Kitchen countertops are often large, custom affairs, fabricated to exactly match a particular space. Because they are large and unwieldy (and often quite expensive), kitchen countertops are more often installed by professionals.
Not so with bathrooms, where the vanity countertops are usually small enough for DIYers to install themselves. And most vanity top styles are available in a variety of stock sizes and configurations, which means you can usually find what you need without waiting weeks for it to be fabricated.
Vanity tops are sized to match the typical stock sizes of bathroom vanity cabinets, with a slight overhang at the front and sides. Bathroom vanity base cabinets typically range in size from 24 inches to 60 inches, and in front-to-back depths of about 17 inches for small rooms, or 23 inches for standard-sized bathrooms. Vanity tops are available to match all these stock vanity cabinet sizes, which means that they can be single slabs that are relatively easy for a DIYer to install. Even granite or quartz vanity tops, although quite heavy, can usually be managed by a DIYer who has a helper or two.
Like kitchen countertops, bathroom vanity tops can be made from a variety of countertop materials. Many of the same materials used in kitchen countertops can also be used in bathroom vanity tops, though it is rare to find wood butcher-block or stainless steel in a bathroom vanity top. When you shop for a bathroom vanity top, you have a choice of materials, and also a choice of basic configuration styles.
Bathroom vanity tops come in two basic categories—integrated and cut-out. There is a third, smaller category of vanity tops designed for vessel sinks that sit atop the counter.
Each vanity top style is available in both single-basin and double-basin styles.
When you see the term integrated used in reference to a vanity top, it means the sink basin is already incorporated into the vanity top—either because it is molded into the countertop material itself (known as a fused sink), or is attached below the vanity top at the factory. We are all familiar with the older style of sink known as cultured marble, in which the sink basins were molded as a single unit with the same piece of material that formed the vanity top. The same basic system is used with more modern integrated sinks made from solid-surface materials such as Corian—the sink and vanity top are all one piece of molded material without visible seams.
With quartz and some other materials, the integrated sink is a second piece that is permanently attached below the countertop at the factory. The advantage of any type of integrated sink is that you do not need to buy a separate sink basin—it's already part of the vanity top.
The name is self-explanatory: These are vanity tops that have large cutout openings into which a separately purchased sink basin is inserted. They require either a sink designed for drop-in installation (called self-rimming), which rest on the lip of the cutout opening and are caulked into place; or an undermount sink that is attached below the lip of the cut-out.
The advantage of a cut-out vanity is that you have a wide range of options when it comes to choosing a sink style of your choosing. With integrated tops, your choices for sink basins are limited.
Vessel vanity tops are designed for use with the stylish and trendy vessel sinks, elevated basins that rest on top of the vanity top. These usually come with only a very small hole for the sink basin's drain fitting. Sometimes they have no drain opening at all, with the expectation that you will drill out the drain opening wherever you plan to mount the sink basin.
Single-Bowl Integrated Vanity Top
In this example of an integrated vanity top, a porcelain sink basin has been fused with a quartz (engineered stone) countertop. One advantage of all integrated vanity tops is that there is no raised rim or lip on the sink, which slightly increases countertop space.
Double Bowl Integrated Vanity Top
Here is an integrated vanity top with two basins, this one made with solid-surface material in which the sink basins are fused with the countertop. The backsplashes may also be fused to be part of the same piece.
Integrated, fused sinks have the advantage of offering a uniform appearance and they never require caulking. However, in rare instances, a crack in a sink basin may mean that the entire vanity top needs to be replaced.
Single Basin Cut-Out Vanity Top
This is a cut-out vanity top with a single-centered opening intended for a sink that will be purchased separately. Cut-out vanity tops are widely available; home centers may stock dozens of them right in the store.
Cut-out vanity tops offer the advantage of more design flexibility since they allow you to choose your own sink. You can choose either a top-mount self-rimming sink or, to give you a bit more counter space, an undermount sink.
Double Basin Cut-Out Vanity Top
Longer vanity tops that have two cut-outs for sink basins, plus generous counter space, can be custom-ordered to fit base cabinets that stretch as long as 88 inches. A countertop of this length in natural stone or quartz, as shown here, can be very heavy; DIYers will need helpers to tackle installation.