DIY Bathroom Vanity

wood bathroom vanity
  • 2-20 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 300-3,000

The bathroom vanity has become a central component of the room since the introduction of indoor plumbing. Over the years, countless styles have come and gone, giving today’s bathroom owner a plethora of options to choose from.

It can be overwhelming, actually, to scour through the thousands of different vanity options that are available. Even with a massive selection, you may find yourself wanting to build your own custom bathroom vanity so it fits all your needs, and bathroom supplies.

While planning, there are many considerations to keep in mind, starting with whether you’ll buy a prefabricated vanity, have one custom made, or DIY. Once you’ve decided that’s the right choice for you, evaluate the different characteristics to get started.

Vanity Size

Every bathroom is different. You may have a vintage home with a vanity size that is no longer standard or perhaps you’ve decided to change the size of your vanity in order to accommodate a hamper or a sitting station.

Maybe you want to squeeze a vanity into a space outside the primary bathroom or are looking to move the vanity to the other side of the room.

Regardless of your situation, take size into account. Primarily, you’ll need to ensure the piece will fit in between the existing walls or other obstacles. Alternatively, you may want to maximize the space you have available.

Size may be the primary reason you decide to DIY a bathroom vanity. For example, if you’re pulling out an old vanity and there are no ready-made options that fit, you’ll find making your own vanity is much less expensive than hiring the job out.

Vanity Materials

wooden vanity

When making your own vanity, consider the type of materials that will best perform and last the longest. You’ll find there are options such as solid wood, plywood, MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard), and particle board.

When you start looking at the options for vanities already on the market, you’ll find many of them are made with particle board. It’s an inexpensive material and it can be covered with a more durable material like wood veneer, melamine, or laminate.

It’s crucial to note, though, that particle board is highly likely to warp or swell in the presence of moisture and water. It won’t hold up well to heavy materials like stone countertops, and it easily chips and dents, so it won’t wear well over time.

MDF is like a higher grade particle board. It’s still kind to the budget and offers a smooth surface that can easily be painted. However, it cannot be stained. Like particle board, MDF is prone to chips, cracks, and moisture damage.

Plywood is a solid choice, if you choose a high-grade material. Cheaper plywood won’t perform as well. However, quality plywood can be a long-lasting choice. It’s resistant to dents and scratches, and is a very strong material.

Many contractors and designers will recommend plywood for your cabinetry for this reason. However, it’s also one of the highest cost options.

Solid wood is another choice to consider. Overall, wood is a strong choice. However, it is susceptible to water damage and warping from high humidity. Also, as solid wood contracts and expands it can cause issues with the integrity of the vanity.

These situations occur infrequently with a proper seal, but are worth considering.

If you want to stain your cabinets, solid wood is the best option since it pairs well with the process.


When designing the layout of your DIY bathroom vanity, consider how the plumbing will run through the cabinet. There are several options for making the plumbing work while maintaining your primary design goals.

For example, you could leave the cabinet backless, mounting it directly to the wall. In this way, you don’t have to worry about where the plumbing will enter the cabinet.

Another option is to leave the middle section of the cabinets open in the back for this function. Still yet, you could wall-mount a faucet above the vanity so the plumbing is hidden.

The sink drain can be run directly down the back of the cabinet or attached to your existing S-curve plumbing.

How you go about attaching the plumbing is up to you. Just remember to plan for it in your vanity design.

gloved hands installing sink plumbing


Obviously, bathroom storage is another important element, especially if the vanity is the only storage space you have. However, you can think outside the box about how that storage space looks when you custom build your own bathroom vanity.

Think about whether you want cupboards, drawers, or open shelving. Map that out as the central part of your design.

Open shelving might give you just the look you want, with canvas totes or baskets holding your towels and hairdryer. However, it will make it difficult to hide the plumbing, if that’s a priority.

One option is to leave the front, center portion of the cabinet solid and place the open shelving on either side. That way the pipes and intake valves are covered. You could also make false drawers in the front to cover the plumbing.

Cabinet doors make it much easier to hide plumbing, but may not work in your space if there isn’t room for them to open properly.


Bring the right perspective to any flea market and you’re likely to find a furniture piece that will double nicely for your new bathroom vanity. Some require very little modification to do the job.

For example, consider a basic four drawer dresser that sits at the right height. Remove the top two or three drawers and replace them with a false front to allow room for the plumbing.

You can install a sink on top and a countertop material if desired. The bottom drawer or two provide storage space.

Similarly, you could convert a buffet, media cabinet, long dresser, table, or existing cabinet by adding a counter and sink. If your flea market find is the right length and depth but doesn’t sit high enough, add legs to the bottom for an easy fix.


When it comes to answering the question, “What will my new vanity cost?” the answer varies wildly. If you’re looking at upcycling a piece of furniture you already have, you’ll save quite a bit from either purchasing a piece or securing the lumber to build one.

However, building your own vanity may cost you more than purchasing a prefabricated one. Vanities made on a production line with low-end materials will likely be more affordable.

Compared to a custom-made vanity, your DIY efforts will likely save you a bundle though.

Remember, when you’re building a vanity, you’ll need to get materials for more than just the cabinets. There are also the countertop materials, sink, and faucet to consider. Those costs add up.

Taking all this into account, a new vanity can run anywhere between $300 and $3,000.

bathroom vanity with large sink

The Interior Design Style

While function and storage are important, you may be building your own vanity simply because the look you want doesn’t exist or costs more than you’re willing to pay.

As with any project, being able to create the aesthetics you want is a huge benefit, so be sure to capture your personality in the piece.

For example, if you want rustic appeal, use an old wood table and allow the plumbing to show below. For farmhouse design, use whitewashed wood and criss-crossed timber in the design.

If you’re going for Victorian, add curved legs to the bottom of the piece and adorn it with period hardware. Shabby chic can be introduced by giving an old dresser new life.

You can go industrial with lots of metal or create a boho atmosphere with paint and tapestries.

Basic Wood Bathroom Vanity

To build a traditional vanity, start by mapping out your design using the style and function tips above. You may need to move plumbing, or install new plumbing if the bathroom is under construction.

However, most commonly you’ll be replacing an existing vanity and the plumbing will be the focal point of the design.

wood bathroom vanity

Step 1 - Plan

Get out or sketch pad, graph paper, or computer software, and make sure everything is outlined on paper before you begin. Make sure you understand the lengths and depths of the cabinet and the sizes of lumber you’ll need.

Remember to account for the actual size of the wood. (Surprise, a 2x4 doesn’t measure two inches by four inches).

Step 2 - Frame the Base

Create your frame with four vertical corner posts and horizontal posts to attach them around the top and bottom. Use your favorite joints to create a sturdy, robust frame. Add cross supports as needed for function or appeal.

If you’re not creating a free-standing unit, mount a support piece at the proper height on the wall and build your vanity into it.

Step 3 - Add Interior Supports

This is the point where you’ll account for shelving and drawers. Create your bottom and middle shelves if you’re going with an open concept.

For cabinetry, add the frames for doors. Also tie in your drawer supports.

Step 4 - Add Legs

If part of your design, add legs to your vanity.

Step 5 - Paint or Stain

It’s easiest to paint or stain your vanity before putting it into place. This is especially true for vanities with doors or drawer fronts. If you do wait until the unit is in place, leave the doors and drawers off until this step is done.

Step 6 - Mount

For vanities that are not built directly into place, once you have your cabinets put together you can mount them to the wall for stability.

Step 7 - Add Drawers and Cupboard Doors

To complete your cabinets, put the drawers and cabinet doors in place. Also attach handles and drawer pulls as needed.

Step 8 - Add Countertops

Not all vanities will require a countertop. For example, if you’re repurposing a dresser or table into a vanity, you may choose to leave the top surface as is. However, if you are adding a countertop such as marble, granite, or quartz, now is the time to fit it into place.

Step 9 - Add the Sink and Faucet

There are many types of sinks to choose from and the design you select may affect the order of operations here.

However, the counter and sink will work in conjunction so incorporate the under-the-counter, above-the-counter or vessel sink into the countertop installation, as required.

This step includes attaching the water intake hoses to the faucet, securing the faucet to the sink, mounting the sink to the countertop, and attaching the drain plumbing to the bottom of the sink.

Step 10 - Add a Backsplash

You may have incorporated a back to your vanity where you can attach materials for a backsplash. When mounted to the wall, you may also add a backsplash material.

Whatever your design, add the tile, stone, Formica, or other material to protect your wall surface and finish the aesthetic of the vanity.

Step 11 - Move in

With your vanity built, installed, and functional, it’s time to organize your space. Before adding everything from your previous vanity, sort the goods.

Make sure you are only storing items you need and want. You’ll feel much better about your new space if it’s not stuffed with unnecessary items.

Donate the hotel samples from years ago. Toss expired medicines and makeup. Move tired linens to the rag pile. Rehome anything you don’t actually use in the bathroom.

Then sort what’s left into piles of related items. Put nail polishes and supplies together, corral soaps into the same area, create space for dental hygiene supplies, and group first aid products.

Then find the right storage container for each group, even if the container will be inside the cabinet. This allows you to easily pull out all the cold and flu supplies, including the medications, thermometer, and Covid tests.

Similarly, roll washcloths into baskets, stack towels in canvas totes, label plastic totes with items you use less often, and put all the curling irons in one place.

Whatever path you chose, congratulations on your new DIY bathroom vanity! If you want to tackle the next bathroom project, check out our articles on Eco Friendly Bathroom Remodels and How to Sponge Paint a Bathroom.