how to paint bathroom cabinets

How to Paint Bathroom Cabinets

If you want to know how to paint bathroom cabinets like a pro, even if you’ve never done it before, this article is for you.

Bathroom cabinets are one of the most used storage pieces in the house. The frequent running showers and heaters also increase their exposure to moisture, further causing wear and tear.

So we are guessing you have a bathroom upgrade on your to-do list, but you can’t afford the high priced renovations and installments.

Did you know that with the right paint, tools, and know-how, you can give your cabinet a whole makeover without breaking neither the bank nor a sweat? I bet you didn’t. Follow this guide to paint your bathroom cabinet like an expert painter.

Read Also: Faux Painting Ideas for Bathroom

Material and Tools You Will Need

1. Bathroom Cabinet Paint (Oil or water-based)

You’ll need a good bathroom cabinet paint like the ones below:

Apart from the paint, other materials needed are:

  • Bucket
  • Plaster knife
  • Rubber gloves
  • Plastic bag
  • Dropcloth or recycled newspaper
  • Bristle brush
  • Fiber paint brushes
  • Protective goggles
  • Paint Roller
  • Painter’s tape
  • Trisodium phosphate powder (TSP)
  • Soft Sponge
  • Sandpaper
  • Compound filler
  • Rag

How to Paint Bathroom Cabinets (Like a Pro)

how to paint bathroom cabinets like a pro

To have a professional finish at the end of your painting project is not such a big deal when you use the right products and techniques. Your choice of products dramatically influences the outcome of your painting project.

Before we begin, here are a few tips on how to paint a bathroom cabinet like a pro that will help you achieve the bathroom cabinet you desire.

On Your Choice of Paint

There are two types of paints to be used for this project; the alkyd or oil-based and water-based or acrylic paint.  Water-based or acrylic paints are easy to work with because they have less chemical smells, easy to dry, and they clean up speedily with water. Water-based or acrylic paints are ideal for painting bathroom cabinets.

Whereas oil-based or alkyd paints, although durable, they have to be used in a well-ventilated space because they emit toxic fumes that can cause adverse health effects when inhaled. They also require a more extended drying period and are not easily cleaned off except with the use of chemical solvents.

Whichever brand you buy depending on what your budget affords, for professional finishing, make sure to purchase the highest quality. Get a quality paint that can level out brush streak as paint sets in.

For the long term, durability gets a paint with a semi-gloss, silky or satin sheen because they are durable, easy to clean and don’t wear off their shine quickly.

In choosing the perfect bathroom cabinet color, choose colors that rhyme with bathroom ornaments.

On Your Choice of Primer

Before you begin your painting project, it is vital to choose a primer that is especially recommended for usage with the type and color of paint you want to use. Oil-based primers, for instance, should be applied alongside with oil-based paints and vice versa

Also, for smooth finishing, it is vital to select the right primer recommended for the type of bathroom surface you wish to paint on (wood, laminate, or metal). Then have it tinted to the color of the paint. The topcoat usually sees through the original finish.

So it is essential to tint the primer to be the same color as the paint. This helps to avoid reapplying multiple layers of coating. For example, a white primer is not suitable for dark paint.

To select the right choice of primer, consult the paint expert at the local paint shop to assist.

Read Also: How To Fix Peeling Paint on Ceiling

On Your Choice of Tools

With the right tools, you will have a painting project free from excess brush marks. For example, if applying an oil-based paint, use a natural fiber roller. If using latex paint, use a synthetic roller.

Painting Bathroom Cabinets (Step by Step)

how to paint bathroom cabinets

Prepare the work area

Remove all belongings from inside the cabinet and store for a time in a labeled plastic bag, for easy identification.

Lay down drop cloths or recycled newspapers to protect the floor and other surfaces from paint splashes.

Take off the hard wares

Before painting, uninstall hardware, doors, remove drawers from the drawer boxes, and any other thing that may obstruct; pulls, knobs, and handles. Use a screwdriver to unscrew the hinges from the cabinet.

Then secure the screws and any other removed piece inside a labeled plastic lock bag.

Label all plastic bags and items for easy recognition and reassembling.

Clean the Surface of the Cabinet

Cleaning the surface to be painted off grease and dirt is very important. Remember to put on protective overalls, safety goggles, and rubber gloves.

Clean surfaces with products like trisodium phosphate (TSP).  Adhere to the product’s directives on the labeling, mixing TSP in cold or warm water as instructed. Apply the water-TSP cleaning solution with a cloth or rag to clean. Afterward, use a dry cloth to wipe off the cleaning solution.

Fill up Holes and Sand

As soon as the cabinet is dry and clean, carefully inspect the cabinet edges, drawers, and doors for holes, gouges, scratches, or dents. Use a plaster knife or wood to fill existing holes with wood or compound filler.

Smoothen out the surface with the plaster knife. Sand the outer parts of the cabinets with a 120- to 220-grit sandpaper to dumb the cabinet and smooth down any blemishes.

Sanding will assist the paint and primer to bond to the surface of the cabinet. Using a damp or tack cloth, clean the surfaces to remove sand dust.

Test Paint and Prime

Apply painters tape on surfaces like walls or mirrors and countertops to protect them from paint splatter. Before painting, it is vital to try the color of the primer and paint in an inconspicuous area, preferably behind the door of a wooden cabinet.

