Painted Bathroom Cabinets
August 20, 2013
The cliché “better late than never” applies to my hall bathroom and the necessary paint job I’ve been putting off for years. Over the weekend I finally finished painting them and installing the second half of the tile backsplash that’s been sitting in a neat little pile just waiting for me to gather the energy.
These bathroom cabinets sit behind the door in our hall/guest bathroom. They’ve been this honey stain color since we moved in in 2000. I love wood cabinets dark and light, but I’m not a fan of this particular stain. With all the home improvement we’ve done in the past few years, this space always seemed to get the back burner treatment until last week.
We pulled out the old cultured marble countertops and installed wood ones with an ogee edge last November and ever since the wall required patching and new paint as a result. In addition to paint, I installed a backsplash and added a more substantial crown to the top to balance the weight of the uppers with the lowers and give the cabinets a more contemporary look.
I had just enough (12 sheets) of this mother-of-pearlish mosaic tile waiting to finish the backsplash on this side from my lucky tile purchase at Lowes that we used to tile the wall behind the sink vanity on the opposite side.
You can see a peek of the old stained cabinets in the mirror’s reflection from this photo in February. The cabinets I finally painted last weekend sit behind the door and opposite the sink vanity when you enter this divided bathroom. The toilet and shower are beyond and we like the fact that the spaces are separated by a door for added privacy.
Painting bathroom cabinets is an easy DIY process and you’ll end up with professional looking results if you use good products and follow the right steps.
What You’ll Need to Paint: Medium grit sanding wedge; deglosser or liquid sander, adhesion primer (spray and/or brush), water based enamel paint; quality 2” angled paintbrush, foam roller, tray for roller, 2 or 3 foam chip brushes.
First remove all hardware and hinges, set them aside for reassembling cabinets when the painting is complete. Start by lightly sanding your cabinets to remove debris. No need to sand away the varnish, just scuff it up for one minute to get it clean, then follow up with a wipe of a liquid sander or deglosser, which preps your surface for primer. If you’re filling old hardware holes, use a wood filler before you prime.
Most bonding primers don’t require you to sand down to the raw wood, they will bind to wood or even laminate surfaces, but it helps to prep first for the greatest adhesion.
For doors I prefer the Zinsser Cover Stain spray version of primer and use it in a ventilated area outdoors for a smooth finish. Always light coats to avoid drips!
For cabinet frames and shelves I find a foam rollers works best. Roll on the liquid primer formula, and fill in any corners or gaps with a foam chip brush. (I don’t like cleaning oil based primer off my good paintbrushes so I use the foam versions and toss them at the end.) I rarely sand after, but if you find drips or uneven spots, then sand those away with your sanding wedge.
Once the primer is dry, apply two thin coats of enamel paint to the cabinets, drawers, and doors. For bathroom and kitchen cabinets, I prefer the BM Advance water based alkyd enamel paint in semi gloss or gloss. This paint acts like an oil based paint, with a longer open time and it also levels well which reduces visible brush strokes. The color I chose for these cabinets is ‘Soft Chamois’.
Another tip for doors, I discovered these painting pyramids earlier this year at the RustOleum stain event – a simple but ingenious tool! They prop up your doors or wood or whatever you’re adding paint or stain to so that you can apply it to the edges evenly then flip your piece easily to do another coat.
We added taller crown molding to the tops of the upper cabinets, following tips from Layla and Kevin’s kitchen molding project. I bought a 1 x 8” birch board, a small length of trim to hide the gap, and a piece of fancy crown molding. Matt supported the birch board with “L” brackets attached to the cabinet and walls and attached the crown and trim with a brad nailer.
The new taller crown was primed and painted like the cabinets and the walls were painted a paler shade of blue with a hint more gray in it (‘Tranquility’) by Benjamin Moore.
The chrome pulls are from Lowes, the same as the pulls on the opposite sink side.
I also added the mosaic tile backsplash between the new painted cabinets (see below for a how-to post). So long honey stain cabinets, hello freshly painted white ones with tall crown molding!
Matt and I were talking the other day about how long it’s taken to “finish” the house. It’s been six years since we began the remodel – we’ve been taking it slow and sticking to our budget with no regrets about how much time we’ve taken to get it done. Finally, I can say my hall bathroom cabinets are finished – better late than never. :)
Past posts about this bathroom: