Rustic Barnwood and Concrete Vanity

Hi there! I am so excited to share my latest project with you! I have been wanting to re-do the vanity in our master bathroom for so long, but since it still worked, couldn’t justify tearing it out and starting over. Then it broke. My husband was ready to fix it, but I knew this was the perfect opportunity to rebuild! I signed up for RYOBI’s 2017 Commit 2 It Challenge, so there was no turning back!

I had some crazy ideas for this project, and am thankful for a very supportive and patient husband who was game to let me try them all out 🙂 First up- this sink is the most popular for hand washing in our house. Being on a ranch means the poor little white sink was constantly being covered with oil, grease, dirt, and manure- amongst plenty of other things. It was a constant job to keep it looking white, and the drain needed unclogged a lot! So, I decided to break the rules and put a kitchen sink in the bathroom. Larger, more functional drain, more space, and going with stainless would make it more durable.

Here is the white sink on a good day 😉

And while we’re thinking durability- what about the top? My criteria aside from function was it had to look great, be DIY, and most of all, couldn’t cost a lot. I considered using old barn wood from the ranch, but feared what would happen to the wood over time with so much water around. What about concrete? I have been around a few concrete projects my husband has done on the ranch, but by no means did that mean I had a clue how it was done. But, I love the rustic-ness, durability, and price! Thankfully, there are plenty of ideas available on the internet. My main source of info was DIY Pete- lots of videos about concrete! I based my vanity top off of this dining table top. And for what to do about the holes for the sink and faucet, I found good info here and here. I’ll run you through my process, and throw in the tips I found very helpful, and hopefully it helps you conquer your own project! Here goes! First up, I got my plan together and picked out a sink and faucet. I do not recommend starting your concrete before you have both of these in hand, because they may not match up to the dimensions stated. I ended up getting both mine on Amazon. I had picked this stainless undermount prep sink quite awhile back for $45, but of course by the time I decided to go for it- the price was over $100- and I just couldn’t bring myself to pay that much. The goal was to keep this as cheap as possible! I noticed there was a “Good Condition” sink in the Amazon Warehouse Deals for less than $30- so I decided to go for it. It showed up looking brand new! A sink I love at a bargain price! I’m more excited than Paul Blart 😉  I also purchased this drain, which we have in our kitchen and absolutely love. And, Amazon nailed it again on the faucet. I really considered trying to build my own faucet out of pipe, but I decided to go with this one for $30 that reminds me of an old hand pump.

The concrete needs to cure before you move it around and I didn’t want to hold things up, so I got started on it as soon as everything arrived. I really recommend you watch one or two of Pete’s videos for the overall concept, and I’ll add how I incorporated the sink and faucet.

I traced the sink template onto a piece of foam board and cut it out with my jigsaw. One of the tips I got from Pneumatic Addict was to wrap packing tape around the edges of your foam once it’s cut out, and I definitely recommend it! Mine did not come out perfect, so I actually folded some paper towels up, and taped them around the rough edges. I should have gotten a pic of this, but it really helped cover my imperfect Jigsaw skills 😉 Once your melamine form is ready, you can hot glue your sink mold and faucet PVC in place on the melamine. Don’t forget to figure in the lip of your sink and how much space you’ll need to fit everything in place. The faucet I got was designed for a 1″ thick countertop, so my husband rigged me up a little PVC countersink that worked like a charm. 

Once everything was in place, I cleaned the melamine with alcohol and siliconed the edges and corners. Another great tip I found was to wipe a thin layer of vaseline everywhere- all over the melamine, and especially around the sink mold edges and PVC. I really felt like this helped everything release easily in the end. I also made little molds for the backsplash.

Now, you can add your rebar. I didn’t add any to the backsplash because I made it pretty thin, but the longest piece ended up cracking- so I don’t recommend doing what I did 😉
Concrete time! I went with the Quikrete 5000 mix, and was very happy with it.

I did get pretty nervous once it was go-time! After watching all the videos and reading up on everything, I felt ready- but in the middle of it I started doubting myself- I figured I might as well finish and hope for the best! My girls jumped in to help and it was great having extra hands! One helped put concrete in the molds, while the other ran the sander (with no paper on it) all around the whole time to help vibrate and settle everything. I honestly did not do the best job, and should have worked it more- but despite my rookie work, it turned out great!
Once it cured, we set it on the cabinet to dry fit everything and build the support for the sink. I had to do quite a bit of slurry patching- I will be a lot better the next time! But, I love how it turned out! I couldn’t find any Portland cement to patch, so I just sifted the big rocks out of the 5000 mix, and used that for my slurry.
I ended up with a pretty rough underside (which is really the top when you’re working)- so my husband hit it with his grinder a little and that really helped. It may or may not be because us girls roughly added our initials, and I should have smoothed things out. Plus, the foam I had for the sink mold was thicker than the concrete, so it was hard to get that perfect. We live a long way from town, so I tend to wing it and use what we have. 

We left the top on the cabinet to cure a little longer and so I could be sure and get everything spaced perfectly. I did not attach everything until we got the cabinet in the bathroom, though. It was a lot easier for my husband to attach the faucet before we placed the sink.
Now, for the vanity cabinet! I had started building the vanity cabinet while I waited for the sink and faucet to arrive, but figured it’d be easier to explain one thing at a time. I wasn’t completely decided on the layout, but knew I wanted to maximize the space, plus leave plenty of room for my husband to get under the sink to unclog the drain- even though I hoped this would become a thing of the past! So, I decided to go with drawers on the sides, and a door in the middle. I went with new 3/4″ plywood for the cabinet frame and drawers, and barnwood for the face. I used these drawers slides, and absolutely love them!

