This weekend I did back to back bathroom sink/vanity installations, one for a friend from my writing class and one for the girlfriend of a friend of my writing teacher’s. Thank god for a friend of a friend, huh?
I’ve never done a whole sink/vanity from scratch, but I’ve done enough kitchen sinks and cabinets, and enough pedestal sink installations that I knew it would be a piece of cake.
Well, maybe not a piece of cake, but at least a solid installation.
The first one was on Saturday on the Upper East Side. I won’t mention my friend’s name because I didn’t ask her, so I’ll call her Miss S. Her apartment is a co-op, so there was no problem me coming in to do the job. She got a nice sink, faucet, and vanity shipped to her and all I had to do was take it out of the box, assemble it, rip out the old sink (the pressboard vanity was falling apart) and replace it. The new vanity was six pieces with pre-positioned screws and took all of 15 minutes to assemble. In all, the whole job took about 4 hours, including 2 trips to the hardware store (something always turns up) and a short break for story swapping.
Here’s the result:
She emailed me twice since then telling me how happy she was and that it was still “fine.” Well, it will be fine for a long time to come, Miss S. I don’t expect it will fall apart anytime soon.
On Sunday I went to the West Village to do the other friend of a friend’s sink, I’ll call them Mr. G and Miss H. Very nice, generous people. Miss S was pretty generous too; I forgot to mention.
This was a rental, but she said it was ok and that was good enough for me. The sink she had was one of those fiberglass composition affairs, not even acrylic. It’s been up for a while. She didn’t like the fiberglass, I don’t either, they get scratched and discolored with age. The new one is porcelain.
The new sink and vanity was all IKEA, and a hell of a lot more complex that Miss S’s sink. It took me almost 3 hours just to assemble the vanity and drawers. It comprised of almost 60 pieces including all the screws and dowel pegs.
Here’s a tip for all you do-it-yourselfers, pour out all the little bits on a cookie sheet so you can inventory them, and then use little plastic Tupperware containers (I use these plastic compartment boxes pictured below) so you can separate them. Makes life a whole lot easier during assembly.
I put the faucet on the sink, and IKEA included this handy little tool made out of hard plastic for screwing the retaining nut onto the bottom of the faucet. No picture, sorry.
All the waste lines were PVC plastic, and I’ve never used PVC pipe before, but it couldn’t be any harder than using old-fashioned copper and brass pipe. It was actually pretty easy to assemble everything, and I anticipated a quick finish until I ripped out the old sink and vanity and test fit the new vanity.
As a side note, when I was pulling out the old sink a piece of it cracked off, remaining stuck to the wall with the construction adhesive they’d used instead of caulk. No one will be reusing that sink.
I placed the vanity against the wall and right away I could see the p-trap was too far out of the wall, overlapping the back of the vanity. It would be all right in most circumstances, but this vanity has two drawers that stop four inches from the wall.
This is where the real work and experience comes in.
The drainpipe on the sink is adjustable, it moves back and forth with an inner extension sleeve. I wondered why, and now I had my answer, the pipe has to go against the wall in order for the drawers to clear. I took the back part of the p-trap that goes into the wall and I cut 2 inches off with the pipe cutter we had to go to the hardware store to buy.
Mr. G and I set off to Greenwich Street for the pipe cutter at a fast clip. I haven’t speed-marched anywhere since I was in the army and I was pooped by the time we got there. Being Sunday it was closed.
“There’s one on 3rd Street on the other side of 6th Avenue,” he said. Another speed march through the twisty, meandering streets of Greenwich Village. We made it and got the pipe cutter. By this time it was almost 4 o’clock and I’d been working since 11 without food. Miss H had kindly ordered me a tuna wrap and given me some raisins to tide me over till the food arrived.
When we got back with the pipe cutter the food came and I ate half of my wrap and went back to the bathroom to finish.
I cut the pipe and put the sink on, and discovered a couple of new problems. The waste pipe itself hit the handle for the hot water stop valve, and the flexible hose from the faucet was too short. Back to the hardware store for some extensions.
They didn’t have the flex hose extensions, and I got some couplings that might work that the sales guy picked out, but when we got back to the apartment I found he’d given us the wrong size.
By now it was after 6 and I told them I couldn’t finish without the connectors. I promised to go to Home Depot the next day and pick up what we needed.
Besides the connectors I picked up enough PVC pipe to make a “U” around the obstruction; the supply pipe and valve.
Here’s the result:
I turned the water on, and to my surprise (I don’t know why I’m always surprised when something works right away) there were no leaks. I put the drawers in, packed my tools, and said goodbye.