How to Paint a Bathroom Vanity like a Professional

Hello!  Today I’m here to teach you how to paint a bathroom cabinet/vanity like a pro! I just completed my kid’s bathroom vanity and I am so happy with how it turned out. This was my 5th bathroom vanity that I have painted and I have finally found a product and system that completely rocks!

How to Paint Bathroom Cabinetry like a Pro

This was by far the best experience and since practice makes perfect better I want to save you the trouble of doing it the less effective ways and allow you opportunity to get the outcome you desire the first time you try! For years I have been trying to find a paint product that gives the look, feel, and durability of being professionally done. I’ve wanted a smooth, glossy, no brush mark look and a smooth, hard enameled feel.

I have experimented with lots and lots of paints products and methods but I never felt any of them were “the one”. So, guys, I have found “the ONE” (and no this post is not sponsored in any shape or form) and I’m so excited to share it with you! I mentioned in this post that I have a new found love for Behr’s Premium Plus Ultra Paint for painting walls.

Well, I decided to go to Home Depot and ask them if they had any Behr products for painting furniture and cabinetry. After some discussion the worker introduced me to a product called Alkyd Semi-Gloss Enamel. It basically performs like an oil-based paint but without the horrible smell and difficult clean up. I LOVE this product! It is so easy to work with and has fabulous results.

Behr Alkyd Semi-Gloss Enamel

After getting home with my gallon of paint I realized they had given me the wrong color! I had asked for Behr “Pesto Green” but they had given me a darker green color called “Seaweed Salad” which I can assure you is as disgusting looking as it’s name suggests (as shown above).

Because these days time is not on my side I decided to take the chance and mix in some white semi-gloss paint I had on hand instead of going back and demanding nicely asking for the right color.

Thankfully it worked! Phew! So once you have your alkyd Semi-gloss enamel in the color you desire you will need these other important supplies listed below.

painting supplies

I have painted cabinets with the doors on and also with taking them off. This time I kept them on and had no problems. I just kept the door open as you can see below and I kept the door knobs on until I was all done so that I could use them as I handled the doors during the painting process.

Painting Bathroom Cabinetry2

Sorry for the bad quality Ipad picture

I used the foam roller for basically 90% of the job. However there are certain areas the foam roller won’t work well like when working around the hinges and along the edges of the cabinets.

How to Paint Cabinets

Painting Side of Bathroom Cabinets_edited-1

For these areas I used a quality foam brush. This is also where the painters tape comes in handy. You will likely want to tape along the wall where the cabinetry meets the wall so that you have a nice clean line.

You may have noticed from the photos above that I didn’t use any primer! In the painting world that’s equivalent to going out and about without your underwear on!

Instead of using a primer I used a liquid deglosser. The liquid deglosser prepares the surface for painting. I just applied it with old rag. In this situation I had absolutely no negative consequences of not using a primer first. However, most people do use a primer so if you want to play it safe put on a good primer (such as Zinsser) and your underwear while your at it.:-)

Warning:  If you choose to use a primer (again I never have)  then be sure to use an oil based primer and NOT a water based one.  This paint is  a ‘man-made’ oil based paint and will only adhere well to a primer that is oil based!

I ended only having to do 2 coats even without priming first. The first coat wont look pretty but don’t let that scare you. Take time (about 4 hours) between coats and when you are completed let the cabinets remain untouched for at least 24 to 48 hours (leave the cabinet doors open during this time).

This product can take up to 7 days to harden completely depending on the humidity and temperatures. But harden it does! I tested a spot on the inside of the door with my fingernails. I tried to leave a mark but it didn’t.

Lastly, whenever I have painted cabinets a lighter color than they were before there is often a dark piece of vinyl trim at the base of the cabinetry (as shown below). It really shows up a lot more after the cabinetry has been painted and takes away from the desired professional, custom appearance

Painting Bathroom Vanities

The solution that has worked great for me is using an approx. 3 inch piece of trim such as a baseboard, painting it the same color of the cabinetry, and then securing it over the existing vinyl one.

cabinet trim Painting cabinet trim

Makes a big difference, doesn’t it??

How to Paint a Bathroom Vanity

So that is how you paint a bathroom vanity like a pro! If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask!

