Project overview: Design, materials and prep work
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The completed bathroom
We replaced all the fixtures, put down a new wood floor and tiled behind the sink, from floor to ceiling.
Here’s a surefire
give your half
bath a dramatic
Combine your choice
of furniture with one of
these basin-type sinks
for a unique, custom-styled
bath redo. This
modern version of
wash basin creates an
eclectic style that looks great in contemporary or
look of your half
bath in three
- Add a spacious
feel by replacing
your vanity cabinet
with a table.
- Combine the
classic look of an
sink with the sleek
style of a modern
- Save wall patching
work by using
granite wall tiles.
The vessel sink and wall-mount faucet cost more
than standard off-the-shelf plumbing fixtures. But
the combined cost of the table and plumbing fixtures
we show is about the same as if you purchased
a top-quality vanity cabinet, solid-surface vanity
top and high-end faucet. And you’ll save at least
half the cost of a professional bath remodel by
doing the work yourself.
We’ll show you how to mount and connect the
vessel sink and how to install the wall-mount faucet.
And just in case your drain doesn’t line up or the
plumbing vent gets in the way of the recessed faucet
valve—don’t worry, we’ll show you how to relocate
There are a few things you’ll want to check out
before you start. If you live in a cold climate and
your plumbing is on an outside wall, don’t use a
wall-mount faucet because the
valve and pipes could freeze. Use a
standard-mount faucet instead.
And second, look inside your vanity
cabinet. If your water supply
pipes come up from the bottom of
the cabinet, you’ll have to reroute
them into the wall. This could be a
big job depending on how your
house is constructed.
To complete our bathroom redo,
we installed a new prefinished
wood floor over the old vinyl and
covered the wall behind the vanity
with 12-in. square granite tiles. The
granite cost us about $12 per sq. ft.,
but similar tile is available for about
$4 per sq. ft. Plan on spending
about $6 per sq. ft. for the wood
floor. We spent $600 more on light
fixtures and a new toilet.
Before you start this project,
check with your building department.
Most locales require a
plumbing and electrical permit for
this type of work. Then arrange for
inspections before covering
plumbing or electrical work with
Step 1: Remove old fixtures and open the wall
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Photo 1: Remove the old vanity
Disconnect the trap and supply lines to the sink and pry off the vanity
top. Locate and remove the nails or screws that hold the cabinet to
the wall and remove the vanity cabinet.
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Photo 2: Cut open the wall
of the studs on
both sides of
the drain to at
least 48 in. high.
Tear off the drywall
in this area.
Remove the old vanity cabinet (Photo 1).
Then cut open your
wall to install the faucet valve.
There's a good chance you'll also
have to relocate the drain, vent and
light fixtures, so go ahead and cut a
big hole (Photo 2). We removed a
4-ft. wide section of drywall. Turn
off the power at the main circuit
box before cutting and keep your
cut shallow to avoid nicking electrical
cables. If you tile the wall like
we did, you won't have any patching
to do. Just screw a new piece of
drywall to the new 2x2 cleats
(Photo 14) and tile over it (Photo
Turn off the power at the main circuit box before cutting into the wall.
Step 2: Fit the sink and mark drain heights
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Photo 3: Fit the vessel sink
Cut out the paper template supplied with your vessel sink and tape
it to the center of the table. Drill a 1/2-in. starter hole inside the circle
for the jigsaw blade. Then saw out the hole for the vessel sink with a
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Photo 4: Set the drain
your hands to
form a putty
Press the putty
around the drain
the top of the
through the drain
hole and press it
into the putty.
Install the rubber
washer and nut
and tighten carefully
drain is secure
and flush with
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Photo 5: Set the sink
Squeeze a pencil-width bead of silicone caulk
(caulk is usually provided by the sink manufacturer)
around the sink cutout and lower the sink into
the hole. If your drain has a fancy pop-up lever like ours,
face it to the front.
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Photo 6: Mark the drain height
Center the table in its final location. Hold the P-trap
assembly level and as high as possible on the
tailpiece and mark the center on the wall.
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Photo 7: Mark the faucet spout height
Hold the faucet spout above the sink and mark its center on the wall.
Ask your plumbing inspector for the minimum height above the rim.
Here, the spout outlet is about 3 in. above the rim of the vessel.
