If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you know we’re refreshing our upstairs bathroom. And in Instagram stories, I shared my internal debate about the vanity: painting inside of cabinets, or just applying contact paper. Which I was leaning towards because it was easier.
But then I started getting messages from relators who follow me. They all encouraged me that painting inside of cabinets is the way to go. Buyers excited at seeing a pretty vanity are soon disappointed when they open a drawer and notice the inside is still dated. (We aren’t selling yet, but will in a few years.) In a buyer’s eye, it brings down the value.
And truly, I get it.
So we painted them.
And it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
Talk about a huge difference right? The before picture gave me anxiety. This after I find so soothing.
I learned a few things along the way and wanted to share them to anyone thinking of doing the same thing.
How To Paint Cabinets
1. Prep the surfaces
This took the most work but was also the most important step. Sanding is needed to rough up the surface so the new paint sticks. Especially if the cabinets have a gloss on them. If your cabinets have a very high gloss finish, I’d consider stripping before sanding.
These were old and didn’t have a great seal, so it was easy to buff away with a mouse sander.
Remove all hardware, making it’s easier to sand and paint. I boiled the hardware to clean off the years of build-up before using them again to reattach the cabinetry.
The interior of our cabinets is a wood-looking laminate. This is still paintable using good quality paint and sanding the surface well. I went over the whole interior of the cabinets with my mouse sander, feeling the surface after a few passes to make sure it was rough enough to allow paint to adhere.
It’s also important to remove all the sanding dust. I took a slightly damp microfiber cloth and thoroughly wiped the cabinets clean. Let dry completely, and you’re ready to paint.
Quick note: Make sure to tape up all pipes and plumbing. I tied plastic shopping bags around them using the handles and secured them with tape.
It’s now time to paint!
If you can, using a spray painter is the way to go. I have a Wagner Flexio 200 HVLP and especially inside the cabinets, it provides even coverage without paintbrush streaking. It also cuts down on the number of coats you have to do.
I had to thin my paint a bit, but once you find the consistency that works for you it goes very smoothly.
Spray Painting tip: Always paint on a flat surface. This helps your items not to drip. I ran out of saw horses to use and painted a closet upright. I used the same amount of paint as the door I did flat, and it dripped horribly. That was a huge lesson learned.
Painting the insides of the cabinets was fairly easy, but since you can’t do it on a flat surface, small, thinner coats are the way to go. Let each layer dry completely before applying a second or third. I ended up touching up a few corners and sides with a paint brush after the three coats of paint from the sprayer, and it turned out so well!
Painting the drawers:
To paint the drawers, first I sprayed the fronts the same time I was doing the cabinet doors. I let them dry a day or so, assuring they weren’t tacky when I covered them with plastic bags, secured them with tape, and then sprayed the white on the backs and sides.
Once they dried I remove the bags and touched them up with a paintbrush on the sides so there were clean lines and it all matched.
Assembling them again
Make sure you allow all the drawers and doors to dry for at least 24 hours before touching or assembling them. If the paint is still tacky it will stick to other surfaces, and possibly pull off or become damaged.
Also, make sure to use bumpers for your cabinet doors and drawers. These little plastic circles make sure the painted surfaces never touch so that the heat and steam from the showers can’t “glue” the surfaces together, and then rip apart and damage them when they are opened.
Painting inside cabinets was definitely the way to go with this project. Want to see what the bathroom looked like when we started and my concept ideas for this project? Make sure to check out this post and also follow along on Instagram to keep up with this project, and all others I do in real-time.