Five Things You Need To Know Before You Buy A Bathroom Vanity Online

It’s easier than ever to buy just about anything online, and I don’t just mean books and movies. More than ever, a whole world of design elements and decor are just a click away. It’s entirely possible, these days, to buy everything you need for a bathroom remodel without venturing farther than your computer. But sometimes the images posted online can be misleading, and things like return policies aren’t always clear. That said, buying online is both incredibly convenient and often a great way to get a lower price – it’s just very, very important to read the fine print and know what you’re actually buying before you slap down your credit card. If this is your first time making this sort of major purchase online, here are a few things you should keep in mind.

Most Bathroom Vanities Are Just Vanities

Chatham Shaker Vanity VAN090-24 from Jeffery Alexander by Hardware Resources
Chatham Shaker Vanity VAN090-24 from Jeffery Alexander by Hardware Resources

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The very most important thing to know if you’ve never bought a bathroom vanity online before is that the lion’s share of vanities only include the vanity cabinet itself. That means no counter top, no sink, no faucet, no mirror, and no storage cabinets, even if they’re pictured that way on the manufacturer’s website. The fact is, everything looks nicer when it’s finished, polished up, and well photographed, and manufacturers want you to see their products as part of a beautiful, designer bathroom, not a pile of parts or unfinished edges. These photographs give you an idea what individual bathroom vanities could look like, in some cases even with other products from the same manufacturer (more on this in a moment). But unless the listing specifically says that it includes any other parts, expect to receive a cabinet that’s likely ready to install, but that you’ll need to have a counter top custom cut to finish.

Bathroom Vanity Sets Or Bathroom Vanity Combos Offer A More Complete Package

Brentford 60" Double Sink Bathroom Vanity Set in Grey MD-4305-S-GR from Virtu USA
Brentford 60″ Double Sink Bathroom Vanity Set in Grey MD-4305-S-GR from Virtu USA

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On the other end of the spectrum are bathroom vanity sets, which include not only the bathroom vanity, but also a matching stone vanity top that’s cut to size and typically pre-drilled for a sink and faucet. Some bathroom vanity combos also include a sink, faucet, storage cabinet, or mirror, but the important thing here is really the vanity top. Buying any type of stone is expensive, and having a slab cut to size and drilled is probably one of the bigger headaches you can have in any bathroom remodel. Manufacturers can acquire large amounts of stone at a lower cost, and the stone can be cut to their own specifications in bulk relatively easy, ensuring not only a perfect fit, but a much lower cost to you. Buying a vanity and vanity top together will limit the selection of colors and types of stone available, but it will enable you to get a high quality product at a much lower cost. Plus, if the bathroom vanity set you choose comes bundled with a sink and faucet from the same manufacturer, they’re guaranteed to fit perfectly without having to do any measuring or cutting yourself.

Bathroom Vanity Collections Offer Supreme Flexibility

Providence 72" Bathroom Vanity Collection 238-105-5711 from James Martin Furniture
Providence 72″ Bathroom Vanity Collection 238-105-5711 from James Martin Furniture

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For a larger bathroom remodel, or especially if you’re remodeling multiple bathrooms at the same time, you might want to look into bathroom vanity collections. Like bathroom vanity sets, these include both a vanity and vanity top, and occasionally a sink and faucet. But they also include matching storage cabinets and mirrors or medicine cabinets. More importantly, bathroom vanity collections offer the same designs in many multiple sizes. That means you can order the same vanity for both your master bathroom and your guest bathroom, one 60″ wide and the other 24″, or any other combination you desire. These larger collections are sometimes sold together and sometimes piece by piece, but either way they offer you the freedom to do something that individual bathroom vanities alone can’t: coordinate, and do it usually for less than the sum of the prices of the parts combined. Again, though, be aware that while many vanities are pictured as part of a full, complete bathroom, the individual purchase listing might not include everything pictured. So before you celebrate a great deal, make sure you know exactly what’s included.

Purchase Separate But Smart

Palisades 30" Single Bathroom Vanity 527-V30-BW from James Martin Furniture
Palisades 30″ Single Bathroom Vanity 527-V30-BW from James Martin Furniture

Of course, not all bathroom vanities come as part of sets, and the one you fall in love with might not have all the convenient pieces you want included. But just because a bathroom vanity doesn’t come as part of a set doesn’t mean you can’t purchase things like vanity tops, sinks, faucets, and storage cabinets from the same manufacturer. If your dream vanity is sold by itself, take some time to poke around the manufacturer’s website. Often they’ll offer a variety of pre-cut counter tops, which not only have the advantage of being cut to fit the vanity, but are also mated to the sinks and faucets the manufacturer supplies. Unless you plan on opting for a decorative sink, buying it from the same manufacturer as your vanity top is a good way to ensure the sizes of the pieces match (and save on shipping).

Pay Attention To Policies

Copper Cove Encore 48" Single Bathroom Vanity 301-V48-BNM from James Martin Furniture
Copper Cove Encore 48″ Single Bathroom Vanity 301-V48-BNM from James Martin Furniture

All that said, there is a certain degree of caution that buying bathroom vanities online requires. More than with most other types of online purchases, you want to make sure you understand the return policy: if your vanity arrives damaged, how do you go about returning it, who is responsible for the cost of shipping, and how and how quickly will it be replaced? The same goes for storage cabinets, mirrors, sinks, and faucets – if they’re damaged in transit, do you have to refuse the package on delivery, or can accommodations be made for exchanges or replacements? You also want to be a little extra careful when it comes to stone vanity tops. These are big, heavy, and unlike the vanities themselves, can be a little on the fragile side. Chips or cracks that might not be visible on delivery can ruin the counter, so pay very close attention to the wording and terms the that return policy, including how many days you have to report damage and what type of restocking fees, if any, you’ll be charged for returns. Moreover, stone vanity tops are the weakest link in terms of installation, too – once it gets to you intact, you want to make sure to hire a contractor that will take financial responsibility for it if it’s damaged during installation.

Last but not least, remember: the policies of the manufacturer that makes the vanity and the distributor that sells it can differ, with manufacturers usually handling long-term warranties and distributors typically determining delivery assurances. Either way, it’s important to pay close attention to both before you buy to make sure you’re protected and the simple convenience of an online purchase stays that way!

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