Marking in place is better than math and measuring. Rather than trying to calculate the
height of the drain and faucet, it’s
easier and safer to assemble your
table and sink (Photos 3–5) and
mark the center of the drain and
faucet heights directly (Photos 6
and 7). Before you cut the hole in
your table, make sure the back
edge of the bowl will be a few inches
from the wall. Also measure
from the front of the table to make
sure the front of the hole will clear
the table apron below.
Next mark the center of the table
on the floor. Plumb up from this
mark with a level to locate the center
of the drain and faucet spout
(Photo 5, 7 and 8).
Step 3: Shift plastic drain lines
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Photo 8: Cut off old pipes
Turn off the water at the main shutoff valve and
cut the water supply lines with a tubing cutter or
hacksaw. Saw through the drain about a foot from
the floor. Saw through the horizontal section of the vent
pipe. Remove the sawed-out section of drain and vent.
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Photo 9: Reframe as needed
Cut the stud and reframe the opening as shown if
necessary to accommodate the valve (Photo 11).
Drill a 2-1/8-in. hole through the stud centered on
the new drain height and another hole below that to
reconnect the drain and vent.
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Photo 10: Assemble the new drain line
Cut plastic pipe and reroute the drain and vent as shown. Prime
the pipe ends and the inside of fittings. Then spread PVC adhesive
on the primed surfaces and quickly assemble each joint, twisting
the pipe about a quarter turn as you push it into the fitting.
The faucet valve mounts in the
space between the wall studs. With
the faucet and drain centers
marked, it will be obvious whether
you’ll have to move the drain and water supply lines to make everything fit.
You may also have to remove a portion
of one wall stud. Photo 9 shows
how to reframe the opening. Photo
10 shows one method of relocating
a drain and vent using 1-1/2 in.
plastic PVC pipe and fittings. Your
plumbing may not look like this. If
you have steel rather than plastic
pipe, use a reciprocating saw with a
metal-cutting blade to cut the pipes.
Run the new pipes in PVC and connect
to the steel pipe with transition
couplings. Here are a few other
rules for reworking your drain and
- Use clamping neoprene transition
couplings to connect steel pipe to
plastic pipe or to connect black
(ABS) pipe to white (PVC) pipe.
- Continue the vent pipe vertically
or at a 45-degree angle to at
least 6 in. above the top rim of
the vessel sink before running it
- Use a long sweep 90-degree elbow
where the drain turns from vertical
to horizontal (Photo 10).
Step 4: Mount the new faucet valve
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Photo 11: Mount the faucet valve
the valve for locating
and attaching the
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Photo 12: Run copper supply lines
Connect the valve to the supply
lines with 5/8-in. outside diameter soft
copper. Estimate the length needed
and allow an extra 6 in. Slide a bending spring
over the copper to prevent kinking. Bend the
copper to fit. Hold it in place and mark the ends.
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Photo 13: Solder the copper
Cut, clean, flux and solder
the copper tubes and fittings to
connect the hot and cold supply lines
to the new valve. Test the valve according to the
instructions provided before covering the wall with drywall and tile.
The instructions included with our
valve specified fastening the valve to
two 2x4 blocks spaced 5-5/8 in.
apart. It’s critical that you mount the
valve the correct distance back from
the finished wall surface. Otherwise
your faucet trim and spout may not
fit properly. Check the instructions,
since this distance will vary by faucet
brand. To make sure of this dimension,
we completely assembled the
valve and trim and measured the
distance from the mounting bracket
to the back of the handle and spout
trim. If you’re tiling the wall, add the
tile thickness to your calculation.
Complete the plumbing work by
connecting the hot and cold water
lines to the valve (Photos 12 and
13). We used copper pipe, but in
areas with corrosive water, consider
CPVC. Rather than using rigid copper,
buy a length of 5/8-in. outside
diameter (O.D.) soft copper (Type
L) and bend it to fit. You’ll save time
and potential leaks by drastically
reducing the number of fittings
needed. Buy a bending spring and slip it over the copper
before you bend it to avoid kinking
the copper (Photo 12). When
soldering, protect walls and pipes
with a heat shield (Photo 13). When
finished, turn on the water and test
the valve according to the instructions
Finally, add nail-plates wherever
supply pipes or drains pass within 1-1/2 in. of the face of the framing.
This prevents accidental punctures
from nails and screws.
Step 5: Relocate lights while the wall is open
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Photo 14: Relocate light fixtures
Relocate the light fixture boxes if necessary. Turn off the power
at the main circuit box and test the wires to be sure it's off.
