What Is the Best Material to Use for a Bathroom Vanity?

Which would be better to use for flat door panels on a painted bathroom vanity – MDF, plywood, or solid wood? -deLancey

Hi deLancey,

While all three make excellent materials for painted cabinetry, on a bathroom vanity I would use a close-grained, hardwood plywood (like birch plywood) for the door panels, cabinet sides, shelves, and tall drawers; and a close-grained, solid hardwood (such as birch, maple, or poplar) for the door frames, small drawers, and cabinet face frame.

MDF (medium density fiberboard) is fine for most painted cabinetry, but it won’t hold up as well to the high humidity and moisture in a bathroom as plywood. Solid wood shrinks and expands in width as the humidity changes, which could cause the paint line to crack over time where the panel meets the frame in a moist bathroom.

Regardless of which material you choose for your vanity, be sure you have a properly sized bathroom exhaust fan, that’s vented to the outside, to remove moisture from the bathroom; and run the fan while showering or bathing and for 15-20 minutes afterward.

Good luck with your project,


Further Information


  1. Danny,

    My wife and I are looking at making some minor chnges to our small bathroom basiclly we are wanting to add 2 small cabinets to the top of our vanity. What would be the best material to use for these cabinets.

  2. Solid wood is best and rubber wood is another option that’s not mentioned very often. Rubber wood is actually 90% the strength of solid oak. There’s a great guide to materials in the bathroom on this page:


    Humidity will eat at low quality materials. Also to note, when many manufacturers say “Solid Wood,” it means that the vanity frame that provides structural support is made from solid wood but the drawers are often made of either plywood or MDF so it’s another small detail to pay attention to.

  3. Iwant to build a bathroom vanity counter top. I want to use wood and paint it black and then put about 4 or 5 coats of polyuranathane on top. What is the best material to use?

  4. Gary, you want to use solid wood. MDF’s usually have a veneer which is a thin piece of simulated (fake) wood or a thin strip of real wood on top. Because of this, you won’t be able to do any real sanding in case you wanted to change the coating. Solid wood will work better for what you are trying to do. You can use birch, oak, rubberwood, or maple. It’s up to you.

  5. I am wanting to refinish my bathroom cabinet and I absolutely HATE the color of the vanity TOP. It is a solid top but I am not sure what material it is made of. The bottom of the vanity top has small “crystals ” on it. The top was installed around 1960 (as was the cabinet) and right now I am only painting the cabinet. I wish to paint the top also. What kind of paint would you suggest?

  6. I’m looking into buying a bathroom vanity made of rubberwood and the top is rubberwood, basin sits on top of vanity. Will it hold up if it keeps getting wet? It says it has: “Water Resistant Low V.O.C Sealer,” what do you think? It’s a big investment so I want it to last a long timme.

  7. I want to know which wood is the best for bathroom vanity and will not damage if the water will keep in touch sometimes.


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