Vanities are cabinets which hold built-in lavatories (sinks) and faucets and are typically located in bathrooms. They are sometimes called vanitory cabinets in England and other countries. The vanity is a smaller, more specialized version of the kitchen cabinet, and are available from all kitchen cabinet manufacturers (although not all manufacturers feature vanity cabinets on their websites).  

Cabinetry is not specifically a plumbing issue, but information on the construction and physical characteristics of various types of vanities can be found on the cabinet manufacturers\’ websites. 

When you choose your vanity, the quality considerations are the same for these as they are for kitchen cabinetry or for any other cabinetry, including furniture. Raised panel or concealed-hinge doors, dovetailed drawers, hand-rubbed finishes, and brass hardware are examples of features found on more deluxe models. Care in finishing greatly affects the cost. 

There are three types of vanity, North American Frame (standard), Euro Style (frameless), and Furniture. 

North American Frame 

These have the same style and construction as the kitchen cabinet. Framed cabinets are attached to a box from which the doors hang. MDF (medium density fiberboard) or plywood face frames are less expensive, while better cabinets will have solid wood frames.

The wood joinery holds the parts together where horizontal rails and vertical stiles secure the door to the box. Most cabinets have thick panels that have been corner blocked and glued or fastened with screws. Solid wood is rarely used for cabinet box in the bathroom because it tends to warp where moisture levels change frequently. The door and box are normally constructed of different materials, for instance a cabinet door might be solid oak with plywood sides covered with an oak veneer.

Framed cabinets are easier to install than frameless cabinetry because of their recessed end panels and rigid front frame. 

Euro-Style (frameless) 

The European frameless cabinet does not have a face frame and the doors are hung directly on the cabinet box. Holes are drilled at 32 millimeter (1¼”) increments vertically along side panels and shelf pegs, hinges, drawer slides, and other fittings are secured to these holes. These vanities are more suited for the contemporary look, because doors are hinged directly to the cabinet side using a fully concealed hinge, giving a clean look. 

Also because these use less materials they are a less expensive option than framed vanities. The close tolerances for doors and drawers though, make frameless cabinets more difficult to install. Normally made from melamine coated particle core boards, these cabinets have their edges taped with melamine or high pressure laminate. The doors are often a particle board covered with high pressure laminate. You can get either furniture-grade flakeboard which offer a stronger alternative than particleboard, which is less expensive. These doors are very rigid and not subject to warping or splitting with age 


As bathrooms become more luxurious, vanities are beginning to take on the appearance of fine furniture rather than utilitarian boxes. These take residence along a bedroom wall or alcove, adding elegance and convenience in upscale master bedrooms and guest bedrooms. Some of these vanities share the same design with bedroom furnishings. 



Today, the trend in luxury homes is toward taller vanity units. Double-basin vanities provide generous interior storage areas and ample room for two people to use it at the same time. These may include a single or double bowls, with a matching cabinet. 

Multiple vanities in varying heights can be used in the same bath to provide wash stations for him and her. These vanities can features drawers to hold blow dryers and hair curlers, etc., and a larger section behind doors can be used to hold things such as toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, etc. 

More complex designs are sold in components and can form dressing tables, multi-level wall units, or custom-built armoires. A wall mirror or mirrored medicine cabinet can be mounted on the wall above the vanity, and it\’s important that the mirror and vanity complement each other. An elaborate vanity may be placed in a powder room where guests will see it. Here, practicality becomes less important so appearance may be emphasized. 

Whether your lifestyle is formal or informal, a vanity can reflect your personality and personal style. Your designer, builder, or plumbing contractor will be glad to help you find the vanity that best fits yours needs and desires.