If you’re looking to spruce up your bathroom, a painted vanity cabinet is a quick and affordable way to upgrade the space. When I designed my mom and dad’s bathroom on a budget, one of the ways I kept the budget down was by repainting the existing vanity. Not only was this more cost effective, but it is also much easier than taking out the vanity and configuring the plumbing as well in a new vanity.
If you’re wondering how to paint your bathroom vanity- it’s a simple, straightforward project. Painting a vanity is also a great beginner project as you also need only 1 power tool: a sander. I prefer to use a mouse sander which helps to get into all the trim and corners.
Materials to build
- Rustoleum UMA extreme bond primer
- Screw bits
- Drill bits
- Wood filler
- Drywall knife
- Paint brushes. This is my favourite rubber handled brush
- Paint. I used Caviar SW 6990 in the Urathane Trim Enamel line in a satin finish
- Painters tape
- Drop cloth
- Foam rollers
Remove the doors, door fronts and hardware
Before you begin, remove the doors, hardware and any other accessories. There should be a few small screws on the hinges to remove the doors. Label the doors and drawer fronts so they can be placed in the same spot. The cabinet should be clean before painting. You can wipe it down using a cleaning spray
Fill all the holes with wood filler
If you’re going to be using new handles with different placement on the doors, you’ll need to fill the holes of the previous knobs. This will help smooth out any imperfections in your surface and make it look more professional.
Using a putty knife, apply wood filler to each hole and press firmly into place. When filling larger holes, it might be easier to work from inside the cabinet rather than from outside (if you’re working on a vanity). The key is to get as much of the hole filled with wood filler. It’s okay to ovrfill a bit as you can sand down the wood filler so it is flush with the cabinet door.
After applying all the wood filler, let dry for 30 minutes before sanding down any high spots that may have formed during application with p220 grit.
Sand the cabinet doors and body of the vanity
I laid out all my doors and drawers fronts on my workbench and tables. I began to sand with a p120 grit sandpaper.
To sand the vanity, I did the same thing. Actually, I wish I had used my mouse sander, but I hand sanded because my baby Sabrina was sleeping in the room next door. Use a mouse sander to apply the medium grit sandpaper to your vanity cabinet, using a circular motion. Don’t sand too much or too little, as this could result in uneven paint application and removal of the original finish on the wood surface. You’ll want to sand enough so that the surface is roughed up.
Remove any dust after sanding
Once you’ve sanded, use a scrubby sponge, tack cloth of paper towel to remove any dust or debris from the cabinet. This will help the paint stick better and make it go on smoother. It will also help the paint last longer.
Also, tape up the wall and floor of the vanity so that doesn’t get damaged while you paint the vanity.
Apply primer to the cabinet
Primer will help ensure that the paint sticks to the surface of the cabinet and provides a smooth finish, which makes for easier cleanup later on.
First, use a foam roller (a brush won’t work as well for this step- it will be very streaky) to apply two thin coats of primer to each side of the vanity cabinet door, drawers fronts and base. Be sure to leave enough time for them dry completely between coats.
Allow primer to dry and adhere completely
Allow primer to dry completely. Before you begin painting, you’ll want to let the primer dry for at least 24-48 hours (depending on which primer you use; make sure to read the instructions). This will ensure that your paint will adhere well and stay in place once it’s applied.
Do the scratch test:
Once you’ve allowed enough time for the primer to dry, take a clean fingernail or pen and run it across an inconspicuous part of your project. If there’s any noticeable scratching from this light test or the primer comes off, then your paint job may not hold up well over time and would likely need repainting sooner than later. If there is no visible damage after running your fingernail across the surface of the primed vanity, then you can move on to applying paint!
If the scratch test fails – DO NOT PANIC! I know you’ll be disappointed but here’s a few options:
- Wait more time to see if the primer has not adhered
- Add another coat of primer
- If the top options above don’t work – Start again and sand more. If you did not get remove all the glossy finish of the doors, then the primer will not stick to the doors.
What kind of paint should you use? I use the SW Urethane trim Enamel paint because it’s durable and meant for cabinets. Plus, since this is in the bathroom, I need this paint to also hold up to moisture
Use a foam roller and 3 light coats of paint to the vanity base, doors, and drawer fronts. Also, use an angled paint brush and feather the corners or trim that the roller cannot get into. The key to a smooth finish is light brush strokes. You can do this by using a paintbrush in any corner or nook that you may have missed with your roller. Once you’ve done that, let the paint dry for about an hour before applying the second coat.
Optional: If you have access to a sprayer, use it instead of applying multiple coats with a brush or roller. This will ensure even coverage and save some time!
Allow paint to dry for 2-4 hours, then apply a second coat of paint if you need it.
You should allow the paint to dry for 2-4 hours before applying a second coat if you need it. If you are looking for a deeper color, or if you want to hide imperfections in the surface, apply another coat of paint. You can also achieve a more durable finish by applying additional coats.
Re-attach the doors
Next, you’ll need to re-attach the doors to your cabinet. Since you labelled them, it should be easy to re-attach them. Just make sure they’re in the right place and secure them with screws or a drill.
Add new hardware
You can buy new hardware at a hardware store or online. Choose hardware that will compliment other elements in your space like the mirror and lighting. You can use a hardware jig to mark the holes or use painters tape to mark where you want it, then measure how far apart those measurements are and drill accordingly.
Admire the results of your DIY painted vanity
Painting a bathroom vanity cabinet is one of the easiest home DIY projects you can do that will have the most impact. And it won’t cost you a fortune either!
I can hardly believe this is the same vanity!? Now you know how to paint your bathroom vanity and I bet it looks like a whole new expensive piece!
I would love to see the result of your painted bathroom vanity! If you do, be sure to share with me. Follow me on instagram for more budget projects.