How to Paint a Vanity

Next week I hope to be able to reveal the kids/guest bathroom makeover. Today you got a sneak peak of the painted cabinets and new flooring.:-) The new floors are vinyl by the way! More details later!:-)

UPDATE:  The makeover is done!  You can check it out HERE.  I think you will love it!:-)


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    • Thanks, Mariann! Nope, the liquid deglosser does the same thing as sanding does so no need to sand with it. If you don’t use a deglosser than I would lightly sand the surface beforehand. Thanks for your question!:-)

        • Hi, Jane! Yep, you can. I used a deglosser instead of sanding before painting my kitchen cabinets. If your cabinets have a lot of wood grain though you may want to do a couple thin coats of primer after you degloss.

    • Hi Nancy! You are right it was not the dreaded oak! :-). It was cherry and already a smooth surface. I have dealt a lot with oak in the past and I am confident that you would get the same great results by first lightly sanding or deglossing it, then doing one or 2 coats of a primer (ZINSSER is a reliable brand), and then 2 coats of the Behr alkyd semigloss enamel!

  1. I will have to try this. I love the look of oil based paint but it is such a pain and I always get so sad when I find brushstrokes! Your boys are lucky to have such a nice bathroom 🙂

    • Hey, Jennifer! Try the foam roller trick, after two coats there were no brush strokes! Ha, I don’t think my boys have cared much about the makeover. I enjoy being in there a lot more though!:-)

  2. The cabinets look fantastic! We picked up some All Surface Enamel from Sherwin-Williams a couple of weeks ago. We plan to use it on a bookshelf. Seeing pictures of your great looking cabinets makes me want get out my paint roller. 🙂 I look forward to seeing pictures of the rest of your bathroom!

  3. Oh my! This is lovely and inspires me to tackle my bathroom cabinets. I’ve pinned your steps so I can go back to them when my bravery level increases a notch. I honestly have the painting skills of a three-year-old. My brush stroke fear is right up there with my arachnophobia.

  4. I love this project! I’ve been wanting to paint the vanity in our guest bath. It is a builder-grade cabinet with the vinyl covering on the side panel. Am I able to use this paint to cover this part or would you recommend replacing this panel with a nice piece of plywood? Thanks for the inspiration and help!

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    • Margaret, that is an excellent question!! I will try to answer it the best I can. I am so happy with how the rustoleum transformation kit turned out on my kitchen cabinets that I probably would use that system again in the kitchen even though it requires more steps. The paint I used on the vanity is super durable and would hold up well in the kitchen BUT it has such a glossy finish and I don’t think I would like my kitchen cabinets to look lacquered. With the rustoleum kit I was able to choose how much sheen/gloss the kitchen cabinets Got. I chose to give the kitchen cabinets only 1 coat of the protective gloss. If I wanted it glossier I could have done more coats. I love the lacquered/ high gloss look for certain things like vanities and islands but for some reason not as much for kitchen cabinets. If someone preferred a lacquered look for their kitchen cabinets then I think the Behr alkyd paint work fabulously for it! One could always paint the inside of one of their kitchen cabinet doors to see if they mind the glossiness of the behr alkyd in the kitchen. They would just open the door all the way to see how the lights in the room bounce off of it. I hope this makes sense!:-). Thanks for the great question, Margaret!

  6. So glad to read this as I just bought Behr Alkyd Semi Gloss for my kitchen cabinets. In the UK we always used oil based paints for cabinetry so to come to Canada and find everything is water based/acrylic I was a little sceptical about how it would hold up. Thanks for this post!

    • That is a great question, Carolyn! I don’t have a definite answer because I’ve never tried it but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. I would lightly sand it first and make sure the surface is clean before painting. Then I would start with an inside cabinet to make sure you liked how it went on. I can imagine it would wrk well but don’t know for sure. If you end up trying it out I would LOVE to hear how it goes!! Thanks, Carolyn!

  7. Thanks for sharing your info. Your cabinet looks beautiful. My husband is not thrilled that I want to paint our vanity. We are in process of repainting the entire bathroom and want to give the vanity a new look, it currently has just a natural finish.

  8. Thank you for your post. We are looking to do this exact project as an affordable way to spruce up our bathroom. Can I ask what color your bathroom walls are? I really like your color and would like to paint the walls as well. Would you recommend a neutral color on the walls with a colored piece like this? We’ll paint a similar size vanity (oak) and a set of upper cabinets and so there will be quite a bit of color in these two pieces.

