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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2014

    Default Looking for best way to refinish bathroom vanity

    I am remodeling a half-bath and want to either paint or stain the existing vanity. I'd like the finished result to look like wood rather than a flat painted look. The vanity is 1980's era with a cherry-finish; not high gloss, but it has a gloss finish. I would prefer staining it a darker color so it still looks like wood. Should I degloss, stain, then coat with polyurethane?

    Alternatively, I could paint it a chocolate brown. If I choose to go the paint route, should I degloss, prime, paint? Latex or oil-based?

    I'm a novice at painting and staining! When I go to paint stores, I get a different recommendation with each person I talk to! Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2013

    Default Re: Looking for best way to refinish bathroom vanity

    The first thing you need to do is to be sure your vanity has wood cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and that the stiles and rails of the cabinet (the part of the cabinet carcass that shows around doors and drawers and any sides) are also wood and not a veneer over particleboard. You cannot refinish a veneer cabinet. Most vanities are wood but some aren’t.

    For the very best look I would strip it and stain and varnish it. I did this to an old 1970 7ft vanity and I am really happy with the results. You can find good instructions on the Internet. You do not need to degloss if stripping. Basic steps: Remove the cabinet doors and if you can the drawer fronts from the drawer box. Use a wood stripper to remove the old finish. I used a low odor orange citrus product that performed very well. Neutralize any leftover stripper in the wood by cleaning with mineral spirits – very important step – otherwise the little bit of stripper left can gum up the new finish. Sand, and clean with tack cloth. Apply a sealer to be sure you get an even absorption of the stain. Stain and finish with a marine grade polyurethane that will withstand the moisture. Follow all the product directions right and you will love the results. Usually there is some light sanding and cleaning with a tack cloth between coats – follow product directions – do not skip steps and have good ventilation and wear protective gloves. Plan to do it over several days.

    The cabinet drawers on my vanity were warped, so I had a cabinetmaker make me a new set. Since the cabinet originally was very dark, I did a quick dark stain on the new doors, then wiped and sanded most of it off leaving just enough to match the rest of the vanity. Because the vanity had originally been very dark even with stripper and sanding, the grain still had some stain in it. Since you plan to stain your cabinet dark, this should not be a problem.

    I did paint a vanity white in my powder room.
    To paint: Remove doors and drawers. Clean with TSP (at the hardware store – wear gloves). Lightly sand if still glossy. Apply Zinsser 123 primer -Very Important – I used 2 coats. Paint the cabinets – at least 2 coats of satin or semi-gloss. I prefer satin finish, but semi-gloss might be better if it will be exposed to lots of moisture. I used good latex paint. I used a brush and it came out fine, but again there are lots of directions on the Internet and TOH. You will get best results if you don’t rush and pay attention to the product’s drying time.

    Hope this helps. It is not hard. It can be time consuming but the results can be lovely.
    Last edited by Lily; 08-22-2014 at 11:31 PM.

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