Hot Topics: Bathroom Countertop Replacement

A bathroom with a granite countertop.

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Original Post - Just Bought a $250 granite vanity top

This DIYer wants to replace a Formica bathroom countertop, but is granite the best choice?

brian 1900 Member

Just bought a granite vanity top at a big box store and read that two people had the silicone caulking they used to fasten it down come through to the top and stain it. Have you ever heard of this happening?

What should I use when I affix it to the vanity?

I'm also assuming that the old top, which is Formica sheet and pressed wood, would just be glued down to the vanity.

How should I go about getting the old top off? Prybar?

Wirepuller38 Member

The old top is probably screwed from the inside. Look underneath near the corners for screws.

Handyone Forum Topic Moderator

Granite, quartz, and Corian are all adhered with silicone. Don't run a full bead—just blobs about every 6 - 8."

brian 1900 Member

OK, I lifted a corner of the Formica and it looks like the counter is nailed down with finish nails. Do I just start carefully prying it off?

It appears that underneath the Formica sheeting (this is most likely from 1971) there is some type of pressed wood and I can see finish nails every 6 inches, so I'm guessing the counter is nailed down and then Formica sheeting is over that. Luckily, the Formica sheets seem to come off easily. I don't think I'll have to really take the sheeting off, though. I think I might be able to just pry it up gently and slowly work my way around the counter.

I haven't even begun the project yet—should I get stuff for the faucet and drain pipe before installing it? The sink will shift from the left to the center, so I'm going to have to get a drain pipe that will go to the pipe coming from the wall. Of course, I'll need a p-trap and the water lines also for the hot and cold.

I know nothing about plumbing at all, but hopefully I'll be able to figure it out. Maybe with some pics along the way you guys will be able to help me hook it up.

I have one more question. I'm wondering why the granite top I got was so cheap. I heard that single slab can be expensive, but this one was $250 at big box store. It's called "desert gold" and is 49 inches. It says "made in China." Could that be why it's so cheap? It looks nice.

This is also very heavy. I'm wondering if it's reasonable to worry about the added weight that will be put on the floor of the bathroom? On the specs it says 101 lbs.

Norm201 Member

I'll answer the granite question. It's not too heavy for the cabinet or the floor. Think of your refrigerator and it's weight—ever hear of a fridge going through the floor? (Wait, I think on an episode of The Three Stooges it happened once.)

Small pieces of granite can be relatively cheap as compared to a kitchen counter slab. That's because most bathroom counter tops are small and are the scraps left over from the larger pieces. If you went to a counter shop that specializes in stone, they would show you pieces cut from larger slabs that are discounted due to size. Most of these can be used in the bathroom. If you had gone to a counter shop, I would've recommended you have them install it.

brian 1900 Member

Another problem now—I measured my vanity and it's 22 inches wide and my countertop (the current old one on there) is 23 inches. The new granite says it fits 48 by 21-inch vanities.

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

I suppose you could gain a little by installing a backsplash first, but then you are relying on caulk to keep water out of the joint.

Handyone Forum Topic Moderator

I think you're saying the vanity is 22" deep and the new counter is probably about 21 to 22 inches deep? (21 inches deep plus the front overhang.) The new top probably won't work—you won't have an overhang at the front. You could take the cabinet apart and cut the depth back.

brian 1900 Member

Do they make countertops 23 inches wide? Is all hope lost? Maybe I should just put new Formica on and take off the old sheet.

Handyone Forum Topic Moderator

A standard vanity depth is 21 inches, and your new top was designed for a 21" deep vanity plus the front overhang. The only way I know to fix this is to cut back the cabinet or purchase a custom top. I haven't searched for pre-fab tops 23" deep—they might be out there. It's not too hard to take the cabinet apart and rebuild it after cutting the sides and bottom. If you don't want to take the cabinet apart, you can remove it and cut the back sides and bottom. By cutting the back, you don't need to disassemble the entire cabinet—only the back panel and the nailing rail.

brian 1900 Member

How much do you guys think a custom solid surface top would go for? Are those laminate premade tops OK for the bathroom?

I lifted a corner of the Formica sheet and it's really easy to get off. Would it be feasible to change the Formica sheeting to another color/style, put in new sink, faucet, etc? I don't really want to spend $300-400 on a new counter.

Ok, I went to Home Depot and got one of those premade laminate tops in 48 inches to try out. It was $69. Got it home and it's too wide for the 22-inch vanity.

You know another thing I'm thinking? That countertop MAY have fit. I took it back already, but I've been looking at pictures of vanities online and they don't all have an overhang in front—some are flush or pretty close to the edge of the vanity.

ray2047 Group Moderator

This is a matter of what looks right to you.

brian 1900 Member

OK, I think I know what I'm going to do. Someone suggested that I cut an inch off the width of the vanity and I was looking at it tonight and it looks like something that I can do.

What kind of saw should I use? Could I use some type of handsaw and then sand it down and put it back together, paint, etc.?

Looks like what I have to do will be take off the top, front, and piece against the wall. Then, cut an inch off both sides and the bottom and then put it all back together.

I'll cut it to 21 inches deep and then I can install one of my favorite counter-sink combos. What do you think?

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