Tiling a Vanity

Tiling a vanity will give your bathroom a whole new look.


A tiled vanity gives your bathroom a designer look without completely redesigning the whole room. If you plan to tile a bathroom wall, tiling the vanity will make the vanity and sink an integral part of the space.

Even if your existing base cabinet is in good condition, you'll have to build up the top. Commercial vanity countertops are made to handle less weight. Remove the top and add bracing, a 3/4-inch plywood base, and polyethylene waterproofing membrane.

Buy the tile for all the surfaces you'll be tiling -- vanity tile, wall tile, and bullnose trim. That way you can be more certain of getting tiles of a consistent color throughout the entire project. Make sure the cartons have the same lot number.

Select the right tile to use on your vanity. Use glazed tile 3/8 to 1/2 inch thick. Purchase a sink whose texture matches the glaze -- vitreous china and enameled cast iron are good choices. Self-rimming sinks are easy to install, and the rim will cover the rough edges of the cut tile.


Eight to nine hours to build the substrate and lay the tiles; an hour more the next day to grout them

Circular saw, cordless drill, jigsaw, level, stapler, notched trowel, beater block, straightedge, caulking gun, grout float

Basic carpentry skills, setting tile, cutting tile, grouting

Remove existing vanity top or install a new prefab or custom unit

Drywall screws, 3/4-inch exterior grade plywood, cement backerboard, backerboard screws, tile, thinset mortar, 4-millimeter polyethylene or 15-pound felt, grout

Step 1

Build your own base or modify a commercial unit. Glue and screw bracing inside the cabinet, then install 3/4-inch exterior plywood with a 1-inch overhang, according to your design. Staple waterproofing membrane to the plywood and install 1/2-inch backerboard.

Step 2

Mark the outline and cut line of the sink using the manufacturer's template. If a template isn't available, center the sink upside down on the surface and mark its shape. Draw a second line 1 inch inside the first line and drill a starter hole. Cut the second line with a jigsaw.

Step 3

Lay out the tiles in a dry run using spacers. Try to minimize cutting as much as possible. Mark the edges of your dry run and snap chalk lines to guide the installation. Then comb thinset onto the backerboard.

Step 4

Set the tiles in place and level them. Cut tiles don't have to fit exactly to the edge of the sink hole but must not extend beyond the edge. Keep the tiles in line using a metal straightedge. Let the mortar cure, then grout the tiles.

Step 5

When the grout has cured, run a bead of silicone caulk around the edge of the hole and set in the sink. To avoid pinched fingers, ask a helper to support the bottom of the sink. Install and tighten any mounting clips and hook up the plumbing lines. Run another bead of caulk around the edge of the sink.

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