    • Hi, Andrea! The blue color on the wall is Benjamin Moore Buxton Blue (but you can ask Lowes or Home Depot to make it for less). I think if your floors, towels, and other decor accents are neutral you could get away with blue walls and green cabinets. OR you could go with a neutral wall and add more color with through the decor accents.

  9. Love your vanity. I’m planning on doing this real soon In my daughter’s bathroom. One question I have is how did you secure the baseboard to the vanity?

    • Hi Kayla! Yes, you can ask for this enamel paint to be in any color you want! For example, if there is a Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Willams color you really like you can go to Home Depot and ask to get that color in the Behr enamel and they will be able to do it because they have a computer that knows all the formulas for each paint color, even others brands. Cool, isn’t it!?:-)

  10. I bought some of the deglosser but i’m not sure if it’s doing it’s job. what does the cabinet look like when you use it? can you tell that you’ve used it? i was expecting a drastic difference and the cabinet looks basically the same so i’m worried it didn’t work!

  11. Hey Tamara. I am planning to do this in a week or so. Silly question: with the drawers. Do you paint the sides and insides of the drawers? Do you paint the inside of the cabinets? I have seen it different ways. Thanks so much!

    • Hey Laurin! Not a silly question at all. My cabinets were cherry on the outside and a light pine color on the inside. I didn’t mind the light wood tone so I didn’t paint over the insides or drawer sides. If it was a dark color on the inside of the vanity and drawers I would probably have painted the insides too. It’s just whatever you prefer to do. Let me know if you have any more questions!:-)

  12. I plan on painting my bathroom vanity a turquoise color and then using a tinted glaze( never done this before) Do you think the glaze will work with this product you used?

  13. You said you mixed in some semi gloss you had lying around the house to change the color of the mistinted dark green paint but was that alkyd paint as well I hope? I would hate to imagine what might happen if you mixed latex with an alkyd (oil ) based paint or even worse if you mixed some paint from another company such as Benjamin Moore with the Behr paint and had a strange chemical reaction as the chemicals in the 2 brands are different.

    • Hi Aaron, thanks for your concern. I mixed some white Behr Semi-gloss latex with the seaweed salad Behr alkyd paint to lighten up the paint color. Behr’s alkyd paint is not oil-based so I had absolutely no problems with mixing the two paints. I’m SO happy with how it turned out!!:-)

  14. Your cabinet looks beautiful!
    My previous owner painted the white master bath with a brown paint before i bought the house. So it’s not a “wood” cabinet, and it already has “1” coat of paint.

    Do you think I can follow the same steps?
    Deglosser and Behr paint?
    I’m anxious to work on a master bath facelift!

    • Hi Sue! I don’t think the deglosser is for deglossing paint so this is what I would do–if the painted cabinets are super glossy I would lightly sand with sandpaper before painting the Behr enamel. If the cabinet paint is not glossy at all or just mildly glossy then I would just go straight to the Behr enamel without deglosser or sanding. It MAY require an extra coat or two. Let me know how it turns out! Excited for you!!

  15. Hi Tamara. Your cabinets look beautiful! Do you think it would work on cabinets that are pressboard? The edges are a bit frayed but I can’t afford to change out the cabinet. I would also like to know about the clean up. Is it the same as oil paint?

    • Hi Dana! To be honest I’ve never heard of pressboard. Is it similar to particle board? If so yes this product will work. The paint cleaned up just like latex. It is not an oil enamel so no bad smells or clean up!:-)

  16. I love your vanity! You inspired me to paint my boys bathroom vanity too (I had been thinking about doing it for a long time). I used the info you posted and it turned out great! No brush marks! I had read a lot about painting cabinets and most recommend Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore, so I was skeptical using Behr. I’m so glad I did! I even got by using the small sample size of paint instead of the quart or gallon. It was enough for 2 coats (it’s a small vanity 1 door, 4 drawers). An added benefit is the sample sized paint at Home Depot costs less than $3.00, total project less than $20. I opted for the satin instead of semigloss because I didnt want it too shiny. Thanks for the info.

    • That is awesome, Brandy!! Thanks so much for taking the time to share your results! I didn’t realize you could get the enamel in Satin. That is helpful to know!!:-)

  17. I have been waiting for more information on the beautiful flooring. Did I miss it? Please give complete information on the material, brand and pattern. I love this — and am also considering painting my bathroom vanity. Thanks!

