DIY bathroom cabinet painting

Contemplating a cabinet painting project?  I’ve learned that this is a surprisingly easy DIY task!

I recently painted my kids’ bathroom cabinet as part of my long-standing bathroom makeover project.  I’m so happy it’s done – and that it went so well!

DIY bathroom cabinet painting - an easy makeover projectThe kids’ bathroom needed an update when we moved into our house, but I put off this project for years until I couldn’t take the wallpaper any longer.

Even in this small room, removing the wallpaper was a big project, as everyone knows who has ever done this.  After stripping it off, I carefully cleaned glue off walls and patched up gouges to prep for a beautiful shade of light blue paint (Behr Premium Plus in Fresh Day).

With that huge step completed, I took a little break from the makeover – and by that, I mean a two-year break!  In the meantime, the vanity was looking worse from the wear it got from three little people using it daily and dripping water down the front regularly.  This summer I realized they’re big enough to keep the water in the sink where it belongs, so I should probably commence the cabinet makeover. 

In theory, it sounded easy enough to paint a little cabinet.  But since I had never painted any built-in cabinets, I felt anxious about tackling it.  What if I did something wrong and ruined the whole thing?  We inherited two layers of flooring in there, with the top layer of tile cut around the vanity, so I knew there wouldn’t be an easy fix to just put in a new cabinet if I totally ruined it somehow.

After doing some research, I finally got to work on my cabinet painting project one day while the kids were at school.

I removed the drawers, doors, and hinges and started sanding to prepare the surface for the paint.  My first surprise was that although the front of the cabinet is wood, the side is laminate.  Whoops!  I should have paid closer attention to the side.  I guess it was a good laminate match since I never noticed that it wasn’t real wood – or else I’m just really unobservant.

That discovery did make my painting prep work easier.  I sanded the surface of the front cabinet, doors, and drawers until they were smooth and then used a tack cloth to remove the dust.  For the laminate side, I cleaned it well and used wood filler to cover the holes where the toilet paper holder had been attached since I was replacing and moving it.

I wondered how well the cabinet would take the paint – especially the laminate side.  I used a high quality paint brush for good coverage and a self-priming paint.  Luckily the paint (Behr Premium Plus semi-gloss enamel) covered all of the cabinet well.  It took four coats, but the end result looks great!

(Note – I realized later that I should have used a separate primer over the previous stain on the cabinet, as noted on the Behr paint web site.  So I would recommend that step for cabinets that were previously stained.  However, my painted cabinet still looks good after many months, even without the primer.)

My second surprise was that the new hinges I had purchased were inset hinges, and I needed overlay hinges.  I hadn’t even realized there were two types – I just grabbed the first cabinet hinges I found at the store.  Be sure to check which type you need for your own project.  I was bummed to have to put the old hinges back on until I could get to the store again for the right kind.

My third surprise was that the screws that came with the new toilet paper holder I wanted to attach to the side of the vanity were long enough to hit the drawer.  So I had to leave that off until I could get shorter screws.

Ultimately, the painting project was a great success, and everyone was amazed at the huge difference it made in freshening up the room.  I wish I would have done it sooner!

I found that cabinet painting is a surprisingly simple DIY task.  And believe me – if I could do it, anyone can!

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