Best Paint for Bathroom Cabinets

The choice of the best paint for your bathroom cabinet can be an extremely difficult one given the multitude of products available. However, it is a decision you must make once you have settled down on painting your bathroom cabinets for whatever reasons: in some cases, painting over old cabinetry is way cheaper than doing a total replacement. Sometimes you may just want to change color to one that matches the bathroom. Whatever your reason for wanting to paint your bathroom cabinetry, this guide will help you navigate the spider web of products out there that are bound to make your decision hard. 

Recommended Reading: Top coat for painted cabinets

Buying Guide for the Best Paint for Bathroom Cabinets

Durability

For bathroom cabinets, durability is the main thing that you want to get right. Bathrooms, unlike most other areas of the house, get a lot of traffic. Moreover, most exposed surfaces are constantly being splashed with water, soap, and other chemicals. Consequently, surfaces like cabinets need constant cleaning to dry off water, moisture, and other chemicals that splash on them. Therefore, when shopping for the right type of paint you need a product that will provide you with maximum protection against general wear and tear, the effect of water, scratches due to constantly being used, and any other form of dirt that collects on them. The most durable paints are oil-based paints and hybrid enamel paints. 

Oil-based paints sometimes referred to as alkyd paints are the best when it comes to the durability of bathroom cabinets. These paints dry to a hard impenetrable surface that provides the best protection against mold and mildew formation which is the most common threat for bathroom cabinets. On the other hand, hybrid enamel paints are a mix of oil-based and water-based paints thus giving you the best of both worlds. It forms a durable protective surface; it is low on VOC emissions and considerably easier to clean up. 

Color

painted bathroom cabinet

For most people, the paint color is just as important as the durability provided. Indeed, the need to change the paint of cabinets is often motivated by the need to change the color to a more desirable look that matches the rest of the bathroom, or simply one that your heart desires. Luckily, paints of all varieties come in many colors to choose from. Moreover, choosing a color is often not a complex matter since in most cases you already know the exact color you want or have some idea. Manufacturers always indicate the many varieties of colors available, and in some cases, they can make the exact color you want. 

Sheen

Sheen is another essential consideration that is tied to the durability of paints. Paints come in a variety of sheens that range as flat or matte, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, gloss, and high gloss. Flat or matte paints reflect the least amount of light and are therefore the least shiny of the bunch. On the other hand, gloss and high gloss are the most reflective of light and shine the most. However, what you need to keep in mind is that when it comes to paints, the higher the sheen, the higher the shine, and the more the durability. Consequently, for better durability select semi-gloss, gloss, or high gloss paints. The level of shine will depend on your liking. 

Ease of application

Different paint varieties have different ease of application. Despite their durability, oil-based paints have the most difficult application processes. These paints require preparation of the wood surface is sanding. Moreover, these paints dry the slowest, emit the most VOCs, and require complicated cleanup. Additionally, it is often recommended that such paints are handled by experts. Application tools are also hard to clean since clean-up requires specific chemicals and solvents. On the other hand, enamel hybrid paints are relatively easy to apply and clean up since only soap and water is required. Moreover, they dry relatively faster and emit low VOCs in the atmosphere.

Top Picks

Best Oil-based Paint:

Rust-Oleum Stops Rust (7792502)
$15.49 ($0.48 / Fl Oz)

Rust-Oleum 7792502 Protective Enamel is oil-based with a repute for its excellent protection qualities. This paint provides the best durability for your bathroom cabinets. Not restricted to bathroom use alone, this paint finds application in a variety of interior and exterior paint projects in your home. Moreover, it can also be used on metal. 

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Why Choose Rust-Oleum

  • Durability: This product boasts being the best when it comes to protecting your bathroom cabinets. It dries to a hard enamel-like surface that will ensure no water or moisture sips into the wood and cause the development of mold and mildew. Moreover, the protection provided lasts for a considerable period
  • Sheen: this specific product comes in a high gloss finish. However, there are other sheen options available such as gloss, semi-gloss, and flat. A higher sheen type of finish is not only ideal when it comes to making the color shine more brightly, but it also adds to durability. Higher sheen paints are more durable and easiest to clean. 
  • Color: when it comes to this quality, rust oleum comes in a variety of color options to choose from. Though not an infinite amount of colors, the options offered easily match most classic looks.
  • Ease of application: unlike most oil-based paints, Rust-oleum is considerably easier to apply. It dries very fast and dries to the touch in 2-4 hours making recoats faster. 

