with the sink. Click on this link to find a Restore near you (my friend Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl has found great deals at her location).

Step 3: Install Your New Vanity Cabinet

My sister picked out a 30 inch espresso colored vanity cabinet by Allen & Roth. The cabinet already comes assembled and a sink is included.

The cabinet should be positioned against the bathroom wall where the old one used to be. I our case, the back of the cabinet was cut out by the manufacture to allow the shutoff valves to come through.

If your cabinet doesn’t have this cutout you’ll have to do it yourself with a hole saw. Sorry, that’s a different tutorial 🙁

With the new cabinet in place, position a level across its width and then its depth. Our level indicated the right side needed shimmed up.

Position your new vanity against the bathroom wall and check its levelness

Place wood shims under your vanity cabinet until it’s level.

Level your new vanity cabinet with shims

Find the studs in your wall using a stud finder or you can knock on the wall with you knuckles until you hear a high pitch thud. You can check the wall for a stud where the high pitch thud is located by tapping a nail into it. If the nail is hard to hammer then you likely hit a stud.

Check for studs in your bathroom wall

I make a small mark on the wall with a pencil to indicate the stud location. Try to find two studs.

Drill a hole in the cabinet that is below the stud mark. Do this for at least two locations along the vanity perimeter that line up with a stud.

Drill a hole in the vanity cabinet that is directly below the stud mark on the bathroom wall

Use the screws that came with the vanity and drill them through the hole you just made. These screws will attach the vanity to the wall.

Attach the vanity cabinet to the wall with the screws that came with it

That’s how you install a vanity cabinet in a small bathroom. Sorry this last picture isn’t that great, I need to get a better one.

How to install a bathroom vanity

This project is not that hard, requires few tools, and literally can be done in an evening or weekend morning or afternoon.

The summary points are as follows:

  • Turn off the water to the vanity faucet
  • Remove the water supply lines from the shutoff valves
  • Undo the P-Trap from the sink drain
  • Score the caulk holding the sink to the cabinet
  • Pry nails or unscrew screws holding the cabinet to the wall
  • Position the new cabinet agains the wall and ensure it’s level
  • Find studs on the wall using a stud finder or your knuckles
  • Screw holes through the cabinet that line up with the studs
  • Attach the cabinet to the wall using the screws that came with it

What’s Next 

Our other tutorial shows how to install the faucet and sink.

Small bathrooms could benefit from either a floating pedestal sink or traditional pedestal.

Also, grab our free guide if you’re renovating a bathroom – it shares how to remodel a bathroom in 10 days or less

Send Me The Guide

 

Cheers,

Jeff Patterson

 

 

 

 

11 Comments
  1. Leida says:

    GREAT JOB!!! Very nice instructions, and you made it ook so easy. Thanks for the info.

    1. Jeff says:

      Thanks Leida, installing a new vanity really isn’t that difficult and I hope this tutorial inspires others to give it a try 🙂

  2. Leida says:

    OOPS!!! look instead of ook. LOL!!!

    1. Jeff says:

      Haha, I do the same thing all the time.

  3. SheilaG says:

    That looks easy enough. I’ve thought about replacing the pedestal sink in our powder room, but not sure if the cabinet style would make the space look smaller. Nice to have the storage, though.

    1. Jeff says:

      Installing a vanity cabinet is super simple and I wanted to show everyone that it can be done relatively quickly. I know what you mean with regard to pedestal versus cabinet. We lean toward pedestal sinks when space is super tight. But if you have hallway storage or can hang a small cabinet on the wall, say behind the toilet, then a vanity cabinet could be an option. Hope you’re having a great day Sheila 🙂

  4. Mary says:

    I am installing a new vanity in our spare bathroom. It is level but flush against the wall on the bottom and the wall slants away from it on the top. When I shim the front to make it plumb to the wall on top, the vanity is slanted downward from front to back.What should I do to solve this?

  5. Mandy says:

    If I’m installing a cabinet sink, where a pedestal used to be, do i cut the trim away?

  6. Erik says:

    Isnt there a noticeable gap now where you shimmed that vanity foot?

  7. Ammie says:

    Hi – Is it possible to replace a bathroom vanity without turning off the water? I’m hoping I can just disconnect the vanity, slide it out and then slide the new one in.

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