Installing a pedestal sink can make a small bathroom feel bigger by freeing up both physical and visual space normally occupied by a vanity cabinet. Pedestal sinks also have a classic, elegant look that you just don't get with a boxy vanity and standard sink basin. But before you rip out your old vanity to install a pedestal sink, be aware of what the project involves. You may need to make plumbing changes and flooring and wall repair as well as adjusting to a lack of storage space.
Shopping for a Pedestal Sink
Start with some careful comparison shopping, and consider both the faucet and the sink together. Some sinks have a single faucet hole, some have the standard two holes with 4-inch spacing, and some are "widespread" with wider spacing. In fact, if the faucet is more important than the sink style, choose the faucet first, then find a sink with right hole configuration for the faucet.
When comparing pedestal sink prices, keep in mind that the sink basin and the pedestal may be priced separately. Make sure the prices you compare include both parts.
Will the Plumbing Be Visible or Hidden?
Pedestal sinks installed with the plumbing visible can look just fine, but it's also possible for an installation to almost completely hide the plumbing. Do some research and look at examples of both types of installations before deciding. Hiding the plumbing will most likely require moving the existing water and drain lines.
If you are remodeling, it is fairly easy to move the water and drain lines to the perfect location. But if you want to avoid the additional work, keep the location of the existing plumbing in mind when you decide on what pedestal to buy. A larger pedestal base will be able to hide the plumbing better than a sleek one.
What Bracing Is Required?
After narrowing down your choices, check the manufacturer’s bracing requirements. Bracing in the wall is often needed for anchoring the sink basin. Usually, bracing is in the form of 2x6 or 2x8 lumber added between two wall studs in the sink location. If you need this kind of bracing, you'll have to open up the wall to install the lumber. Also check the requirements for anchoring the pedestal to the floor. Typically, you drill a hole through the finish flooring and secure the pedestal to the subfloor with a screw.
Check the Drain Location
Most pedestal sinks are designed to be centered directly over the drain pipe in the wall, with the water pipes flanking the drain. Some pedestals give you a little wiggle room here, but at best it's not much. If you don't want the sink to be directly in front of the existing drain location, you'll have to cut the drain pipe and install fittings to reroute it to the desired location. The same goes for the water pipes. Even if the drain is at the right location side to side, it might be too high or too low for the pedestal sink and will need some modification to make it work.
Do You Need Special Fittings?
Since part of the drain will be visible from certain angles, it looks best if the finish of the drain trap matches the faucet and bathroom trim. If you have a chrome faucet, then you might want a nice chrome drain trap and flange. Drain traps and other fittings are available with chrome, bronze, copper, and nickel finishes. In a pinch, you can also opt for standard plastic and paint it to match the wall or sink color.
What About the Water Lines?
The water supply tubing and shutoff valves should be tucked behind the base of the pedestal, if possible, to keep them out of view. The less you see of the drain and water lines, the better the pedestal will look. As with the trap, the water lines and shutoff valves should match the trim of the bathroom because they will be visible from some angles.
Floor and Wall Repair
The floor and the wall might not be finished behind the old vanity. So you may need to finish these areas, at the very least. In addition, if you have to make changes to the plumbing or add bracing in the wall, you'll need to patch in the drywall, finish the seams, and paint the wall. To make the patching easy, cut the old drywall back to the inside edges of the studs, then add 2x2 blocking to the sides of the studs to support the new drywall and provide plenty of wood for driving in the drywall screws.