How to Paint Bathroom Cabinets: A DIY Guide

 In Bathroom renovations

As the saying goes, the devil is in the details. That’s why even the smallest details in your bathroom, such as your cabinets, can make a big difference in the overall look and feel of the space. If you’re looking to refresh your bathroom on a budget, painting your bathroom cabinets can be a great way to update your space without breaking the bank. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the steps to paint your bathroom cabinets like a pro.

Types of Paint to Consider

If you’re planning to paint your bathroom cabinets, it’s crucial to choose the right type of paint to ensure durability and a long-lasting finish. With so many options on the market, it can be challenging to determine which one is right for your project. Here’s a breakdown of some common types of paint to consider when painting your bathroom cabinets.

  1. Latex Paint: Also known as acrylic paint, latex paint is a water-based option that is easy to clean up with soap and water. It dries quickly and emits less odour than oil-based paints, making it a safer choice for indoor spaces. However, latex paint is not as durable as oil-based paints and may require more coats to achieve a smooth and even finish.
  2. Oil-Based Paint: These paints use a petroleum-based solvent instead of water, resulting in a longer drying time and stronger odour. However, they offer excellent durability, making them an ideal option for high-traffic areas such as bathroom cabinets. Oil-based paints also create a smoother finish with fewer brush strokes, making them an excellent choice for achieving a professional look.
  3. Chalk Paint: A popular choice for DIY enthusiasts, chalk paint features a matte, chalky finish that is perfect for creating a vintage or shabby-chic look. It requires no prep work and can easily adhere to most surfaces without sanding or priming. However, chalk paint is not as durable as other types of paint and may require wax or sealant to protect the finish.
  4. Milk Paint: Made from all-natural ingredients such as milk protein, limestone, and clay, milk paint is another eco-friendly option for painting bathroom cabinets. It dries to a matte finish and can be easily distressed for a shabby-chic or rustic look. However, milk paint requires some prep work, such as sanding and priming, and may require several coats to achieve a smooth and even finish.

When selecting a paint for your bathroom cabinets, it’s important to consider your personal preferences, the level of durability you need, and the look you want to achieve.

Overview of the Project

However, before you dive into this project, it is important to prepare yourself with the proper tools and materials to ensure a professional-looking finish. Some of the key materials you will need include a drop cloth, tack cloth, sandpaper, putty knife, paint brushes, foam rollers, a paint sprayer, and a paint tray. It is also important to choose a paint that is specifically designed for bathroom cabinets to withstand the high humidity and moisture levels often found in bathrooms.

In addition to the materials, it is important to follow the proper steps to ensure a smooth and durable finish. This includes removing all hardware from the cabinets before painting, cleaning the surface thoroughly, and using light sanding between coats. It is also important to choose a semi-gloss or glossy finish for durability in high-traffic areas.

Overall, painting your bathroom cabinets is a great DIY project that can give your bathroom a fresh and updated look.

Painting Bathroom Cabinets

Remove Cabinet Doors and Drawer Fronts

One of the first steps in painting bathroom cabinets is to remove the cabinet doors and drawer fronts. This may seem like an unnecessary step, but trust us, it’s worth it.

First, remove all hardware from the cabinet frames. This will make it easier to paint and will prevent any paint from getting on the hardware. Keep the hardware in a safe place so that you don’t lose anything.

Next, remove the cabinet doors and drawer fronts. This can typically be done by loosening screws that hold the hinges in place. If the screws are painted over, you may need to use a putty knife to gently pry the hinges off.

Removing the cabinet doors and drawer fronts allows for better access to the cabinet frames and makes it easier to paint evenly. It also ensures that the inside edges of the cabinet doors and drawer fronts aren’t neglected during the painting process.

Once the doors and drawer fronts are removed, you can label each one if necessary to ensure that they get put back on in the correct spot. This will prevent any headaches down the road when trying to reattach them.

Clean and Sand the Cabinets

After removing all hardware, doors, and drawer fronts, the next step is to clean and sand the cabinets. This important step ensures that the new coat of paint adheres properly and results in a smooth finish.

Start by wiping down all surfaces with a damp cloth to remove any dirt, dust, or grease. For tougher grime, use a mixture of warm water and mild soap to clean the surface. Make sure to rinse with fresh water and let dry completely before moving on to the next step.

Once the surface is clean, lightly sand all surfaces with a sanding block or 220-grit sandpaper. This helps to scuff up the surface and provide a surface for the new paint to adhere to. Be sure to sand any flat surfaces of the cabinet frame and doors, as well as any glossy areas that may be harder for the paint to stick to.

After sanding, wipe down all surfaces with a tack cloth to remove any dust or debris. This ensures a clean surface for the next step and helps to prevent any bumps or rough spots from forming under the new paint.

If you plan to use oil-based paint, it’s a good idea to use a natural-bristle brush or foam roller to apply the paint. For latex paint, a synthetic brush or roller is better suited. A paint sprayer can also be used for a more professional finish.

By properly cleaning and sanding the cabinets before painting, you can ensure a durable finish that will withstand daily wear and tear. With these simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to achieving a beautiful bathroom vanity makeover.

Wipe Down with Tack Cloth

Once you have completed sanding all surfaces of your bathroom cabinets, it’s important to wipe down the entire surface with a tack cloth. A tack cloth is a specially treated cloth that’s designed to pick up any dust or debris left behind after sanding. This will ensure that your cabinets are immaculate and free of any imperfections before you begin painting.

