Installing a Vessel Sink

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Vessel sink designs have grown in popularity over the years. Once considered only for up-scale bathroom installations, vessel sinks are finding their way into more standard bathroom designs.

Vessel sinks, in case you’re not familiar, are sinks that sit on top of the bathroom vanity. The major plumbing difference between a standard bathroom sink and a vessel sink is the drain: the plumbing drain for the vessel sink attaches to the p-trap through a hole you drill in the vanity top.

Other than sitting on the top of the vanity, vessel sink plumbing and installation is virtually the same for standard mount sink. There are a few special considerations you’ll need to account for though.

Bathroom vanity with a vessel sink

Vessel sink vanities may come with a storage drawer just below the vessel sink drain. Because the sink is sitting on top of the vanity, there is no underhung to collide with extra storage. But even with no sinking popping into the vanity cabinet, a standard p-trap set up may hang too low to take advantage of the extra space. Some manufacturers will include a special low-profile drain that connects to the tail piece of the vessel sink drain.

We’re finding Some European designs are becoming popular in the states. European plumbing isn’t standard to American connections, so if your vessel sink comes from outside the States you may have to visit the hardware store to standard American plumbing parts.

Vessel sink faucets

Another special consideration for installing a vessel sink is the faucet. Because the vessel sink sits on top of the vanity the bowl interferes with typical bathroom sink faucets. In addition to extra height a faucet needs to clear a vessel sink, the spout also needs to extend further into the bowl.

The faucets designed for vessel sinks also should have its control lever on top of the faucet or off the back, away from the vessel sink. Otherwise the sink will cause an interference operating the handle.

All major manufacturers offer faucets designed for vessel sinks, though you may not find a great selection at your local hardware store. A custom kitchen and bath store will give you the best selection.

Vessel sink vanity height

Because vessel sinks sit on top of the vanity rather than recess in it, you’ll want to use a vanity with a lower profile to the floor. Typically, the top of the vanity for a vessel sink is 36 inches. Any taller and the sink is uncomfortable to use.

Removing your existing bathroom vanity

We’re assuming you’re going to replace the bathroom vanity when you install your new vessel sink. If you’re new to this, the procedure for removing the old vanity is straight forward.

The first thing to do in any plumbing project is to turn off the water. Bathroom sinks will have two valves on the wall inside the vanity. Turn these valves until they stop, and then open the existing faucet to release any water in the lines.

Next, notice how the existing vanity top is attached. In most cases, bathroom vanity tops are connected to the vanity with a bead of caulk. With a long blade, work around the edge below the vanity top to break free the caulking.

Then, cut away any caulking between the vanity backsplash and the wall.

When you have all the caulk cut away, jiggle the top to see if you’ve loosened it. Then, disconnect the drain piping and the supply lines from the existing sink. Remove the top when done.

Locate any fasteners attaching the vanity to the wall. Remove them and pull the vanity from the wall. 

A good time for repairs and painting

Now that the vanity is away from the wall you have an opportunity to fix any plumbing problems you’ve been having. It’s also a good time to paint the bathroom now that the walls are clear. If you’re ambitious you can re-tile the bath too.

Installing the new vessel sink vanity

Once you’ve prepped the bathroom for the new vessel sink vanity there are a few simple installation steps.

First, mark the dimensions of the new vanity on the wall. Then, locate and measure the supply line and drain line positions. Transfer these measurements to the new vanity.

Use a hole drill to drill proper sized holes to let the supply line and drain lines from the wall clear through the vanity’s back.

Use a stud finder to locate studs in the wall the vanity will attach to. Then, slide the vanity in place and screw it to the studs.

Putting the vessel sink on the vanity top

The vessel sink manufacturer provides a cutting template to use when you cut the vanity top. Place the template on the top and cut per the manufacturer’s instructions.

You may also cut the opening for the faucet. Note that the sink may have a template for this too. Once the holes are cut, install the faucet.

Run a bead of caulk around the vanity’s cabinet top, then lift the top with the faucet and place it on the cabinet. Press firmly.

Now, run a bead of caulk around the base of the vessel sink. Lift the sink and place it on the vanity with the drain hole towards the front of the cabinet. Press firmly.

Let the caulk set for about half an hour.

Connecting the vessel sink drain and faucet

Once the caulk has set for a while, you can work inside the vanity and connect the p-trap and the supply lines to the new fixtures. Turn on the water and check for leaks.

Call Fountain Plumbing in Tyler, Texas for vessel sink plumbing questions

Installing a new vessel sink and vanity is an easy DIY home plumbing project, but we know sometimes difficulties arise. If they do, you can give Fountain Plumbing here in Tyler, Texas a call. We’ve been serving Tyler and the surrounding communities for years, and we look forward to serving you.