Over the last 30 years or so, builders have consistently installed oak vanities in bathrooms. Although there is nothing wrong with them, over time, they just start to look a little "blah." An easy weekend project to update the appearance of your bathroom is to give your old oak vanity a new paint job. Like any paint job, it requires some preparation and patience, but the end result is you have a great looking new bathroom at little more than the cost of a can of paint. Here's how to paint your bathroom vanity.
Step 1 - Remove Drawers, Doors, and Hardware
Since most bathrooms are small, you just won't have any room to work in the bathroom itself so start by removing the vanity drawers and doors and taking them right out of the room. Be sure to mark the bottom edges of the doors to indicate where each came from. Remove all the hardware and hinges and drop them into some warm, soapy water to soak prior to giving them a good cleaning.
Step 2 - Sand and Clean
Scrape any loose or peeling paint off the doors and drawer fronts, then use 150-grit sandpaper to smooth the exposed surfaces. Get rid of the sanding dust using a vacuum or tack cloth followed by wiping with a clean dry cloth.
Back in the bathroom, sand the exposed surfaces of your vanity with the 150-grit sandpaper then, here again, vacuum or use the tack cloth to get rid of sanding dust.
Step 3 - Protect the walls and floor
If your vanity is touching a wall, use painter's tape to protect the walls and edge of the countertop from paint splashes where they come in contact with the vanity. Put a drop cloth on the floor.
Step 4 - Prime the Surface
Before you actually begin to paint your vanity, apply 2 coats of primer to the drawers, doors, and vanity itself. Use a 1-inch brush to cut in along the walls as well as around any decorative trim on your doors and drawers, then use a small 3-inch roller to cover the rest of the surfaces. A water-based primer is a good choice since it will dry in 1 to 2 hours.
Step 5 - Paint
Finally, it's time to paint. Choose a satin or a semi-gloss finish that will look good and wipe clean easily. A good quality acrylic latex paint will work fine, or you can buy special paint at paint stores designed specifically for cabinets. You'll likely need to give your vanity at least 2 coats to eliminate any "burn through" and totally change your vanity color and eliminate the "wood look."
Step 6 - Replace Hardware and Reassemble
If you want to give your vanity a totally updated look, changing the drawer pulls and door handles is a quick and easy way to do that. While you have the drawers and doors off the vanity (but before you prime and paint them), fill the existing holes with wood filler and allow it to dry. After priming and painting, mount the new pulls and handles for a brand new looking vanity.