The sink was the last major thing we had left for our first floor bathroom to be fully functional again. We had a working toilet, new medicine cabinet, freshly painted walls and ceiling, new tile, and a working exhaust fan. We had relatively few hiccups throughout this bathroom renovation and with only one thing left, it should be smooth sailing from here on out….right?
After finishing all the DIY projects we have so far, this bathroom project had almost been too good to be true. There’s always at least one thing that doesn’t go as planned (the exhaust fan wasn’t completely as planned…but was an easy fix). In this project, it was the sink.
We bought a very nice and elegant (if I do say so myself) pedestal sink for the bathroom. In the planning stages, this was a somewhat tough decision because Jim wanted a one-handle faucet. I didn’t have a preference either way, so one-handle was fine with me. What we didn’t realize was that most pedestal sinks are designed with three holes for two handles and a spout. There are one-handle faucets that are designed for one or three hole sinks but they are designed for much smaller pedestal sinks than what we wanted. After much research, we decided a faucet with two handles would be acceptable in order for us to get the type of pedestal sink we wanted. This was annoying but it didn’t cause any major issues, it’s just the beginning of the sink’s story.
Pedestal sinks are made in two parts; the pedestal and the basin. They are actually sold separately, so you can mix and match styles if you so desire. We were able to find a pedestal and basin to our liking at good ol’ Home Depot (I don’t know when I will start receiving endorsement checks from Home Dept for this blog, but its bound to happen at some point). Once the bathroom was ready for the sink installation, we unpacked the boxes and began reading the instructions. We knew we would have to secure the sink in place, but we did not know how this would have to be done. Turns out that both the pedestal and the basin need to be secured into place. The pedestal needed to be screwed (through tile) into the floor and the basin needed to be screwed into the wall. This didn’t immediately seem too difficult, until we measured the distance between the holes in the basin. They were spaced 19 inches apart. If you are familiar with wall structures, you will know that studs are normally spaced 16 inches apart (if you weren’t familiar with wall structures, you’re welcome for that knowledge). That means if we tried to screw the basin into the wall, we could screw it into one stud but then the other screw would be 3 inches away from another stud and would therefore have nothing to screw into. The instructional manual that came with the sink showed a diagram of installing a 19 inch 2 by 4 that went through the studs (behind the wall) so you could screw the basin in place. This is all fine and good for those who did not just pay to have their walls refinished by professional dry wall guys or for those who did not just finish painting the walls. After much discussion on the possible ways to solve this problem, we came to the inevitable solution – a hole in the wall.
That’s right, we had to cut into our beautifully painted and finished wall to add a 2 by 4 through the studs just so we could screw the basin in place. Jim traced the basin on the wall and showed where we would have to cut the hole in order to complete our desired goal. It seemed that we would be able to make this adjustment and have the basin block the area of the wall we had to cut out. It was going to be extra work, but at least the wall would still look good.
We cut through the wall to find out that there was a board of wood already between the studs. This posed a new problem. The board was not a 2 by 4, it was a lot larger. I reached my hand in the hole in the wall and could not find the ending point of the wood. That meant there was no way to take the piece of wood out unless we opened up the wall more. Neither of us wanted to do that. Now we had to figure out a way to reach our 19 inches without putting a board through the studs. We looked to the other side of the right stud to see what options we had. I could slip my hand in the hole to see how far away the next stud was. We were in luck (finally), it was much closer than the standard 16 inches. It was only about 6 inches away. Therefore, we just needed to get a 2 by 4 in between those two studs so that we would have something the basin could be screwed into. We had to cut open the wall so that the other stud was showing. This meant the basin would no longer be completely covering the wall where we had to cut. Most of it would be covered though and we really had no other choice. Without having space to hammer the new 2 by 4 in place, Jim screwed the board from the inside-out. We also had no good way to ensure the 2 by 4 would not fall to the floor when we placed it in the wall, so I balanced it on a screw driver while Jim got it in place. Somehow, it worked perfectly.
After the board was in place, we needed to add new dry wall to cover the hole. Then we had to spackle the dry wall to make it look seamless with the wall. We had to do about 4 coats of spackle and sanding before the wall looked back to normal. Since spackle has to dry, this ate up a few nights (just waiting for it to dry, not completing the work). After the 4th sanding, the wall looked like new again. We put a fresh coat of paint on the wall and voila – it was like nothing ever happened.
Once the board in the wall was in place, we were ready to set up the sink. Jim bought a special drill that was able to screw through porcelain tiles. He bought the size that was indicated for the bolt provided with the sink. We were fearful that drilling into the tile would break the tile, so we tried to recreate a situation as close to a wet saw as possible. As Jim drilled into the tile, I sprayed some water from a water bottle onto the tile. Jim also put blue painting tape on the tile to try to hold it in place. It took a long time to get through the tile, but after a lot of persistence, Jim made it through! Next, Jim wanted to put the screw in place in the tile to make sure it fit properly before moving the pedestal in place. Although Jim bought the correct size drill for the bolt that we were provided, the drill is designed to work in situations where there would be some give. To better explain – when you drill a hole, it is slightly smaller than the screw you plan to screw into the hole. This is because the screw needs to be secure, so if the hole is slightly smaller, it will dig into the wood and stay in place. But, when you are screwing into tile, there is no give like there is with wood. A smaller hole means a bigger screw just won’t fit. We obviously learned this the hard way. Instead of getting a new drill from the store, Jim decided to use the small screw and just try to widen the hole by moving the screw around. This made me a little nervous, but Jim managed it perfectly, per usual, and after a few attempts, the bolt screwed into place.
NOW we were finally ready to go. We put the pedestal and basin into place and bolted them in. Neither of them were going anywhere! Jim handled setting up the faucets and plumbing. The sink was complete!
The bathroom is now 99% complete. We ordered a shelf to add to the bathroom two weeks ago and it still hasn’t arrived. We just found out it was on back order this week, so I decided to go ahead with this post. I will take pictures with the added shelf when we get it (probably next week) and put them next to the before shots. 1 bathroom down, 2 more to go.