Bathroom Remodel, Part 5: Vanity


…which will begin here.  My wife Tera wanted me to build it from scratch after looking around at lots of different options.  Because saving money is also one of our goals, this will serve a duel purpose.  These are 4 X 4 and 2 X 4 pieces of wood, and I have made the 2 X 4’s more like 2 X 3’s by shaving them off on my table saw. It will have a cement top, so it needs to be very sturdy.  I’m using a Kreg jig to attach each cross piece; 4 screws each plus wood glue on all contact points. Notice that I didn’t bother to mill off or sand any of the markings on this wood; this is because we are going to beat it up with chains and hammers before staining it.  We are going for that RH/reclaimed look with this piece.


I have just added the first two cross beams in the same fashion.


Here are the second two, with all three leg bases attached together now.


…and the whole basic structure now. We need to add in the shelf slats, but it is getting very cold out here, so I’m moving this project down to the basement.


Before moving any further on this, we wanted to place it where it will go and make sure it’s a good fit for the space.  The shelf slats are just set in place to see what the baskets will look like, and we’ve got cardboard on top and some mixing bowls to get the whole perspective.


Now down in the basement, I’ve added four more front-to-back supports on the top (which will be hidden) for strength, even though the 4 X 4 posts will bear the brunt of the cement weight. All of the shelf slats are now fixed in place too.  For this I just used wood glue for all of the joined surfaces and shot four finish nails through each contact point. Again, this would not be the method I would use if I weren’t trying to make this look like something we found in a barn somewhere.


We beat it up a little with hammers, wood scraps, and a chain and then Tera stained it with a mix of stains that she put together. I love this! It will look great with a cement top on it, and I can’t wait to brush my teeth over this thing instead of in the kitchen sink!

Before I can continue installing the vanity, we need to drywall the wall behind it. Before I can do that, I need to stop procrastinating putting in the sconces that will go above it.

Here are the very cool sconces that Tera picked out.  Working out the electrical is something that I won’t go over in detail, but it will suffice to say that I have an electrician friend that inspected my job before I continued forward and everything is up to code.  Also in the right photo I have boxed in the old medicine cabinet hole.  Nothing special here, we just don’t want a soft spot in the wall, especially because we will be using 1/4″ drywall to cover everything.


Before I can screw in the first drywall board, I need this hole to be flush with the rest of the wall.  To make up for the hole of non-plaster wall we found when we took out the old bathtub, I just added 3/4″ wood strips to each of the studs there and held up a straight edge to make sure it will be flush and flat when we cover it with drywall.  Looks good! (Well, it doesn’t look good right now, but it will once it has drywall over it)


First piece of drywall on this side! I cut a new edge against the tiled wall for two reasons; I wanted to not have a small strip against the opposite wall and I also didn’t want the tapered edge against the tile that I would have to try and fill with compound and sand later. I also had to cut around the outlet that we added in the corner.

I absolutely hate drywalling, by the way.  Putting in the boards isn’t difficult or bothersome, but once I get to the joint compound and sanding, I will be hating my life.


Second piece in…


…and the third. Cutting around the sconces was probably the most difficult (but not all that difficult) task for this step. Make sure that you are absolutely sure about your measurements before cutting out any holes.  This can be a costly time mistake, as you may have to go back to the store to get more if you botch the job.


Let’s just get it over with, right?  Here is the first piece on the ceiling.  Because the two cutout spots I need to do will be the chandelier above the tub and the fan, I started my first piece in the center with the fan cutout made and broke the line halfway through the box for the chandelier.  This only worked out because I would have enough space against the tiled wall to not have a tapered factory edge there, and it made cutting out the hole for the chandelier box a lot easier.


Now the whole ceiling has drywall.  It’s on to my favorite thing in the world, which is taping, mudding, and sanding.  YAY!

Tape on all the tapered joints, mud (joint compound) spread over all the screw holes and joints, and now I’m ready to sand it all flat.

This is why I hate sanding drywall. My respirator has P95 rated cartridges on it, so I could be working with asbestos dust with this.  A bit overkill, but I don’t need to breathe anything else foreign into my lungs and I try extra hard to make that so.


Now that our drywall is smooth, Tera is beginning the painting. She decided to go with this cream color.  We’ll see how that goes, but we usually end up painting at least twice before settling on the permanent color for walls. While she is busy with this, I am going to pour our cement vanity top. I’ve never really done any of this, but especially not pouring cement for a vanity surface. Let’s see how this works out!


I started by making a form out of 2 X 6 lumber to the specs we need. I put in several braces up underneath it to hold all of the weight until it dries, then used plywood to make a solid bottom for the cement to lay on. Before starting with the cement, I rubbed a paraffin wax block around all of the cement contact points so that hopefully it will release smoothly when it’s dried up. I poured in about 3/4″ of cement, then laid out sheet metal to reinforce it, then poured in another 1″ or so of cement.


I packed it down tightly with my grout float, making sure there were no voids or bubbles.  I smoothed it out a bit, but left some texture to it, as per my wife Tera’s instruction.  She wanted the surface to be rough, but not too rough.


I then went around and rounded the edges for a slight taper. I waited until the cement was still wet, but dry enough to hold a form. I would say I waited about an hour before doing this step.


48 hours later.  I wanted to make sure this was good and set because I have to lug it up a flight of stairs out of my basement and I don’t want it to crack!  This sucker is heavy. I tipped the whole form up vertically onto some cloth (to protect the edge), removed the top edge of the wood form, and jiggled it out. The visible surface in this photo is the bottom side. I think I’m going to need to enlist 5-8 Oompa Loompas to help me get this up and out of the basement.


Somehow I got it up here with a dolly and a wife. We had to immediately put the sinks and faucets on top to check out what it will look like.


Can you tell which pinkie got smashed between the cement and the wood vanity? OUCH!

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