Follow along on this tutorial for how to raise up a short vanity to give it some extra height (and reuse the existing countertop).
Primary Bathroom Remodel:
How to Raise Bathroom Vanity Height
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In this tutorial we share how to give your vanity a stylish update for taller individuals, by raising the height of the counter on the entire vanity in a few really simple steps, no need for a plumber!
In our renovate-and-move story, we’re headed back to the master bathroom! We had only about a week to remodel, and no real money to speak of, which meant we needed to work with the existing vanity, but I had ONE main issue… the sink height.
You probably haven’t met me in person but I am tall (you can get to know me a little by reading these personal history posts – shameless plug) or somewhat tall for a girl, I am 5’10”. So, the dinky 30 inch high standard bathroom counters have no place in my master bathroom.
And I really wanted to do that again, I had the plans all drawn out but with the time crunch of our eminent move, I just had to make do with what we had…
But I couldn’t make do with a 30″ inch counter… It just did not a primary bathroom make.
How to Raise Up A Short Vanity Tutorial
Here’s what the master bathroom and standard height vanity looked like before we raised the height of the vanity (plus a few other projects, of course!)
Size of the Vanity: A standard bathroom vanity is approximately 30″ tall (the height of your bathroom vanity) and approximately 19″ deep, width will vary on the product itself and number of sinks, and if the house was a custom built project.
There are more and more vanities commercially available that have higher countertop heights, but if you are working with an existing vanity, chances are that is your standard when it comes to builder grade bathroom cabinetry.
When we first moved into the house there was carpet on the floor (yuck!) The second we closed on the house, and I mean the minute it was finally signed, I went into the bathroom and ripped it out.
In the mean time (which ended up being the entire time we lived there…) I painted the floor and hung some drapes since the 6′ x 4′ window was conveniently located right next to the front door. Next time we have a minute we can talk about stupid floorplans.
We did finally get the floor tiled with a beautiful ceramic tile and we wrote a post about tiling tips for floors. I got grout on the cabinets while tiling, and wiped it off with the grout cleaning sponge… oops, don’t do that- there is your first tip!
How to Raise Bathroom Vanity Height!
Step 1: Remove the Mirror and Backsplash
First, we removed the mirror, since it was resting on the counter We are planning on reusing the mirror so we were careful when handling it.
Then we pried off the side backsplash with a pry bar. We also removed this carefully so that it wouldn’t break, in case we wanted to put it back, but also to keep from ripping up the wall board or breaking a hole into the drywall.
Step 2: Remove the Vanity Countertop
Next, it was time to remove the vanity top/bathroom sink. So, we turned off the water supply at the sink valves, loosened the nut attached to the p-trap drain pipes under the sinks, and detached the water lines to the faucets.
At this point we were able to remove the counter top. Luckily, the bathroom countertop was not glued down to the bathroom vanity cabinet. It was really easy to remove. Heavy though! Remember to lift with your legs!!
Since the solid surface was a decent color and in good shape, so we saved it to reinstall.
If you want to replace yours, but the original is in decent shape, be sure to see if you can donate your old counter to a local Habitat ReStore. One of my biggest pet peeves about remodeling is the blatant waste of good product that could be re-used especially for people on a tight budget.
All ready for raising the roof! I mean the countertop, well almost. Meanwhile:
Storing area during the construction. Sorry little bathtub.
We removed the toilet as well to not have to work around it while tiling. (by the way it was sitting on a board, not just on the tub, that would be gross!!)
Step 3: Level the Cabinet Tops
We will be building a frame to sit on top of the existing cabinets.
I needed the top of the existing cabinet to be flush for the raised portion.
Since the cabinet was just a stock builder grade, the corners had these cheap supports stapled in to keep it square. This may or may not be the case in your cabinet, but if it is, you will need to remove the tab.
I didn’t want to remove the corner supports but, I did cut off the lip in the front make a level spot for the new apron we were adding to the cabinet. This way there wasn’t a large gap.
So, I just cut off the part of the corner brace that hung over the edge with a razor blade.
The front of the cabinets are important to keep flush.
Also an apology for the strange color change in the next pictures, it is so much harder to get proper pictures at night with incandescent bulbs. But with little ones we are often working around the clock, sleep time is important work time!
Step 4: Build and Attach New Frame
The new frame to raise the height of the cabinets was really easy to build.
- 1×6 select pine in length of cabinet plus 2-3 depth measurements of the cabinet (or oak or whatever matches your cabinets)
- 1×2 or 2×2 cheap pine back wall blocking in length of front of cabinet
- Kreg Jig
Look at your existing cabinet design, we used the frame of ours as the foundational shape for the braces we made.
Building The Frame for the New Apron:
- Start by cutting the front piece or apron of solid 1×6 select pine to the exact length of the face of your cabinet.
- Measure the depth of the cabinet from the back wall to front of cabinet and subtract the width of the 1×6 front board (usually 3/4″) but check the boards you are using to be sure. that is the length of the depth boards.
- The front apron is Kreg jigged (pocket hole screwed) to the existing cabinet. I used pocket hole screws to attach the front apron to the middle brace, and sides as well from behind, which left no holes in the front.
- The side and middle braces were also pocket hole screwed down to the cabinet base. This created a very strong hold with no glue. However you could sue glue if desired.
- Finally, I added braces to the back wall, (the 1×2 or 2×2) to help support the weight of the countertop. They are just screwed into the studs in the wall between the sides.
If you don’t have a kreg jig, you could use 2×2 blocks in the corner joints where the wood meets screwing from behind into the front face frames for a strong structure and no holes. Just be sure your screws aren’t too long that the stick out of the front frame of the wood.
