Shipping Container Project: DIY Steampunk Bathroom Vanity

Material List for this project is at the bottom of this page:

PART 1: Countertop

It began with a question…..what should I make the bathroom vanity out of for the Container? Given the off-grid, and tiny aspect of this home, I wanted something that fit the ‘fun’ aspect of this construction. It had to be a little funky and it also had to be pretty cheap. I’ve done Penny Countertops, I’ve tried copper, I’ve done reclaimed materials, I’ve experimented with concrete…what should I try in this particular project?

The answer was to jumble everything together and see what happens. I nicknamed the project Steampunk Vanity.

I began with the the cabinet box itself. A jumble of reclaimed 2×3, 2×4, and live edge wood off cuts that were spliced together into the bathroom box. The bathroom counterop space was drawn in the plans as a 24″x56″ surface. It would sit on top of the condensing (all in one) washer/dryer, and it would house the bathroom sink + faucet +storage.

I went to the garage and cut myself a 24″ x 56″ section of 3/4″ plywood to give me a platform to work with. I then walked around my basement to find a suitable sink shaped vessel and discovered and older copper looking wash-bin that would eventually work as my sink.

Steampunk Counter wood 2019
Here is pretty much what I started with!

The copper wash-bin was pretty deep but I wanted part of it to stick up above the countertop surface. I traced a circle around the bottom and then made a second circle slightly larger; this would allow part of the wash-bin to go underneath the countertop and the other part to be exposed on top. This is more understandable in the next picture…..

Steampunk counter wood cut 2019
Wallah! it fits!

Next, I decided to re-utilize my leftover “feather” concrete for the surface. This would lightweight and should give offset the copper with a nice modern/industrial feel. I mixed up a small bath and began applying it as I did before. One….layer….at….a…time đŸ™‚

Steampunk Counter First layer 2019
First Layer being applied

Each layer of feather concrete is about 1/8 of an inch thick. I used 5 layers to get a solid feeling surface over my plywood base. I love it when friends stop by and say “hey, can I help with whatever weird project you’re working on….”

Steampunk Counter Bridget 2019
Bridget lending a hand. Friend’s do help out sometimes!

With my multiple layers of concrete smoothly applied, I next pulled out an old sock and rubbed applied the concrete sealant. This process again is outlined in my previous BLOG.

Steampunk Sink in No Edge 2019
Sealant on + sink dropped in

After 2 applications of sealant, I could tell that the trim/edges of this project just weren’t going to do it for me. I wanted something to surround the concrete countertop and frame the project with a fun application. Of course I turned back to my favorite thing…pennies.

I cut a 1.5 inch trim board to size and screwed it into my newly made concrete countertop. The back side and right side will be against walls, so I only required trim on the front and right.

I painted the squared off trim black, and began gluing pennies to the top edge and front edges. This was my first time doing pennies on a vertical surface and liquid nails secured them perfectly. I supported them from the bottom with the table so they wouldn’t slide down before the glue set, but after this they were attached pretty well before Epoxy.

Steampunk Pennies before epoxy 2019
Penny edge held on with glue before Epoxy

I taped the edges the best I could with HVAC foil tape to prevent Epoxy from getting on the concrete counter. Push the tape down firmly to insure the Epoxy doesn’t make it’s way under your tape barrier. I poured a very think line on top and spread this around using a foam brush. I continued to go over the surface with thin lines of Epoxy, using the foam brush to ‘pull’ it down over the vertical pennies where it (for the most post) would stay put. Drop clothes on the floor stopped any drips.

Steampunk Counter Penny Edge 2019
Foil tape on — ready for Epoxy pouring

After the Epoxy dried for 12 hours, I carefully pulled the the tape off and removed any excess using a razor blade and fine sand paper. I placed the copper sink back into place to insure everything fit.

Steampunk Counter Done 2019
Trim finished, counter finished, before installation


So…..we now have a countertop with trim, and a spot for a copper wash-bin. However, this is not a functioning bathroom vanity unless I find a way to make this copper bin into an actual working sink vessel!

First step was insuring the basin was waterproof. I filled it up to the brim with water and allowed it to sit for 2 days straight. The water level did not lower at all, and this was a very good sign for my DIY sink!

I wanted to protect the finish and insure the sink held up over time. I brushed water based Polyurethane to coat the entire inside of the basin with 3 different coats. Allowing each coat to dry 2-3 hours between coats. This insures the Poly is still tacky to the touch when the next layer is going on and supports adhesion between layers.

Next step was installing a functioning sink drain. I stated by purchasing a pop up drain from Amazon. It’s important to choose one that does NOT HAVE OVERFLOW, because DIY sinks don’t have a built in overflow section.

Next, I used a 1.5 inch hole saw bit to drill a hole in the center of the basin’s bottom. I dropped in the drain and realized that the sink bottom would need to slope towards the drain. Without an indented area around the drain, water would collect and sit within the basin.

I used a hammer, flat head screw driver, and wood blocks to pound the edges of the 1.5 inch hole and create a sloped area for my drain to sit. I inserted the drain per it’s directions and tested it ability to hold water.

Steampunk Sink Testing 2019
No leaks!

With the drain working, the countertop complete, and the penny edging installed — the next step was relocating my “Steampunk” bathroom vanity project was nearly complete. Next, I started a DIY faucet project….but we can talk about that later.

Steampunk Counter In Container 2019
Countertop + Sink Basin installed in the container

Written By:

Luke Langhals


Material List:

3/4 Inch Ply Wood — — — — — — — — $19.00 — — — (Had extra laying around)

Concrete Layers — — — — — — — — — $26.00 — — — (Ardex Feather Cement – Amazon)

Concrete Sealer — — — — — — — — — $24.00 — — — (Quikrete Cure & Seal – Lowes)

1.5″ Poplar Trim Board — — — — — $7.00 — — — (Had extra laying around)

600 Shiny Pennies — — — — — — — — $3.00 — — — (Got at the bank)

Epoxy — — — — — — — — — — — — — — $23.00 — — — (Famowood 1 qt. – Home Depot)

Pop Up Drain w/o Overflow — — – $10.00 — — — (Antique Brass – Amazon)


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