How to Refinish a Framed Medicine Cabinet

Lead Image for How to Refinish a Framed Medicine Cabinet
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 30-45
What You'll Need
Drop cloths and rags
Varnish stripper
Breathing mask
Safety goggles
Rubber gloves
Masking tape

A framed medicine cabinet looks very attractive in your bathroom. At some stage, you may wish to change the color scheme of your bathroom and repaint it. While doing so, refinish your framed medicine cabinet so that it fits into the new color theme. It’s not a big job and doesn’t take much in the way of materials.


Place a drop cloth on the floor around the medicine cabinet and over the sink. That way, if either the varnish stripper or the finish spill or drips, nothing will be ruined. Remove the hardware from the cabinet and empty it.

The room should be well ventilated. Leave the door open and switch on the extractor fan. You’ll be working with chemicals so you need as much air as possible. Wear a face mask so you don’t inhale the chemical fumes.


Pour the varnish stripper onto a clean cloth and wipe it on the wood of the framed medicine cabinet. Keep wiping while you change cloths, and add more stripper until you’ve removed the old finish. Give the cabinet ample time to dry before proceeding.


When the wood is completely dry, use fine sandpaper on the wood. Wear safety goggles to keep the sawdust from your eyes. Sand lightly to leave the wood smooth and ready for the new finish. Once you’ve completed the sanding, wipe the wood with a damp cloth.


Prepare the framed medicine cabinet with masking tape around the edges. Apply it on the inside of the frame adjacent to the mirror. Make sure that the cabinet door is open.

Start by brushing finish onto the back of the door, following the grain with even strokes. Apply a light coat of finish. Then apply finish on the sides, top, and bottom of the framed medicine cabinet. Complete the first coat by applying finish to the door frame around the mirror and let the finish dry completely.

Second Coat

Since the framed medicine cabinet is in a room with steam and moisture, you need a good seal on the wood. It’s important that you apply a second coat for protection. Complete the job by removing the masking tape, clearing away the drop cloths, and returning shelves and items to the framed medicine cabinet.