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 IKEA altered their standard plumbing kit significantly recently, so a lot of the information I found was outdated.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.
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.
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.
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 — 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.
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.
I sprayed the area with water continuously while drilling (sorry, no pics). After the holes were drilled, I put the vanity back in place.
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.
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.
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’t 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:
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).
I experimented with both the galvanized reducer and the PVC trap adapter, ultimately choosing the PVC option because it was the most space-efficient.
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.
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’t know if the manual is simply incorrect, or if the difference is so slight that it’s negligible. Just another IKEA oddity.
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’s unforgiving design.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’t drain water as quickly as a rigid tube would. But it’s totally water-tight and, ultimately, it’s 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.
I waited to do the punch out step until the very end, when I was 100% certain what my final arrangement would be.
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.
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.
And, finally, I ran a line of silicon at the back of the sink, where it meets the wall.
This line of silicon was the most beautiful and satisfying thing I’ve ever done, because it meant this project was FINISHED.
The cat inspector gave me some shit about the bike tube plumbing but signed off on the job nevertheless.
Second-guessing your decision to buy an IKEA vanity
At a couple of points during this multi-day project, I’ll 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’s actually functional because it’s level — the previous sink ledge sloped inward.
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.