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Replace a Bath Vanity

Bathroom Vanity

Add style and storage to your bathroom with an up-to-date replacement vanity.

Know Before You Shop for Your Vanity

  • Check the wall surface where you’ll mount your vanity. If it’s tile, as in the bathroom shown, add a 1/4-in. glass / tile drill bit to your tool list.
  • Measure the existing vanity width and depth or the width of the space where you’ll install a new vanity. When choosing a vanity to fit your bathroom, allow a little extra space on both sides for an overhanging vanity top.
  • If your flooring extends only as far as the bottom edges of the existing vanity, record the vanity base measurements. You may need to add wood trim to compensate for any slight differences.
  • Vanities that mimic freestanding furniture look fresh and fun — if your floor cooperates. After you pull out an existing cabinet-style vanity, there’s a good chance you’ll discover there’s no finished bathroom floor underneath. To keep bare plywood from showing between the legs of a furniture-style vanity, plan to patch or fill in the bathroom floor first.
  • Higher-than-usual vanities provide a welcome break for tall folks. If that sounds good to you, check to make certain the P-trap will still connect with an elevated sink’s drainpipe.

Remove the Old Vanity

Step 1

Disconnect the old faucet. Remove any hold-downs attaching the top to the old vanity, cut through caulk beads between the top and the wall, and lift the top off of the old vanity. To give your back a break, remove all drawers and cabinet doors for easier access to the mounting screws and for lighter lifting. If the old vanity has wood trim around the base, pry that loose without damaging the walls or floor.

If you’re leveraging your pry bar against a surface that’s easily marred or broken, such as ceramic tile, place a thin piece of wood beneath the pry bar before you give it a push.

Step 2

Using an electric drill and a suitable screwdriver bit, remove the mounting screws holding the vanity to the wall. Lift the old vanity away from the wall and off the floor without hitting or bending the water supply lines and drainpipe.

Step 3

Inspect the installation area and remove any baseboards that might prevent the back of the new vanity from touching the wall. Next, use a roofing square or level to check that the floors are perpendicular to the wall. If they’re off from being square by more than about 1/8 in., see “Close the Gap for a Perfect Fit” below.

Prepare the New Vanity for Installation

Step 1
Stud Finder on a Tiled Wall

Decide where you’ll position your vanity. If it has no back panel, you’ll be able to position the vanity back against the wall and fine-tune the location without bumping the pipes. If the vanity has a back, though, you’ll need to make cutouts for the water lines and drainpipe. First measure the width and height of the back. Then transfer those dimensions to the wall where you want the vanity. (Tape lets you mark a tile wall.) Use a level to make sure your dimension lines are plumb and parallel. Then use a stud sensor to locate any studs between your lines and mark their centers.

Step 2
Measure for the Vanity

On the wall, measure from the floor and vanity edge marks to the center of both water-supply pipes and the drainpipe. Transfer those measurements to the back of the vanity and drill holes about 1/2 in. diameter oversize to accommodate the water pipes (and their shutoff valves) and the drainpipe. (Remove the valve handles, if possible, to minimize the hole size required.)

Step 3
Drill the Vanity

With the vanity back against the wall as tightly as possible, rest your level on the top of the vanity along one side and check it. Do the same for the opposite side and along the front and back edges. Add wooden shims until all top edges are level.

Step 4

Now check for gaps along both sides where the vanity edges touch the wall. Sometimes when a house settles, a wall or floor develops a slant that creates gaps. If that’s a problem, see “Close the Gap for a Perfect Fit” below. If there’s no gap, drill pilot holes in the mounting rails or back where there’s a stud mark.

Step 5

f you’re mounting the vanity against drywall, drill 5/32-in. pilot holes in the vanity mounting rails where you’ll insert mounting screws. Then drive #10 x 2-1/2-in. cabinet-mounting screws through the back or mounting rail pilot holes, the drywall, and into the studs. If there’s a gap between the back and the wall, avoid driving the screws so deep that they distort the back panel or mounting rail. Using your utility knife, score and snap off any exposed excess on the shims.

Step 6

If necessary for cabinet-style vanities, cut quarter-round trim or baseboard material with mitered ends to wrap around the front and sides of the vanity.

To hold your vanity firmly in place for years to come, use cabinet-mounting screws. Their wide heads with flat washer-shape undersides, won’t dig into the mounting rail, and their coarse threads grip studs firmly.

Adding a Vanity to Tile Walls

Screws bounce off tile like bugs off a windshield. If there’s tile behind the vanity, you’ll need to drill through it to reach the drywall and studs. First, mark where the pilot holes in the vanity mounting rails or back emerge above the tile. (Poking a nail through the pilot holes to scratch marks on the tape works well.)

Move the vanity aside and drill through the tile with a 1/4-in. glass/tile bit while cooling the bit with squirts of water. Then replace and level the vanity and drive the mounting screws.

Close the Gap for a Perfect Fit

You’ve placed your vanity in position, leveled it, and there’s a gap (or two) between the back edge of the vanity and the wall. Your vanity, however, may have a built-in solution to that problem.

Check the vanity back. Do the sides seem to stretch a bit beyond where they meet the back? If so, there’s a reason for that. You can trim away part of that surplus to create an edge that parallels your wall even if the wall isn’t perfectly plumb or smooth. Simply round up the following additional tools and supplies:

  • Ruler
  • Compass
  • Jigsaw with a fine-tooth blade
  • Sanding block with 120-grit sandpaper


Don’t have a jigsaw? If there’s not much to remove, you may be able to do the job using a random-orbit sander with 120-grit sandpaper. Just be patient.

Step 1
Measure the Gap

With the vanity in place and leveled, measure the gaps at their widest point on each side where the vanity meets the wall. Apply painter’s tape to the edges of the vanity sides where they touch the wall.

Step 2
Remove Excess Material

Set the circle compass just wide enough to reach across the gap between the vanity edge and the wall at the gap’s widest point. With the point against the wall and the pencil on the tape, scribe a line that parallels the wall. Repeat on the other side.

Step 3

Move the vanity away from the wall and measure the space between the pencil line and vanity edge to be sure it’s not wider than the vanity’s back flange. Using your jigsaw, carefully cut along the pencil line and remove the excess flange material.

Step 4

Place the vanity against the wall and level it again. Now you have a custom-fit vanity ready to mount to the wall.

Shop Bathroom Vanities

Project Information

  • Skill Level: Intermediate

*Time and Cost are estimated.

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