Installing a Wall-Mount Sink: The Reveal
Updated: Sep 7, 2020
As excited as I was to restore my first antique sink, I was even more excited to install it in my space.
Measuring, Demoing Walls, and Blocking to Support an Antique Sink
Once I received my wall bracket in the mail, I marked the holes using a pencil so that the sink would end up centered on the mirror above. Unfortunately, the outlet was in the way and would have to be moved.
But before I could move the outlet, I needed to find out what kind of blocking would be necessary to support the 60+ pound sink.
Because the beadboard is original to the house and made of ½" thick individual planks, it was hard to tell where our studs were and how much blocking would be needed. So I had to be careful. Really careful.
Using a combination of a hacksaw and pull saw (and 2+ hours of my time), I carefully sawed along the opening of the outlet to the center of the bracket. I found a stud and also realized that the back portion of the beadboard was already reinforced with another 1" of floor planks at the top.
That additional reinforcement allowed me to get away with adding only one sistered stud to support the longest lag bolts in the center. Ultimately I figured that 1½" of wooden wall combined with a stud was enough to safely support the sink.
I ascribe to the adage "measure twice, cut once" but even then sometimes your plans go awry.
What I didn't account for was the thickness of the trim at the top of the beadboard. Because there's a wall behind the sink and the trim sticks out ½", we could not angle the sink into place. So instead, I had to drop the position of the bracket by an inch, rendering a couple of the holes useless.
Moving an Electrical Outlet is Dirty Work
Once I had the bracket in place, I then moved on to the electrical. The outlet only needed to move 6" over. Surely it wouldn't be that hard...
A decade ago our electrician and dear friend, Mike, replaced all of the knob and tube wiring upstairs before we blew in 18" of cellulose insulation. When we added a master bathroom a few years ago, he had to install two more can lights. I noticed that he was a bit dusty afterwards, but I didn't really give it a second thought.
I NOW KNOW WHY. Trying to find and rerun electrical in an insulated attic is dirty, allergy-inducing, sweaty, and frustrating work. Bless him and bless all electricians.
It took awhile rooting around in the attic to even find the correct wires, and then it was a series of trial and error to drill new holes and drop the lines with enough length. Thankfully my husband was willing to be conscripted into scroll saw user and electrical hooker upper (technical term :) ) while I handled the rerouting in the attic.
I don't have any attic photos because I was crouched like a mountain goat on the rafters (lest I accidentally step through a ceiling or break the keys on the plaster we repaired previously). But as I was cleaning up and roughly pushing cellulose back in place, I came across The Bungle Family comics drawn by Harry Tuthill in the 20s that acted as the original insulation.
Once the electrical was in place, I was able to pull out the pre-fab vanity and hang the wall-mounted utility sink. And thankfully, it covered the entire cutout area so no patching was required.
How Many Trips Can You Take to the Plumbing Store?
After a couple of days my kids complained about having to brush their teeth in the bathtub, so I had to start work on the plumbing.
The manufacturer's installation instructions for the new faucet specified ½” IPS nipples set ½" past the finished wall. Since our copper water lines run along our walls instead of inside them, that was not a possibility. Two trips to Home Depot, and I still didn't have everything I needed to install the wall-mounted faucet and I was doubting my ability to do the install myself.
I finally got smart and headed to a plumbing supply store. The counter guys were able to help me figure out the right parts, with only a small amount of disbelief that I was doing this myself.
It took several rounds of installation -- missing washers! forgotten tape! nut too loose! -- to get the faucet in place. Even then, it's not exactly perfect; it tilts slightly into the wall cavity since the supply lines aren't rigid. But it's the best we can do for now, until we have a plumber and tile guy redo the bathroom floor in a couple of months.
I wish I could say that from there I hooked up the drain and it was easy peasy, but that was not the case. Two challenges arose:
1. Utility sinks sit much lower than standard vanity sinks.
I thought we might be able to use a reducer and a nipple and install that into the existing drain pieces. But nope -- that inherited mess of corrugated plastic tubing, a chrome p-trap, and brass drain pipe that was held together by drain gunk and gravity couldn't be used.
The connections sloped the wrong way, causing leaks, and the p-trap had rusted off inside the drain pipe. Frankly, we're really lucky we haven't had leaks up until now.
2. Utility sinks have larger drains than bathroom sinks.
The drain coming from a utility or kitchen sink is 1½" in diameter, to accommodate a larger volume of water and food debris, while a standard bathroom drain is 1¼" in diameter. Since we're using this as a bathroom vanity, it would be a non-issue if there sufficient vertical space from the reducer for the piping to slope downward, but there's not.
So I headed back to the plumbing supply store to get 1½" drain parts and a new p-trap. When I arrived, I was met with outright disdain from the guy who helped me before. He may have even muttered, "hire a $%&*(^# plumber" under his breath.
I don't have time for jerks having a bad day so I got what I needed from another team member who was happy to take my money. Since this is a temporary fix, I just need it to work until we CAN hire a plumber to do a full rework. But I also wanted to LEARN how to do it right and understand WHY something does or does not work.
It turns out that the coupler from the plumbing supply store was overkill and a quick trip to Ace yielded a better coupler to do the job. It looks SO much better than before, and *fingers crossed*, no leaks!
We won't have a pretty new floor with updated in-wall and in-floor plumbing and HVAC for a few more months, but I hope this helps you learn how to restore and install a wall-mounted utility sink in your own home.
Looking for a wall-mounted utility sink for your own house remodel? Contact Denver Squared