Bathroom vanity cabinet, modular or custom, are mostly considered as luxury items. For this reason, most of the manufacturers, 10 years ago, could afford to use good quality solid wood for the majority of the cabinet materials. Started about a decade ago, things took a turn. A turn that make these lines of luxury items more affordable. You might find a bathroom vanity cabinet that cost $400 shipping included, where you will find a similar piece somewhere else for $4000 plus shipping. Why?? Read on and you will soon find out.
Just to put some dollar and sense together, the replacement of a broken marble top here is States, material alone, costs more than double of the cost of the whole cabinet (ocean freight charges included) from the factories oversea. This should give you and idea why most of the furnitures are made in China today. Even some of the most reputable North Carolina furniture manufacturers, who might still claim "made in USA" on every possible advertisements, have secretly moved their factories oversea. How do we know? Because several partner factories to us are making furnitures for them, sometimes exclusively. They justre-package it in States and sell it as "Made in USA". And why is this important?
The direct cost of an item here in States are driven by both labor and materials where oversea in developing countries the material costs are the predominate factor. Vanity sink cabinet, can be made of several tiers of materials. Started from the cheapest that there is,
Polyurethane: Any factory can build one prototype from the magazine, make the mold from it, and start pouring polyurethane. The cost of the cabinet without the top, is around US$50 straight from the factory. This should give you a good idea why some retailers can sell you something below $500 shipping included. Retailers of these line of products usually do not advertise the materials used and only mention the color of the cabinet such as rich cherry FINISH.
Particle board/ plywood/ veneer: While no wood cabinet product is 100% water proof, particle board and plywood constructed cabinets are a lot worse than, say, solid wood cabinets. Where there is no factory in the right mind would make the whole cabinet from particle board/ plywood, they will advertise these line of cabinets as solid wood/ veneer, solid wood/ plywood combination. The truth is only the frame of the cabinet is solid wood. All face boards are made of plywood/ particle board/veneer.
MDF: Medium Density Fiberboard is an engineered hard board that is made of wood-fiber and resin binders. It is often serve as a base for veneer and is better water-resistant than plywood. It shows really well with paints as there no knob in the materials and structurely stable. Cabinets that are promoted as solid wood/MDF combination usually means the frame is solid wood, all the rest is MDF. This level of cabinet retail as high as $4500 in major retail chain stores.
Solid wood: With the level of competition using cheaper materials, modular bathroom vanity sink cabinets that are purely made of solid wood are pretty much extinct. In the market today, any retailers who sell sink cabinets that uses solid wood beyond frames will proudly let you know as this level of construction is already considered "high-end".
A solid wood exterior cabinet with natural stone top cost easily 5 times more than the polyurethane replica. A solid wood exterior cabinet easily double the cost of solid wood/MDF ones straight out of the factory. So as you continue to shop for your bathroom vanity, it is important to inquire the materials related details. If they tell you they don't know, it is mostly because they don't want to tell you.
As you may have found out already, there are many hand carved double vanity sink cabinets that are in the range of $1000. What a great deal! This must be the cheap labor oversea that makes a hand carved vanity sink cabinet comparable to those not carved at all, right? The intense labor that was used to make this cabinet possible must make this line of product the best bang for the buck. The truth is........
Most of those products are made of a combinations of solid wood and MDF. When a customer see 'solid wood', one would easily be misled to think it is a great deal for the price. But what they don't tell you (or won't tell you until you call) is that in most cases, only the frame is solid wood. All face boards are MDF. Some retailers, instead of telling you that, will say they simply do not know that level of details. As for the hand-carving, as long as a small part of the cabinet is hard-carved, such as the legs or columns, they can claim hand-carved on the cabinet. While the truth is the rest of the details mostly are polyurethane molded and painted. Do they tell the truth? Yea.......just not the whole truth.