Bathroom Vanity Buying Guide

There’s a lot to consider when choosing a bathroom vanity, and the dozens of colors and finishes available are often the easiest part of the job. But what about sizing your space? Would a freestanding or built-in vanity be better for the bathroom? What about faucets, countertops, and mirrors? To help answer all these questions, Home Surplus created this handy guide to everything you should know about choosing a bathroom vanity.

Know Your Space

Start the project by measuring your space. Beginning with the dimensions of the bathroom helps narrow your search to bathroom vanities that will fit without worry. Use a measuring tape to measure each wall from corner to corner, and sketch your findings on graph paper.

When you’re measuring, remember the following:

  • Make sure you note door openings, such as the bathroom door, shower door, storage drawers, and more.
  • Don’t forget to take existing features into account, such as electrical switches and outlets, plumbing locations, and mirrors.
  • Standard building code compliance recommends you leave at least 18 inches between the vanity’s edge and the center of the toilet.
  • If you decide to purchase a vanity without a top, you’ll need to measure separately for the countertop. As a rule of thumb, the vanity top should be one inch wider and one inch deeper than the cabinet.

Vanity Styles: Freestanding vs. Built-In

Vanities come in two types: built-in and freestanding. The best option for your project often comes down to the size and shape of the bathroom. Built-in bathroom vanities are a great choice for larger spaces, and they usually offer more storage. They are easily customizable, allowing them to accommodate bathrooms with nonstandard shapes or unusual layouts. While they provide added flexibility, built-in vanities can also be more difficult to install.

If you’re remodeling a smaller bathroom, a freestanding vanity offers a good solution. Freestanding bathroom vanities often look like a piece of furniture, and their typically smaller footprint accommodates a wide range of bathrooms. These vanities are built for easy installation, saving you time and effort.

Not all vanities include a built-in countertop. This can make installation more complex, but you have more freedom to choose a preferred material and color if you select one of these options. You can choose from a beautiful variety of granite, marble, quartz or porcelain vanity tops sold with or without an included sink. All tops are precut for a sink if one is not already included.


Storage is often limited in bathrooms, so the vanity can be a great place to stow toiletries, cosmetics, and more. A vanity with a cupboard door provides room for larger items, but keep in mind that this area will be shared with water pipes. Look for options with built-in drawers for additional concealed storage. The width of the vanity can also be a factor for storage, providing room for items on top. 

You might also consider a medicine cabinet to add storage. Medicine cabinets come with a built-in mirror and interior shelving for storing toothbrushes, medications, and other small items that might get lost in drawers.

Other Considerations

Once you’ve determined your size, style, and storage needs, you’re ready to choose a vanity. However, you’ll want to keep a few other considerations in mind, such as:

  • Does the vanity include door and drawer hardware, a countertop, and other accessories? Read the description carefully to find out what’s included.
  • Does your new vanity or countertop include a sink? If not, they are available for purchase separately.
  • Most vanity tops are predrilled for centerset or widespread faucets. Centerset faucets are made for four-inch predrilled tops with three-hole installation basins. They have a spout and valves on a single base unit and feature a single-handle lever or two handles. A widespread faucet has a spout with separate handles for hot and cold water, and all of the pieces appear to be separate. They feature six- to sixteen-inch drillings for three-hole predrilled installation bases.

Choose Your Bathroom Vanity

Now that you’re prepared to buy a bathroom vanity, all that’s left to do is find the one best suited to your needs. Visit Home Surplus in Keyport or Bellmawr, NJ to browse our expansive stock of vanities, countertops, and sinks, or contact us online for more information. With a commitment to quality spanning over 30 years, we’re the area’s premier home remodeling resource for contractors and homeowners alike.