This test will allow you to see firsthand the possible turn out of your project, more essentially, that your choice of paint will bond to the cabinet. If the outcome of the test area is not pleasant, you can always consult the expert at your local retail shop for aid.

To apply primer, turn a portion into a paint tray, then using a roller, sprayer, or paintbrush, apply the primer evenly in layers onto the surfaces of the cabinet, drawers, doors, and edges and other exposed surfaces. If using a paintbrush, paint smoothly and evenly to prevent brush strokes.

Leave the primer to set and dry thoroughly, as directed by the producer.

Paint Cabinet

To begin painting your cabinetry, turn a portion of paint into the paint tray. Use a paintbrush or roller to paint the frame, cabinet boxes, drawer fronts, edges of the cabinet boxes and the doors. You also want to paint cabinets in a light coat and layers.

Allow the paint to dry between coats and intervals before the final coating. Leave for the recommended cure time by the manufacturer before use.

Read Also: Painted vs Stained Cabinet


Once the painted cabinet has dried completely, reattach the new or old hardware. Attach drawer fronts, screw-in door hinges, and fix all other removed items back into a form using the labeling earlier made.

How to Paint Bathroom Cabinets Without Sanding


A liquid deglosser eliminates glossy finishing on cabinets surfaces and enhances the adhesion of the new paint on the surface.

In this method, in addition to the above-listed materials, you will need;

A deglosser

A lint-free rag

Painting a Bathroom Cabinet without Sanding (Step by Step)

  • Uninstall all hardware ( drawers and doors)
  • Protect floor and walls surfaces with painter’s tape, drop cloths, or recycled newspapers.
  • Don on personal protective equipment.
  • Using a cleaning solution like TSP and water, clean all cabinet surfaces and frames.
  •  According to the manufacturer’s instructions, using a lint-free rag apply a deglosser on all surfaces to be painted.
  • Using a paint roller, apply a light coat of primer evenly on the surface of the cabinet, drawers, doors, and edges, and other exposed surfaces. Leave the primer to set and dry thoroughly, as directed by the manufacturer.
  • Once the primer is completely dried, according to the manufacturer’s instructions, apply a paint coat evenly in thin layers, ensure to allow dry time in between coats according to the product’s instructions.
  • Once completely dried. Reattach the removed hardware.

Read Also: How to Paint Your Garage Floor

Do you need special paint for bathroom cabinets?

The best paint to use on bathroom cabinets is an alkyd based paint. This cures to a super hard finish (similar to oil based paints!), which is what you need in high traffic areas. Oil based paints are going out of favor. These days, latex paints are made just as well and are much easier to work with!

What paint finish to use on bathroom cabinets?

Overall, the best finish for painting cabinets is semi-gloss. It ensures maximum durability and is ideal for high moisture areas like bathrooms and basements.

What kind of paint do you use to paint a bathroom vanity?

Oil, latex, and chalk-based are generally the best paint choices for bathroom vanities. Oil paint has a hard finish that protects against scratching and chipping, but it has a strong odor that can be difficult to work with. Latex paints are water based, which means they’re less smelly and much easier to clean.

Do you have to prime bathroom cabinets before painting?

Shellac or oil-based primers are recommended for bathroom cabinets. Prime all doors and drawer fronts using the same method. As directed, allow it to dry and apply a second coat as needed. Lightly sand and wipe clean.

Can I use latex paint on bathroom cabinets?

Bathroom Cabinet Paint Options

Water-based (latex) paint dries quickly and can be cleaned up with water. Use a semi-gloss, satin, or gloss paint; these are durable and easy to clean. For durability and quality, look for a 100 percent acrylic enamel formula.

Is satin or semi-gloss better for bathroom cabinets?

They argue, “Satin is more durable and shinier than eggshell and is ideal for a bathroom. It’s also easy to clean. Semi-gloss is even tougher and a cinch to clean. It can be used on the walls, ceiling, trim, and vanity—if you don’t mind a shinier look.”

How much does it cost to paint bathroom cabinets?

The average cost to paint bathroom cabinets is $7 to $15 per square foot or $120 to $240 to paint an ordinary 48″-wide bathroom vanity. Prices depend on the condition of the vanity, the width, and the method of painting required.

Should I use semi-gloss or satin cabinets?

While satin finishes tend to be fairly durable in high traffic areas, they’re not as durable and versatile as semi-gloss against mildew and mold. Kitchen cabinets in high moisture environments can, therefore, do better with semi-gloss paints.

Is it better to paint or stain bathroom vanity?

If you’re in search of a clean, modern look, paint your cabinets. Painted cabinets appear very smooth, hiding the grain of the wood. If you prefer a more natural, classic look, you should stain your cabinets. Staining your cabinets highlights the natural grain of the wood and offers a more traditional aesthetic.

What is the best kind of paint to use in a bathroom?

The best type of paint for bathrooms is a satin, semi-gloss, or glossy finish with a mildew-resistant additive. Ideally, your chosen paint should last a while. However, if you’re set on a flat or matte finish, there are options for you too. Don’t forget to clean and prime walls before painting for the best results.


Look at that! How easy it is to perform an upgrade on your favorite cozy room with the right materials and tools, know-how, and of course, guide without breaking a single sweat.

Hopefully, if you have been contemplating or procrastinating on carrying out this project, we hope that this step by step guide on how to paint bathroom cabinets has provided you with all the information you need to give your bathroom that professional look you have always envisioned.

Have you checked this project off your to-do list? Do not forget to share your experience with us.

Happy Painting!