Custom Vanity Update Option: We Update Bathroom Vanity Step-By-Step

Custom build in Bathroom Vanities come in odd sizes. And it might be necessary to update a bathroom vanity or at least  the tops.

Simply because you cant find a prefabricated replacement in form size or shape as needed..

We Custom Update Bathroom Vanity …. Cant find needed update for bathroom vanity bc of odd sizes?

That leaves 3 vanity update option that I explain step-by-step in this post.

Basically these three vanity updated option are:

  • Paint the existing tile in a different color
  • Layover with new tile
  • Replace the existing top and build a Vanity Top

To Update Bathroom Vanity As A DIY Projects Ranks # 4 On Our Bath Remodel Cost Savings Idea List!

And if you follow the instructions closely. You should be able to take your old 30’s style Vanity (looks most likely something like our before image).

Before the update bathroom Vanity
Before we update bathroom Vanity

To something similar to this from me recently updated vanity (after image)

We chose to create a Glass Top & Stainless Steel Center Piece

after update & pre-completion to update bathroom Vanity
after update & close to completion of update bathroom Vanity

Vanity Update Option # 1 :

Painting it in a new color is obviously the easiest choice.

Skill Level: medium

And if you are okay with the existing tile structure it is the quickest and cheapest way to get a new look for your Vanity.

The steps a very simple as well

  • Clean up all tile with soapy water or bleach to remove any soap scum or residue
  • Sand surface with a fine wet & dry sandpaper (200 grit or better)
  • Clean all surface after sanding.
  • Primer with an oil base primer
  • Finish Paint with epoxy paint (suitable for tile) The paint is more expensive than good acrylic paint. However, it is developed for painting tile and therefor has better scratch resistance. I still would apply 2 coats of paint.

Custom Vanity Update Option # 2: Layover Installation

Here is more detailed info on how to replace a sink.

During a layover we basically ad a new tile layer on top of the existing one.

I recommend to replace it completely to have a fresh start. However that requires a little more time and skill.

Materials needed:

  • Tile Adhesive – You should purchase a tile adhesive that is premixed and ready to be applied.
  • Notched Plastic Trowel to apply adhesive
  • Tile cutter
  • Metal Transition for tile flooring (Aluminum Edge need enough for 2 pieces along the front edge of the vanity)
  • 1/16 Tile Spacers
  • Unsanded grout
  • tile pencil (wax pencil) a sharpy will work as well
  • sandpaper or grinding disk

Step1 – Sand and clean the front lip / edge.

Next you need to  install a board (ledger) and mount it flush with your existing front edge. It need to stick out enough to set your front edge tile on. Mark and cut front edge tile.

Simply set a tile on the ledger scribe the tile along the existing counter top and cut it. Repeat this till you cut enough pieces to cover the front. (You can get 4-6 strip out one 12″ ceramic tile).

Cut tile edge trim pieces to length.

The soft aluminum can be clipped with metal snips or use a miter saw to miter adjoining pieces.

Pro Tip:   If you install the wood miter saw  saw-blade backwards you can slowly cut a perfect edge.
vanity update potion - new install - Aluminum Tile Edge Trim
vanity update potion – new install – Aluminum Tile Edge Trim to update bathroom Vanity with glass tile

Add some adhesive onto one strip and set it with the showing edge on the ledger. The grid like part should be submerged into glue and stuck to the old front tile.

Next you spread the glue (tile adhesive ) onto your prepared (cut) tile strips and stick them firmly against the vanity lip. use spacer to space them out evenly. Cut your last  tile strip to length and install.

You can refer to the product instruction of the adhesive for dry-time before grout application. My stuff takes about 4 hours give or take.

Use a damp sponge or rag to clean up any extra glue. if grout lines are filled with glue. You can use a putty knife or any other slim tool to remove it.

If you don’t, you will have to cut it out before you can apply your grout.

I suggest to just let it sit for the rest of the day or through the night and continue your topside installation.

You should know that full pieces of tile will not fit all the time and in every course of tile. But how can you fit them before previous once are installed? Here I will explain to you how you mark tile to cut a perfect fit piece.

And without taking any measures.

After your initial cleanup follow these instructions :

Beginning in the left back corner start laying your tile (no adhesive used ) and spread them over your vanity top from the left to the right.

Use the small (1/16″) tile spacer and lay your tile tight against those. Chances are that you will not be able to fit a full tile into the right back corner or that there is a smaller strip missing.

For a perfect job you should try to center your tile and split the difference on each side. However if your tile is only slightly too large you can just cut one side. Nobody but you will ever know the difference.

How to mark the tile:

once you get to your last tile you simply lay it on top of the one next to it (to the left) And snug it up against the right wall. Now you take your marker and mark a line on the bottom tile along the edge of the top one. Remove the top right tile and make you a little x or some sort mark on the left one in the part of the left side besides your line. This is the piece you will need after you cut the tile.

