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Painting a Bathroom Vanity: Complete Step-by-Step Instructions

Even if your bathroom doesn’t need a full remodel, sometimes you’re in the mood for a quick refresh. Switching up décor and accessories is simple enough, but what if you want to make a bigger impact? Painting a bathroom vanity is an easy DIY way to elevate your space.

With a little patience and preparation, you can complete this project over a weekend. Dive into these step-by-step instructions that will get even a first-timer through painting a bathroom vanity!

Bathroom vanity pained navy with marble countertop.  Painting bathroom vanity


1. Selecting Products

Before you can start any DIY project, you need to have the right materials. For painting a bathroom vanity, there are a few must-haves and several “nice-to-haves.” Here are the must-haves:

  • Paint: This may seem obvious, but it’s important to select a paint specifically formulated for the unique environment found in your bathroom. A paint kit has what you need in one convenient package.
  • Drop cloth: Though you can buy drop cloths, it is also fairly easy to hack one out of an inexpensive shower curtain liner, old sheet, or towel.
  • Brush: Depending on the details of your bathroom vanity, you may need brushes of assorted sizes to achieve proper coverage.
  • Roller: A roller set (this one comes with covers and a tray) will allow you to quickly and evenly roll paint onto the larger surfaces of your vanity.

With regard to the “nice-to-haves,” if you plan to take on future DIY painting projects, consider investing in higher-quality tools. Check out this detailed breakdown.

2. Sanding and Cleaning

To ease the rest of your project, if there are handles or other hardware on the bathroom vanity, remove all of them before starting. Since you’re taking them off, this is also a good opportunity to clean them thoroughly. Or even repaint or refinish them to really enhance their look.

Your vanity may not appear dirty, but you will at least want to wipe the surface area with mild soap and water. If the bathroom vanity has blemishes or old paint, sand it down as well as you can before treating it with a pre-paint cleaner.

Allow it to dry completely, and clean up any debris from sanding before moving to the next step.

3. Set-up

Now that your vanity is prepped and the space is clean, take a few minutes to set up your work area. Generally, bathrooms offer little free space, so make the most of your room.

Place your drop cloth in front of the vanity. Any tools, paint, and items that become soiled as you work should also go on the drop cloth.

If you are concerned about painting “outside the lines,” use a good painter’s tape to protect the spaces along the floor, wall, trim, etc. If you’ve decided not to tape, we recommend keeping a roll nearby if you encounter a tricky spot while painting.

Last, though perhaps the most important, is ensuring the bathroom you are painting is well-ventilated. Open the nearest window – even if that’s outside the room – keep the bathroom door open, and turn on the exhaust fan.

If your bathroom does not have a window or exhaust fan, a box or oscillating fan can help. For these to be effective, ensure the air is blowing out and away from the bathroom.

White bathroom vanity doors needing to be repainted


4. Get Started

You probably didn’t think you would be on step four before you finally got to start painting the bathroom vanity. Hopefully, you’ve taken the time to prep and set up, so it will be as simple as pouring your paint into a tray or cup and diving in!

If you’re a first-timer, a brush, and even a small roller will be all you need. The roller will be most useful on larger surfaces like the sides and front. The brush will be helpful along the edges, doors, and other fine details.

Then, simply dip your brush in or run your roller through the paint and apply it to the surface. Work from one side to the other, taking care to touch up details as you go. It is often easier to “cut in” the edges and trim, then follow with the roller to blend as you paint the larger surface.

5. Multiple Coats

You might notice some places where the coverage is thinner as you finish the first coat of paint. That’s OK! Generally, a second or third coat will provide the even finish you want.

Pay attention to the drying time for your chosen paint brand and follow it closely. Times will vary from one paint formula to another, so refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations if unsure. It is also good to bear in mind that the humidity and temperature of your workspace can impact drying time.

If you lose patience and try to add another coat too soon, the wet paint can peel, roll up, and cause quite a mess. And if you taped – you will want to peel it off slowly, at a 45-degree angle, while the paint is still wet. Otherwise, you risk the dried paint peeling away with your tape.

6. Additional Details

More experienced DIYers or brave first-timers may want to take the painting bathroom vanity project further with distressing or other details. If this is you, look at our guide on distressing furniture.


7. Seal

Depending on the paint you choose, sealing your vanity may be necessary. It is especially important in the humid environment found in most bathrooms. The key is your paint; most oil-based paints don’t need a top coat, water-based paints do, and all-in-one formulas have built-in sealant.

Sealing your paint creates a protective layer between your hard work and anything that could threaten it. These could be anything from mold or mildew to other stains and scratches. The sealant will also extend the life of your bathroom vanity’s paint and make it easier to clean.

You can use wax (especially great after chalk paint) or a clear polyurethane coat to seal. As with your paint of choice, follow the manufacturer’s information for appropriate application and curing time directions.

8. Hardware and Curing

If you removed the hardware, ensure the vanity has completely cured before reattaching. It is important to note that dried and cured mean different things.

Dried is once the paint or finish is ready to be handled or received additional coats. Cured is when it has reached its maximum hardness and is considered “finished.”

Waiting for your vanity to cure before reattaching hardware can prevent scratching or other damage. If you decide to change the hardware in the future, you don’t want marks or outlines from the old knobs or handles!

9. Clean up

Once your surfaces are cured and the hardware reattached, you’ll want to wipe down the vanity gently. Also, wipe nearby surfaces like counters, flooring, and walls to remove paint spray or drops. Use a gentle scraper for any especially stubborn spots.

Man installing shelf liner after painting bathroom vanity green

Frequently Asked Questions About Painting a Bathroom Vanity

I’m impatient. Can’t I just skip the prep and start painting?

If this is your first time on DIY Painting Tips, then you’re probably unfamiliar with our favorite saying: Never skip prep! We might not always say that, but it’s still a good idea. Prepping your surfaces before painting ensures an even application and a long-lasting, beautiful finish.

Rolling paint is fun, but you don’t want that work wasted when you’re left with bubbling, uneven surfaces or painted over dust and debris.

Can I use any paint when painting a bathroom vanity?

While using that greige leftover from the living room remodel may seem like a good idea, you don’t want that paint in your bathroom. A bathroom environment sees far greater humidity and less ventilation than other rooms of your home. Your paint needs to be able to withstand it.

Do your research or ask the paint professional at your local hardware store to help you find a paint that’s up to the task.

You Did it! Now, What’s Next?

Though these step-by-step instructions were comprehensive, painting a bathroom vanity is less intimidating than it appears. We hope you’ve knocked out that DIY and are enjoying the easy update to your space.

But why stop now? We’re willing to bet you have a long list of projects just waiting to be started. Find your next DIY inspiration in these 10 projects!