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DIY Perfectly Painted Bathroom Cabinets in a Day

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Today is the day! I’m revealing my DIY painted bathroom cabinets in my little apartment! And, what’s even better, you get to learn how to DIY perfectly painted bathroom cabinets in a day!

diy painted bathroom cabinets


Getting a project done and being totally pleased with it is amazing, don’t you agree?

And when it’s done in a day, even better! Right?!

Whether you own your home or live in an apartment or rental home, just you wait and see what you can do to improve the look of your bathroom in a day!

Not-So-Pretty Large Apartment Bathroom

When you enter a 400 square foot loft apartment and ask to use the bathroom, you kinda’ expect to be greeted by a teensy-weensy cracker box of a room with a shower the size you find in most RVs…

Not so at My Wee Abode!

When I moved into MWA a little over 4 years ago (oh my, time sure does fly), I was very happy with the size of my bathroom… and shower!

The bathroom is the same size as most medium-sized homes’ guest bathrooms. Plenty of space to move around, a high-standing vanity with counter space, and a shower with room for not one built-in shower seat, but TWO! Y’all, I’ve never had a shower this big! I LOVE it!

But, there are several things I don’t love about my ‘spacious’ apartment bathroom. The first eye-sore one I’m tackling is…

diy painted bathroom cabinets

Yep… those are cream-colored painted cabinets. You might even call them a pale yellow.

Can You Update Cabinets in a Rental Home or Apartment?

Wellll, yes, and no. πŸ˜€

I know… that’s not a very good answer! Painting bathroom cabinets in a rental home or apartment is definitely an option… IF your landlord says you can!

Or, you can first DIY Cheap Countertops with Contact Paper (it’s removable), and ask your landlord what they think! (You can’t see, but my eyebrow is raised as I’m typing this)….

diy cheap countertops contact paper kitchen with wood cabinets and marble look counter top with open shelving with white and aqua decor

Then, when they say, “It’s fine, as long as it looks good it’s fine”, (what an answer, right?!) you can upgrade your (yellow) apartment bathroom vanity and make a plan to show your landlord the next time they come by!

And if they love them (which they will), you then ask if you can paint the kitchen cabinets! (Now I look like this.) And, if they hate them (which they won’t), you can replace the the MDF cabinets at a minimal cost when/if you leave!

So, now that that’s clear (as mud) let’s get to the painting!

DIY Painted Bathroom Cabinets in Your Apartment

There are lots of different bathroom cabinet painting techniques. Today, I’m sharing what I use and how I achieve a smooth painted finish.

But before you start painting, be sure to first make cabinet repairs the easy way, as well as take 5 steps to prep your bathroom cabinets for an amazing paint finish.

What You’ll Need for Perfectly Painted Cabinets

Can I Paint My Cabinets with Chalk Paint?

Yes, you can paint just about any surface with chalk paint. However, after doing some research, I decided to try what I now call my ‘secret weapon’:

box with nuvo cabinet paint kit

In my humble opinion and experience, the best paint for bathroom cabinets is the NUVO Cabinet Paint Kit.

This affordable kit comes with just about everything you’ll need to paint your bathroom or kitchen cabinets in one day! (Almost everything, except the items listed above. And the kit DOES come with a brush, but if I had to do it again, I would definitely use my Zibra paintbrush and maybe even my round Zibra brush for the trim areas… actually no maybe about it.)

The kit includes enough paint to cover 100 square feet of surface and multiple cabinets (this does not include the insides of the cabinets). There are two quarts of paint, offered in an array of classic and trending bathroom cabinet paint colors. My cabinets only used one full can (I opted to do two full coats for durability.)

Because the paint is ‘self-leveling’, when applied as directed in their instructions and helpful Youtube videos, you get an amazingly smooth, slight semi-gloss finish. Here’s my cabinet door when I first applied the paint.

diy painted bathroom cabinets gray door with wet paint

Later in the post, you’ll see the wonderfully smooth finish!

Do I Need To Seal Painted Cabinets?

When you use the NUVO Cabinet Paint kit, you don’t need to seal painted cabinets, whether they are in the kitchen or bathroom! The paint is so durable, and the sheen is so perfect, no sealer is needed.

Today, I actually jammed something into the bottom of my newly painted laminate cabinet, and it didn’t hurt the finish at all! Phew!

Best Tips on How To DIY Painted Bathroom Cabinets

Now for some tips on how to update bathroom cabinets to get a perfectly painted finish! (For your convenience, detailed printable tips and instructions are at the bottom of this post.)

Do the Prep

Do Your “Homework”

  • Watch the Youtube videos provided by NUVO in their instructions. It will help teach you how to paint bathroom cabinets like a pro.
  • Paint in temperature between 65-77 degrees Fahrenheit. Sometimes this means painting at night, which ends up taking more than a day (ask me how I know that).

