When you think of bathroom cabinets, you may not think there is much room for improvement. However, the truth is that even bathroom cabinets offer plenty of options for enhancement. With a fresh coat of paint and some new drawer pulls, your bathroom cabinets will lighten up your bathroom and make it appear as new.

The painting procedure itself will, however, depend on the type of cabinet you have. Whether it’s solid wood or engineered wood, you can still get pretty good results. The furniture paint of today is much more sustainable and will stick to almost any surface. That’s why you shouldn’t have too many problems painting your bathroom cabinets.

StoneCrest-Bathrooms-by-Delphinium-Design How to paint bathroom cabinets and make them look good
Image source: Delphinium Design

If you’re still struggling with the question of how to paint bathroom cabinets, though, then we’re here to help. From the meticulous preparation to the detailed technique, we’ll show you how to get the job done easily and effectively. Of course, you’ll need some crucial tools to get the job done.

You will also need to remove any knobs and hardware from the cabinets to complete the job. In this full and detailed guide, we’ll show you how to paint bathroom cabinets and make them look great.

What You’ll Need

tools How to paint bathroom cabinets and make them look good

You will have to take some time to prepare and make sure you have everything you need. It might take you some time to gather your tools, so don’t hurry and don’t skip this step. Preparation is key, you don’t want to be left scrambling for tools in the middle of the job!

So here are the tools and materials you’ll need:

  • Drop cloths
  • A plastic bag
  • Painter’s tape
  • Some old newspapers
  • Gloves and a respirator
  • Some plain water
  • A bucket (1-gallon or larger)
  • Soft sponge, towels
  • Sandpaper (120-220 grit)
  • Oil-based or shellac primer
  • Paint
  • Screwdriver
  • Stencil
  • Clear wax
  • A vacuum cleaner with the dust brush attachment
  • Paint tray
  • Synthetic fiber paintbrushes
  • Microfiber paint rollers (2-3” wide)
  • Paint
  • Roller cover
  • Tack cloth.

So you can see it’s an extensive list, so ideally, you’ll want to have all the tools ready. However, don’t fret if you don’t have the exact tools as we’ve listed here.

Choose the Right Paint

paint-varietis How to paint bathroom cabinets and make them look good

A part of preparation is also choosing the right type of paint for the project. You’ll need to choose between acrylic enamel paint and alkyd paint for your cabinet. What’s the difference between the two?

  • Acrylic, or water-based paints, are low-fume paints and will clean up easily with water. These are slightly more lightweight, but not as durable as alkyd paints. However, in recent years, these paints have come closer in terms of durability to alkyd paints.
  • Alkyd, or oil-based paints, are more powerful and will require stronger ventilation in your home when you paint. They can irritate your lungs and make you sick, so you’ll need a respirator, ideally. They are hard to clean up as they require mineral spirits. However, they also tend to be long-lasting, especially if you opt for high-quality paints. Self-leveling paint will provide you with the best details.

There’s also a third option. You can use chalk-finish paints. These are easy to use and won’t mess up your room too much. You don’t need a primer coat first, too, so they are easier to use. There are many types available currently.

The best paint to choose is a paint with a creamy, smooth consistency, that’s what the experts recommend. It makes the paint more consistent, easier to clean, and more durable. It will also create a soft, difussed lighting in your room. This will provide a nice, warm atmosphere to your bathroom. Paint choice is clearly an important one.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Now that you have everything prepared, it’s time to go to work. Prepare your bathroom for work, and spread drop cloths around where you’ll be working to prevent any paint getting on the floor.

Step# 1: Removing Doors and Hardware

cabinet-hardware How to paint bathroom cabinets and make them look good

Before you start to paint, it should be said that you have to get your doors and hardware off from the cabinets. Uninstall it and store it somewhere you won’t forget it.

This step is crucial. You don’t want to paint over your hardware, such as knobs and hinges, which can give away the feeling of unprofessional approach. If you have painted over the knobs and hinges, you will want to remove it as fast as possible until it dries. However, you can always ask professionals to help you get the paint off the hardware.

If there are clips instead of hinges, then unclip each door hinge carefully, and lift the door from the cabinet. If you have screws for the hinges, then use the screwdriver to remove the screws. Most of the time, there is one set for the hinge door and another set at the back of the hinges.

Store the screws somewhere safe and have them ready for re-installation when you’re done painting.

