Refinishing Your Bathroom Vanity Cabinets

Are you wondering how to refinish your bathroom vanity cabinets? Refinishing can be a good way to spruce up the bathroom and ensure that your home looks fresh and well-finished, even if the cabinets aren’t brand new. You can do this yourself if you have the DIY knowledge. So how should you go about refinishing bathroom cabinets?

Our guide gives you the steps needed to get to a perfect finish.

Step #1 – Remove All the Drawers, Doors and Handles or Knobs From Vanity

Before you can refinish the bathroom cabinets, you need to remove all the doors, knobs, and handles. You will be working with the individual parts of the cabinet, sanding and refinishing them, which you can’t do with all of this hardware in place. You might even replace the hardware at the end.

Step #2 – Remove All Varnish to Feel the Surface is Smooth to Touch

Sand your doors down to make sure all traces of the previous sheen are gone. Sanding off any varnish ensures that the painting bathroom cabinets will adhere better to the wood. Ideally, you want to use a sponge sanding block with two different grits; medium on one side and fine on the other. The medium grit is used first, and the finer grit adds the final smooth finish. Be sure to wipe or vacuum away any sanding residue, to make sure it does not get stuck under the paint.

Check, and double-check, that the whole surface is now smooth to the touch before you move forward.

refinishing bathroom vanity cabinets Step #3 – Apply the First Coat of Paint

As soon as all varnish is removed and the surface feels smooth to touch, you can apply the first coat of paint. Use painter’s tape to protect any surfaces that you do not want color on. There is no need to use primer, but you can if you like. Consider painting bathroom cabinets either from the interior or exterior surfaces. Paint the exterior doors first, and then you can prop the cabinet against a pedestal to allow it to dry. Replace them back in the cabinet and paint the interior. It is very important to do before refinishing bathroom vanity cabinets.

Step #4: Apply a Second Coat of Paint

Re-sand all the surfaces again to remove and bumps that may appear from painting. Use the fine grit side of the sanding sponge. You can then apply a second coat of paint, ideally a semi-gloss latex paint in the color of your choice. Be sure to do the exterior and interior surfaces. Often once the paint dries, the fresh new look of the bathroom cabinets draws your eye to the old hardware. This now looks out of place against the sleek new finish. Flat paints hide uneven surfaces better, so if you are using high gloss paint, you may want to spend a little extra time sanding. The gloss is infamous for pointing out every small bump.

Step #5 – Let It Dry

It sounds like the easiest thing in the world, but you would be amazed at how many people are impatient and do not do this properly. It is vital that you take your time and let the paint dry properly, even if it is as boring as…well, watching paint dry.

If you don’t do this, you risk smudging and ruining the finish when it is time for the next steps, and this can be immensely frustrating. You might even have to go back a few steps in extreme circumstances.

On top of this, you can get the paint everywhere, in places you simply don’t want it.

Step #6 – Install New Hardware

This means a little bit of knowledge is required and you need to find handles that fit. You may even go back to the original manufacturer or find the product name in order to get the ideal hardware.

Make sure that the new handle pulls you get to require the same holes as the original ones. If you end up with hardware lacking two holes for attachment but only have one hole, then you will need to start drilling. This can be tricky because you need to make sure to line the second hole up precisely. If you put a hole in the wrong place, you have to patch it up, re-sand and re-paint. So take your time and get the hole placement right the first time around rather than risk having to redo the job.


As DIY tasks go, refinishing your bathroom vanity cabinets isn’t the most difficult, but it does require a degree of accuracy and plenty of patience. Making a mistake can lead to having to start again or to cabinet repair.
Follow our steps for a hassle-free refinish and you can ensure that you enjoy a modern looking bathroom without the expense of new cabinets.

Owen is a customer experience manager at Majestic Cabinets. Having several years of experience in the home improvement field, Owen is keen on sharing his knowledge and secrets with others. Doesn't matter if you’re a homeowner with little to no knowledge in the field or an experienced contractor, you can always learn something new and interesting from his stories. Owen hopes that his articles will give you a bit of insight on home improvement.