Paint Your Bathroom Cabinets

  • Because I opted to take the doors and hinges off the frames of my cabinets, the process took me a total of two days for drying times. If you opt to leave the doors on the frames, as NUVO suggests in their videos, it will take you one day.
  • Paint the doors first, then the frames… this saves on time. Let dry for two hours.
gray cabinet doors on plastic container
Paint the back and edges of the cabinet doors first.
diy painted bathroom cabinets gray door with wet paint
Sometimes puddles happen. Gently remove and smooth puddles with an art paintbrush.
painting tray with brushes wrapped in plastic wrap
Covering a tray with plastic wrap and foil between coats saves on clean-up. Wrap those brushes, too!
  • After the first coat on the doors has dried, paint the second coat. Then paint the second coat on the frames. Make sure they dry for two hours between coats! πŸ˜‰
  • Now the fronts of the cabinets need to be painted!
diy painted bathroom cabinets cabinet doors on plastic container
One edge on each door was left unpainted until I turned them over.
  • Paint the fronts of the doors a second time, wait 8 hours before reattaching the doors and hardware. (Removing and reinstalling hardware is easy… it’s just a few screws (see arrows)).
installing hinges on a cabinet door
Removing and reinstalling the hardware was the most fun!
diy painted bathroom cabinets with hinges
See, no painting the insides for me!
  • Wait two weeks before cleaning cabinets.

DIY Perfectly Painted Cabinets In a Day (Almost) – The Results

So now you get to see what my secret weapon to painting cabinets looks like after they have cured overnight!

diy painted bathroom cabinets in gray with cream countertop

I’m in love! Big difference, right?

I’m not going to show you a full reveal today, as I still have lots to do to complete my Modern Coastal Bathroom Makeover. But here are some closeup shots so you can see the fabulous paint finish on these MDF cabinets.

side of gray painted cabinet

The finish is smooth and even, thanks to the self-leveling paint from NUVO.

BTW, if you are wondering why I didn’t go with white cabinets (which would have been my first choice), take a look at my countertop (which is staying). The cream color would not have complimented white cabinets, but the gray and taupe flecks in the counter do look lovely with the Driftwood color from NUVO.

diy painted bathroom cabinets bird tray on counter with jewelry
I need another link in my G’Ma bracelet for my newest jellybean!

And here’s a closeup of the cabinet above the toilet.

gray cabinet with silver filigree hardware

I’m thrilled with the color, overjoyed with the finish, and LOVE the price of the NUVO Paint Cabinet kit (and there’s no odor either)! These updated apartment cabinets cost less than $100! Way less!

If you want more info of painting cabinets, remember this is a 3-part series:

Now It’s Your Turn

Have you painted your apartment or rental home cabinets? What about if you are a homeowner… is this something you would tackle? Be sure to chat with me in the comments!

signature updated 2022

diy painted bathroom cabinets in gray with cream countertop

DIY Perfectly Painted Bathroom Cabinets

Active Time: 1 day
Total Time: 1 day

You can have perfectly painted bathroom cabinets in a day with this tutorial and my secret weapon.


  • Nuvo Cabinet Paint Kit
  • 320 grit sandpaper
  • Paint tray
  • Zibra Paintbrush
  • Small art paintbrush
  • Phillips head screwdriver
  • Paint can opener of flathead screwdriver
  • Cabinet hardware


  1. Paint the sides and backs of the cabinet doors first, using the brush for trims and corners and the provided roller on larger flat surfaces. Do one door at a time in order to avoid areas drying too quickly and causing ridges and puddles (the roller will smooth the strokes left from the brush). Let dry for 2 hours.
  2. While the doors are drying, paint the cabinet frames the same way as the doors. Do one side at a time in order to avoid areas drying too quickly and causing ridges and puddles (the roller will smooth the strokes left from the brush). Let dry for at least 2 hours.
  3. After the doors have dried for two hours, paint the sides and backs a second time. Let dry for 2 hours.
  4. When the frames have dried for two hours, paint the second coat. Remember to sand any bumps, ridges or puddles before painting the second coat. Now you're done with the frames!
  5. When the doors have tried for two hours, gently lay them on their painted backside. Be sure to use a non-stick surface to lay them on (I used a piece of muslin fabric). Paint the front of the doors, being careful to watch the edges... paint will collect there. Let dry for two hours.
  6. When the fronts of the doors have dried, you can paint them a second time. Now your cabinets doors are finished being painted.
  7. Let the doors cure for 8 hours before adding hardware and reattaching to frames.
  8. Allow cabinets to cure for two weeks before cleaning.


Pro tip 1: Use the roller on the sides of the doors... it's easier and leaves a nicer finish.

