- Bathroom Vanities vs. Bathroom Cabinets
- How to Choose New Bathroom Cabinets and Vanities
- Average Cost to Install Bathroom Cabinets and Vanities
- Best Types of Vanities and Cabinets for the Bathroom
- Popular Bathroom Cabinet and Vanity Styles
- Standard Bathroom Vanity Sizes
- Adding Sinks and Countertops to Bathroom Vanities
- Finding a Bathroom Contractor
Installing a new bathroom vanity or custom cabinetry is an essential step of any complete bathroom makeover. A new bathroom vanity or set can modernize an outdated bathroom, as well as increase bathroom storage and countertop space. New cabinetry also can help you finally organize all those grooming essentials that have been jumbled for years inside your old vanity.
During the bathroom remodel process, it’s a good idea to upgrade your vanity and any other cabinetry inside your bathroom. Modernize created this guide to help homeowners choose the right type of vanity and cabinets for their bathroom. We’ll explore costs, vanity heights and sizes, popular materials and styles, and more. If you need professional help for your bathroom remodel project, we also can put you in contact with trusted contractors in your area who can help you get the job done right.
Bathroom Vanities vs. Bathroom Cabinets
To clarify, a bathroom vanity is a standalone piece of furniture with pull-out doors and holds one or two sink basins on top. Some vanities also have a set of drawers to increase bathroom storage.
Bathroom cabinets, meanwhile, are shallow cabinet boxes that typically hold towels, toiletries, cleaning products and other bathroom essentials. Most of the time, cabinets are custom-fit to your bathroom and are drilled directly into the walls. Cabinets in the bathroom may or may not have sinks installed on top. Some homeowners choose to install custom cabinets to increase storage space, especially in bigger spaces.
How to Choose New Bathroom Cabinets and Vanities
There are a few key factors homeowners should consider when searching for a new bathroom vanity and cabinets.
- Size. This is the single-most important factor to consider. Vanities come in a wide range of sizes. You want a vanity that is functional and meets your needs without overcrowding the space. We’ll discuss standard bathroom vanity sizes a bit later.
- Number of sinks. Vanities typically have one or two sinks, depending on their overall length. For dual sinks, it is best to have a vanity that measures at least five feet long.
- Usage. The type of vanity you choose will be different if you are redesigning a seldom-used guest bathroom vs. transforming your master bath into a luxurious retreat. Key differences include storage space, overall capacity, and who in the house will be primarily using the bathroom. Kids have different storage and usage requirements than teens, who have different needs than adults.
You should also determine whether you want your bathroom cabinets or vanity to be freestanding units that sit on the floor, or wall-mounted units that float above the bathroom floor. You can discuss these options in greater detail with a licensed bathroom contractor who can lend their expertise to your decision-making process.
Average Cost to Install Bathroom Cabinets and Vanities
On average, homeowners can expect to pay around $400 to $700 for a basic vanity. However, there are many factors that will affect your bathroom vanity costs. Modernize created this handy bathroom remodel cost calculator to help homeowners establish baseline costs for their remodeling jobs.
Key factors affecting vanity prices include:
- Number of sinks
- Choice of materials
- Cabinet style
- Difficulty of removing old vanity and installing new one
- Changes to plumbing or electrical
Homeowners in the U.S. can expect to pay $370 on average to install a set of four-door base cabinets. A freestanding two-door vanity costs an average of $490 for U.S. homes.
Note that some homeowners may choose to repurpose a piece of furniture as a vanity to save money. If you want to go this route, be sure to speak to a bathroom remodeler to ensure the furniture can have a countertop and sinks installed.
Best Types of Vanities and Cabinets for the Bathroom
Bathroom vanities and cabinets can range from functional to fabulous depending on your remodeling budget. Take a look at the most popular bathroom vanity and cabinet materials below, and some of the pros and cons of each.
Solid wood cabinetry
Solid wood is one of the most durable and classic choices for bathroom cabinets. Hardwoods – cherry, oak, maple and hickory – and softwoods – pine and cedar – are some of the most common materials choices for wood cabinetry.
Solid Wood Cabinets
One of the most classic, durable, and versatile options for bathroom cabinets and vanities
Unmatched natural beauty when stained and lacquered
Can be refinished over the years
Wide range of wood choices
One of the benefits of wood cabinets in the bathroom is that they are very versatile. They can be stained, lacquered, and refinished as needed to give your cabinets a visual refresh.