To use a tack cloth, simply unfold it and lightly drag it over all surfaces of your bathroom cabinets. Be sure to apply gentle pressure to ensure that you pick up all the dust and debris. It’s important to only use the tack cloth once and then dispose of it, as reusing it may lead to spreading dust and debris rather than removing it.

Using a tack cloth is a crucial step in preparing your bathroom cabinets for painting. Any dust or debris left behind can cause bumps or rough spots to form under the paint, resulting in an unprofessional finish.

In addition to using a tack cloth, it’s also important to work in a well-ventilated area with plenty of natural light. This will allow you to see any imperfections in the cabinet surface and help you achieve a professional finish. Taking the time to properly prepare your bathroom cabinets before painting will ensure that you achieve a high-quality and durable finish that will last for years to come.

Apply a Primer Coat

Before you start painting your bathroom cabinets, it’s important to consider using a primer coat. A primer is a type of paint that is designed to create a smooth and even surface on which the topcoat of paint can adhere. While using a primer coat is not always necessary, it can be particularly helpful if you’re painting over a dark or uneven surface, or if you’re switching from an oil-based to a water-based paint.

Use a sanding block with 220-grit sandpaper to lightly sand the entire surface of the cabinets, including the cabinet frame. This will help the primer adhere better.

After sanding, wipe down the cabinets with a damp cloth to remove any dust and debris. Once dry, you can begin applying the primer. You can do this using a foam roller, a natural-bristle brush, or a paint sprayer, depending on your preference. Just be sure to use smooth strokes and apply the primer evenly, covering as much surface area as possible.

Allow the primer to dry completely (check the paint can for recommended drying time). This will usually take at least a few hours. Once it’s dry, lightly sand the cabinets again with a sanding block and wipe them down with fresh water and a tack cloth. This will ensure that the surface is smooth and free of any dust or debris before you begin painting.
While using a primer coat may be an extra step, it can go a long way in creating a durable finish for your bathroom cabinets. Not only will it help the topcoat of paint adhere better, but it can also prevent stains, peeling, and cracking down the line. So, if you’re looking to achieve a professional finish for your bathroom vanity cabinets, consider applying a primer coat before you start painting.

Paint the Cabinets

Now that you have prepped your bathroom cabinets with sanding, cleaning, and removing all cabinet hardware, it’s time to apply the first coat of paint.

There are two primary options for applying paint to your bathroom cabinets – a foam roller or a natural-bristle brush. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but both will give you a beautiful and smooth finish with the right technique.

If you choose to use a foam roller, start by pouring your paint into a paint tray. Saturate the foam roller with paint and roll it off onto the tray for an even coating. Then, apply the paint to your cabinet surfaces with a light touch, rolling in one direction only. Try to work in small sections and move quickly, as foam rollers tend to dry out fast.

The advantage of using a foam roller is that it can cover large surfaces quickly, while also giving you a smooth and even finish. However, be sure to watch out for bubbles or inconsistent finishes while rolling. If you notice them, try lightly rolling over the area again to smooth it out.

On the other hand, if you choose to use a natural-bristle brush, first dip it into the paint and tap the brush on the side of the paint can to get a minimal amount of paint on it. Then, use smooth strokes to apply the paint in the direction of the wood grain. Using a natural-bristle brush allows you to get into tight corners and small areas that a foam roller may not reach.

One of the benefits of using a natural-bristle brush is that it can give you more control over the amount of paint you apply in particular areas. Plus, it’s easier to achieve a perfect finish in challenging areas with the right technique.

Whether you decide to use a foam roller or natural-bristle brush, it’s essential to cover the entire surface with your first coat of paint. This will provide a stable foundation to apply the subsequent coats of paint.

After applying the first coat of paint, let it dry entirely before applying the second coat. If needed, lightly sand the surface with 220-grit sandpaper when dry, then clean with a damp cloth before applying the second coat of paint.

Add Coats to Enhance the Result

Once the first coat is dry, take a close look at your cabinets and identify any thin or patchy areas that may need an additional coat. These areas may be more visible in certain lighting or angles, so make sure to examine your cabinets from different perspectives.

To touch up these thin areas, use a clean brush or roller and apply additional coats of paint as needed. Keep in mind that it’s better to apply several thin coats rather than one thick coat, as thick coats can lead to drips, sags, and an uneven finish.

As you apply additional coats, make sure to blend them with the surrounding areas to create a seamless finish. Use smooth strokes and avoid overworking the paint, as this can also lead to an uneven finish.

If you’re using latex paint, you may find that it dries quickly and is easy to touch up. However, if you’re using an oil-based paint, you may need to add a bit of thinner to the paint to help it blend better with the existing coat.

Overall, touching up thin areas with additional coats of paint is an important step in achieving a beautiful and durable finish for your bathroom cabinets. With a bit of patience and attention to detail, you can create a stunning transformation that will last for years to come.


Painting your cabinets is a great way to refresh the look of your bathroom, but it’s important to select the right type of paint for the job. Latex paint is a water-based option that dries quickly and emits less odour than oil-based paints, while oil-based paints offer excellent durability and create a smoother finish. Chalk paint and milk paint are also popular options, although they may require some prep work and multiple coats to achieve a professional finish. By selecting the right type of paint and using the appropriate tools and techniques, you can create a smooth and durable finish that will enhance the look of your bathroom cabinets.

Recent Posts