How To Paint Bathroom Cabinets

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Painting bathroom cabinets can be intimidating.  

While you are not exactly trying to paint an oil painting, anything that is too sloppy or uneven will have people question what happened when they go in to use your bathroom. 

But don't stress out over the job – even if you're unsure of your artistic prowess, you can still get your bathroom looking good. You can read more about how to paint thermofoil cabinets, how to paint a bathroom, how to paint a finished basement floor and how much paint for a dresser here.

This article will provide you with some tips on how to paint bathroom cabinets, making them look like a professional did great work.

Let's get right into it.

Consideration when painting bathroom cabinets

The good thing with painting bathroom cabinets is there's a lot of room for creativity

This is your bathroom, so make the most out of it. Painting them yourself can be a fun project, and you will learn to love it more with each job done. 

Now consider these tips and get started on that renovation today.

1.  Choose between gloss or matte

There are several ways to paint bathroom cabinets. One of the first things you will want to consider is whether or not you would like to paint them gloss or matte.

If you want a vibrant, glossy finish, then be sure to use oil-based paint as acrylics tend to look dull and matte when applied over another layer of paint. Acrylics are water-based and can be used on any type of surface.

Another important consideration is whether or not the topcoat you apply will have a protective coating in addition to being aesthetically pleasing. If that is your goal, then make sure that all coats of paint are completely dry before adding a topcoat such as a varnish, polyurethane, or lacquer.

Moreover, if you want to protect your cabinets from any spills or damage, then paint them in an off-white or light color. In other words, choose a hue that will blend in with the surroundings.

If it's already white and you are tempted to make it darker, then be careful because this could lead to painting mistakes down the road. Instead of going darker, use decorative accents to suit your taste.

2.   Choose your paint wisely

Most paints can be applied using either brushes or spray cans effectively – unless the surface is very large and requires professional equipment such as a compressor and hoses.

Be sure to follow all instructions on the container for whichever method you decide on using not only for safety reasons but also for best results.

Painting kitchen cabinets cost

The following are some of the things you will need to consider:

A.   Pre-primed or primed, and what type?

Primer is a necessary step in preparing any surface for painting, but choosing which primer to use may be confusing. Paint stores have several options available such as those that are formulated for specific types of surfaces including wood, metal, and plastic.

A general-purpose primer would be one that effectively adheres to a variety of surfaces and has flexible properties. Information on these can usually be found on the container as well as instructions for how much should be mixed.

It’s crucial to always check the instructions before using so you don't end up with too thin or thick of a finish later on.

B.   Test compatibility of paint with surface beforehand

To ensure the adhesive quality of your paint, be sure to do a test on an inconspicuous area beforehand.

In most cases, this will mean using a brush and applying it to a piece of cardboard to check for stickiness and general results before diving in headfirst.

Once you have used it successfully, then you can move forward with confidence that your project will turn out as planned. 

Another option is doing what commercial painters often do: 

scrape off some of the existing paint from the cabinets (using putty or scraper) so that you can test it on half of the cabinet before deciding if you want all of it done or not.

C.   Know which primer/paint combinations work best together

Paints and primer can be procured in various ways, such as a kit at your local hardware store –  here are some general rules of thumb for choosing the right combination for whatever surface you will be painting including those bathrooms cabinets:

  1.   Wood – Paint only with oil-based paints; avoid using water-based paints on any wood surfaces. To ensure an even finish, use 100% paint to prime first (diluted with thinner if necessary) then apply the topcoat once it has dried completely. Oil-based primers should not be used over acrylics because they are translucent and create a dulled look when applied over another layer of paint.
  1.   Acrylics – In the world of paints, acrylics are a non-oily and water-based material that stick to other surfaces easily; for this reason, you should apply an oil-based primer first before applying acrylic paint on top because it will better adhere to the surface. If you want a true finish, then use pure unthinned paint.
  2.   Metal – Any kind of metal can be painted with any type of decorative paint so long as they both have been primed beforehand (again using 100% paint). However, if your goal is to achieve a durable finish, then one coat must be applied at least 24 hours before another coat is put on.
  3.   Plastic – Most plastic surfaces can be painted with acrylics as long as they have been properly primed; however, if the surface is textured then it will be better to use an oil-based primer instead.
  4.   Glass – Use a paint that dries to a matte finish or whatever else best suits your taste and make sure you apply several coats for maximum durability.

3.   Create vertical stripes in your design

No two bathrooms are likely exactly alike and this includes the cabinets whether you have one, two, or three of them.