Carefully pry the boxes loose and remove the staples that hold the
cables in place. Add blocking or slide the box on its strap to relocate it.
Reattach the boxes and staple the cables within 8 in. of the box.
If you add tile to the wall, make sure
the face of the electrical box is no
more than 1/4 in. behind the surface
of the tile. At the same time, adjust
the location of the boxes if
necessary. Make sure they’re level
with each other and are located an
equal distance from the centerline of
the table. Purchase the mirror and
light fixtures ahead of time and hang
them temporarily to create a full-scale
mock-up. From this, measure
the height and the distance between
the light fixtures and relocate the
existing boxes to these positions.
Now’s a good time to upgrade
your bath wiring, especially if your
house is more than eight years old.
Ask your local electrical inspector
what’s required. If your bathroom
has aluminum wire, or you’re
unsure whether there is a proper
ground for your light fixtures, call
Caution: Before you do any
electrical work, turn off the
power at the main circuit panel.
Test the wires with a voltage
tester to make sure they’re off.
Also, aluminum wiring
requires special handling. If you
have aluminum wiring, call in a
licensed pro who’s certified to
work with it. This wiring is dull
gray, not the dull orange that’s
characteristic of copper.
Step 6: Tile the wall
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Photo 15: Level the first tile row
Level the first course of tile with small plastic shims, available at
tile retailers. Mark a line with a 4-ft. level to indicate the top of the
first row of tile. Draw vertical plumb lines at the outside edges.
We extended the tile 1 in. beyond the table on each side.
Screw cleats alongside the two outsidestuds as nailers for the drywall.Cut drywall to fit the opening andscrew it to the studs and cleats. Nowyou’re ready to set the wall tile.Start by planning the layout. Centerthe tiles side to side to maximize thesize of the cut tiles along the edges(you may not have to cut any tile atall). We started with a full 12-in. tileat the floor and cut the border tilesto 8 in. wide. Draw layout lines and set the tiles in premixed latex tileadhesive (Photo 15). Use spacersbetween tiles to create a space forgrout, or set the tiles tight togetheras we’ve done. Practice by dry-layingthe tiles on the floor first to seehow well they fit together.
The flamed granite tile we used isvery hard. You’ll need to rent a wet-cuttingtile saw for the straight cuts. Holes for the faucetshave to be cut precisely. We used a2-in. diameter abrasive-coated tile-cuttinghole saw (available at home centersor tile retailers). It took aboutfive minutes to drill each hole! Mosttile shops will cut these holes foryou for a minimal charge. Make acardboard template to ensure exact
hole location before cutting the tile.
Step 7: Make the final plumbing connections
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Photo 16: Connect the drain
Cut the tailpiece to extend about 1-1/2 in. into the trap and thread
it into the drain assembly. Use a hacksaw with a fine-tooth blade
to cut the tubing. Cut the trap arm if necessary to extend about 2
in. into the wall when it's aligned with the trap. Slide the trap up onto the tailpiece
and connect it to the trap arm with the rubber slip joint washers and
large slip joint nuts provided. Hand-tighten them. Then tighten them an additional
quarter turn with a large slip joint pliers.
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Photo 17: Assemble the faucet
handle and rings
to the faucet valve
Screw the table to the wall and connect
the trap to the sink drain
(Photo 16). Then install the faucet
trim (Photo 17) to finish the
plumbing part of your job. We also
installed a new toilet and light fixtures.
Paint the walls and hang
shelves, a towel bar and a paper dispenser,
and your bath redo is complete.
What Should I Buy?
Almost any piece of furniture can be modified to
accommodate a vessel sink, as long as it’s about 30 in.
high and at least 18 in. deep. (Once in place, the edge
of this piece must be at least 15 in. away from the center of the
toilet.) If you choose a dresser, drawers may have to be rebuilt
to provide clearance for the drain and trap. Console tables, sofa
tables and dressers all seem to be about the right size.
The finish on some wood-topped tables may not stand up
to puddled water. For extra protection, we recommend
adding two or three coats of polyurethane or other water resistant
finish over the existing finish.
Don’t expect to find vessel sinks or wall-mount faucets on
the shelf at your local retailer. Look through catalogs to find
fixtures you like and make note of the model numbers.
Remember to include a special
drain that’s compatible
with your vessel sink. Since
the P-trap assembly is highly
visible, splurge and special
order one with a finish to
match your faucet (Photo 16).