How I Installed an IKEA Bathroom Vanity

In my greatest DIY victory to date, I installed an IKEA HEMNES bathroom cabinet, DALSKAR faucet, and ODENSVIK sink (which came with¬†RINNEN plumbing). Note that the title of this blog post is not “How to install an IKEA vanity” but rather “How I installed an IKEA vanity.” This is what worked for me.

I did a ton of Googling throughout this process and found some helpful guides (such as this one) that gave me the confidence to take on this project, but I didn’t find any blog posts that were identical to my situation. IKEA altered their standard plumbing kit significantly recently, so a lot of the information I found was outdated. Also, every home is going to have its own oddities.

This post won’t be of much interest to anyone who isn’t installing an IKEA sink, but I hope it’s helpful for at least one person who is! Specifically, here are the three issues I encountered that you might run into as well:

  • Waste pipe¬†that is 1-1/4″¬†vs¬†IKEA plumbing that¬†is¬†1-1/2″
  • Faucet supply lines that are 3/8″¬†vs¬†IKEA faucet lines that are 9/16″
  • IKEA overflow hose that does¬†not reach the drain

Before buying our¬†house, I had never done any plumbing work. It was daunting because water can be so quickly and so thoroughly ruinous should anything go wrong. I installed our basement sink¬†as a test case, and then tackled this on my own without disaster. If you’re handy and enjoy finding solutions to problems, I think IKEA plumbing is definitely a doable DIY.

Getting started

I started by laying out all of the parts in order. Note: if you buy an IKEA sink and an IKEA faucet, you’ll have a couple of duplicate parts.

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I warned Jarrod that it may be several days until we had a working sink again. I hoped it would go smoothly, but I was prepared for some hiccups. We have a sink in our first floor half-bathroom, which helped make this a lot less stressful.

I turned off the inline shut-off valves, disconnected the existing sink, and stuck a rag in the wall drain hole to keep the stink contained.

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I assembled the vanity cabinet and Jarrod helped me position it (it was nice to have an extra set of hands here, but not necessary ‚ÄĒ this¬†can be a one-woman project). I adjusted the screw-in feet until it was level. Our floor slopes, so the right self-adjusting foot is extended quite a bit more than the left.

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Once it was precisely placed and leveled, I marked off the four spots I’d need to drill and then moved the vanity out of the bathroom.

Drilling into granite tile

If you don’t have granite wall tiles, mounting the vanity will be pretty easy. If you do have granite tiles, like we do, I’m sorry. Drilling into granite is totally doable, but it’s time-consuming and expensive! The bits are made of diamonds and run $20+ each at Home Depot. It sounds like even the nice ones wear down quickly, requiring multiple bits to do the job. Having learned that, I chose to buy two cheap sets from Amazon. $22 total for 10 bits, and I wound up using every single one.

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I sprayed the area with water continuously while drilling (sorry, no pics). After the holes were drilled, I put the vanity back in place.

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The big square holes are from the previous sink’s installation. The IKEA vanity is secured with metal clips (provided by IKEA) and toggle bolts (purchased by me).

Mounting the faucet on the sink

I installed the DALSKAR faucet on the ODENSVIK sink before placing it on the vanity – it was a lot easier to see and reach the underside this way.

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The bottom of the metal faucet marked up the sink a bit as I was positioning it, which was disappointing. To avoid this, I’d recommend putting some painters tape around the hole and then removing it right before you tighten down the faucet. Otherwise, this step was straightforward and easy.

Figuring out the waste pipe connection

The waste pipe is the hole in the wall that the sink connects to, which I assume leads directly to the Chicago River. The IKEA p-trap drainpipe is 1-1/2 inches. Our waste pipe is smaller: 1-1/4 inches.¬†So, I had to find a trap adapter/reducer. In retrospect, this wasn’t that big a deal: most of¬†the battle was learning terminology and figuring out WTF I was even looking for.

Semi-Pro Tip #1:¬†Don’t throw away anything you remove from your previous sink’s installation until you’ve successfully installed your new sink. Put it in a plastic¬†bag and carry that grossness to every hardware store. If you’re a novice like I am, it’s extremely helpful to have with you to compare parts and to talk to store employees.

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Semi-Pro Tip #2:¬†When you’re in the hardware store,¬†BUY EVERYTHING. Seriously, if you find yourself looking at something and thinking “This might work” or “I think this would fit” — BUY IT. Keep the receipt and return what you don‚Äôt use.

In the interest of helping anyone in the same boat, here are all the options I gathered within 36 hours via Amazon, Clark & Barlow Hardware, Home Depot, and Ace:

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The Everbilt washer the Home Depot guy sent me home with was totally wrong for the job, so that one was immediately ruled out. Any of the other three probably would have worked if space were not a crucial issue for IKEA plumbing (more on that later).

