Transform a Bathroom Vanity With Paint

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What You'll Need
1 or 2 quarts (depending on vanity size) high gloss, enamel, latex
1 or 2 quarts of acrylic primer
good quality 2 ½ inch flat-sash paint brush
good quality 1 ½ inch angle-sash paint brush
small (mini) roller, with mohair blend cover and roller pan
roll of painters tape
small plastic drop cloth (or trash bag)
150 grit sandpaper
cabinet hardware (hinges and handles)
spray paint for metal (if painting the hardware)
sponge or rags
paint stick (stir stick)
paint can opener
spackling paste

Replacing a bathroom vanity isn't just a lot of work, but it's also quite expensive. Fortunately, there is an alternative to replacing it, one that's cheaper and a bit easier. What is it? Painting it! With the right paint, pretty much any vanity can be transformed from old and ugly to new and lovely.

Planning Your Bathroom Vanity Transformation

Before you get started with revamping your bathroom vanity, think about what it is you want to do. Will you be transforming the whole bathroom or are you just trying to freshen up the vanity? If there's a theme going, consider including the vanity by adding colors that will enhance the overall look. If it's just to update the vanity itself, a simple coat of white or dark brown (depending on the room colors) paint will really make a big difference without having to completely re-do the bathroom.

This is also a good time to check your hardware on the vanity and see if you need or want to change it out while you're painting it. Hardware alone, including new hinges and handles, can really make a vanity look a lot better. Keep in mind that you can also paint the hardware. Know what you want? Good, let's get to the paint now!

Step 1: Pick, Prep & Prime

Pick: Pick something in your bathroom that the paint store associate can use to match the color you want (if it's not white), or just to assist you in choosing a color from the samples. It may be a chip of the old paint on the cabinet, a towel, or even a toothbrush holder. Once you have your color, you're ready to have them add it to a tint-able, latex, high gloss, or enamel paint.

Here's your shopping list:

  • 1 or 2 quarts (depending on vanity size) high gloss, enamel, or latex paint
  • 1 or 2 quarts of acrylic primer
  • 2 ½ inch flat-sash paint brush
  • 1 ½ inch angle-sash paint brush
  • small (mini) roller, with mohair blend cover and roller pan
  • roll of painters tape
  • small plastic drop cloth (or trash bag)
  • 150 grit sandpaper
  • cabinet and / or drawer hardware
  • spray paint for metal (if painting the hardware)
  • sponge or rags
  • paint stick (stir stick)
  • paint can opener
  • spackling paste (small container)

*Note: You can get oil instead of latex paint if you can stand the smell that comes with it and you can allow it to dry for 3 days. This means no showers and keeping it very dry, no dust. Oil is a stronger and more resilient exterior shell for your vanity, but it has it's downfalls as well, such as the dry time and that it's a bit more difficult to paint with and clean up. Remember to get oil-based paint brushes and thinner for clean up if you do go with oil.

Prep: Now you're home and ready to get started, but before you paint the vanity you will need to do some prep work. If your vanity has drawers, remove them, and if it has doors and you're going to be changing the hinges out, remove those as well. Lay them to the side out of the way. Save the hardware for later in case you're going to paint them or for another project down the road. If you're going to keep the hardware the same, you can leave it on and either try to paint around it, tape it off, or paint over it with the enamel paint.

Next, tape off any part of the countertop and walls so that paint won't get on them. Also, tape your plastic drop cloth or garbage bag to the floor so that it will stay put as you move about the cabinet. As you tape, look for any areas that need filling in. Any holes or damage should be filled in lightly with spackle.

You're ready now to scuff it up a little so that your primer and paint will stick. Use your sandpaper and just lightly sand the vanity, including any spackle you had to use to fill in any damage or holes (once it's dry). Once you're done, take a damp sponge or rag and wipe it down getting all of the grit off. Dry it well or allow it to air dry and then get ready to prime.

Prime Time: The last part of prep is priming. Use your brushes, flat for larger open surfaces, and angled for sides and corners, and put the primer onto the vanity exterior. Remember to open the doors and get the inside of the frame that is going to show through when the doors are shut, and remember to prime any drawers or doors that you removed.

Cover the vanity with two coats of primer. Dry time is usually pretty quick (if you're not using oil), so it shouldn't take very long to do both coats. Make sure the first coat is fully dry though, not tacky, before you add the second coat.

*Note: When painting a bathroom vanity, using a separate primer is best and not a paint with primer included that claims to do it all in one step.

Step 3: Paint

It's now the time you've been waiting for, time to paint! But, again, make sure the primer is totally dry before you add your high gloss, enamel paint coat. You don't want it tacky at all -- you want it fully dry so that it's going to look good and stay on.

This is where your roller now comes in. If it looks like you're going to be able to finish this with one coat of your enamel paint, go ahead and use the mohair blend mini roller. It leaves a bit more smoother finish than a brush will when using a fast-drying enamel. If you think you may need to do it in two coats (usually this is the case), paint the first one on with the brushes and finish with the last coat using the roller. Use the angled-sash brush first to cut in the corners and sides and then roll.

Don't be afraid to use the paint -- you should load the brush or roller well so that it is applied evenly and not less in some spots and more in another. If you have a run, catch it quickly or it'll dry and you'll have to sand it down.

If you've decided to paint the hardware on the cabinet, you can just paint over it now with your brush. Make sure you open the cabinet doors and get all parts of it painted. If you've removed the hardware, take it outside and spray paint it with paint made to cover metal (like Rustoleum).

Finish up your painting by painting any other doors and drawers that you removed during prep.

Step 4: Finish

Allow it to dry overnight or at least 12 hours before you begin cleanup and putting it back together. Then, once its' all dry, you can put any finishing touches onto it, such as adding a special stencil design or special hardware.

Don't forget to take before pictures, otherwise your friends may never believe how you were able to transform your bathroom vanity from bleak and boring to beautiful with just a little paint, TLC and your amazing DIY skills!