Pro tip 2: If you find any bumps, ridges or puddles, sand the area with 320 grit sandpaper before adding the second coat.

Pro tip 3: You can purchase a one-inch roller to paint longer narrow areas (like the narrow frames around my doors). Be sure to purchase 'smooth finish' rollers.

Did you make this project?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

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    1. Aunt Gale!!! I love when you comment (is this the first time… or maybe second). Thanks for dropping in and for the love! BIG HUGS!

  1. Julie, your paint job looks great!! I liked your tips for rental property too. We’ve lived in a few and military quarters ad new just painted the fee or repainted before we had to move. Also I am not going paint my kitchen cabinets but doing a deep clean especially of the shaker style doors. Your cleaning tips have really helped.

    1. Oh, I’m so glad, Linda, that the tips have helped. I have several friends that have lived in military quarters and definitely use paint and other removable items to add style to their homes.;-)

    1. Yep… Paint is a cheap and amazing update for just about anything! Thanks for stopping in, dear friend!

  2. I am amazed at the look of your cabinets! Love the color and that smooth finish. I hadn’t heard of this paint. Self leveling seems awesome! We will be painting our bathroom cabinets eventually. Hope it’s before one of us dies. Ugh. Thanks for the great advice! Pinned

    1. Thanks, Cindy! The finish is even smoother than my photos… for some reason, my close-ups don’t look as clear to me after I upload. Weird! Thanks for the pin!

  3. Wow Julie they look so good and I love the driftwood color! Good work my friend and thanks for the tip in the kit…I have a few bathroom cabinets calling my name!

    1. Yes, if I can’t go white, I’ll go gray… matches my hair, too! πŸ˜‰ White is my dream for the kitchen. Here’s hoping and praying!

  4. This is really excellent! Pinned for later. My bathroom cabinets are also a sort of yellowy cream color, and I think it makes the bathroom look darker and dingy. I want to brighten my bathroom up. Thank you!

    1. Yes… dingy is the PERFECT word for it… plus mine has some type of antiquing on it, too… no thank you!

  5. Great job painting your cabinet, Julie!!! You do have the best landlord! <3 Enjoy their new look and I'll have to check out Nuvo's paint kit. I HATE our current MBR cabinets (too low). Hubby is learning DIY making cabinets as I type. πŸ˜€ Pinned to several boards for you. <3

    Barb πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks, Barbara… for the pins and kind words. I certainly hope my LL likes these… I can’t believe she won’t! Looking forward to seeing YOUR new cabinets!

      1. Some day! πŸ˜‰ Thanks, Julie.
        I actually stopped back by… because… Congratulations on being featured at Thursday Favorite Things with Amber at Follow the Yellow Brick Home. <3 Just over there enjoying a Friday evening.

        Enjoy your weekend!!!
        Barb πŸ™‚

  6. Great job, Julie! This looks fantastic, and I learned about a new product! What needs painting the most in my house is honey oak cabinetry, and oak grain is hard to work with, so I’ve been procrastinating! I also think a kitchen will take MANY days, unfortunately!

    1. Yes… I know if I had the honey oak, I would be painting, too (if they were mine). I know I’ve seen a post about smoothing out the grain… I’m sure you have, too!

  7. This is so helpful! We have builder grade everything in our house, and the bathroom cabinets are asking for a paint job. Will be pinning for later

  8. This looks amazing, Julie! I can’t believe you got this done in one day! I’ve never heard of NUVO paint, but I’m going to check it out for sure. My daughter’s bathroom has dated cabinets that could use a refresh. Thanks for sharing the excellent tutorial. Pinned!

    1. Hi, JoAnn… According to Nuvo’s site:

      “Nuvo Will Cover:

      Bare and Painted Wood (Please see note below)
      Paper Covered Cabinets
      Bare and Painted Metal
      Varnish Finish

      Hope this helps! I still can’t get over how great this paint is! My cupboards look amazing!

  9. Now that it is July 2023, can you tell us how this paint has lasted? Your bathroom vanity and cabinet look wonderful and now you can give us an update on durability of this paint finish. Thank you!

    1. Thanks for asking, Kim! Though I have not lived in the OG My Wee Abode for over a year now, I just checked with my former landlord and she said the cabinets still look amazing! There have been two tenants there since I moved out, so I’m thinking that’s a pretty good review, right? Also, I bumped the cabinets several times after I painted them and the paint didn’t budge. Woot! I’ve asked my current landlords if I could do the cabinets in my current MWA, but because it is a large complex, I’m thinking I’m going to get a thumbs down on it. Womp, womp! Hope this helps!

  10. Your cabinets look beautiful! I have been toying with the idea of painting our cabinets in both our bathrooms and I think you’ve got me convinced that it’s worth it!

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