Bathroom Cabinet Buying Guide
Buying cabinetry or a vanity for your bathroom is a similar process to buying kitchen cabinets. Before you start shopping, make sure you have a well-thought-out plan for your bathroom renovation. You should have a clear vision of what your new bathroom will look like, after exploring various bathroom designs and layouts and planning out space and storage. Finally, you should have a budget to work with.
Cabinet Quality Grades
Similar to kitchen cabinetry, bath cabinetry is available in three basic grades (stock, semi-custom and custom).
Stock cabinetry is generally affordable but offers little variety in door style, size and materials.
Semi-custom cabinets offer a wide range of door and drawer styles, materials and finishes but like stock cabinetry, semi-custom is measured in 3-inch increments and doesn’t provide a fully tailored fit.
Custom cabinetry is completely adapted to suit any given space. With custom-built cabinetry, there’s no limit in terms of style, material, finishes or decorative elements but the trade-off can be extremely pricey. Lead-time on cabinetry can be anywhere from same day delivery with stock cabinetry to eight weeks or more on custom orders.
Regardless which grade you opt for, make sure to choose a well-constructed cabinet with drawers at least 3/8-inch to 1/2-inch thick, especially on the bottom. Avoid stapled construction. Check to ensure drawers are snug in their box, open quietly and glide smoothly. They should not sag when extended fully. Wood sides and dovetail joinery marks quality construction practices but substrates, such as plywood, particleboard and medium density fiberboard (MDF) with doweled joinery is a suitable and affordable alternative.
Cabinet Materials and Finishes
Bathrooms receive considerable wear and tear and it’s important to choose materials and finishes that can withstand heat, water and excessive moisture. Typically, cabinetry is constructed of a plywood, particleboard or medium density fiberboard (MDF) box with solid wood door and drawer faces. The number of available material and finish options increase with price point. Most manufacturers offer a breadth of painted, stained, glazed, antiqued and distressed finishes and an expansive selection of woods and laminates. Be wary of using veneers in baths, as they tend to peel over time.
Cabinet Doors, Accessories and Hardware
Door style and decorative enhancements drive the look of bath cabinetry. Doors may be flush or have an elevated or inset central panel that can be squared, arched or rounded. From craftsman to modern, a number of door styles are available at every price point.
An assortment of decorative accessories such as posts, pilasters and wainscoting further customize the look. Drawers and doors typically look best when coordinated or identical. The same applies to their hardware, including hinges, knobs and pulls. It’s important to thoroughly consider each of these items as an entity before committing. But bath cabinetry isn’t all about looks. Consider accessories for ease of use.
Cabinet and Vanity Styles
Consider first what you’ll be storing in cabinetry before deciding on a design. A double sink vanity offers more storage while a narrower vanity allows more floor space. Another trend is custom designed vanities suspended above the floor. Freestanding vanities and cabinetry detached from walls on either side are especially popular in powder rooms or half baths.