One of the most dramatic changes you can make in a bathroom is also one of the easiest projects for a DIYer. Replacing a vanity cabinet, countertop, sink, and faucet can amount to a major bathroom upgrade even if no other elements are changed. Today's vanities often come with counter surfaces with integrated sinks in a variety of materials, including quartz and solid surface, and many are surprisingly affordable.
Before installing a new vanity, though, you will need to remove the old vanity cabinet. That also means you have to disconnect the faucet supply lines and drain assembly. But the project is easy if you take it one step at a time.
Equipment / Tools
- Adjustable wrench
- Tongue-and-groove pliers
- Drill with driver bits
- Utility knife
- Flat pry bar (optional)
- Putty knife
- Wood block (optional)
Shut Off the Water Supply
Turn off the water supply to the hot and cold taps of the faucet. Look under the sink to locate the water shutoff valves. Turn each valve counterclockwise all the way.
If your vanity faucet does not have shutoff valves, or if they don't work properly and fail to shut off the water, you will need to find the shutoff valve for the home's main water supply and shut off the water there.
Once the water is shut off, open the faucet fully to release any pressure and let the water drain out.
Disconnect the Water Supply Tubes
Disconnect the water supply tubes between the shutoff valves and the faucet, working on one tube at a time. Place a bucket under the shutoff valve to catch water from the line.
Loosen the compression nut (or hose connector) on the supply tube with an adjustable wrench. Slip the supply tube off of the valve. With a compression connection, there will be a small copper compression sleeve or ring on the water line under the compression nut.
Inspect the shutoff valve closely to make sure there is no leaking. If water continues to seep from the valve, you will need to shut off the water to the house (at the main shutoff valve) and replace the fixture shutoff valve.
Remove the Drain Trap
Set a bucket under the P-trap assembly under the sink. The P-trap will be full of wastewater, so be careful to empty it into the bucket. The trap assembly has three parts: a straight section connected to the tailpiece pipe extending down from the sink, a U-shaped section, and a straight section with an elbow connected to the pipe leading to the branch drain pipe in the wall.
Remove the P-trap by loosening the two outermost slip nuts—the one on the sink pipe and the one at the wall-end of the elbow piece. If the pipes are plastic, you may be able to loosen the nuts by hand. Otherwise, use tongue-and-groove pliers. Turn the nuts counterclockwise to loosen them. Slide the nuts away from the threaded ends of the pipes, then carefully remove the trap assembly. Dump the water in the P-trap into the bucket.
Stuff a rag into the open pipe leading into the wall to seal it off completely. This prevents sewer gas from flowing into the room.
Remove the Wall Mirror
Remove the vanity mirror, if desired. This is a good idea when the mirror rests on the vanity countertop or backsplash because it is easy to break the mirror when removing the cabinet. However, if the mirror is glued to the wall, it's best to leave it in place, unless you want to replace the mirror.
Cut the Caulk Joints
Use a sharp utility knife to cut through any caulk where the vanity top meets the wall and along all edges between the countertop and the cabinet. Also cut through any caulk where the cabinet meets the wall.
Remove the Vanity Top
Remove the vanity countertop; usually, it is easiest to leave the faucet in place (you can remove it later if desired).
Look underneath the vanity top to see if there are clips or brackets that hold the countertop unit to the vanity cabinet. If so, unscrew and remove these brackets. Lift up the front edge of the countertop. If it doesn't separate from the cabinet, it may be glued to the cabinet edges. You can try to pry up the countertop or just leave it in place and remove it along with the cabinet (next step).
Pull the countertop up from the cabinet and away from the wall, being careful not to damage the wall surfaces.
Remove the Vanity Cabinet
Check inside the cabinet to determine where it is attached to the wall; most are fastened with a few screws. Remove all screws with a drill or screwdriver. Remove any trim where the cabinet meets the walls, if applicable.
If the cabinet is attached with nails, carefully pry it away from the wall with a flat pry bar. Place a wood block between the pry bar and the wall, and lever against the block; this is important to prevent damaging the wall.
Pull the cabinet away from the wall. If the cabinet has a back panel with holes that the plumbing valves fit through, be careful not to damage (or turn on) the valves as you move the cabinet.
Complete the Project
Clean up the wall by removing any remaining caulk with a putty knife or scraper. If the new cabinet is smaller or shorter than the old one, plan to patch and paint the wall and/or floor, as needed, before installing the new vanity.