Guest Bath: Addressing the Vanity (Part 1)

I had really hoped not to have to put “Part 1” after that title, but after starting work on the vanity in our guest bathroom we’ve realized it’s way more than a one-part project.

Gray Walls

With all the popcorn ceiling scraping, trim work, and painting going on in this room, the countertop became a catch-all for tools, trim, sandpaper, and other bathroom odds and ends.

Vanity Before

Luckily all I had to do was wave my magic wand and Poof! the countertop was spotless and looked as good as new!

Vanity Cleared

Not really. I wish it was that easy!  A good cleaning still wasn’t going to solve the problem of this yellowed, stained vanity top, so Stephen and I brainstormed and came up with a few options:

Option 1) Remove the backsplash, replace it with a more appealing solution, and reglaze the countertop and sink (less expensive).

Option 2) Remove the backsplash and vanity top and replace it with a new countertop and 2 new sinks and faucets (more expensive).

Vanity and Mirror

Either way, it seemed like removing the backsplash was step number 1.  I started on the right side, scoring the caulk with a razor blade and carefully prying the slab of plastic loose with a crowbar.

Removing Right Side

I was pleasantly surprised to see how easily the piece came free and that the wall behind it was relatively undamaged.

Right Side Removed

On the left side, I decided to snap a few photos so you could see just how much cutting was necessary to remove that piece.

Removing Left Side

First I cut the two long stretches of caulk – along the top edge and along the seam between the side piece and the countertop.

Cut One Cut Two

Then I made sure to cut the caulk in the corner of the backsplash and along the top edge.

Cut Three Cut Six

Last I cut the caulk away from the wall on the end of the backsplash and cut the side seam between the backsplash and vanity top.

Cut Four Cut Five

After all that cutting and some careful crowbar wrangling, here’s where we ended up. Oops.

Left SIde Removed

What a mess!  Ripped drywall paper, peeling paint, and jagged edges.  The worst part was something even more unexpected.  When I looked down the edge that had been hidden by the backsplash, there was at least a half inch gap between the countertop and the wall!

Gap in Left

Don’t believe me?  Here’s proof – I can stick my finger all the way in that gap with room to spare.

Finger in Gap

But there was no turning back.  I finished removing the backsplash and then used a putty knife to scrape all the leftover caulk and glue carefully off the walls.  The whole time I was trying to think of some way to fix that gap.  There’s no way we could just caulk it, so what were we going to do?

Vanity Messy

With the help of the bathroom trash can, the vanity top was cleared once again, but we still hadn’t figured out what to do about the gap.

Vanity Cleared Again

Sigh.  After a bit more thought, I suppose we could either replace the backsplash with something almost as thick (we’re thinking tile) and fill in the gap with caulk.  Or we could clean up the old backsplash, add it back, and reglaze the whole shebang.  Or I suppose we could go the most expensive route and just replace the entire countertop and sink combo.

In retrospect, I’m still glad I removed the backsplash. This will be one of those projects that ends up being more work than you plan on doing, but at least I got the chance to remove 30 years of paint and caulk and start fresh.

Sometimes things have to get worse before they can get better, right?  What would you do if you were in our shoes?  Stuck with a gap that caulk alone couldn’t fix?

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