DIY Sink #1: Build your own custom pedestal sink

(I know, it sounds daunting, but I promise, you can do this!)

beforeWP_20140125_004The one bathroom in my house is very small – 5 feet by 8 feet small. The previous owners had put in a small vanity and sink to allow for more storage. But the bulky thing took up way too much space and made the bathroom seem even more cramped. I knew the bathroom needed to be updated, and I needed a smaller sink.

I looked at pedestal sinks first. While they are much more compact, they do not afford for any storage space. While wandering a couple of local bathroom showrooms, I discovered console sinks. While the footprint is a bit larger than a pedestal sink, the open legs make it feel more open, and many have an open shelf underneath that allows for storage. Of course, I was finding that console sinks are a little pricey. And, as often happens, I found myself thinking, “I could make that!” And so I did!

Finding the perfect sink basin
1385692_10151923711769255_1111050535_nI love used building supply stores. In Seattle, we’re lucky enough to have a few of them. Among all the cool old light fixtures and vintage décor, there always seem to be a large number of sinks and bathroom supplies there. I knew I needed just the basin, and that it needed to have a flat bottom. I also measured the area I wanted to install it in so I knew the widest the sink could be.

I hit the jackpot at my favorite second-hand building store – Earthwise in South Seattle. There was a beautiful sink basin that was missing it’s pedestal, and so was on sale for $35. Flat bottom, perfect size, I was in love!

Don’t lose heart if you don’t have a second-hand building supply store nearby; you can find sink basins at hardware stores like Lowes or Home Depot.

Building the console legs
DSCF0991I’m finding that I am a bit obsessed with galvanized pipe. I love the rustic touch it gives, whether building shelf supports, or lamps, or in this case, sink legs.

Before you head to the hardware store, determine how you want to set up the console. For mine, I knew I wanted rails across the top in the front and back to hang a towel from. And I knew on the sides, I’d want braces to set a shelf on. The picture on the left is actually my sink, mid-build and upside down. Draw yourself a quick sketch, with approximate measurements and then head off to the store.

When you’re selecting your pipes, make sure that you account for the connector pieces. In my case, I wanted a tall sink. Each leg (from the bottom-up) has an 8-inch nipple (yes, smaller pipe lengths are called nipples! Stop your giggling!), stacked with a tee, then a 12-inch, then another tee at the same angle, followed by a 4-inch, another tee perpendicular to the last, followed by a 3-inch nipple. Each tee is about 2.5 inches, so the total height of the sink legs ended up being 32 inches.  The crossbeam lengths will be determined by the underside of your sink basin. For my sink, I used 1/2 pipe, which is plenty sturdy.

Assembling the pieces is a bit of a puzzle. My recommendation – put the legs together first. Then, put together the two sides. Finish with the front and back cross pieces. Wherever you can, use the pipes themselves to provide the wrenching power to tighten the pipes as much as you can. Make sure to lay the legs side-by-side and measure the distance between the pipes and the connectors to ensure that each section is exactly the same length – tighten more if one is a bit too long. The last couple of pipes may be tough – you’ll need to tighten on one side, then line up with the connector and actually unscrew it from the one side in order to screw it in on the other side. Try to match which pipes you do this with – if it’s the bottom one on one side, do the same with the bottom one on the other side.

Painting the legs
First make sure that you’ve thoroughly cleaned the pipes. They will be dirty, and may have stickers on them. Use GooGone, or rubbing alcohol to remove the stickers and clean the residue. You may choose to keep the pipes their galvanized color. I love that raw look! For my bathroom though, all my fixtures were oil-rubbed bronze. I chose to paint my sink legs the same color.

You can absolutely buy spray primer and spray paint to paint your sink legs. That’s what I did. If you go that option (which is super affordable!), do note that this paint is susceptible to scratches, so you may need to touch up later. Another option is to take it to an auto-body shop or other industrial paint shop and have them powder coat it. This is by far the more durable option, and you would have a great variety of colors and finishes.

Assembling the sink
DSCF1097I had the legs built, but knew that I didn’t want the bare metal ends to scratch the sink, or my floors. Perfect solution – rubber chair leg caps! They come in 1/2-inch, which fit perfectly!

In the bathroom, I set the legs where they needed to be, and placed the sink on top of them. I made sure everything was even and level. The weight of the sink keeps the legs in place – no need to secure them.

You will, however, need to secure the sink. Your sink should have holes underneath that allow you to screw the basin to the wall. I was lucky in that I had studs in the wall exactly where the the holes were. However, if you do not, you may need to put in drywall anchors to screw into to support the weight of the sink. Set the screws, and your sink is in place!

In a future post, I will show you how to install a faucet and drain. For now, here is the final product!


10 thoughts on “DIY Sink #1: Build your own custom pedestal sink

  1. I came across your post and I am so grateful that someone has tackled this project. It looks amazing! Can you please let me know approximately how much you spent on the pipe framing? Also, how does the frame attach to the sink itself?

  2. Excellent!!!!
    I would like to do this with a different material. Perhaps pressure treated lumber. Not sure. Copper is another choice, but I want to stay in the white and silver colors.

  3. I would like to do this with a different material. Perhaps pressure treated lumber. Not sure. Copper is another choice, but I want to stay in the white and silver colors.

    • PT lumber is really made for outside– different types use different formulas (I think) but they contain many toxic chemicals. I wouldn’t use it inside, and you don’t need it for inside use. (Also, when you do use PT lumber, remember to wear a mask when you cut it… probably best practice for all cutting, but definitely for lumber containing arsenic!). You can seal your safe for indoors wood with oils, stains, paint, or poly. You can also use higher quality stock or hardwoods to help with issues related to the humidity of a bathrooms– different types of wood have different abilities to resist expansion/shrinking and mildew, check with your local lumber yard for what they have. If using a wood often used outdoors is something you’re looking for, stick with cedar, redwood, or more expensive hardwoods like ipe, teak, and others.

  4. Hi,

    Excellent work, and thanks for the inspiration. I have to change the cabinet for my laundry sink, and looking at cheap and easier solution to deal with wood

    Can you confirm that you are using I used 1/2 steel pipe. Looking at this table,
    it gives a DN 15 with an outside diameter of 21.3mm, is that correct? It look bigger on your picture?

    I am in singapore, and it seems that I can only source form to import. The price seems to be high for each piece and the nipple do not exceed 30mm. Your seem longer, are they customer made? You ask a company to thread the pipe? Would you be able to provide the dimension of your custom pedestral and the budget associated. Thanks

  5. Exactly what I was looking for! Thank you! perfect for my small bathroom clearly occupied by super short people,,,I need to raise everything up! This allows me some freedom

  6. This is exactly what I am looking for. Can you share with us what the cost was to make this? My husband does not want me spending much on the bathroom so I need to know so I can see if it is within my budget

  7. I just saw this on Pinterest and loved it. I made one today just like it. I am having trouble with side bars. The thread goes in different directions. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you Donna

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