  18. I have oak cabinets. Do I need to sand them first? Also, the panel on th end of the cabinet is not wood like the rest of the cabinet. It might be laminate covered particle board. Can I paint over this?

    • Hi Jeanette! I haven’t tried this product on oak cabinets yet. I would suggest lightly sanding or deglossing and then trying the paint out on an inside cabinet to see how well the paint hides the grain of the wood. IF it isn’t hiding it enough you could use a coat of primer first on the whole cabinetry before painting! Let me know if you have any other ?’s!

  19. Hi Tamara,

    I have a question, what kind of wood did you work on? Usually the cabinets that are in most homes as cabinetry and vanity are that of compressed wood. Is this what you have?

  20. Wow! I love the color and I love how well you explained it all! You have me all but heading out right now to buy some to do my kitchen 🙂 My one question is have you heard or have personal experience with this paint versus Rustoleum for cabinets? I was leaning in that direction for my cabinets but now you have me rethinking it. 🙂 Thanks!

  21. So happy I found your advice on painting the bathroom cabinets since I have three of them that I wanted to paint but was afraid of messing them up. My cabinets appear to be composit material. Will it work on them. Yours are really beautiful!

  22. Hi there! I saw your post after I already bought behr paint and primer in semi gloss. Not enamel. Have you ever tried that type of paint on a vanity in a bathroom and did it hold up ok? Scared to start. Lol

    • Hi, Sam! I haven’t tried that type of paint on cabinetry. If you haven’t opened it they might let you return it if you tell them you got the wrong type of paint? If you go ahead and use what you have just be gentle with it for the first few weeks as latex paints take longer to cure. Best of luck!

  23. I love your makeover! I am getting ready to paint some furniture that has already been painted white. I love the smooth look of the cabinets. Do you or have you ever tried the Behr Alkyd paint on furniture? One of the pieces I’m doing is a cabinet that will hold a TV so I’m afraid regular satin paint may scratch off.

    • Hi Genna, I haven’t used this on furniture yet but I can only imagine it would work the same. If you want a smooth, glossy, tough as nails paint on it I think this would work great! I would love to hear how it goes!!

  24. I went to Home Depot today to buy the Alkyd paint. The lady in the paint department said the only alkyd paint they carry is the oil base. What is the specific name of the paint you used?

    • Hi Peggy, the paint container says Behr Interior/Exterior Alkyd Semi-Gloss Enamel. Hmmm, I would be very surprised if it’s an oil base paint–it cleans up easily and doesn’t have the bad odor. Let me know if you want me to email you a pic of the paint can so you could show it to the Home Depot person.

  25. What prep would you recommend if the cabinets are painted and if the doors have a plastic like coating? Because the paint drys so hard would it suitable for stairrails?

  26. Hi Tamera. Have you any thoughts on the old 1980’s melamine cabinets? I loved them but ow they are so dated! I got an estimate for replacing just the doors but it was way out of my budget. The cabinets are almond color with wood trim : (

  27. great job! I have a bathroom vanity that has bubbled and peeled off at the end from water damage. Should I just sand it? I am sure it is not wood, just particle board. I also wonder what color would be a good neutral color? Thanks so much!

    • I haven’t, Chip, I’ve mostly painted oak and cherry cabinets! If you are concerned with the stain coming through you may want to go ahead and apply a thin coat of an oil-based primer first just to be on the safe side. Or you could test it out without the primer on the inside of a cabinet door.:-)

  28. If you leave the doors on to paint, how do you get in the space on the cabinet frame that is overlapped by the door? I’ve painted cabinets before and have always removed the doors but if you have a trick to getting to that narrow strip that seems untraceable, I’d love to hear it! I’m getting ready to do my kids’ bathroom vanity and I’m so excited to try this alkyd paint. Thanks for the tutorial!

  29. Hello I will be paining bathroom cabinets for our new home kind of scared never done this before what exact products do I need from Home Depot 🙂 i don’t plan on taking the cabinets out though.

    • Hi Sheena! I’m excited for you to paint your cabinets. You can totally do it! You will need a foam roller (for cabinets), a foam brush, Behr’s Alkyd Semi-gloss enamel paint (in the color of your choice), painters tape, a painter’s pan to pour the paint into and roll the roller. Sand paper to lightly sand OR a liquid deglosser to prep the cabinets before painting. I think that’s it! The third photo in the post shows most of the supplies incase you want to see what the supplies look like, You’ve totally got this!

