Let’s talk about vanity. Mine specifically, but maybe this chat will affect your vanity as well. I had a big problem with mine. You might too– don’t feel bad, it happens to a lot of people. I’m going to show you how to make it all better.
Vanity. What a dumb word for that janky cabinet under your sink.
If you didn’t catch the big bathroom makeover a couple days ago, you’re really missing out. I’d encourage you to scroll your ass down the page and peruse. Because *spoiler,* we’re totally gonna learn how to do this now.
Now, given that we’re renters and I have a strong-held policy of not asking permission for anything, I was serious about doing this right. The biggest obstacle was figuring out how to deal with those doors– I mean, even after a coat of paint, they’d still be pretty… blah. And the goal isn’t really “less ugly,” now is it? Let’s shoot for the stars. Can I hear an AMEN?!
Then I stumbled upon these in the hardware store:
These are 4 inch wide, 4 foot long, 1/4 inch thick planks. Only $5.99. They’re just wide enough to cover that ubiquitous carved detail that was haunting me. Perfect. Note: I’m not sure if most hardware stores or that hellhole, Home Depot, sells these babies, but craft and hobby stores probably do. If you’re desperate, you could get Home Depot to cut down some luan for the same effect, but you probably don’t want to go thicker than a quarter inch.
Now, THE TOOLS:
You’re gonna need:
- small foam roller
- small foam brush
- handsaw (a miter box is quite helpful, not completely necessary).
- wood glue
- finishing nails
- nail set ($5)
- spackle knife
- sandpaper (medium grit)
- 1 quart oil-based primer (about $13)
- 2 cans high-gloss white spray paint ($12)
I honestly thought I took a LOT more photos of the process– evidently they’ve gone missing or I imagined taking them. So numbered steps will have to suffice.
1. Remove any existing hardware and wipe everything down with rubbing alcohol, which will make the primer adhere better. Take off the doors and save them for later.
2. Apply your primer to the vanity, sans doors. I used Zinsser oil-based primer, using a small foam roller and a small foam brush. I prefer brush-painted furniture, but the roller will help you achieve that mass-produced look that your landlord is less likely to notice. Now, I’d never used oil-based-anything because I was scared of the cleanup, so I just used supplies I could throw away. But it’s AWESOME. It adheres so much better than latex, it’s kind of unbelievable. I’d recommend thinning it out a bit with some Penetrol, which will help smooth out the brush stroke/roller texture.
2. Lightly sand after your first coat with a medium or fine grit paper to help smooth things out even more. Then wipe it down with a damp cloth, you don’t want that dust in your paint.
3. Paint a second coat of primer, let dry, and sand again.
4. This is where it gets crazy and I WISH I had a picture. I used high-gloss Krylon white spray paint as the final coating. This was purely a personal choice and experiment, but to my knowledge not a lot of finishes will be much smoother or even than spray paint. You could definitely use paint and polyurethane, too, but I wanted to get everything as absolutely smooth as humanly possible. Since I couldn’t move the vanity, I put newspaper and tape over EVERYTHING nearby, then did a bunch of layers of spray paint (many light, even passes are much better than trying to get it done in a couple heavy coats).
5. Now, the doors! Measure your wood planks and cut them to size using a handsaw or a chop saw if you’re a lucky bastard. Sand the cut edges, they’ll be a bit rough.
6. Glue the wood planks to your doors and use finishing nails to affix them. I used about four nails on each plank, one near each corner (don’t get too close, you don’t want your wood to split!).
7. Use a nail-set to sink the heads of your nails below the surface of the wood. I can’t stress how important this step is, nothing would ruin your finish like a bunch of little bumps where your nail heads are.
8. Spackle over the nail holes and the transitions between the wood planks. You can still kind of see the seams on my finished doors, but it’s subtle. Sand your spackle, repeat the process if it doesn’t seem smooth.
9. Caulk the interior of the new central cutout on the doors and around the edges where the new wood planks meet the original face of the cabinet (make sure you’re done spackling since you can’t sand caulk!). Prime the doors as you did the rest of the cabinet, remembering to sand between coats. Pay special attention to the new cutout so that primer doesn’t pool in the corners.
10. Spray paint the doors a ton of times. I only spray painted the door fronts and painted the back of the doors and the interior of the cabinet with Benjamin Moore semi-gloss white latex trim paint. Remember, it’s okay to paint latex over oil, just not the other way around.
11. Replace the doors and attach your new hardware! I saved a few bucks by reusing the old hinges, spray painted silver. Usually I hate silver spray paint, but for small applications like this it doesn’t bother me. I stuck with 3-inch door pulls (Home Depot), but since the old screw holes are only visible from behind (since you’ve covered the fronts), it might be a nice opportunity to switch things up with knobs or wider pulls. The knobs are the ATTEST from IKEA. I wanted to hang the knobs directly above the middle of the cutouts on the doors, so I used a level and tape measure to get everything spaced correctly and level. A little anal but, well, it’s the little things, right?