How to Paint a Bathroom Vanity with Chalk Paint

The powder room I am making over is just about complete. I worked on the sink cabinet over the weekend and have a few details to show you.


These are my new favorite decorative detail for the room. I love white faced clocks with black numbers. I don’t collect many things, but clock faces – I can never have too many.


The cabinet knobs are from Anthropologie.  They are called Chronograph Knobs.  They sell for $8 a piece. A bit pricey for a knob, but I only needed 2 to make the sink cabinet makeover complete.

Before I put the knobs on I had to paint the cabinet first. It was navy blue. Many of you ask me how much should I sand before painting a piece of furniture. In this photo you can see that I sanded the surface just enough to scratch or rough up the surface. It took 5 minutes with a hand palm sander.

Before I put the knobs on I had to paint the cabinet first.  If you remember it was navy blue.

How to Paint Over an Existing Paint with DIY Chalk Paint

I removed the cabinet doors so I could replace the antique gold hinges with new white hinges.  It is easier to work on the doors when they are laying flat.

Many of you ask me how much should you should sand before painting a piece of furniture.

In the photo above you can see that I sanded the cabinet just enough to scratch or rough up the surface.  It took 5 minutes with a hand palm sander.  I then cleaned the surface well and let it dry. I sand everything I paint no matter what type of paint I use.  For a little effort you will be rewarded with great adhesion.


I then made a small batch of DIY chalk paint to paint the cabinet using the leftover off-white paint I used to add stripes on the walls in the room.

I used up every last bit of the quart of paint I bought – great on the budget.  I used Valspar paint and primer in one paint, and I knew I would have to use the Calcium Carbonate Powder DIY Chalk paint recipe with it since the paint/primer in one formula will bind up if you use Plaster or the non-sanded grout.

I only needed 1/2 cup of paint to make the chalk paint and paint the cabinet base  – both sides of the two doors.  It goes a long way.

When making your own chalk paint one of the most important factors is to add water to the powder first to dissolve it and then add the mix to the paint and stir well.  To read more about making, mixing, and painting with DIY chalk paint you will find all the tutorials about it here,  DIY Chalk Paint Recipes and DIY Chalk Paint Projects


Since I am using lots of pure white in the room, I used the off-white color for the cabinet so that the existing counter top and sink color would not stand out too much or look off.

How to paint a bathroom cabinet

Painting it the same color makes the cabinet, counter, and sink flow together while leaving the focus on the walls and decorative features that I will be adding.

Unique knobs for cabinet makeovers

To protect the chalk painted finish, I decided to try water based Polycrylic.


I get so many  questions about using it over chalk paint that I wanted to try it for myself (I have always used wax) and see how it looks.

Another FAQ I receive is from readers wondering why I used chalk paint instead of straight latex.  I love that when you use chalk paint, there is none of that tacky latex feel to the painted finish. I also like that the finish looks smoother and thinner – more like a finish right from the factory. Smooth, thin, and durable.

For now, I am not going to distress the finish, If I decide it needs it, I can always do it later.

Only 2 more items to add to the room now, but I am on the fence about one. Oh!…decisions…decisions….


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  1. My cabinets were stained and I think finished with latex polyeuothane. Since then I primed then painted with a latex paint. I want to chalk paint now. What is the next step?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Star – Since the last coat you applied is latex paint all you need to do, is clean them, but I would go over with sandpaper too. Sanding, using a hand sanding block and 100 grit sandpaper will only help with adhesion. A quick going over all the surface to scratch it up is all that is needed. Clean off the grit and then paint with chalk paint. Another reason to sand, is that is smooth the layers of paint so the build up is lessened.

  2. Diane what grit sandpaper did you use? Do you recommend this grit for all projects when chalk painting?

  3. Hi Diane, I am anxious to start a chalk paint project and am making a mental list of what I can paint. What grit sandpaper did you use? Thanks for the info!