Our cabinet is set into the wall, so I designed everything to be just a hair under the overall width of the space, and with a finished depth of 24″. Our old vanity was 18″ deep and super cramped.

First up, I built a little frame out of 2×4’s to set the cabinet on and provide a toe kick. I built it 21″ deep, and added a 1×4 face across the front, making it 21 3/4″ deep when finished. I used 2- 2×4 @53 11/16″, with 4- 2×4@18″ attached with pocket holes in between them.

For the cabinet- I ripped a 3/4″ sheet of plywood into 23″ wide strips. The bottom piece is just under the total width of our vanity space.
 I made 4 pieces of 3/4″ plywood @ 23″x 26 1/4″ to give a finished vanity height of 32″. I’d have gone a little taller, except that we have light switches in the way that I didn’t want to mess with. These will be the side and center support pieces.

Drill pocket 3/4″  holes in the bottom of each of your side and center support pieces. 

Decide where you want your center supports spaced- this will determine the width of your drawers and how much room you have under your cabinet. I faced all of my pocket holes out, as you won’t see the outsides, and the center support ones will be hidden by drawers.Next, I added a piece of plywood on top between each outside piece and the center support piece next to it. This will square everything up and provide support for the heavy concrete top.Since I was not adding a back to the vanity, I used scraps with pocket holes to add support and give me something to screw the cabinet into the wall with.Add them to the back, plus one in the front center. Make sure to get everything square here. 

Next, I sanded and painted the inside of the cabinet. You can see the cabinet is sitting on it’s 2×4 toe kick frame. 

I started working on drawers and the cabinet face in the meantime. I ripped a 1×4 down into 1″ strips to use as edging all around the front of the cabinet. I prepped and stained it, but didn’t attach until we got the cabinet inside. I wanted to be able to slide the cabinet in, then add everything else to cover any gaps.I made the top drawers out of 1×4, and since I still had some 3/4″ plywood, I just made the middle and bottom drawers from that. All of my drawer bottoms I made from 3/4″ plywood. 1/2″ would have worked fine, but I didn’t have any on hand. Most drawer slides require the drawers to be 1″ narrower than the drawer opening, but I knew that my outer 1″ face trim pieces would be sticking out past my drawer opening on the outer edges, so I adjusted measurements accordingly.

We had a rainy day, so my husband was around and it was time to install! First, we set the 2×4 frame in place and screwed it to studs in the wall, then we set the cabinet on top of that and screwed it into the 2×4 frame and studs in the wall via those back supports we added. Things move fast when my husband is around- so I’m sorry there aren’t more pics! 

While he worked on plumbing and electric (there’s a little water heater under the sink), I attached the 1×4 toe kick to the bottom support. Then, I added the 1″ pieces around the front of the cabinet. I was going to use 1″ pieces on the inside vertical pieces, too- but since the door would be attached to one, I decided to go with 1×3 there instead. (I stained the 1×4 toe kick, and the 1″, and 1×3 pieces in Varathane Dark Walnut- my fave stain!) You can see, I also started adding drawers. On the outside edges, the 1″ trim overlaps just a little, so I used scrap 1/4″ plywood to flush everything up. I had made my drawers a little narrower to account for this.

To mount the sink, I cut another hole with my jigsaw- this time out of 3/4″ plywood. The hole is just big enough for the sink to slide in. We placed the sink with the plywood around it, the used 1×2 and 2×3 cleats nailed and screwed into the cabinet to hold the plywood and support the sink. I used 1×2 on the front and back because space was tight, and 2×3 on the sides to beef things up. I based the concept off this idea from Naptime DIY.

So, I did things in the wrong order, because I had to order concrete sealer, and the rainy day that my husband was able to help me came before the sealer did. So, AFTER we got the countertop installed, I sealed it. The sealer I planned to use was backordered, so I went with this one. It is food safe, and seems to be very similar to the Cheng sealer I was going to use. I am amazed at how beautiful it made the concrete! I ended up doing 3 or 4 coats of it.
Next, I added the backsplash, and some gray silicone in the cracks. I do not love silicone- but have decided that taping off the area is my new method! The time it takes to tape off is worth it for how great it turns out!
I LOVE how this turned out!! Now, to finish the cabinet!
I used barnwood ripped to 1×6 for the top drawer face and center accent piece. Then, I ripped more barnwood down for the door and remaining drawer faces. I spent some time gathering wood from one of the old barns on the ranch at what we call the Harris Place. I figure in time, I’ll forget where it all came from, so I’ve got to add that here 🙂

I remember when we first bought the place and walked into the house, it was almost eery at how everything remained in place after it had sat empty for so many years. There was dust and age everywhere, but the man’s old hat still sat on the table where he left it, just waiting for him to put it back on. He had had health troubles, so they moved to town temporarily while he healed up. They fully intended to come back and return to farming- but they never did and he passed away. It makes me so sad to think of all the old dreams that lie in these buildings, I guess it’s why I love taking what I can from them before they are too far gone, and giving them a new purpose- new life to old dreams.

The wood for the door came from a board my daughter Shelby pulled off an old corn planter at another place on the ranch we walked through on a hike. I really wanted it, but it was still attached- so Shelby worked at it til it came loose, and everyone took turns carrying it back to the truck. I’ve been saving it for the perfect project, and I’d say this is it 🙂
Next, I just attached the door and drawer faces, then handles 🙂 

What do you think? 
I absolutely love how this came together! Barnwood and concrete may be my new favorite combo! It was great to get out of my comfort zone a bit and try something new! I hope this encourages you to tackle concrete 🙂 Please let me know if you have any questions or comments! Thanks for stopping by!


2 Replies to “Rustic Barnwood and Concrete Vanity”

  1. Awesome job Heather!!

    1. Thank you, Pete!!

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