Keep in mind that hardwood cabinetry is usually on the high end of the cost spectrum compared to other materials options. Wood cabinetry also is porous, so it can swell under high humidity conditions. This can lead to warping or cracking issues over time.
Expect to pay between $1,000 to $1,600 for a designer-grade solid wood bathroom vanity. Costs could be higher for a larger unit with custom door styles, upgraded hardware and double sinks.
Laminate cabinetry has come a long way from its inception, and is now often used in bathroom remodels for many reasons. One of the biggest reasons for its popularity is that it can be made to mimic natural wood while costing much less to install.
Popular choice for bathroom countertops and vanities due to its low cost and versatile design options
Huge range of styles and finishes, including those that mimic wood
Resistant to warping and fading from humidity
Very easy to clean and maintain
Laminate cabinets use a thin veneer laid atop an engineered-wood core such as MDF or particle board. There are two types: high pressure and low pressure laminate. High-pressure laminate cabinetry costs more than low-pressure cabinetry, but it is also more durable. The laminate layer can be made from hard pressed plastic, vinyl films, hot-stamped thermofoils, as well as thin sheets of wood.
Laminate cabinetry comes in a tremendous range of styles and finishes to match a wide range of bathroom designs, especially modern or contemporary architecture. It also offers significant cost savings over real wood cabinetry.
However, for laminate cabinets, water saturation can damage the engineered wood core over time. When installing laminate cabinets or vanity, be sure your bathroom is well-ventilated. Delamination also used to be a common problem, but advances in technology and manufacturing processes have largely eliminated this issue in higher-end laminate cabinetry.
Laminate cabinetry varies greatly in cost. Expect to pay between $450 and $1,200 for a vanity or cabinets. Prices can be higher depending on quality and customization options such as finish and hardware.
Fiberboard (MDF) Cabinets
Fiberboard, also known as medium density fiberboard (MDF) cabinets are made from composite wood materials glued together under pressure at high heat. Many homeowners go with MDF cabinets because they are lower cost than hardwood, and do not expand and contract as much as real wood does.
A go-to lower-cost alternative to hardwood cabinets that are gaining popularity for bathroom remodels
Mimics the look of real hardwood
Great choice for paint-grade cabinetry
Can be easily repainted or refaced
An MDF bathroom vanity should cost between $400 and $800. Costs could run higher for larger units with double sinks. Despite this low price tag, be aware that fiberboard can be difficult to repair if there is a crack or chip. They can also expand from over exposure to moisture and steam.
Wood bathroom cabinets also can be made using particle board or plywood. But inexpensive particle board cabinets shouldn’t be used in the bathroom since they are easily damaged by water.
Plywood cabinets, which usually straddle the line between high-end and low-end wood cabinetry, offer exceptional durability and are resistant to denting and scratching. However, like particle board, plywood tends to degrade over time when continually exposed to water.
Always discuss these materials and cost options in greater detail with a licensed remodel contractor. A professional will give you a better sense of what type of fiberboard cabinets will best meet your needs and also hold up under high-use and humid conditions present in most bathrooms.
Stainless steel rounds out our overview of the best types of cabinets for the bathroom. These cabinets and vanities offer incredible durability and functionality for the bathroom. There are two types of commercial steel cabinets: 304 (thicker) and 201 (thinner) grade.
Stainless Steel Cabinets
One of the most durable and water-resistant choices for bathroom cabinets
Will never absorb water and resists condensation
Very easy to clean and maintain
Bacteria, heat, and rust resistant
Stainless steel is becoming more and more popular in bathrooms because of their incredible functionality. They do not absorb water, are resistant to heat and bacteria, and are very easy to clean.
One downside, however, is that stainless steel cabinetry often cannot be made in a wide variety of styles or finishes. The material also can be prone to denting. Additionally, they tend to cost more than other types of bathroom vanities. Premium-grade stainless steel cabinetry can cost as much as $2,000 to $3,000 depending on the size.
Popular Bathroom Cabinet and Vanity Styles
In addition to material options, bathroom vanities and cabinets come in a variety of styles. Use the guide below to help determine which types of cabinets best match your renovation goals.
Flat cabinetry has no frames or panels, so it provides a minimalist look that lends itself well to modern architectural styles.
Flat Style Bathroom Cabinets
Classic, minimalist cabinet style that often comes in laminate or wood materials
Works well with minimalist hardware
Easy to clean and maintain
This type of bathroom cabinets and vanities are typically constructed from laminate or solid wood. The face of the cabinets have no features other than hardware pulls. This gives the cabinet or vanity a sleek look that pairs well with and enhances the look of natural stone countertops.