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I experimented with both the galvanized reducer and the PVC trap adapter, ultimately choosing the PVC option because it was the most space-efficient.

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Good god, this post is boring. I’m sorry. Let’s trudge on.

Connecting the faucet

Our supply valves are 3/8 inch. The IKEA manual states that the faucet lines are 9/16 inch. As far as I learned, this is not a measurement used by US plumbing standards.

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So, I was worried about connecting my existing 3/8″ lines¬†to the IKEA faucet lines, but did not encounter any problems at all. The ends connected perfectly, and they are watertight. Whew! I don‚Äôt know if the manual is simply incorrect, or if the difference is so slight that it‚Äôs negligible. Just another IKEA oddity.

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I wrapped the ends with Teflon tape to help ensure a tight seal.

Connecting the overflow drain and p-trap

This was the most frustrating part of the installation. Unlike the waste pipe, which was a challenge because of our house’s non-standard plumbing, this step was¬†infuriating¬†because it was caused by IKEA‚Äôs unforgiving design.ikea-drawer-fml.jpg

In order for the HEMNES drawers to slide in fully, the drain pipe and p-trap needs to be as close to the back wall as possible. The cabinet assembly does not allow a generous margin of error. Many people wind up having to shorten their drawers or hack notches into them. The drawers were the major appeal of this vanity in the first place, so I was hoping to avoid that.

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In the store display, IKEA shows the wall drain being off-center from the sink drain itself, so that the p-trap (the curved part at the bottom) is flush with the wall and the overflow tube (the black rubber piece) can be connected.

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In my experience, this a totally unrealistic and unholy arrangement. Our wall drain hole is centered with the sink’s drain, like God intended. I had no choice but to position the drain to run at an angle, in order to get the p-trap flush with the wall.

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The overflow tube IKEA provides is quite rigid and would simply not bend or stretch to work with that arrangement. I could force it into place with a terribly angled drain (as you see above), but it would slowly disconnect because of the strain. IKEA’s design doesn’t include anything to actually secure it to the drain. I tried cable ties and steel screw clamps, but the black rubber was simply too rigid. Incredibly frustrating!

I went to Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Ace in search of tubing that could work as a replacement. I bought a few different types of plastic tubing, but in the end, nothing worked as well as a $3 bike inner tube I stole from Jarrod. It was flexible enough for the tight space, and I was able to secure it in place with cable ties.

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I don’t claim¬†that this solution is perfect: if the sink were stopped up and water reached the overflow hole, the bike tube doesn‚Äôt drain water as quickly as a rigid tube would. But it‚Äôs totally water-tight and, ultimately, it‚Äôs the solution that saved me from having to hack the drawers and/or burn down the house. For our purposes, the overflow drain only gets used when water splashes back there. So, it’ll do.

Moving along! You have to punch out a hole on whichever side you install the overflow drain.

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I waited to do the punch out step until the very end, when I was 100% certain what my final arrangement would be.

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Good enough!

Checking your work and sealing it up

I waited a few days before installing the drawers so that I could keep an eye on the drain and supply lines, to make sure nothing was leaking. I also wiped a Kleenex over all of the components a couple times each day to make sure everything was staying completely dry.

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Once I was certain the drain and faucet lines were watertight, it was time for silicon. I lifted the sink to put a line of silicon on top of the vanity and then carefully set it back in place. I also used silicon on the rubber seal that sits between the sink and the drain. I figured this might help make it extra-watertight; couldn’t hurt, anyway.

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And, finally, I ran a line of silicon at the back of the sink, where it meets the wall.

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This line of silicon was the most beautiful and satisfying thing I’ve ever done, because it meant this project was FINISHED.

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The cat inspector gave me some shit about the bike tube plumbing but signed off on the job nevertheless.

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Second-guessing your decision to buy an IKEA vanity

At a couple of points during this multi-day project, I‚Äôll admit that I regretted buying an IKEA vanity. But, in the end, I think I made the right choice.¬†The vanity offers more storage in a smaller footprint than the¬†terrible saucer sink.¬†The new sink has a smaller surrounding edge, but it‚Äôs actually functional because it‚Äôs level ‚ÄĒ the previous sink ledge sloped inward.

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The vanity looks nice and feels very sturdy. I love the drawers: they slide smoothly and shut softly. I also love the faucet: the one-handle design is great, and the water turns on and off very cleanly. Most importantly, the vanity fit our tight space requirements and our budget.

You can see additional photos of the space in my Bathroom Makeover post.

Sources:

Bathroom Makeover: Finished!

Hey, our¬†bathroom is finished! As I mentioned when I first¬†shared my bathroom makeover plans, my¬†goal was to replace the glaring features¬†that made the bathroom look really dated/cheap: most notably, the paint, mirror, and sink. Eventually we’ll do a full bathroom renovation (that granite tile is not part of my forever plan), but making some changes now will keep me happy with this space for several years to come.

