Uncle Bobs Tips

Bathroom Vanities

Bathroom Vanities

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Bathroom vanities (for the large majority of men out there who have no reason or desire to know what a vanity is) generally consist of a mirror, sink, countertop and cabinets (cabinets are optional but highly recommended for storage purposes). Now I don't know about you, but I've never taken a real interest in the living room curtains (at least I think we have curtains), or paid any attention at all to the color bed sheets my wife chooses. But every man has his field of excellence, his domain. Since I'm going to be spending some quality time there, I feel it behooves me to have a say in what my bathroom looks like. The shower stall, tub and toilet are all things that need my personal input. The vanity should not, however, be overlooked as the woman's realm, for this is simply not so. Here's why.

Bathroom vanities are the desks at home, the workstations of the house. After a long (or short) night, you rise groggily and enter the bathroom. Who's there to greet you? Your sink and mirror! The vanity is the place where you come back to this world; don't you think that place should be convenient, comfortable and pleasing to the eye?

For convenience: If she makes the plans, your razor gets put in the back of the drawer, your toothbrush on the top shelf, and your magazines, who knows where they went!

For comfort: Ever notice that 99.9999% of women are shorter than their men? Unless you want to be bent in half every time you look in the mirror, speak up now!

And aesthetics: Not much to say here, except look at her purse vs. your wallet. 'nough said.

So you're not fumbling around come morning, causing sever lower back damage, or basking in an 'ethereal emerald glow', get involved with your bathroom vanity, please!

Even before you get down and dirty (and be sure, you will be getting down and very dirty!), there's what to do.

1. Choose a material that is both appealing aesthetically and practically. Steels and metals that rust easily are not the best choices, nor is unfinished wood, as the constant exposure to water will quickly take its toll.

2. Measure, plan, and measure again to ensure the right fit. Make sure there's enough room once the vanity is in place for you as well!

3. Note the locations of outlets for later reference. (I have a whole piece on bathroom lighting if you are interested in learning more about it.)

4. Read about common bathroom vanity errors, and learn from others' mistakes!

The actual installation goes something like this. (Caution: when working with plumbing or electrical wiring, always remember to turn off the pipes or electricity before you begin.)

The Vanity:

If you're not starting from scratch (which most of you aren't), you'll first have to remove the old vanity. The best way to do this is to get rid of the sink, and then detach the unit from the wall. First remove or break both the clips (beneath the sink) and the sealing agent that is keeping the sink connected to the unit. Keep someone on hand in case the sink is too heavy to lift out alone.

Next we've got to get rid of the actual wall unit. These instructions will vary slightly depending on the setup of your vanity, but you can improvise a little. This is a two-step project. The caulk sealant has to be severed from all along the wall. This should be done very carefully to ensure that no damage is done to the tiles or walls of the surrounding area. Next you have to locate and remove the screws that are attaching the unit to the wall studs. Now you're ready to start!

You'll have to cut holes for pipes, but we'll talk about that later.

Carefully insert the vanity. Go slow, you don't want any nicks or scratches on the walls or vanity.

Once the vanity is in place, use a level to make sure that it is even across the board. If it's not, you can use small pieces of wood (shims) to balance it out. Using three or four inch wood screws, secure the vanity to the wall studs.

Apply a layer of strong sealant along the top edge of the vanity and place the countertop on top. Apply pressure, and let dry.

Install the sink and any additional fixtures,

Caulk all around the edges of the sink, faucet and cabinet units.

In part two, we'll finish up this exciting home improvement.

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