Distressed cabinetry has a worn, weathered look that goes well with antique furniture and vintage decor.
Distressed Bathroom Cabinets
Works best with homeowners that have rustic, antique or vintage taste in bathroom decor
Pairs well with farmhouse style furniture
Works well with brushed metal or gold hardware
Comes in a variety of colors and tones
Distressing techniques include scraping, gouging, rasping, oversanding and purposeful denting, followed by glazing that highlights these features. Your new cabinets will look like you salvaged them from a century-old home. You can pair your distressed cabinets with brushed metal or gold accessories, quartz or marble countertops, and farmhouse style décor to pull the room together.
Louvered cabinets and vanity doors mimic the look of plantation shutters. Instead of having a solid door panel, the door is made up of a series of louvers.
Louvered Bathroom Cabinets
Provides a unique style with increased bathroom ventilation
Can help break down moisture in the bathroom
Popular for hardwood or MDF cabinets
This style of cabinet provides increased air flow and ventilation throughout the bathroom. Their visual appeal pairs well with any type of décor or architectural style. One potential drawback is that they can take a bit more effort to clean and dust than other cabinet styles.
Beadboard is a traditional style of panel construction that has been used for centuries. This style of cabinet is constructed using evenly spaced planks that lend themselves to country, rustic, farmhouse and cottage-style décor.
Beadboard Bathroom Cabinets
A classic, shabby chic style that pairs well with natural wood or white-colored cabinets
Mimics wainscoting or shiplap
Great choice for smaller bathrooms
Popular for hardwood or MDF cabinets
Beadboard is typically installed vertically, but the planks also can be installed horizontally to mimic a shiplap look. These cabinets are typically custom-made solid wood or MDF cabinetry.
Inset cabinets are one of the most common types of cabinets for the bathroom. This is partly because they pair well with a tremendous range of architectural styles and interior design schemes.
Inset Style Bathroom Cabinets
Simple modern style
Clean, minimalistic look
Wide variety of colors and design choices
Full inset cabinets have doors that fit flush with the cabinet frame when the door or drawer is closed. They require more construction detail than other types of cabinetry, so there’s a roughly 15 to 30 percent price premium for full inset doors.
Inset doors also can be full overlay – the doors and drawers close next to each other, so you cannot see any of the cabinet faces. Partial overlay doors – the most common style of cabinet in residential use – close against the cabinet face with a slight gap between each door. These cabinets can be made from a range of materials, from solid wood to MDF to laminate.
Standard Bathroom Vanity Sizes
There are so many different styles and materials choices for your new bathroom vanity that narrowing down your options can be difficult. Luckily, choosing the right bathroom vanity size is a bit simpler, since bathroom vanities typically come in standard sizes:
- Vanity height: 32” to 36”
- Common vanity widths: 24,” 30,” 36,” 48,” 62,” and 70”
- Depth: 20” to 21”
If you plan on installing a vessel sink, opt for a lower-height vanity since the sinks usually add up to six inches in height. Vanities with dual sinks are typically 60 or 72 inches long. They can be built shorter if necessary.
The size of your bathroom dictates your ideal bathroom vanity dimensions. You want a unit that fits well within the space without overcrowding it. For example, a vanity with a single sink is probably your best bet for a smaller or half bathroom. Larger master bathrooms on the other hand can usually accommodate a longer vanity with dual sinks.
Be sure to discuss bathroom vanity sizes and other important options with a licensed bathroom remodel contractor. A professional can measure your space, then advise you on the right size and style for your needs.
Adding Sinks and Countertops to Bathroom Vanities
A vanity without a sink and countertop is merely a cabinet. You can opt to install dual sinks in your new vanity, or replace dual sinks with a single sink if you want to downsize. The first option can be costly, since you’ll need to add plumbing and waste lines and for a second sink. The later option also will require a plumber’s services.
Regardless of what option you choose, you should definitely install new sinks while you are upgrading your bathroom vanity. The new countertop and sink will have to be custom-fit and made specific to your new vanity or custom cabinets.
Finding a Bathroom Contractor
Deciding on a bathroom remodel and setting a budget brings you closer to your dream bathroom. The next step is to find a licensed bathroom remodel contractor in your area to assist you in narrowing down all the important decisions you will soon have to make about your new bathroom. Using a professional bathroom contractor can save time and help ensure every aspect of the job gets done correctly and without risk or damage.