What are bathroom vanities?

Bathroom vanities serve a different function that bedroom vanities. While bedroom vanities typically only have one drawer and its own chair, bathroom vanities perform similar functions to kitchen cabinets: They add storage space to your bathroom. They allow you to keep items you need to get ready for the day — brushes, hair dryers, perfume and cologne, toothbrushes, make up and more — nearby. 

A countertop and sink typically top off bathroom vanities.

brown wood cabinet-style bathroom vanity

Cabinet-style vanities use doors that resemble kitchen cabinets. (Photo by Brandon Smith)

Options for bathroom vanity styles

Vessel sink vanity — Vessel sink bowls are hemispherical. A vessel sink vanity has the cabinets on the bottom, a countertop above it and a vessel sink to top it off.

Cabinet-style vanity — Cabinet-style vanities present like kitchen cabinets. Typically, one to two doors will open to a deep storage space. Sometimes, there will be a wide drawer door or functional drawer right underneath the countertop.

Furniture-style vanity — A furniture-style vanity is designed like a bedroom dresser, typically containing wide, shallow drawers.

Double sink vanity — Double sink vanities are wider to accommodate a Jack and Jill bathroom.

Flat panel vanity doors — Flat panel doors give vanities a clean, sleek look. Because the doors don't extend past the body of the vanity, they appear to take up less bathroom space while still providing the same amount of storage space underneath. 

Raised panel vanity doors — Raised panel doors make drawers easier to open. The raised door allows the use to still open the drawer without the necessity of door handle hardware. 

Types of finishes for bathroom cabinets

You can typically finish bathroom vanities using one of two techniques: Staining or painting.

Staining adds rich color to the natural wood, bringing out the grain in the wood.

Painting, on the other hand, gives you more color options. While stains are generally limited to hues of brown, black and red, painting options are unlimited. Recently, painted cabinets have increased in populary. Homeowners with kitchen and bathroom cabinets from 20 years ago more often tear them out to replace them with painted cabinets.

Materials used for bathroom vanities

Bathroom cabinets and vanities are typically made from one of three materials: Plywood, medium-density fiberboard (MDF) or particleboard.

Plywood is the most reliable. Finished plywood typically resists water, meaning if you have a leaky pipe, just a little water won't damage it, as long as you catch the leak quickly. PDF is the only material of the three had holds stain well and looks good, because unlike the other two, plywood has natural wood grain.

MDF and particleboard are both engineered wood products. MDF is far denser and heavier than particleboard. Because particleboard is the least dense type of fiberboard, it is more likely to fail when trying to use screws.

Both MDF and particleboard swell and may crack when exposed to water. If you're painting your cabinets, MDF and particleboard don't have the wood grain, so they may accommodate lighter colors better.

How much do bathroom vanities cost?

Price varies based on what type of material you use. You can get a bathroom vanity for only a few hundred dollars if you use MDF or particleboard. However, they are more likely to become damaged from exposure to water, like a leaky pipe.

For plywood — the highest quality material — expect to pay $1,400 or more.

Bathroom cabinet refinishing

Just because your bathroom cabinets are starting to look old and worn out doesn't mean you need to spend more money to replace them. Instead, consider having them refinished. Learn more about this option in the Angie's List Guide to Cabinet Refacing and Refinishing.

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