  4. You are like the goddess of chalk painting! I’ve been clicking around your blog after seeing a picture on Pinterest. I wish I had read it years ago. I’ve used Annie Sloan, and it is lovely and terribly expensive. I painted something this week with Americana brand chalk paint that I bought at Michael’s with a coupon. I read on the interwebs that it was as good as Annie Sloan. I haven’t waxed it yet, but I’m not too impressed. It would be just as expensive as Annie Sloan, if it came in a quart can. It comes in a little jar, so there is a smaller initial outlay–plus my project is small. I’m looking forward to visiting your blog now that I know about you. Thanks for all the incredibly helpful advice!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Aidel –

      Thanks for taking the time to connect with me. :-) I fell into becoming an expert on all things DIY chalk paint after I posted about an experiment I did to see what the difference was between all the recipes. I then kept experimenting and found I love being able to use any color I want at a fraction of the cost. The only problem I have run into when making chalk paint is that latex paint brand formulas are changing and many now have primer in them. Plaster of Paris and primer don’t get along and turn a mix into sludge. I now use Calcium Carbonate Powder for all my mixes and only use PoP if I am 100% sure the paint I am mixing it into does not have primer in it.

      I, too was not impressed with the Americana brand and didn’t like the sealer wax at all.

      If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. XO Happy Painting!

  5. Deigh Regnier says:

    How has the poly worked over the chalk paint? I am thinking of painting my bathroom cabinets with chalk paint BUT I know they need a sealer and not just wax. Thanks

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Deigh – Using water-based poly over chalk paint works and looks fine. You can’t go wrong using it. My cabinet looks perfect. I would use it again if painting an area that could get wet. I used Minwax Polycrylic.

  6. Oh I love the colour Diane, it looks like the softest pinkie apricot. did you mix yourself or buy a colour. Id love toknow what it is please.

  7. Bathroom Wood Vanities says:

    wow! it’s awsome. I was also thinking of making new cabinet sink. Thanks for sharing. It helped me making ideas of making new sink

  8. I absolutely ADORE the clock faces, it’s such a wonderful idea to use it that way!! And i completely agree that the chlak paint gives a better feel than latex or enamel.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Shyama –

      It is not until you have painted with all of the above – latex, enamel, and chalk paint that you can really feel the difference. I wish I had known how easy it was to make and paint with years ago. Now that I do, I will probably always use chalk paint when transforming furniture.

  9. Super cute knobs! Can’t wait to see the finished project.

  10. Very nice! The cabinet knobs are timeless. Love them!

  11. Anna Sloan says:

    You said you knew you needed to use the calcium carbonate recipe because the paint had primer in it. I must have missed something – Is that a rule that we HAVE to use that if your paint is that type? I made a real mess recently when I was mixing up a home made batch of chalk paint & just figured I had measured incorrectly or didn’t mix it well enough. Now I wonder if I just didn’t know something I should have.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Anna –

      I try to link all the posts I write about making DIY chalk paint together so that if you read one, you will click over to read about updates and new projects.

      I have found that when mixing Plaster of Paris or Non-sanded grout into paint that is a paint and primer in one formula – it binds the paint. Same happens when you use acrylic craft paint. Valspar paint has a primer in it. So do many brands. It usually states it on the label. If you like Valspar, just ask to use the contractor paint. It does not have primer in it. I have used Glidden Premium in a satin finish and always get excellent results. Calcium Carbonate Powder mixes into a velvety smooth mix. I use it now all the time now and on a few pieces I have added a bit of Plaster. It creates a very hard durable finish.

  12. Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions says:

    Cute knobs, Diane! I love clock faces, too. I seem to have a thing for clocks. : ) Your cabinet looks great in white. I always think it looks so fresh and clean in a bathroom.

  13. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    Oh you had me with the colors, then the stripes….. but the beautiful clock knobs put me in heaven. I so love them. I too am a clock person. I am sure I inherited that gene from my Daddy. I have added yet again to my want to do list from your make overs. Also, I am sending you an email today also for help with voting for you.

  14. Love the knobs. Can’t wait to see the finished room.

  15. Can’t wait to see your finished room. Those knobs just set off those two doors. Love…..

  16. Oh my, I love those cabinet knobs! I’m excited to see the completed room. Vikki in VA.