Step# 2: Removing Cabinet Drawers

drawers How to paint bathroom cabinets and make them look good

Next, you’ll want to remove the drawers inside the cabinet. Not only will this allow you to paint them, but you’ll also easily reach inside the cabinet and paint the corners.

Set the drawers aside and drop them on a cloth. Start with the top-most drawer, and make your way down towards the bottom. Pull out the drawer as far out as you can, and you’ll want to tilt the drawer downwards to lift it from the rail of the wheels. Then, remove the drawer, and move onto the next one.

Make sure you store them somewhere safe and secure.

Step# 3: Cleaning and Sanding

sanding How to paint bathroom cabinets and make them look good

As we’ve already said, preparation is a very important step, and cleaning and sanding will enable you to paint the cabinet much easier.

Removing the dust and the dirt from the cabinet should be your first step before you start sanding. This will make the sanding more effective. Remove residue and grease or grime that’s building up on the cabinet with a non-toxic supplement for cleaning.

Of course, you’ll want to thoroughly clean the cabinet and remove any dirt or dust on the cabinet. Then, start sanding the cabinet. Sand the surface with 120 or 220-grit sandpaper, and use tack cloth to remove the dust after sanding.

Step# 4: Tape off Walls and Floor

painting-tape How to paint bathroom cabinets and make them look good

After cleaning and sanding, you should prepare the cabinet for painting. If you don’t plan on painting the interior of the cabinet, then you should tape it off – the walls and the floor of the cabinet should be covered with the painter’s tape.

Then, you should inspect the cabinet for any potential holes and imperfections. If you spot any holes, then you should try to fill them up with spackle as much as you can. This will make the cabinet appear newer and will also hold up for longer.

If you don’t want to remove the doors before you paint, then you will need to fold a piece of painter’s tape over the door, and also cover the hinges with it.

Another thing to keep in mind is to paint the cabinet in another space if your bathroom is too small.

Step# 5: Test Paint

testing How to paint bathroom cabinets and make them look good

Before you start painting the whole cabinet, you will want to try out the paint and the primer. Use the back of the door to test some of your paint. This will allow you to make sure you like the color without running the cabinet.

Then, if you’re not satisfied with the paint, you can always choose another one. Just make sure you repaint the door that you tested, too.

Step# 6: Prime the Cabinet

primer-1 How to paint bathroom cabinets and make them look good

The next step is to start priming the cabinet. If you choose a combination of primer and paint, then you will want to choose a dedicated primer. This will help you paint the surfaces easier. For bare wood, you’ll want to apply an even coat of primer and sand smooth. This will make the painting much easier.

Primer will allow the paint to stick to the wood easier. It’s a lot cheaper than paint itself, you should always try to do at least one, if not two, coats of primer before you paint.

By using a paint brush, you’ll allow yourself to reach corners and crevices inside the cabinet and on the outside, which will make the paint stick better. Be detailed with priming. Then, before you start to paint, allow the primer to dry.

Even if you don’t want to prime the inside, it’s advisable to do so – it will make the color stick better.

Step# 7: Paint the Cabinet

paint-the-cabinet How to paint bathroom cabinets and make them look good

Finally, it’s time to paint the cabinet. If you don’t know how to paint bathroom cabinets, then don’t worry. It takes some practice, and soon, you’ll be a pro!

Make sure your paint is thoroughly blended and without clumps before you start painting. A smoother paint will allow you to paint better, and the paint will also be more consistent.

Make sure you do the blending outside, especially if you have oil-based paints. Use cardboard to protect your home from splatters.

Now it’s time to paint. Start by painting very thin coats, especially if the paint is runny. This is good, so don’t worry if it doesn’t stick well at first. Use smooth strokes and make them as long as possible. Avoid streaks.

Then, as you complete the painting, make sure you let the paint dry for at least 24 hours. But 48 hours might be better for letting the paint dry as much as possible. The longer you give it to dry, the better it will stick. Make sure you add another layer if the first one hasn’t gone down too well.

Step# 8: Reassemble the Cabinet

fix How to paint bathroom cabinets and make them look good

Now that you’ve let the paint to dry, it’s time for the last step – reassembly. It shouldn’t be too complicated. Put the hardware back into place, reassemble the doors and the drawers, and enjoy the cabinet in all its glory!

If you are looking to install new hardware, then you might need to drill new holes into the cabinet. Make sure the paint is completely dry before you do that, though!

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