Finish for a Bathroom Vanity?

Article - November 3, 2008

This week’s question comes from Gordon who asks:

Hi Marc. I have a customer who has requested a bathroom vanity, where the sink sits in the middle. My problem is that she is requesting it be made all of wood and I am worried about a top that could be exposed to sitting water. Is there a finish you would recommend that would hold up under those conditions as well as something that might not be too hard to apply?

This is one of those cases where you have a tough decision to make. True standing water protection just can’t be done without the use of a thick film finish. Since most people don’t want their vanity top to look like bar top, you’ll have to come up with a reasonable compromise between beauty and protection. But with a thinner film comes less protection. So this is definitely a a case where you need the clients input. Arm them with information and let them make the decision, since ultimately they have to live with the results.

I would start by making a bunch of sample boards, each containing a thicker/more protective film than the previous. Try boards with 2-3 coats of wiping varnish, 3 coats of brushed varnish, 3 coats of marine/spar varnish, and then one with an epoxy coating. Let the customer see what the visual effect is when you have a thicker more protective film. Letting them own the decision take a good bit of pressure off of you.

I don’t have wood countertops in my bathroom, but if I did I would probably do the following. Seal with CPES (Clear Penetrating Epoxy Sealer), then follow up with two wiped-on coats of a marine varnish such as Epifanes. This way the wood is sealed and protected fairly well, without a super thick film. But I would also be sure to wipe up ANY standing water, just to be safe.


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