How To Paint a Bathroom Vanity Cabinet

Painting a bathroom vanity cabinet is a four-step procedure that includes cleaning, prepping for paint, priming the cabinet, and finally, painting the cabinet.

The process will differ slightly depending on whether the cabinet is unfinished, or has been previously painted.

However, the process remains consistent with these four steps, with the possible exception of cleaning an unfinished cabinet. Let's get started!

1. Clean the Cabinet
Before any cleaning can be done, it is necessary to remove any drawers and detach the cabinet door, or doors. Detaching the doors is a matter of removing the screws that mount the hinges to the cabinet frame, then remove the hinges from the doors as well. Removing the doors, hinges and pulls will allow cleaning and painting of smaller areas.

If the existing paint is intact and does not need patching, it’s possible that cleaning the painted surfaces with a liquid kitchen cleaner and scratch pad may be all that’s needed. In either event, the cabinet, cabinet doors and drawer faces should be thoroughly cleaned on all surfaces. A wide blade putty knife is helpful in removing hard deposits on painted surfaces. Once the cabinet has been cleaned, it can be dried with a cloth before beginning the paint prep.

2. Prep the Cabinet for Paint
Preparing the cabinet for paint is the most important step, since any pits, holes or scratches that remain will reflect in the painted finish. The prep begins with sanding the doors, drawer face, cabinet face and sides with a medium grit sandpaper, and this is best done using a finish sander or sanding block. A small table or bench, covered with a cloth drop or cardboard provides a convenient surface to stage the doors for sanding, primer and paint.

The sander or block should be worked with medium pressure, in a circular motion over all surfaces including the cabinet doors and drawer faces. The edges of the doors and drawer faces can be sanded in a continuous line motion, rolling the sander or sanding block to conform to any rounded edges. Sanding can be checked in detail by running the flat of one hand over the surfaces as the sanding is being done. Once the initial sanding is complete, wipe all surfaces with a damp cloth and allow all surfaces to dry completely. Next, use a flexible putty knife to spackle any voids that were found during the sanding.

Detail sanding should be done using fine grade sandpaper with light pressure. Touch up an areas as needed and allow the spackle to dry. Next, wipe the cabinet with a damp cloth to remove any residual sanding dust. The cabinet should have a uniform finish to the eye and to the touch before applying the primer coat.

3. Prime the Cabinet
Before applying the primer coat, mask the edges of the vanity cabinet along the face and underside of the countertop, as well as at the wall and along the base of the cabinet, using 2” wide, blue masking tape.

A cloth drop, cardboard or newspapers can be used to widen the protection area along the base of the cabinet. Once all surfaces are protected, a coat of acrylic primer can be applied to the cabinet using a medium bristle brush, and working from a clean, one-gallon bucket.

Apply the primer in even strokes, overlapping and feathering for a uniform finish. Each side of the cabinet doors must be primed and allowed to dry. Allow all primed surfaces to dry completely before beginning the first coat of paint. Clean the paint brush and bucket and wipe the bucket dry on the inside.

4. Paint the Vanity Cabinet
Apply the finish coat of paint in the same manner, using even strokes and blending into each new area. Make continuous strokes along the cabinet and wall seams, and use upward strokes when beginning at the base of the cabinet sides. The drawer and door edges should be painted with continuos strokes, and blended with the face of the door. Allow each side of the doors to dry completely.

Once the cabinet has been painted, and before the paint is completely dry, use a utility razor knife to strike the seams of the masking tape along the wall, the floor and the countertop edges. This will allow the tape to pull free without interrupting the finish coat of paint. Once the doors and drawer face have dried completely, the cabinet pulls and hinges can be re-installed and the doors attached to the cabinet.