Precautions

When using this product, it is important to remember that being an oil-based paint, it emits high levels of VOCs. Therefore, it is unsafe to use in the presence of other people and children who do not have protective gear. It is recommended that oil-based paints are handled by experts. 

Best Water-Based Paint

General Finishes Water Based Milk Paint
$45.00 ($1.41 / Fl Oz)

This water-based paint will provide your bathroom cabinetry with considerable durability. However, you should consider this product if ease of application and aesthetics are your main concerns. This unique color sits somewhere between white and grey thus giving your bathroom a unique cloud-like feel. 

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Why choose General Finishes Water-Based Milk Paint

  • Ease of application: just like most water-based paints, this product is the easiest to apply and often does not require you to be an expert. Moreover, it dries faster than any other variety of pants. Since cleanup only requires soap and water, your tools will be spared the misery often encountered when working with oil-based paints. 
  • Durability: though not as durable as the other categories of paints mentioned, it will keep your bathroom cabinets protected for a considerable fair duration of time before it requires to be applied all over again.
  • Sheen: this paint comes in a variety of sheens. Thus, the higher sheen varieties such as satin and gloss will add to the durability of the paint for your wooden cabinetry. 
  • Color: when it comes to color, most brands have many colors to match your imagination. For instance, this specific product comes in a very unique color that is not conventional.

Precautions:

This paint has limited durability. Therefore, it will not provide you with the best protection against mold and mildew. Moreover, when applying, this paint does not settle evenly like oil-based paints do.

Best all-in-one paint

Dixie Belle Silk Water Based Primer + Topcoat
$18.45 ($4.61 / Fl Oz)

Sometimes, a primer is applied before the paint coat to help with adhesiveness. In such instances, you are required to buy both primer and paint as separate products. Moreover, the work done will be twice as much. The All-in-One Mineral Paint takes off that by combining both paint and primer. 

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Why buy All-in-One Mineral Paint | Dixie Belle Silk

  • All-in-One property: this paint product boasts having the properties of two different products. It has a built-in water-based primer, a built-in topcoat and comes in a variety of pigments to match your desired color. Therefore, whether your surfaces need priming or not, this product takes care of that. 
  • Durability: This paint boasts exceptional durability because its unique formulation of a built-in primer and topcoat gives it a harder surface that can resist deterioration due to water and moisture.
  • Sheen: just like all the other products listed, this too comes in a different variety of sheens to pick from depending on your particular project. Bathroom cabinets will benefit from a higher sheen finish that has more protection. 

How to Paint Cabinets

Step 1: Prepare the Surfaces

Doors and drawers of cabinets are carefully removed. Then clean these surfaces with a suitable cleaning strip that can remove greases. Once you have dried the surface, fill in any cracks and chips. Then move on to a suitable grit sandpaper to scrap off previous paint and even out the wooden surfaces. 

Step 2: Priming

Once the desired smoothness is achieved the next you need to undertake is priming if your paint does not have a built-in primer. Applying the primer will require you to be outdoors or in a well-ventilated room. The primary purpose of priming is to help the paint adhere to the surface of the wood and it also helps with hiding stains and grains that may be exposed. Once the primer dries, you are required to sand with a very fine grit sandpaper such as 220 grit which helps further with the adhesion and evenness of the paint. 

Step 3: Painting

Whether you are using a brush or sprayer to accomplish this final step, it is advised that you start with the drawers and doors to the cabinet because they long to paint over and dry. You can begin with either side of the doors and drawers. Apply the first coat and leave it to completely dry for about 24 hours before applying the next coat on the same side. Once the first side dries, you can move on to the other side and repeat the same step. Paint the inside and outside fixed parts of the cabinetry during the drying periods. You can begin with either side of the doors and drawers. Apply the first coat and leave it to completely dry for about 24 hours before applying the next coat on the same side. Once the first side dries, you can move on to the other side and repeat the same step. Paint the inside and outside fixed parts of the cabinetry 

Is topcoat over-painted cabinets necessary?

Due to being high-traffic surfaces that are in frequent use, vanities are prone to wear and tear. Moreover, if the paint is of a less durable variety such as a water-based paint, a topcoat is necessary. Topcoats over painted cabinets are necessary to protect against premature wear and tear. Often, topcoats for vanities are of the clear kind allowing the paint pigment to show through.