How to Sand Bathroom Cabinets for Painting

bathroom cabinet kitchen
  • 2-8 hours
  • Beginner
  • 50-150
What You'll Need
Chemical stripper (optional)
Plastic scraper (optional)
Handheld rotary tool with sanding disc accessories
Oscillating tool with wood sandpaper accessory pack (optional)
Fine-grit sandpaper
Dust mask
Safety goggles

Painting the cabinetry is a simple and direct way to finish the decoration of your bathroom, or to freshen or change the appearance of an already-decorated bathroom. Sanding is always a preliminary step in most paint jobs; in this instance, the sanding process has two complicating factors. First, most bathroom cabinets have fine detailing or trim on the doors. Second, if the cabinet has an old paint job, it must be removed first.

Step 1 - Remove Shelves

Unscrew the hinges from the cabinet doors, as well as any knobs or handles. If you are painting the interior of the cabinets, remove any shelves and unscrew the shelf brackets as well.

Step 2 - Strip the Paint

Remove any existing paint job from cabinet doors that have detailing or trim by using a chemical stripper. Brush the stripper on the side of the door with the detailing/trim, allow time for it to work as directed, and scrape the resulting goop off the door. If the cabinet door has no trim or detailing, skip to Step 3. If the cabinet has no old paint on it at all, skip to Step 4.

Step 3 - Sand

Sand old paint from the flat surfaces of the cabinet door, interior, and shelves. Use a handheld rotary tool fitted with a 60-grit sanding disc to remove the paint, and then smooth out the resulting rough surface by switching to a 120-grit sanding disc. Sanding the interior corners of the cabinet may require the use of an oscillating tool fitted with wood sandpaper accessories.

Step 4 - Sand Some More

Prepare the cabinet's wood surfaces for a new coat of paint by sanding with fine-grit sandpaper. Fit the handheld rotary tool with a 240-grit sanding disc for sanding all the flat surfaces, and sand any trim or detailing by hand with 180- to 240-grit sandpaper.