Brighten Up Your Vanity with a Little Paint

I was getting tired of my dingy bathroom, but didn’t have the budget to renovate it. However, I did have the money for a can of paint, and with my own labor I was able to brighten up my bathroom a lot by painting my vanity. In my bathroom, the bath vanity is the central feature, and I was able to repaint it a brilliant buttercup yellow, and buy new towels to match. It made a huge difference to me. Now, no more sad and dingy mood first thing in the morning. 

It’s not a difficult job to paint a bathroom vanity, such as the type you can get at Modern Bathroom, but it does take patience. Since I have gone through it once, I can pass on to you some tips, so you don’t make the same mistakes I made. Preparation is the key to a good job. It’s important to take the time to prepare everything before you start applying your new favorite color. 


You’ll need to gather some tools, including a screwdriver for removing the hinges and handles, sandpaper, painter’s tape, a one-inch paintbrush and a three-inch roller, primer and paint and rags. If you plan to install new handles and hinges you may need some wood putty to fill in the old holes. 

First Step

Since bathrooms are generally small, there may not be much maneuvering room inside. If you have a large bathroom, you may not need to remove the doors on the bath vanity, but if the room is small you should remove the doors. This means unscrewing the hinges. In any case, you need to remove the drawers. If you have several, mark them on the bottom, so you put them back in the same place. Take them to a garage or backyard patio where they can be prepared and painted separately. 

You can remove the hardware and hinges and soak them in some warm, soapy water. After they soak for a while, you can scrub them clean. If you have the budget, this is a good time to replace the handles and pulls. It’s not expensive and will give an added boost to your newly painted bathroom vanity. If you plan to install new handles, you should buy them before you begin painting. They will most likely require new holes, so you’ll want to fill in the existing holes with wood filler. After the filler dries, you can prepare it along with the rest of the drawers and doors. Before applying the final coat of paint, you should drill the new holes if necessary.

Second Step

Now that the bath vanity has been taken apart, you can sand it and scrape away any loose or peeling paint. If your bath vanity has an existing clear varnish or painted finish, you should use 220-grit sandpaper. If it has a thin, clear plastic surface, you can use 180-grit sandpaper to roughen the surface, so it will bond with the primer. Be sure to get into all the corners and use a utility knife for scraping. Do the same to the drawers and doors outside. When this is finished, you need to remove all the sanding dust and bits of old paint. You can wipe it away or use a vacuum cleaner. This needs to be done thoroughly. I didn’t clean well enough and found dust in my paint. It meant I had to do that door twice.

Third Step

If your bathroom vanity is touching a wall, you’ll need to put some painter’s tape on the wall to protect it when you paint the edge. You should also tape and cover the counter top, to protect it from paint splashes. If you have a drop cloth you can cover the floor, otherwise an old bed sheet will do. Outside you can put newspaper under the doors and drawers. 

Fourth Step

This is when you apply the primer. Your bath vanity, doors and drawers need at least two coats of primer. For this you need a one inch brush for the small areas along the walls and around any decorative trim on the drawers and doors. Once you have done this, you can use a three inch roller to cover the other surfaces. I recommend that you use a water-based primer. It will dry within two hours, so you can apply two coats the same day. 

The Painting Begins

I finished all of the above in one day and painted the next day. If you start early enough you may be able to finish the whole job in one day, with a little night work. However, it’s better not to be in a hurry, because you’ll have to live with the results, and when you are tired, you may make mistakes. It takes time to repair mistakes and, if you spill your can of paint, extra money. 

I recommend a semi-gloss or satin finish that is easy to clean. You can either get a good-quality acrylic latex paint at your local department store or go to a special paint store and get paint that is specifically designed for cabinets. The surface needs to be meticulously prepared to get good results with glossy finishes, but satin or eggshell finishes hide imperfections better. You may find paint that claims to have the primer in it, but this will not give you the best results. To get a professional-looking job, give your vanity two coats. This will eliminate the possibility of seeing any wood grain or the primer through the paint. 


It is recommended to let your bathroom vanity dry overnight or at least for 12 hours. When the vanity, drawers and doors are completely dry, replace the drawer pulls and door handles. This is the time to install new ones if you can. You now have an upgraded bathroom that is either a better version of its old self or bright and new.


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