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April 23, 2019 | home-renovations

Your Bathroom Cabinets: 7 Steps to a Professional Paint Job


If you’re moving into a different home or updating your current one, repainting your bathroom cabinets can be an effective way to update the look of your room and/or pull together a new color scheme.

“If your bathroom vanity has gone dingy with heavy use and exposure to moisture — or it’s just looking dated — paint can come to the rescue by offering an easy way to refresh your storage piece,” advises Manasa Reddigari on BobVila.com. “Yes, you can successfully paint both solid wood or engineered wood, no matter whether the bathroom cabinets are unfinished, sealed or previously painted. Careful surface preparation, meticulous technique and the right products are key to professional-quality results.”

Consider these tips for a cabinetry painting project that will make you proud.

  • Prep for sanding. Remove the doors from your cabinets, then remove and set aside all their hardware (you may wish to number them for easy replacement). If cabinet surfaces are grimy or sticky, you may need to scrub them with an effective de-greaser such as TSP before proceeding further.
  • Fill in gouges. At this point you may wish to fill in nicks and scratches using a putty knife and a spackling compound or wood filler. If you do, be sure the filler is dry and filled spots are leveled off before proceeding further.
  • Rough 'em up. If cabinet surfaces are smooth, you’ll need to create a little roughness to get the new coats to adhere properly. Some experts swear by sanding while others claim a liquid sander deglosser works just as well, while automatically filling in nicks and scratches. If you opt for sanding, 150-grit sandpaper applied by hand or with an orbital sander usually does the trick; heavy varnish may call for 80-grit sandpaper. Your goal is to raise the grain a bit, not entirely strip the surface. To protect your lungs, wear a dust mask and/or sand outside as much as possible. When inside, vacuum up sanding residue afterward so it doesn’t end up in your coats of paint.
  • De-grit surfaces. Brush off sawdust with a stiff brush, then remove remaining dust or grit particles with a tack cloth made for that purpose. Don’t try to substitute a paper towel or regular dry cloth towel.
  • Prime surfaces. This may feel like a waste of time, but primer will boost the evenness, durability and overall protection of your finished surface. Choose a liquid primer intended for your cabinet material; you may wish to increase your color saturation by tinting it to match your paint. Apply one thin coat using a mini foam roller and a foam brush. Let it dry according to label instructions, then sand away any drips using a 220-grit sanding block. Again, wipe away grit and dust with a tack cloth.
  • Apply the paint. Choose a high-quality paint product with an eggshell, semi-gloss or gloss finish to allow for moisture resistance and easier cleanup. Consider a self-leveling paint that automatically smooths out brush marks as it dries, ensuring an even finish. As for tools, experts say a paint sprayer will give you the most professional-looking finish, but a foam roller and paintbrush also work well. Check surfaces again a few minutes after applying each coat in case drips need touching up. Apply at least two coats, following label directions regarding the recommended drying time between each one.
  • Reattach hardware and reinstall all doors and drawers. Now you can appreciate the satisfaction of a job well done and the professional look achieved from following the advice of the pros.

Do you need to hire a professional for some larger home improvement projects?

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