Choosing a Bathroom Vanity Unit
CHOOSING AND PLANNING A VANITY UNIT
If you are re-equipping the bathroom, think of the vanity unit in terms of the overall design. You may, for example, want to build it into a complete boxed-in run — perhaps incorporating the toilet — or into some other kind of fitted furniture. The unit will also form a key part of your storage arrangements, so consider what you might want to put in it — or on it.
If the vanity unit is going elsewhere, the following points are worth bearing in mind.
♦ Bedroom basins tend to accumulate lots of odds and ends, so put-down space and shelves for toiletries are useful features.
♦ Basins used for hair washing, clothes washing or baby bathing need to be free of obstructions. Conventional pillar taps are often more practical in this respect than the latest monobloc mixers.
♦ An unobtrusive location may be hard to come by. Alcoves and recesses are ideal, but if there aren’t any you may be able to create one with fitted cupboards or modular built-in furniture.
♦ Allow for an ‘activity’ area in front of the unit of at least 700x 700mm (28 x 28"). Where space is tight, a semi-countertop basin will leave room for access to a shallow unit below.
♦ Make sure there are no power sockets or lighting plate switches (except a bathroom shaver supply unit) within 2m (6′ 6") of the unit. If there are, you should move them: you may be able to change a light switch for the pull-cord type.
♦ Wherever the basin goes, the surrounding surfaces will need splash protection in the form of tiles or wallboards.
In the end, where you put the unit may rest on how easy it is to plumb in (see Plumbing for a Vanity Sink Unit). Make sure you get the plumbing arrangements worked out before going ahead with the job.
VANITY SINK OR BASIN AND TAP OPTIONS
Vanity basins can be:
Inset so that they fit through a hole in the countertop with a sealing lip.
Lay-on, in which the basin and countertop are a single unit which fits on top of the base. Semi-countertop so that the back half of the basin is set into a narrow unit or shelf leaving the front half protruding.
Cheaper basins of enamelled steel or acrylic are nearly all the inset type, while as you move up-market, hardwearing porcelain and moulded resin join the list of options. Lay-on basins may be porcelain, moulded resin or the synthetic marble-like material Corian, but tend to be appreciably more expensive. Semi-countertop basins are all porcelain, and also more costly than inset types.
Your choice of basin may well be influenced by what sort of taps you want. The cheapest have two holes for conventional Pillar taps, while more up-market basin ranges offer single holes for monobloc mixers and three holes for mixers with separate controls and spout.
VANITY UNIT OPTIONS
Purpose-made units for vanity sinks and basins range from simple bases containing a pair of cupboards to double units for paired basins and elaborate floor-to-ceiling models incorporating wall cupboards or shelves, lights and mirrors. Most use some form of veneeredconstruction and come flat-packed for self-assembly like kitchen units. However, you can also buy ready-made units and reproduction Victorian designs in solid mahogany or pine.
Units for inset and semi-countertop basins generally come with a solid top, leaving you to make the cut-out for the basin itself. Optional features may include interior shelves, a built-in mirror, and a matching or built-in medicine cabinet.
As with all self-assembly furniture, try to inspect a ready-assembled example before you buy. In particular, note the constructional quality of the doors and drawers, and avoid units where theis thin or obviously chipping. It’s also worth having a look at the assembly instructions if you can.
If you are looking for a unit or piece of furniture to adapt to take a vanity basin, the main things to watch are that it doesn’t have a centre rail which could obstruct the basin cut-out, and that there is enough space inside the frame to accommodate the basin’s maximum width. Drawers present less of a problem, since you can remove the insides and fix the front permanently in position.