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“In Style” Bathroom Vanities from Catalogs – or NOT

“In Style” Bathroom Vanities from Catalogs – or NOT
January 8, 2012 SNH Editorial Team

Today’s “in style” bathroom remodeling has a modern retro look.  A big part of bathroom remodels are vanities with so-called open shelf, metal stand sink bases with marble stone tops. You can buy complete units in many trend-setting catalogs.  Units are on the pricey side since they generally are made with quality materials – nicely machined metal bases and marble tops. The prospect of simply “popping” in one of them is enticing. It suggests timesavings in installations.  But know this before you purchase one – replacing vanities is a home improvement project where the devil is in the details!

Bathroom remodels have three things in common

(1) Nothing lays out in “standard sizes”

(2) You generally wish for more space than you have available

(3) Walls are never 100% plumb

Against this backdrop ordering a standard size, catalog vanity is likely to waste precious counter space on either of its sides.

Walls may look plumb but they are rarely completely straight enough to receive a non-flexible material like stone without gaps.  In other words, the new stone will now show up the wave of the wall, which was previously not visible.  Caulking the gap looks like a poor patch.  Your eye will be drawn to the gap every time – guaranteed!

Shipping of stone slabs can be tricky. Stone tradesmen know how to properly move stone – do UPS and/or other regular shippers? There is a good chance catalog units arrive with broken or chipped stone tops. I personally know of too many reports of this already. Getting a replacement is a hassle, takes time and erases all possible timesavings!

So what is the solution? Tried and true custom installations! Find a custom metal sink base and a purchase a stone top from a local stone fabricator.

Check out Palmer Industries for sink bases.  They sell custom metal bases in a variety of sizes and finishes which your carpenter can cut to just the right length.

Visit a stone fabricator select a stone and an edge detail you love. Give yourself maximum counter space.  A good fabricator will make a template once your base is in place so the stone is cut to the imperfections in your wall. – A critical step! Chances are the stone top will be delivered without damage by the fabricator – I have never had a sink top arrive broken from a fabricator.

Bottom line:

•  At first glance pre-assembled catalog units may look like a time saver and great bathroom product but in too many cases shipping complications erase this advantage

•  When purchased from a credible catalog, the materials are usually good but assembled in your bathroom they usually show off common wall imperfections and in turn make the overall job look “crappy”.

•  Pre-assembled units come only in certain sizes and do not maximize countertop space

When you spend top dollar get a top quality job! Give your bathroom remodels the look of perfection and don’t give up an inch. And here is the best part:  Costs between catalog units and custom assemblies should run about the same!