Here is the finished framing platform for the new countertop. We followed the lines of the existing cabinet to give countertop support in all the same spots. Technically this adds a bit more storage space in the body of the cabinet, but not technically since you won’t be able to access it.
Step 5: Add Trim & Side Panel (optional)
On the front of the cabinet, after adding the new apron there was a small seam.
We added a small molding to cover the seam. We decided to wrap that molding around the edge for a cohesive look, once we got the new side board on.
You could also fill with bondo or an epoxy resin filler, and sand down, but that will only work if you plan to paint the wood (which we also did).
Apron Front Options:
- Faux Drawers Look: Screw an additional piece of 1x wood from behind through the apron. I would make them the same width as the door beneath them (or the length of the set of drawers beneath) You could add new hardware – pulls or knobs to complete the look. Would look best if the edges of the piece of wood are routed similar to the edge style of the existing cabinet doors.
- Molding Faux Drawer Fronts – you could create a rectangle that looks like a drawer front attached on front.
- Wood applique designs: add carved wood appliques to create a focal point or interest.
- Cover the Gap with small molding (like we did above)
- Leave plain – technically you don’t even need to cover the gap if it is small enough to not be obtrusive.
Side Panel (optional)
Technically if I were to do this project over, I would not have added this side panel, but the existing side panel was a little beat up so we chose to cover it. There was a face frame gap of about a 1/4 inch so the panel did fill that space up nicely.
Note: The face frame of the cabinet hangs over the edge about a quarter of an inch. This helps builders screw the cabinets together without gaps, but it made it hard to wrap the front molding around the edge.
So we decided to just cover the side. We had a left over piece of bead board from the playhouse, we didn’t cut out the kick space, because later on we decided to add legs.
Step 6: Replace the Faucets
We decided to install new faucets, so we removed the old ones completely. They were BAD! Luckily we were able to get two of these on sale!
One quick help to installing the faucets is getting them on the counter before putting it on. While the counter is not attached you can attach the new faucet really easily, before you set it in place.
Step 7: Reinstall Countertop and Sink
We chose to reuse our countertop which was a decent plain color and only 10 years old.
Replacing the Countertop:
When it comes to replacing your countertop if you have an old countertop that is in bad shape you can consider buying a new one.
The size of your vanity base should determine the countertop size.
At Home Depot or Lowes they have some standard sizes premade and available in store – sometimes. I would not leave this for last minute, be sure to check the store before starting the project in case you need to order one in advance.
Some countertop options for bathrooms: (if you want to get a custom countertop be sure to call some local stone countertop sellers and ask for left over scraps or remnant pieces, which may be big enough for a bathroom- but a better deal for you!)
- Marble Countertop (can scratch easily and stain – if this a bathroom for teenage girls, may want to steer clear!)
- Granite Countertop – don’t forget to keep natural stone products sealed
- Quartz Countertops (we had these installed in our current house’s family bathroom and I love them! No sealing- happy with the durability!)
- Concrete – DIY version tutorial! (or try Ardex over and existing countertop.)
- Formica – technically these come in kitchen counter depths (24″) so for a bathroom it would need to be cut down- in the back. However this is an option if you are in a hurry and need some thing in-stock at the store. It will be in the kitchen section.
- Butcher block – if sealed properly and maintained
- Stainless steel countertops
- Copper Countertops
You can either re-attach the counter by screwing into existing blocking, which this counter did not have. OR you can add a bead of liquid nails to the top of the cabinet frame to hold the countertop safely in place. Once the plumbing is reattached that will also help to hold the counter in place.
Once we set the counter in place it was time to reattach the plumbing, which included the drain at the bottom of the bowl and the p-trap and reattaching the water supply pipes.
This is much nicer to wash hands in. No more bending over and breaking my back.
When installing the sink, be sure to add plumbers putty for a water tight seal.
Other than that, for the taller counter the only extra piece of plumbing you will need is a tailpiece extender to reach the p-trap after the counter was raised.
(However if your water lines from the faucet to the valves aren’t long enough you may have to replace those, Just FYI, ours were fine…)
Since this is a master bathroom, I think it is awesome that the kids have to use a stool to get to the faucet, as it should be… No more stooping down for Mom and Dad.
Cute little helpers could not stay away. They just love water.
Step 8: Paint
All ready for paint. EXCITED! EXCITED! (said like Steve the monkey! from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs)
And apparently, we forgot to take any other intermediate pictures.
Ultimately I wanted this bathroom vanity makeover to to look more custom like a piece of furniture and add some taller legs or feet to the kickplate space.
We may the legs from just 1x 4’s stock wood scraps. Ultimately while I like the idea of the new look I made a few mistakes.
Main mistake: I painted the kick space black, I regret it now, I don’t love how it turned out, but oh well, live and learn! Learn from me and don’t do this… white would have looked so much better. Or just a dark neutral tone, not so stark.
I also really wanted to use more exciting legs, but since money was short, we just went with a left over 2 x 1, but next time…!
Well what do you think about our raised sink?
Did it give you the guts to try it at your own house!
It is so worth not stooping ten feet to brush your teeth, it is so luxurious! It is just those little things that make such a big difference! I hope the new owners love it and get to enjoy the finished space that we never had!
Cassity Kmetzsch started Remodelaholic after graduating from Utah State University with a degree in Interior Design. Remodelaholic is the place to share her love for knocking out walls, and building everything back up again to not only add function but beauty to her home. Together with her husband Justin, they have remodeled 6 homes and are working on a seventh. She is a mother of four amazing girls. Making a house a home is her favorite hobby.