Which wood for a bathroom vanity?

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Forum topic by EricTy posted 03-29-2012 07:04 PM 1933 views 1 time favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View EricTy's profile


62 posts in 2791 days

03-29-2012 07:04 PM

I’ve had a look at some of the vanities that have been done and many of them are really top notch. I’m gearing up to build one and have done some homework on the types of wood that are appropriate but wanted to reach out to the more experienced group for some feedback.

I don’t really want to make it out of plywood. I’d rather use solid wood for all the pieces. It’s just my preference.

I’ve been told to generally stay away from pine as it can gum up your tools.

I envision the finished product being a little more on the red side than the grey/brown side. Also trying to keep cost to a reasonable level. I would guess it needs to be somewhat moisture resistant if the feet get wet?

Any input would be great and appreciated.

Thanks for the help!!

-- Only you know the mistakes were intentional...

9 replies so far

View chrisstef's profile


17973 posts in 3547 days

#1 posted 03-29-2012 07:26 PM

I think its going to depend on the finish more than the wood itself. But some mositure resistant woods are teak (super expensive), cedar, and cypress. Id lean towards a spar varnsh finish. Id go for cypress personally if moisture was a concern. Its also pretty easy to work with and not that expensive.

also, welcome to the gang …. and as we say around here … no pics. didnt happen.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3810 days

#2 posted 03-29-2012 07:58 PM

Welcome aboard as Chrisstef said a above. I would disagree that you would have to have water resistant wood as there really is none that has that capability.

The woods mentioned by Chrisstef are typically used for exterior funiture due to their resistance to insects and their ability to stand up a bit longer under wind, rain and uv (sun). Since the bathroom does not have the same deprecations as the exterior used wood would….you could use any wood that you feel comfortable working…and what fits your budget. Just make sure you use a good oil finish or put a few coats of Polyurethane as a protectant.

Depending on what your home has currently as far as wood types….(floors, other cabinets….etc) can choose based on that….or choose based on the cost of materials….Pine being typically cheapest….through rare exotics (expensive).

Personally, I like working with locally available woods like Maple or Walnut as they are easy to find, and more forgiving to work with….It just depends on what finish you desire to use – if you paint them…use anything cheap…if you want the wood to show through you can use any that I mentioned…or you can use MDF, plywood, cheaper soft woods and apply vaneers…the selection is only limited to your imagination.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View EricTy's profile


62 posts in 2791 days

#3 posted 03-29-2012 08:10 PM

It won’t be painted. The floor will be a dark, wood-like tile and the walls will be slightly off-white. The vanity will kind-of reflect the shower tile which will be more red/orange (clayish?). I’m talking myself into Cherry but I don’t want to make something out of Cherry and have to leave it when I sell. I have Cherry but would rather save it for pieces I’ll take with me. That’s my thought for now at least.

I’ve read that white oak is stable and moisture tolerant but I’m not a big fan of the Oak grain.

No way I’m using a veneer. I’ve seen what they look like after they’ve decided to delaminate.

I can get Pine really cheap ($1.00/BF) but I’d hate to realize half-way thru that I made a big mistake going that way.

-- Only you know the mistakes were intentional...

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3810 days

#4 posted 03-29-2012 11:05 PM

Pine can be beautifully finished….but it is a soft wood and can be easily dented and dinged. I have used it for the carcase construction when someone is totally against using mdf or ply. For tops and areas that get alot of use (drawer fronts, door pulls..etc)...I would definitely go with a hardwood.

Funny that alot of folks are fearful of vaneering. I have used vaneers on several jobs that folks didn’t want to shell out alot of money for the full pieces (like birds eye Maple and burled walnut..etc)....and they work fine… If you are worried about delam…you can use a thicker vaneer….(I’ve done this by using my band saw to make my own thicknesses). I have seen alot of vaneered work that looks as good as any natural pieces….and these were on antiques…so they have lasted a good long time…to me it is just another option.

Have you looked at Lyptus? It is known in some circles as poor man’s cherry. Don’t let the name fool you is a pretty stable wood (close in hardness to cherry) with nice color and grain. It finishes quite nice…is most areas it is cheaper then hardwoods and just a bit more than pine or fir….you might investigate that as an option.

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3492 days

#5 posted 03-29-2012 11:16 PM

I’d look a little more into cherry. I’m not sure how wood species are priced in your region, but here in Georgia, cherry is among the most affordable hardwoods. I get common cherry for pretty cheap—less than red and white oak, so it may be a good option. Plus, even though you are going to move at some point, build the vanity as nicely as you can and use the best materials—not only will you be proud of your work, but it also won’t hurt when you’re trying to sell the house and the buyers appreciate the beautiful vanity.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View RogerM's profile


801 posts in 2939 days

#6 posted 03-29-2012 11:36 PM

I have used cherry and maple for these applications with excellent results. As noted, even though in a bathroom vanity most of this wood does not see a lot of water. I put 5 coats of polyurethane and a coat of buffed out wax on mine and it is going on 8 years.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

View bruc101's profile


1372 posts in 4082 days

#7 posted 03-30-2012 02:21 AM

We’ve pretty much used all spices of domestic woods, painted, stained, dyed, and just a clear finish which is a clear lacquer nitro or pre cat…never had any problems and never had any call backs. We always put at least 5 coats of clear lacquer on all of our kitchen and bath cabinets painted, stained or dyed. One of the best clear lacquers on the market is Deft. Lowes sells it for less than 30 bucks a gallon. Lacquer is the norm in commercial cabinet work.

-- Bruce Free Plans

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3609 days

#8 posted 03-30-2012 03:56 AM

Have you considered alder? It is often used in place of cherry when you want the look without the expense.

As for not using plywood, that’s probably overkill. I built lots of bathroom vanities with economy grade, prefinished, maple for the carcass and “pretty wood” for the visible parts.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Woodknack's profile


12927 posts in 2920 days

#9 posted 03-30-2012 07:00 AM

more on the red side than the grey/brown side.

Cherry or mahogany, the latter is rot resistant.

-- Rick M,

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