Dear James: I want to remodel my bathroom, but I can only afford to do it in stages. I think installing a pedestal sink would be a good starting point. Can I install one myself without a plumber? — Ron T.
Dear Ron: The sink and the bathtub are the two most prominent items in a bathroom that impact its decor. Installing a new retro-style pedestal sink in place of your old sink/cabinet is a great first step in your gradual bathroom remodeling project.
The prices of pedestal sinks vary from about $200 to more than $500 for ornate ones or ones made of special materials. Other than a few plumbing supplies, this should be the total cost. It also is a project you should be able to handle yourself, so there will be no additional labor costs.
With pedestal sinks being popular these days, you should be able to find one at your home center or kitchen/bathroom store. You might also check the websites of some of the major bathroom fixture suppliers: American Standard, 800-442-1902, www.americanstandard-us.com and Kohler, 800-456-4537, www.kohler.com.
Pedestal sinks are very attractive, but you will be losing the storage space in the sink/cabinet you are removing. Some options are a larger medicine cabinet for frequently used items or some additional wall cabinets. Fancy cabinets can cost as much as the sink itself, so factor their costs into your budget.
Remove all the items from the cabinet below the sink for easier access to the sink's plumbing. Also, no matter how careful you are, some water will run out and may soak any items still in the cabinet. Since you are going to dispose of the cabinet, removing the doors (usually just four screws per door) will provide more elbow room.
Turn off the hot and cold water supply valves under the sink and remove the pipes. If they have not been turned off for many years, they may be stuck in position. If you have to use pliers to get them to turn, wrap the valve handles with rags and be gentle. The handle knobs are often brittle metal, so it is easy to squeeze them too tightly and damage them with pliers.
You may be able to remove the old sink and cabinet as one unit. If not, you will have to remove the sink from the cabinet to gain access to some of the screws which hold the cabinet to the wall. Plastic or ceramic sinks are usually screwed to the cabinet top. Cultured marble sinks are often glued in place.
To install the new pedestal sink, you will have to add some support lumber inside the wall. Place the sink loosely on the pedestal to determine the position of the wall supports. Remove the sink and cut out a piece of drywall between two studs. Nail a horizontal piece of 2-by-6 lumber in place. Replace the piece of drywall and finish the seams with drywall tape and compound.
Place the pedestal and sink in their final positions and mark the mounting hole locations on the wall and floor. Use standard hanger bolts to mount the sink to the wall and lag bolts for the pedestal in the floor. Be careful not to overtighten the bolts because the material may fracture. Connect the plumbing with the kit included with the sink.
Send your questions to Here's How, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com. To find out more about James Dulley and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.