How is bathroom vanity formed?
April 14, 2021 10:20 PM   Subscribe

The vanities in both bathrooms are in poor condition and weren't great craftsmanship to begin with. Where does a USian find a vanity cabinet and top/sink that won't fall apart in a few years and how much should I expect to pay? 30" and 36" widths.

I'm having a hard time figuring out how bad the vanities at Home Despot and Low's are - the ones I can see in person mostly look quite cheap, and they all have pretty concerning reviews. It's not clear that more expensive ones are better-constructed. I know unhappy people are more likely to leave reviews, but the photos show awful assembly and shipping damage. Is a cabinet maker a plausible solution? Can I paint exposed particle board edges and get adequate moisture protection? Are prices higher right now because of the high demand for wood products and disrupted supply chains?

For context, the house and vanities are 15 years old, builder grade original fixtures - I've considered trying to fix them up, but they're missing doors / water damaged / dated and I don't think it's worth it. I don't need something fancy, but I'd prefer something that won't swell up from water damage or chip in a year.
posted by momus_window to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A cabinet maker is absolutely a plausible solution but don't expect to save money. My folks got their vanities from Restoration Hardware and they've held up pretty well. I don't remember exactly when their bathrooms were remodeled but it's been at least a decade now.
posted by potrzebie at 11:31 PM on April 14, 2021 [1 favorite]

I had a tough ask because my vanity had to fit in an existing alcove. If you don’t need precise width, cabinetmaker is probably overkill. I managed to find a solid teak vanity from Signature Hardware that happened to fit the bill nicely. I wanted to go with Room and Board, but the widths were slightly wrong.
posted by supercres at 12:11 AM on April 15, 2021

I had the most success with a cabinetmaker. I got all timber and soft-close glides and the whole shebang for about the cost of Home Depot. YMMV but definitely get a quote from a cabinetmaker. Another surprising place was when posh hotels get updated and lux excess fixtures become available for cheap.
posted by jadepearl at 3:31 AM on April 15, 2021

I found a cabinetmaker who runs his business out of his backyard shop and made me kitchen cabinets at the same cost as Home Depot’s semi-custom stuff. Quality was great. I’d look into that.
posted by slateyness at 4:51 AM on April 15, 2021

Check a surplus store in your area - they go by names like 'Builders Warehouse' or whatever. You shouldn't worry too much about water damaging them unless you have leaks - which you should get solved. The ones from Home Depot will last 15 years - that's a really short amount of time for a cabinet to last, especially if you buy the more expensive ones.

You should go with a custom cabinet maker (check your area - there are more than you think and at varying prices) if your area is a non-standard size and you want to completely fill it.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:57 AM on April 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

I haven't tried them yet, but the flat-pack options from Barker Cabinets look really good, and the prices aren't too bad (at least the "Sale Price" that seems to be posted). I researched them a couple of years ago, but haven't placed my order yet.

This one was actually under their "Bath" section, although the images show kitchen sinks. It would be easy to put a counter top on one with a bathroom sink cutout, but you'd have to get that separately.

posted by amtho at 8:07 AM on April 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

I went to a local plumbing supply place and they offer custom cabinets. The prices were eye-watering at first, but they actually mark them DOWN when they sell them to you. I had an odd size (54 inches), so this was the only way to get what I needed in a size that would fit. Made in the US, all exposed cabinetry is solid wood (doors and drawers, trim and sides if they are outward facing), easy close drawers, sturdy hinges, and you choose the style, hardware and finish. I got the top from a separate place that only does countertops. It wound up being very reasonable for a product that will last and has a warranty.
posted by XtineHutch at 9:28 AM on April 15, 2021

Best answer: How bad the vanities at Home Despot and Low's are: I have THREE of the very cheapest vanities, none were painted and all have suffered at the hands of children - and they are still going at year 8. They look banged up, but that is mainly because I was supposed to paint them.

Are more expensive ones are better-constructed? The nicer units have mirrors that don't float around, much nicer hardware, and are better finished. But they are still foil covered particle board right up until you hit the highest range.

Cabinet maker? If you can find one. Here in my area there is a widespread shortage of cabinet makers and woodworkers generally. It's the lowest paid of any of the trades and construction has vacuumed up most of the talent. Your best bet here in my neighborhood is to get yourself introduced to someone in the immigrant community who knows someone who knows someone . It will be on their schedule, and all it takes is just asking around.

Can I paint exposed particle board edges and get adequate moisture protection? Oh yes. A cheap orbital sander with an assortment of Diablo discs to prep and then have at it is what I would typically answer. It would look ok. You can just paint it keep it from getting worse. But if your vanities are standard sized I would just broaden my search for replacements.

Are prices higher right now demand is out the roof and supply is busted so prices are secondary to the fact that folks are often waiting and waiting to get their kit. There is a robust used market for vanities - as others have noted above, look there.
posted by zenon at 9:59 AM on April 15, 2021

We got a replacement vanity with dual sinks at costco and a single vanity with stone top at home depot - both have worked out fine for us. It may depend on how hard you use your cabinets, but in my experience as long you don't get the cheapest option, you choose something with a solid countertop, and you aren't straight up dumping water all over them, it's probably going to be durable enough to hang for a number of years.
posted by amycup at 12:59 PM on April 15, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Having a range of options was very helpful in figuring out that it makes sense for me to stay at the "budget" end. Hitting the building salvage places and getting something in stock at a major retailer if that doesn't work out. Thanks for all the suggestions!

And I think my current vanities are kitchen cabinets, thanks for helping me figure that out, amtho! They have some weird trim that didn't make sense.
posted by momus_window at 1:23 PM on April 15, 2021

I have a Home Depot vanity, wood with granite top that I purchased online for about $4 - 500? Several years ago, and it still looks great and functions perfectly. 36" I think.
posted by j810c at 2:29 PM on April 15, 2021

Ikea also sells bathroom furniture including bathroom sinks and sink cabinets. I am not sure I know anyone who has a vanity from Ikea in their bathroom, but their kitchen cabinets have a good reputation for durability and longevity....
posted by Sublimity at 3:23 PM on April 15, 2021

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