Yes, that is the strip that will fit perfectly and when you actually install the tiles you just use a new full one in its place.


Your tile will fit easier if you use a tile vertical against the right hand wall and you start laying tiles against it. (Tile thickness makes a great spacer and the grout will fill this gab perfectly )

Most times walls are not fully square to each other. And You need to add one extra step to complete this vanity update option.

If you notice that your walls are much out of square ( your joints will stagger and do not line up)

Place a tile on the front edge of the right corner of your vanity. Take another tile and stack it vertical with the edge on top of the laid one. (like you where tiling a wall) Hold the vertical tile firmly against the left wall and scribe the bottom tile with your marker.

When you remove the vertical tile you see your cut line that transfers the wall angle onto your tile. Cut the tile. Double check if the angle is good and if so scribe another tile for each needed row (tile rows from back wall to front edge of vanity)  once marked you can cut all those and start placing the tiles on your vanity top.

Note this will stagger your tile. And if you want to lay them in a grid you need to lay them on your top and mark the right edge so they will line up after you cut those.

Cutting the tile for a round sink

The tile that needs to be clipped in your Sink location is most times supposed  to be round. When your till extends over your sink location mark it from the back by inscribing along the edge of your existing vanity top.

On your saw you turn your tile upside down so you can see your mark.

Make multiple cuts from the to remove tile edge to your mark (looks like a come or rake)  lay your tile onto a flat surface with the tile strips that need to be removed hanging over the edge,

Tap the strips with your tile snips or hammer to break them of. this will create the round shape that you need. If some do not break where you want to use the tile snips and make the adjustments.

Pro Tip:  Once all tile laid in place I suggest to mark them in the order they should be installed.

That would be from left back to right front. Use painters tape and write the numbers on them 1-2-3 and so on.and stack them out of the way.

By doing this, you will have no problem finding the right tile for the right spot.

Set your previously cut tile into the tile adhesive bed and align it with the yesterday installed front edge tile. You may find that you need to apply a little more adhesive on the front edge to ensure good tile bond.

Remember to use the spacers for your grout lines and try to keep those lines even and clean of adhesive. Wipe of all excess glue with a wet sponge & Soapy water (Dish Detergent works well)

Give all the tile adequate tome to dry and set. Then you can proceed to the final step and grout the tile.

I thought some of you would opt for prefabricated Vanity tops. Therefor I included the How to video above.

Pro Tip:  “Grout ”  I usually use two component to install grout.

1. Is the regular grout that I mix with a sealer instead of water. Improves stain blocking of grout and reduces mildew /fungus issues.

2.For the edges I use the matching color acrylic-grout that comes in tubes like silicone.

This material will stay elastic what reduces cracking of the grout lines in the corners.

I use this combination for any type of tile installation regardless if I tile shower walls or flooring. And I never had a complaint.

Vanity Update Option - update bathroom vanity new install - 46” Benton Collection Cottage look Abbeville Bathroom Sink vanity Model CF-28325

Vanity Update Option # 3: New Installation

Sometimes the Tile overlay is not a good vanity update option.

If this is the case for you it is not that difficult to remove the old top and replace it.

Sometimes you can remove it even in one single piece

Either way once you removed the old top you should cut your new 3/4″ Plywood to fit, but do not permanently install it just yet.

First you need to layout your design for the sink (either on center. or of center) and cut your hole according to the template that came with your sink.

Should you decide to reuse your old sink. You can use it as template.

Simply Set the sink upside down on your new top sheet and scribe with a pencil or marker the contour on your sheeting.

Next use a spacer like a 3/4″ piece of wood or a compass to draw the sink shape smaller inside your marked area. Because the hole needs to be smaller to carry the sink.

You could just mark about 1/2″ to a 3/4 Inch inwards from the outside sink line. Connect the points and use a Jigsaw to cut out for the sink

From here on out there are 2 install options for your tile.

  • Use a flex-glue and install directly
  • Install hardy Backer Sheeting (cement board)

Either one will work, however for warranty reasons I prefer option b and the 1/4 Inch thick cement board is not going to break the bank . The required screws might but not the board.

Once you installed your sheeting. You are ready to install the tile. And you use the same method as above, in the overlay section.

After all your tile is installed, grouted and sealed.

You can turn to installing  your sink and faucet to complete your Bathroom Vanity.

update bathroom Vanity Step-By-Step - After complete vanity refinish
After complete update bathroom Vanity

One last thing:

If you noticed that the shutoff valves are very hard to turn, or even leak after you turned the water off.

You should consider to replace those as well. It will not take but a few minutes replace those. Plus it’s the perfect timing and it is easy to do ones the Old Vanity-Top is removed.

Read How I Save Cash On Tile

Now to you

Did I miss Something?

Or do you have other questions?

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Thanks for reading & sharing!

Juergen 🙂