Some people choose to color coordinate their cabinets with their bathroom countertop colors while others prefer eclectic designs that flow seamlessly into each other (but still look intentional).

There are all kinds of cabinets that can be painted depending on the style you prefer and white stripes are an easy way to add interest, it isn't something you need to follow by any means.

Another option is stenciling (which can be done with or without a template) using either paper or plastic stencils; this allows you to use your imagination in creating a pattern or even come up with something unique like splatters that will make your bathroom stand out from others.

It's truly just a matter of personal preference as well as the budget because if you do opt for stencils then they will probably need to be custom made for whatever design you have in mind. Still, the options are limited only by your imagination so don't hesitate to go all out and let your inner artist shine through.

4.   Don't just paint the front of the cabinet doors

To reduce costs, some people choose to paint only the front side of their cabinets and leave the back untouched; that's a big mistake because it will ultimately affect how well everything blends in terms of color and texture.

How to paint cabinet fronts
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In short, don't skimp on this step, or else you risk having an overall inconsistent look with rough-looking surfaces that do not flow seamlessly into one another.

5.   Change lighting fixtures when painting bathroom cabinets

If you are planning on changing any light fixtures because they have become dented or rusted then now is a good time to make those changes while all of your surfaces are bare and before you begin applying any type of paint.

This will not only give you more options in terms of the look and feel that you want (as well as how much effort is required) but it will also allow you to get rid of those old fixtures once they've been taken down without having to worry about trying to match or remove colors from the surface afterward.

6.   Plan for other things like lighting and hardware

Color coordinating bathroom cabinets with your bathroom countertop is important, but different surfaces require various procedures to achieve the best results.

Lightning can be a big factor when it comes to creating a cohesive design that flows seamlessly into one another even if the surfaces are quite different.

Bathroom cabinet lighting can come in the form of light fixtures underneath or above the vanity itself or even track lighting which tracks along with wire systems inside and outside of cabinets.

There is no right way to go about it other than choosing what best suits your overall design goals.

Hardware also comes into play when trying to coordinate bathroom cabinets with countertops because each surface has its requirements so you will need to choose something that ties everything together while still adding that extra little bit of character to make your bathroom stand out from others.

7.   Use high-quality paint/primer and brushes

If you want good results then don't cut corners on painting bathroom cabinets because all it takes is one wrong move to ruin an entire project (or at least cause a good deal of extra work and frustration in the process).

There are a few things that you will want to make sure of before getting started because not having these items on hand can really slow down or even stop your progress completely.

The first thing is paint quality which may seem obvious but it's worth mentioning because there are many different options when it comes to bathroom cabinet paints the same way there are many brands, colors, and prices.

Knowing what works best for your needs is something that will factor into the decision.

For instance, some people might prefer oil-based paints while others lean more toward latex; however, when it comes to bathrooms both types have their pros and cons; latex paints for example are less expensive and easier to clean up but they tend to peel off more easily while oil-based paints have much better resistance to water damage.

As far as brushes go, there is also a wide array of options so it's important that you choose the best ones for the job; some people prefer flat bristle brushes because they can provide a smoother finish (especially when applying primer) but others swear by using only natural bristles which may be more expensive but they are easy on the hands and produce excellent results thanks to their natural ability to hold lots of paint with little effort on your part.

high quality primer on washroom wall
Image Credit: Kitchen Infinity Photo

Making your paint job look high quality

When it comes to painting bathroom cabinets, the last thing you want is for it to look cheap. The bathroom is one of the most personal areas in your home, and so you are going to want a paint job that makes your bathroom stand out as luxurious no matter what.

Bathroom cabinet paint does not have to cost you a fortune, but it can be a little bit of work getting the best job done. It all starts with choosing the right kind of paint for your bathroom.

Picking the right color is an important first step when painting cabinets. Not only do you want to choose something that will coordinate well with your countertop, but certain colors are better for bathrooms than others. While most people prefer warmer colors like yellow or orange, these can fade faster than other more neutral colors such as black or white.

Final thoughts on how to paint bathroom cabinets

Painting bathroom cabinets is a great do-it-yourself project. Even though it can be intimidating, painting the bathroom cabinets will save you money in the long run.

This article has given you step-by-step instructions on how to paint your kitchen cabinets by making them look as if they were custom-made for your bathroom.

You could easily do this project without any help from a professional contractor or designer. 

Just remember to take your time and have fun with the process of learning how to makeover your home even if it's just a small room like the bathroom.

Dino Paccino

Dino Paccino

Dino is a lifelong writer and home improvement specialist. He enjoys bringing cutting-edge information on home renovation and remodeling to Kitchen Infinity.

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