Free DIY Bathroom Vanity Renovation
THIS POST MAY CONTAIN AFFILIATE LINKS. PLEASE SEE MY DISCLOSURE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Winter is the time to get some home renovations done! When we bought our 1960s ranch four years ago, we had grand plans of quickly redoing almost every surface. Then reality sunk in, we started getting more frugal, and we chose to embrace the slower side of renos.
The guest bathroom vanity has irked me since we moved in! In addition to being an ugly neutral color with some weird painted French detailing, the inset of one of the doors would fall out every time we opened the cabinet.
I’m all for doing things once, so originally, I figured we wouldn’t touch the vanity until we were ready to replace the floor, counter, sink, etc. But I’m guessing the guest bath will be the last room we renovate, so about a week ago I decided to jump in and update the guest bathroom vanity!
The DIY Bathroom Vanity Renovation Plan
The dream is to pour a concrete counter, add a white rectangular undermount sink basin, and make the vanity less ugly.
The Decision: Refinish or Rebuild?
The bathroom is set up so a prefabricated, store bough vanity wouldn’t fit well. We’d either need to reuse the existing cabinet frame, or build a new custom vanity.
The current vanity is made of:
- Painted plywood
- Has two drawers built in behind the doors that open and close easily
- The doors have solid wood frames and a slightly fancier pressed board inset
- A super warped bottom shelf
Since the cabinet is still in good condition (minus the one door), and I like to reuse and repair, I decided to refinish the existing vanity cabinet.
Once I made the decision to refinish the vanity, I had to decide on a look. Mr. Kiwi is colorblind, so he likes the look of bold contrast instead of neutrals layered over neutrals.
I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money, since this is the first time I’ve ever refinished a cabinet!
So, I went down to our paint shelf to see if we had a color that would work with the pink sink and toilet in the bathroom.
A few years ago we painted stripes in our office/craft room, so we have a lot of leftover paint from that project. I also have made a habit of checking the discounted paint shelf whenever I run into the home improvement store. When I see a color in a finish that would work for a PLANNED future project I grab it. I can get a quart of super high quality paint for $3 and a gallon for $9.
Check the returned/rejected paint shelf every time you go to the home improvement store to see if there are any paints that will work for future projects.
I grabbed the darkest/boldest blue and ran the idea past Mr. Kiwi. He gladly agreed since that stupid door annoyed both of us, and it would get fixed this way.
Note: Semi gloss or high gloss paint is normally recommended for finishing cabinets or in bathrooms. The paint I selected has a flat finish, but it was free, so we’ll see how it works.
How to Refinish a Bathroom Vanity
- 1-2 Paintbrushes
- Painters tape (I only use this stuff, it works so much better than the blue tape)
- Primer (this is the exact type I used, and it was only $10 when I bought it)
- Less than 1 quart of paint
- Cabinet hardware and pulls (optional, I like these)
- Rags or drop cloth
Since this is a small project, I had all of these supplies already, so it was a completely free DIY bathroom vanity renovation. If you needed to buy the paint and tape it could certainly cost less than $20. Depending on the size of your vanity, and how dark of paint you plan on using you could make do with a $1 paint sample. I certainly didn’t use any more paint than that!
1. Remove the cabinet doors
Using a screwdriver remove the cabinet doors and hardware. This will make painting a lot easier. Plus, there’s nothing more frustrating than when screws and hardware are painted over.
2. Repair vanity
We needed to repair the cabinet door inset that wasn’t secured to the cabinet frame. In the past we had tried using wood glue and gorilla tape, but had no luck.
So this time we used some short, spare screws to reattach the pressed board inset permanently.
This is your time to fill in any dents and repair any damage to your vanity!
3. Clean vanity
Using a wet rag, wipe off the wall around the vanity and all vanity surfaces. Also sweep the floors and remove as much dust and dog hair from the room as possible. Allow the surfaces to dry.
You want the surfaces super clean and dry before you even think about painting! If there’s dust, toothpaste, or any other grime on the surfaces it will eventually slough off, taking the finish with it and forcing you to touch up your hard work.
4. Tape off vanity edges
Using frog tape, apply tape to walls, counter, and toe kick. Basically tape anywhere you want a crisp paint line and where you don’t want paint to end up! (Sorry I didn’t snap a picture of this!)
After taping use an expired credit card (or other sturdy but flexible card) and run it along the edges of the paint where you want a crisp line. This helps secure the tape and guarantee that enviable paint line. I’ve tried painting without taping off, to save time/money. Inevitably, I don’t have a steady enough hand, and I don’t save any time or money since I have to touch up the paint.
5. Prime the bathroom vanity and doors
Okay, so I tried to just paint the whole thing right away. I wanted this to be a quick task, and requiring that extra time for primer to dry would slow the whole thing down. But immediately when I dove in with the dark blue it was obvious that a layer of primer was required.
Primer is freaking amazing people. It is super thick and, contrary to what I just said, it speeds up the painting process since you get to apply fewer layers of paint!
Let the primer dry for at least four hours. I figure there’s no rushing a job like this, so I went about with my weekend.
6. Paint vanity
After the primer has dried you get to do the fun part and paint it! Apply a thin layer of paint using quick brush strokes to the cabinet and doors. Make sure you brush any paint drops that form to keep a smooth look, paint drop free look.
As much as you want to see the finished product, it will look best if you do more thin coats of paint, instead of applying many thick paint coats. Since I picked such a dark color it took four coats of paint to get the rich finished look.
Keep applying coats of paint and letting paint dry between coats, until the bathroom vanity is fully painted.
- Throughout this stage, wipe up any drips on the floor or walls.
- Oh, and it of course is recommended that you stir your paint thoroughly, transfer it to a cup, and don’t dip the paint brush directly into the paint can.
- Washing your paint brush regularly damages the bristles. So, instead of washing it between each coat, put it in a ziplock bag and store in the fridge. This helps the paint not set on the brush, and then you only have to wash it after the project is complete.
7. Remove tape
After you finish the final coat immediately remove the tape, while the paint is still wet. This makes the tape come off much easier and helps you see the finished product sooner!
8. Reattach bathroom vanity cabinet doors
Reattach the doors and marvel in your “new” bathroom vanity. I reused the original hardware since it is still in good condition, and I like the (subtle) look. Plus, you know, free hardware is always great.
9. Install bathroom vanity pulls
If you want, you can now add cabinet pulls or knobs. This will help the finish last longer since you won’t have to touch the paint finish every time you want to open the cabinet doors.
Free DIY Bathroom Vanity Renovation Wrap Up
This was a pretty simple project that even a beginner could tackle. I started on Sunday of one weekend, and finished by Saturday of the next weekend. I didn’t track my time, but I’d estimate it took about 2 hours to get the project complete. (Minus the four years of thinking about the look we are going for in the bathroom.)
I’m loving the look of the new vanity. It looks much more modern, while still having the fancy cabinet doors. And, as my friend at Genymoney.ca, said the pink sink actually looks good with the paint color! So, I’m thinking this will help us love the bathroom for a little longer.
Since I used supplies I already had, it was completely free to renovate the vanity.
We in-source all of our home renovations, so that means we accept that our projects won’t be 100% perfect. I get a lot of personal satisfaction and hours of fun from learning about how to fix things and make my home look more beautiful. I was definitely the high schooler who spent hours watching HGTV dreaming up my future home. So, I enjoy tackling these projects.
We are slowly making our ugly home a little less ugly!
Have you refinished any furniture or cabinets? Any questions about the project? How are your renovations coming along?