Project Guide

How to Paint a Bathroom Vanity

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1
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.

2
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.
3
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.
4
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.

5
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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