A bathroom vanity is a combination of sink or basin and the storage like cabinets and shelves that surrounds it. It’s a type of fixture for the bathroom that basically holds the sink and provides storage for bathroom items and supplies. Above it, a mirror or a mirrored cabinet is placed at eye level.
Bath vanities must be durable to be able to withstand daily wear and tear. It must be capable of standing up to water, soap, cosmetics, and steam, so no porous and delicate surfaces are allowed.
There are a lot of bathroom vanity styles, but they can be categorized into three main types: shelf, wall-mounted, and standing cabinet-style vanities.
- Shelf vanity
The most basic of all vanity types, the shelf vanity is cheap and easy to install. All you need is a sink and an open shelf under it. The vanity shelf is simply placed on the floor. The top surface is usually designed for the sink, workstation, and storage for soap; while the bottom shelving is an open space where you can place towels and baskets for storing other bathroom products. This type of vanity is mounted under or next to a mirror.
- Wall-mounted vanity
Also known as floating vanities, wall-mounted vanities are affixed directly unto the wall. This vanity style has become popular recently because it creates a sleek, modern and edgy look for the bathroom. These are eye-catching pieces that look very lightweight. It leaves a gap between the floor and a bottom unit, making it easier for cleaning.
A wall-mounted vanity can either be shelf-type, cabinet-type or a combination of both. For the shelf type, you can attach one counter with ample space for the sink and vanity purposes, or several counters underneath each one for more storage. Wall-mounted cabinet types, meanwhile, consists of a countertop with sink and space, and drawers of different sizes and styles underneath to serve as additional storage compartments.
However, it would be more complicated to install, thus making it a more expensive option. Also, it is more susceptible to impact and damage because of the lack of floor support, so you have to make sure that the material and the installation should be sturdy enough to last for decades.
- Standing cabinet-style vanity
When most people think of bathroom vanities, this is most likely the style that would come to mind. Cabinet-style vanity units are the traditional and most commonly used vanity style for bathrooms. It can support almost all types of bathroom sinks, except for pedestal sinks. Because of its furniture-like construction, you can ensure its stability since it is mounted on both the floor and the wall.
Cabinet-style vanities can range from very narrow that can only hold a small sink, to wide cabinets that can hold up to two sinks and a spacious countertop. Either way, the cabinet conceals the drain and water supply pipes connected to the faucet and sink.
Bathroom vanities can be made of different materials. Typically, wood is used in one form or another since the shelves and cabinets of vanities are usually made of finished, furniture-quality wood. The countertop is where materials differ. The top surfaces of vanities can be made of:
- Stone (granite, marble, and Caesarstone) – the most durable and dependable material for vanity tops. It gives a rich, sleek look while being able to handle wear, heat, water, stains, and grease.
- Quartz – durable and low-maintenance. It can also handle heat and wear water and grease and has a price comparable to granite and marble.
- Laminate – less expensive than stone and comes in a wide range of colors and textures. It is a versatile material because it can mimic the looks of stone and quartzite materials, making it a popular choice for vanity tops. It can withstand water and stains, but you have to be careful with heat and impact since it can burn and dent.
- Porcelain – durable and easy to clean. It is generally available only in white.
- Tile – can be patterned into a huge array of designs, colors, and finishes. However, grout lines inevitably trap dirt, grease, and grime.
- Wood – must be well sealed to prevent absorption of water. It is typically used in basic shelf-type vanities with the shelf doubling as the countertop.
Not all bathroom sinks can be supported by a vanity. Here are the sink types that can be installed with the three types of bathroom vanities:
- Drop-in Sink
This type is also called self-rimming or top-mount sink because of the manner it is installed. Drop-in sinks, as the name suggests, are “dropped” into the cutout on the counter. It has a rim or a “lip” on top that keeps it in place on the vanity top. It is typically installed in cabinet-type vanities, with countertops made of stone, ceramic tile or plastic laminate. Drop-in sinks are common to older constructions of bathrooms.
This is a type of sink mounted on the underside of the countertop. It is seamlessly integrated from the countertop, making it clean-looking. Under-mount sinks are typically larger than the cutout of the top, creating a slight lip over the sink bowl. Because of how it is constructed, it can only be installed into stone countertops. It’s a bit pricier, but it gives less to no chance of leaks. This type is often seen in newer vanity models.
The vessel sink is a fairly new style for bathroom sinks, but its unique appeal and has made itself a popular choice in the recent years. With that being said, vessel sinks are commonly seen in newly constructed homes. This type of sink looks like a basin placed on top of the countertop, with faucets that are either wall-mounted or deck-mounted. Because it keeps the vessel visible, it can be made of a variety of materials such as crystal, glass, stone, mosaic, or marble to make it more attractive. It is also available in a wide-range of shapes, including rectangular and bowl-shaped varieties. And since if it doesn’t need a countertop cutout, it is compatible with all the types of vanities.