Saturday, May 23, 2015

Five Pitfalls to Avoid When Installing a Bathroom Sink


Five Pitfalls to Avoid When Installing a Bathroom Sink

In my last post, I talked about how to remove an old wall mounted bathroom sink. The next logical post would be to tell you how install a new sink. Well, I'm not really going to do that, because there are numerous tutorials, videos, and how-to guides online that do a better job explaining the process than I ever could.

In fact, here's one I referenced before I did my project-

http://www.lowes.com/cd_Install+a+Bathroom+Vanity+and+Sink_1394207886203_

What I am going to do is talk about some of the mistakes I made in my project so that hopefully you can avoid some of these same pitfalls. These are things the tutorials and how-to videos don't always tell you about.

Five Pitfalls to Avoid When Installing a Bathroom Sink

1. Silicone Caulk vs Plummer's Putty
The helpful salesman at the hardware store handed me a jar of plummer's putty and told me I would need it. Indeed, most of the tutorials I read said I would need plummer's putty, and it was cheap, so I bought it without question. But once I actually opened my faucet and drain hardware, it said specifically to not use plummer's putty and to use silicone caulk instead. Thankfully, I had purchased silicone caulk as well so I didn't need to make a separate trip.

Silicone caulk instead of plumber's putty
The faucet and drain hardware called for silicone caulk.
Hand weights to hold faucet base in place
My high-tech way of holding the faucet in place while the caulk dried.
Caulk to attach sink to vanity
I also used the caulk on the top of the vanity before placing the sink, as well as along the top of the sink where it met the wall.
2. Overflow vs non-overflow sinks require different stoppers.
We purchased a sink and vanity combo and then bought the faucet and drain stopper separately. I was excited to get a push-button drain stopper so I wouldn't have to fiddle with the flimsy metal rod behind the faucet that goes up and down. But as I started to install the drain, I was having a hard time figuring out how it was going to hold water in the sink. And that's when I saw in teeny tiny print at the bottom of the directions-- this particular push-button drain could not be used with sinks that didn't have overflow holes. And when I bought the sink and vanity combo, there was nothing on the box that indicated it didn't have overflow holes. I was able to go back and purchase a push-button drain stopper than can be used with sinks with no overflow. The moral of the story is-- check your sink type thoroughly before buying the drain.

Push-button drain stop
The original push-button drain was leaking and I couldn't figure out how it was supposed to hold water.
Push-button drain stop
A push-button drain designed for sinks with no drain holes holds water with the push of a button. Neat.
3. The vanity needs to be flush to the floor... and the wall. Be prepared to scribe.
I knew our bathroom floor was very uneven. We're talking put a ball on one end and watch it pick up speed as it careens towards the wall uneven. I figured that I would use shims to level the vanity in regards to the floor.
Level the vanity
Yep, it's uneven.
Level the vanity
A little better after placing shims.
Shim under the vanity
A shim under the vanity.
What I didn't think about was getting the vanity flush to the wall. We have thick wood trim along the bottom of the wall. I would have either had to cut out the trim or cut the vanity to sit flush against the wall. I decided it made more sense to cut the cheap particle board vanity than the 100+ year old wood trim. This process is called scribing.

It's a lot easier in theory than in execution. The only tool we had that would do the job was a sawzall. As my husband put it as he watched me hack through our vanity (in the kitchen, no less), using a sawzall to cut a cheap particle board vanity was like trying to kill a butterfly with a machine gun. It tore that thing apart, but in the end, it worked well enough. (The kitchen was covered in saw dust, though. But hey, it was freezing outside at the time.)

Scribing the vanity
Vanity doesn't sit flush against the wall.
Scribing the vanity
Attempt to scribe with my kids' compass. Not the sturdiest tool ever built.
Scribing the vanity
You can kind of see the pencil marking where I will make the cut.
Scribing the vanity
Sawzall on particle board-- like killing a butterfly with a machine gun. In the kitchen, no less.
Scribing the vanity
Um, not the prettiest, but it worked well enough.
Unfortunately, my scribing job was so bad that I could no longer get the vanity flush to the floor, despite my best efforts. In the end, I used peel and stick tile as a back splash to hide the unevenness.

Level the vanity
Don't look too closely at the row of holes, because unlike my vanity, they ARE level.
4. Measure sink tail pipe AND wall pipe.
I measured the size of the old tail pipe of the sink and (wrongly) assumed that the wall outlet was the same diameter. Wrong. They were two different sizes, so the initial drain kit I got only fit on one end. Then I got another kit that was the right diameter for the wall outlet. But then the drain pipes didn't line up.

Installing drain pipe
I attached a tail pipe to the drain pipe-- here I'm putting on the nut and washer.
Installing drain pipe
The pipe in the wall was metal, so I used a metal connector... because it seemed like the right thing to do.
5. Drain pipe kits don't always come with all the necessary pieces.
Not only did I not measure for the right size drain pipes, the kits I bought were deceptive in what comes in them. The one I purchased showed pieces in the instructional diagram that were not included in the kit. I had to go back to the store to get another nut and washer to connect the pieces. In the end, I decided to forgo the kit in favor of a flexible tubing so I could more easily line up the drain tail pipe to the wall pipe.
Drain pipe kit
See that picture? See the letters and labels on the pieces? Yeah, not all of those pieces are included.
Drain pipe kit
The wall nut and washer weren't included; I guess I should have known since they weren't numbered.
Flexible drain pipe
Tightening the connections on the flexible drain pipe.
Flexible drain pipe
Flexible drain pipe-- BEST. INVENTION. EVER.
PVC drain pieces
Leftover PVC pipes make great bath toys for the baby!
I'm sure there are plenty of more ways to mess up a sink, but these are five pitfalls to watch for if you ever install a bathroom sink.

Oh yeah, I should probably add #6-- prepare for a mess waaaay bigger than you expect.
Installing the sink mess
Um, honey? How about you clean the mess since I installed the sink?
Also, cats make terrible assistants.
Vanity Cat
El Gato is always up in my biz when I'm trying to DIY.
But I finished it regardless!
Sink installed
Mulligan Mama and her not-so-flush sink. Love the pull and stick tiles for the back splash!

~MulliganMama

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