Project Guide

How to Paint a Bathroom Vanity

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Prepare the Bathroom Vanity

You’ll need to take several steps to prepare for painting a bathroom vanity cabinet to ensure the best results.

  • Put down a drop cloth.
  • Relocate all objects and toiletries from the cabinets, drawers and on top of the sink that might get in the way. 
  • Use a screwdriver to detach such hardware as knobs and hinges. Label the items that you’ll be reusing and store in a plastic bag.
  • Remove bathroom cabinet doors and drawers, if they can be detached. Set them aside on a drop cloth for painting separately.
  • If possible, remove drawer fronts from the drawers as it will be easier to paint these separately. Mark where the fronts attach to make reattachment easier.
  • Clean the surface of the doors, drawer fronts and the cabinet with a degreasing cleaner such as trisodium phosphate to manufacturer’s instructions. After cleaning, thoroughly rinse the surfaces with water and a sponge or cloth to remove any traces of the cleaner.

Tip: As you remove them, label each drawer and cabinet drawer with a piece of painter’s tape and a marker so they’ll be easier to put back after painting.

Patch and Sand the Vanity

Next, you’ll want to repair and sand the wood surfaces of the cabinet, doors and drawers.

  • Check the wood surfaces for holes and other signs of damage.
  • Where possible, repair holes and dents with wood putty or wood filler.
  • If you plan to replace the old knobs and hardware with new pieces that need fresh holes drilled, fill in the old holes with putty at this time.
  • Allow the putty to dry according to directions and sand it smooth.
  • Lightly sand the cabinet, doors and door fronts with a 220-grade sandpaper until it has a dull appearance. This will improve the adhesion of the primer or paint.
  • Wipe down the surface with a damp cloth.
  • Vacuum up any remaining dust on the cabinet or in the painting area.
Tape and Prime the Vanity

Next, use painter’s tape and primer ahead of applying the paint.

  • Apply painter's tape around the perimeter of the vanity to tape off the underside of the vanity and any adjacent areas you want to keep paint-free, such as the walls, floor and nearby furniture. Tape the inside edges of the cabinet as well, unless you also plan to paint the cabinet interior.
  • Apply a coat of primer with brush and roller. Shellac or oil-based primers are recommended for bathroom cabinets. 
  • Prime all doors and drawer fronts using the same method.
  • As directed, allow it to dry and apply a second coat as needed.
  • Lightly sand and wipe clean.
How to Paint a Bathroom Vanity

Now you’re ready to apply the paint the vanity cabinet.

  • Oil-based paint is most effective in a moist environment such as a bathroom, but takes longer to dry. Use a wool, natural fiber or polyester blend roller cover when applying oil paint with a roller. Use a natural bristle brush for grooves and uneven areas.
  • Mildew-proof latex-based paints offer an alternative that dries more quickly. Use a synthetic roller cover or bristle paint brush with latex paint.
  • Use a roller to paint the cabinet frame and the sides in the direction of the wood grain. 
  • Paint all doors and drawer fronts using the same method. Ensure that crevices and raised panel doors receive smooth, even brush strokes. 
  • Do not paint over the marks or labels on the door faces and other parts that indicate where they go.
  • Allow the first coat to fully dry and then apply additional coats as needed for your desired depth of paint color and a smooth finish.
  • When finished painting, remove the tape and let it dry overnight.

Tip: Semi-gloss and high-gloss paints can be more effective at repelling moisture than eggshell or flat paint.

Reassemble the Painted Bathroom Vanity

Once you’ve finished painting the vanity and given it time to dry, it’s time to put it back together.

  • If you’re adding hardware that needs new holes, drill them now with a power drill.
  • Attach all hardware and reattach the painted doors and drawers, using the marks and labels for guidance.
  • Make sure all doors and drawers open and close properly.

A fresh coat of paint offers an attractive way to update and refresh your bathroom’s appearance. For further information regarding a bathroom vanity makeover, refer to these guides to design your perfect vanity, customize your perfect vanity top and look at the home decorators collection of bathroom vanities.

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