Fully 80 percent of all Americans do at least some of their shopping online, and for some consumers, it is the principal way they buy goods. Millenials, for example, buy about 60 percent of all merchandise from online retailers. At a time when you can buy cars, mattresses, lawnmowers, and many other large items online, it might surprise you to know that it's somewhat difficult to find a bathroom vanity online that won't blow your credit card statement to smithereens at the end of the month. This is a dead-simple product: a box with doors that sometimes includes a countertop. Why, then, are most bathroom vanities purchased online so expensive?
Shipping Cost Is the Culprit
The key hindrance to buying an inexpensive bathroom vanity online revolves around shipping costs. Unlike purchasing a doorknob or towel bar online, a bathroom vanity is large and heavy enough to push your shipping costs higher than you'd like. You are generally buying just a single item, and when you find that shipping costs add up to 50 percent or more of the total cost of the item, it's usually not worth buying online.
When it comes to a bathroom vanity, you're usually not buying in large enough quantities to qualify for free or reduced shipping rates. Ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinet companies often absorb—or at least cleverly disguise—shipping costs because you're buying thousands of dollars worth of cabinets. This can make online purchasing worthwhile if you are buying an entire kitchen's worth of cabinets. But it doesn't work this way when you are buying just a single bathroom vanity.
Even though the bathroom vanity arrives flat-packed (disassembled and in relatively flat boxes, ready for you to put together), it usually is not small or light enough for cheaper parcel shipping (UPS, USPS, or FedEx). Instead, vanities tend to be shipped "Truck Delivery Only," a slow form of transit with vague arrival estimates.
5 Online Retailers Reviewed
We evaluated 5 popular online retailers of home products to determine how they performed when it comes to bathroom vanities delivered to the home. The "pick up in store" option was not included, since not all retailers offer this service. We looked at vanities in common sizings, from around 20 inches to 48 inches. Finally, we selected only online retailers with some reputability, not shopping aggregators like Bizrate or Alibaba. The quoted costs for the sample vanities do not include sales tax, as the application of sales taxes varies from state to state.
01 of 05
Home Depot.Com: 48-inch Vanity for $300
Most of us think of Home Depot as the familiar orange box store occupying several city blocks in suburbia. But online ordering?
Home Depot has vastly improved their online shopping site, and it is now a very viable option for purchasing large items. They offer far more bathroom vanities than other big-box chains, including many larger units that fall under that much-desired free shipping umbrella.
- Sample unit: Our sample item was a 48-inch-long Foremost Ashburn Mahogany Vanity.
- Product and shipping cost: Product cost is $299.40. Free curbside ("Basic") truck shipping is included, with a somewhat mushy one-week-long delivery time-frame.
Home Depot offers free home shipping on all orders over $45. Standard Ground
Standard Shipping is the default shipping method for most items and includes delivery by a small parcel carrier. Home Depot offers a number of other delivery options, some requiring an extra fee. You can, for example, have your purchase delivered into the room of your choice ($60 extra), or left inside the front door ($30 extra).
Home Depot's site is a surprisingly good option for ordering bathroom vanities online. The site offers a somewhat bewildering array of products, so be sure to use the filters in the left-hand column. The way to find the free shipping option is under the Delivery Option button.
02 of 05
Wayfair: 24 3/4-inch Vanity for $300
Wayfair is an online-only retailer based in Boston MA. It offers a large selection of stylish vanities, especially modern and contemporary styles.
- Sample unit: 24 3/4-inch vanity finished in Java Oak. This includes the solid surface top and brushed nickel cabinet hardware, but not the faucet.
- Product and shipping costs: $297.52 for the product itself.
Wayfair does offer free shipping for orders over $49. However, free shipping means that you take the box off the truck yourself. With bathroom vanities, this should not be a problem to handle by yourself, and certainly not with two people. Gate lift delivery—in which the driver takes the product down for you—will cost an extra $50.
This well-organized site lets you search by vanity size. Prices are decent. And the company seems devoted to dealing honestly with its customers.
03 of 05
DecorPlanet: 16 1/4-inch Vanity for $332
DecorPlanet's web site has a somewhat low-end, bargain feel, but this a reputable dealer with three brick-and-mortar showrooms in New York to back up its online presence.
- Sample unit: This Dreamline Modern Vanity unit is 16 1/4 inches wide, and it hangs from the wall. It comes with the vanity top and the medicine cabinet, but not fixtures.
- Product and shipping costs: This vanity costs $331.80. This was the rock-bottom cheapest bathroom vanity at Decor Planet, making it three times more expensive than the cheapest at Home Depot and Lowe's.
DecorPlanet offers free curbside shipping for all orders costing more than $99. White Glove delivery and other special delivery options must be arranged by phone call.
DecorPlanet offers great style with lots of modern designs. But you pay the price for it. A basic vanity costs at least twice as much as when purchased from a big-box retailer.
04 of 05
Amazon Prime: 30-Inch Vanity for $465
Anyone who is a member of Amazon Prime knows the delicious pleasure of ordering up a huge item and having it delivered for free. That's one of the main features of this $119/year service. Any item designated as Prime Eligible gets shipped to you free. But it's a somewhat different story when it comes to bathroom vanities.
- Sample unit: Pegasus 30-inch Bathroom Vanity. The sides are plywood. Black "birdcage-style" hardware is included. Not included: top, faucet, sink, toothbrush holder and backsplash.
- Product and shipping costs: $465.09 for the product, sold by a third-part vendor. Shipping is free.
There are really no bargains when buying a bathroom vanity at Amazon. Selection is limited, searching is hard, and the products that qualify for free shipping are often quite expensive. Bargain vanities are considerably more expensive than comparable choices at Home Depot and other big-box vendors. Most vanities are offered by third-party vendors rather than fulfilled directly by Amazon. While free shipping is sometimes available from these third-party vendors, you may pay for it through higher upfront prices, and third-party delivery often takes longer and is less satisfying than Amazon Prime's normal efficiency.
Amazon is somewhat disappointing as a source for online bathroom vanities.Continue to 5 of 5 below.
05 of 05
Lowe's.Com: 20-inch vanity for $119
With more than 2,000 stores across North America, Lowe's is one of the most popular home improvement stores. Like Home Depot, Lowe's has also made an effort to be an online retailer, but with somewhat less success.
- Sample unit: This bathroom vanity unit is about as barebones as it gets. If you have a little-used powder room or guest bathroom or maybe even an RV, and you want to go cheap—and you don't care much about style—you might like the Style Selections 19-inch-wide Euro Style unit. It's the entire unit—vitreous china top and hardware included.
- Product and shipping costs: Product cost is $119. But truck delivery costs $79, which is more than 65 percent of the cost of the unit itself.
As an online retailer, Lowe's is not well structured for buying bathroom vanities. It is more amendable to the "ship-to-store" option than it is to home delivery, which generally adds $79 or more in cost. With low-price vanities, shipping costs adds a significant percentage to the overall cost.