  30. It looks beautiful. I am inspired to tackle my bathroom. The doors are stained a dark brown but I would love to paint it to give it a fresh look. Would your instructions work on surface that is stained and has I think a finish over the stain. Thanks

  31. Hi Tamara,
    Thanks for you reply. As I mentioned my cupboards are a really dark stain. I was wondering if it will be too much to do these steps: use a de glosser, sand, then do a coat of the oil based zinzer. I am concerned because it is dark will I have to do more prep before the paint goes on. What do you think?
    What steps should I take and in what order do you recommend I proceed
    Thanks and have a great day

    • Hi Nalenee. If you are wanting to take extra precautions you can but I don’t think it is necessary. The extra steps you mentioned above would work great. The deglosser and light sanding does the same thing but if you want to do them both you can. You can degloss, then lightly sand, then add a thin coat of oil based primer and then you should be good to go!:-) Let me know if any other questions arise!

  32. Hi again Tamara and thanks for your feedback. It is very much appreciated.

    Please let me know if it will be okay if I do all the prep work on my cupboards example the de glossing, sanding weeks before I prime and paint. The reason I ask is that we are having new floors installed and also having my bathtub reglazed. I want to get all of the messy work like sanding etc done before the glazing is done. After the floors and bathtub is done I dont want to do any messy work. The last project I want to do is just the painting of the walls and the cupboards.
    Will this be okay.
    Sorry to bother you. I truly appreciate your help.
    Have a great day.

    • Hi, Rhonda, thanks for your question. I think I’ve only used the high density kind of foam rollers. The benefit to them is that they apply a very thin coat resulting in a smoother finish. The bad side is that a thin coat means more coats are needed. It’s worth the smoother finish to me!:-) Hope this helps!

  33. Hello Tamara! My husband and I are buying our very first home! I’ve been burning up Pinterest looking for painting ideas. I am very intrigued at this post, and excitedly planning painting one of the bathroom vanities, and considering the kitchen cabinets also. My question is, now after two years of use, how is your vanity paint job holding up? Would 3 coats be better than two? Thoughts??

    • Hi, Charlene, the cabinets have held up perfectly (and the kids aren’t easy on them)!:-) For the color I painted them 2 coats was the perfect amount of coverage! If you are painting a dark wood white you may need 3 coats but for me 2 coats has done the job. Thanks for your questions!

  34. I’m going to paint my vanity as well. I have painted a dresser before. I loved how it turned out but it didn’t take long and there was a couple places that started chipping. I used a deglosser before i painted. I’m concerned that when the vanity doors get opened and closed the areas around the hinges will chip. What are your thoughts?

    • Hi Robin I can understand your concern as I’ve had chipping with other products. I haven’t had any chipping with the furniture or cabinets I’ve painted with this product though. I’d give it a try!:-)

  35. I followed your directions exactly and my master bathroom vanity is beautiful!!! I never thought I could paint the enamel vanity with such perfect results. I have now painted the woodwork and doors in the master bedroom which also look just as perfect. Thank you so much!

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  38. Well I am on my way to get the paint you recommended. I plan on accomplishing my mission tomorrow. I am excited. I will get back to you eventually, hopefully with good news. Thank you for sharing all your tips. You vanity looks amazing. Wish me luck.

      • Well I followed your directions to a T and the results are stunning. One question though, I thought I saw a statement where you said the paint would be even more durable in a week or two after drying. Am I correct? Also I had to purchase a gallon since this type of paint did not come in quart size. I have a lovely blue green color and I am sure I will find something else to use it on. Even if I don’t, the results were well worth the price of a gallon of paint. I want to thank you and recommend your paint project directions to everyone who is not happy with their vanity. It sure gave by bathroom the pizzazz I was looking for with spending the big bucks. Soooo happy!!!

        • Yep, Arlene, I found that it took about a week til the paint cured all the way. I wish they sold that particular paint in a quart size too! I had a ton left over as well. So happy to hear you are loving your “new” vanity!:-)

  39. Hi, just wanted to comment here since this post convinced me to try this paint. I panicked though when I saw your warning about the oil based primer as I had already primed in water based (killz). I checked the website and the can at the store before purchasing and the recommended primer per Behr is their water based primer. I’m going to give a shot, fingers crossed.