The upstairs landing is looking much better since you last saw it, with a rug, snake plant, and framed photo.¬†I’ve had the IKEA VITTEN shag rug for a long time now, and it’s held up surprisingly well. Snake plants are unkillable – this one¬†gets indirect light from the stairwell window, and that’s keeping it alive just fine.

Before:
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After:
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And here’s what the bathroom looks like now:

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Before:
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After:
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Before:
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After:
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Obviously, erasing that red was an easy win! (The walls are now Behr’s Irish Mist.) Less easy: replacing the¬†sink. Installing the IKEA HEMNES vanity was difficult for a variety of reasons, which I’ll detail in another post. But it was ultimately worth it: it’s the perfect size, I love the storage drawers, and good riddance to that terrible pedestal sink.

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To be honest, I’m not totally in love with the eucalyptus wall hanging I made.¬†I preserved the eucalyptus with vegetable glycerine (following this blog post’s helpful instruction), which has kept it flexible and intact, but it’s become¬†less green and more reddish brown over the past couple of months. I do like it for bringing some different texture and shape into the bathroom, though. And, if nothing else, it was fun to braid string and embroidery floss.

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Preserved plants are no match for live, verdant ones. The window ledge is a great spot for plants that I’m starting from clippings.

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I swapped the existing light fixture for a mini-sputnik style chandelier from West Elm.

Before:
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After:
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Aside from the vanity, my favorite change is the mirror. The Linfield pivoting mirror from Rejuvenation is perfect: beveled edge, rounded corners, and remarkably well-made. I hope to use it for decades.

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The abutting doors were a hassle, so I replaced the closet door with a curtain. And, I swapped the door’s hinges and knob for black metal ones: small changes that made¬†a big difference.

Before:
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After:
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More details about the bathroom closet changes can be found in my previous post.

Before:
Bathroom Closet Before

After:
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The Relax sign was¬†replaced by¬†a photo my brother took of my aunt and uncle’s pecan grove in southwest Missouri.

Before: 
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After:
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That’s all I got for now! I’ll close with the product sources; you can also see them gathered together in my previous post.

Bathroom and Stairs: Progress and Plans

In my last post, I shared then-and-now photos of our kitchen and dining room.¬†I’m continuing my six-months-later series with our stairs and half bathroom. These obviously aren’t After (TM) photos, just progress shots. Let’s dive in!

Before:downstairs14

Now:Stairs

What’s been done:

  • Not much!
  • Painted the bathroom walls and trim.
  • Took down the hardware.
  • Hung a new mirror.
  • Installed new black hinges and doorknob.
  • That’s it.

Before:downstairs9

Now:Stairs Bathroom

I told the painter he didn’t have to do anything with this¬†staircase. I look forward to tackling it¬†at some point, but it’s not pressing. I need to test it for lead and research the safest and most effective way to remove paint from spindles (e.g. chemical strippers, heat gun, raging fire…).

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Because there are so many weird angles in the bathroom, I chose to use the same color of paint (Irish Mist) on the walls and the ceiling. It helps make it look a little less choppy.

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Not too huge a change, really! But it feels so much better, and “just paint” belies the amount of work a professional paint job entailed. Everything was¬†filthy and uneven, and our painter scrubbed, sanded, patched, primed, and painted the trim, walls, and ceiling. And,¬†new hinges have a surprisingly big impact!

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That dumb, crowded rosette on the top left kills me. I can’t wait to replace all of¬†the trim in this house!

Jarrod declared that the half-bath would be my “stunt room” and I’m excited to make that happen. It’s actually something my mom would do, too, in the houses we worked on: be more daring in powder rooms because you can be. I think I’ll¬†steal heavily from this inspiration:

BAMeganBrakefield.jpgPhoto from Design*Sponge

What I plan to do, short term (within a year or so):

  • Nothing.¬†I don’t want to waste time or money on lipstick for a pig.
  • Well, okay, maybe some art and some plants.
  • Well, okay, maybe a new light fixture if I know that it will work with my future bathroom plans.

What I plan to do, longer term (within two to three years, maybe):

  • Full bathroom remodel: I hope¬†this shouldn’t be overly¬†expensive, because the room is so small (reducing the amount of materials and labor needed).
  • Remove the¬†wall and floor tile.
  • New tile floor.
  • Install wainscoting.
  • Wallpaper!
  • New sink, toilet, light fixtures, door, and trim.
  • For the stairs: refinish the landing, treads, risers, stringers, balusters, newels, and handrail. I would have only known half those terms without the aid of Google.

Bathroom Closet Before & After

Just a quick post about improvements I made to our bathroom closet. First off: bathroom closet! I’ve never had one before, and it’s crazy nice. There’s a ton of room. But when we moved in, there was only one long shelf in there.

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It wasn’t an efficient use of the space at all.

Bathroom Closet Shelf Before

I put everything out on a towel while I was working and Doozy made himself comfortable. Cat logic: “If I fits, I sits.”

Bathroom Mess Nest

The first thing I tackled was the floor. It was splattered with paint, and had an overall gritty texture that never felt clean even when it was. The perimeter of the floor had been covered and then exposed at some point, so it looked unnecessarily shitty. Sanding it to the point of perfection would have required a belt sander. Given that it’s a closet floor, I didn’t need perfection — I just wanted it to feel clean. So, I sanded a bit, followed by¬†a quick coat of stain and poly. I also added some¬†trim using wood I had on hand, to cover up the gaps around the perimeter.

Before:

Bathroom Closet Floor Before

After:

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After:

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After:

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Next up was shelving. We had an IKEA Billy bookcase from two apartments ago that I kept in our basement at our last apartment. I thought about selling it several times, but I decided not to because I knew it might come in handy wherever we lived next. It’s a perfect fit here!

Bathroom Closet Shelves 2

Next to it I added shelves using brackets left in the house and two cheap Rubbermaid laminate¬†boards¬†from The Home Depot. I cut them to fit using my mitre saw. They look the same, but they’re actually slightly different lengths because this closet’s angles are not at all square. When you want a perfectly tight fit, be sure to measure for each shelf, and error on the side of cutting too long – you can always shave off if needed!

Bathroom Closet Shelves

I like to use paint pens for making dark screws less conspicuous.

Painters Pen

The closet had a light fixture that looked kinda cool, but it was rusted and used antiquated bulbs.

Bathroom Closet Light Before

I was very excited to replace this light fixture with a $3 porcelain lamp holder. This created a perfectly-placed outlet so that we now have a place to plug in our radio (AM NPR FTW) and charge toothbrushes, razors, etc.

I think these lamp holders are a great way to add outlets for low-voltage use. If you’re not comfortable with replacing a light fixture (or if you’re not allowed to as a renter), an even easier alternative is to use a screw-in socket adapter.

Bathroom Closet Charging Station

The drill¬†piece kit I mentioned in this post included attachments for cutting holes – they’re awesome. I had previously hacked through things with a cheap keyhole saw and this is so much easier.

Drill for Cutting Holes

The closet door awkwardly abutted the bathroom door, so I removed it. I plan to hang up a simple curtain instead. I used slivers of wood and spackling paste to fill in the door frame gaps where the closet door hinges used to be.

Bathroom Closet Hinge

After:

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That’s it! Now we have¬†a clean floor, a charging station, and plenty of room to spare.

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The basket holds cleaning supplies, which is really nice to have upstairs.

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Toilet necessities tucked into the back corner, and a hook rail because Jarrod always hangs out his clothes the night before work like a crazy person. On Friday, he hangs out his clothes for Monday: crazy person!

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Before:

Bathroom Closet Before

After:

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I’m waiting for the closet curtain to come back from the tailor and then this bathroom will be finished – photos to come!

Bathroom Makeover Plan

When I gave you a tour of the second floor bathroom, I mentioned possibly replacing the sink ahead of a complete bathroom remodel. If you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know that’s exactly what I ended up doing. In my greatest DIY victory to date, I wrestled IKEA plumbing¬†into submission.

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Backing up: I don‚Äôt love the granite tile, but it‚Äôs in great¬†shape and I can live with it for several years. The sink and medicine cabinet, however, downgraded the bathroom from¬†“pretty okay!” to “haaaaate it.” I decided that since I could replace the most glaring offenders and consider this bathroom ‚Äúdone for now,‚ÄĚ it was worth the time and money.

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I’m still putting the finishing touches on the bathroom, but I wanted to share the product round-up with you now! Here’s what I’m working with Рit’s a mix of new things and things I already had:

Bathroom Makeover Big ThingsShower Curtain  /  Light Fixture  /  Mirror /  Faucet  /  Vanity & Sink  /  Rug

Bathroom Makeover Small ThingsDoor Knob  /  Tissue Box  /  Hooks  /  Plants  /  Shower Curtain Rings  /  Cabinet Knob  /  Toilet Paper Holder  /  Hinges  /  Soap Dispenser  /  Basket  /  Pot

The¬†mirror was the biggest splurge.¬†I logged a thousand hours online looking for something less expensive that 1) I liked nearly as much, 2) fit our space requirements, and 3) works with the wall tile that juts out 3/4″ from the drywall. There was nothing else. So, when Rejuvenation had a sale, I jumped. Expenditure approved! I am still pretty giddy about this mirror: it’s so nice to make decorating decisions as a homeowner that I wouldn‚Äôt have made as a renter, and to invest in¬†high-quality products that will be in the house for a long time.