How Many Coats Of Primer And Paint For Bathroom Cabinets?

If you're planning on repainting your bathroom cabinets, and you're in the process of planning how much time and how much paint and primer you'll need, you may be wondering how many coats of each it will take. Well, we've researched the topic in depth to get an answer for you. 

The number of coats of primer you need for bathroom cabinets is 1 to 2. For paint, you will likely need at least 2, but you may need more to achieve the desired color. The number of coats you need depends on whether the cabinet was previously painted or not and whether you have chosen a lighter color of paint than the previous color. 

So you know you need at least one coat of each, but what exactly dictates when you'll need more, and how can you tell? Keep reading as we elaborate on this further. We'll also answer some additional questions you might have about painting and priming bathroom cabinets.

A close up of woman painting cabinets, How Many Coats Of Primer And Paint For Bathroom Cabinets?

Priming And Painting Cabinets: Number Of Coats Needed

The primary reason cabinets may need more than one coat of primer and paint is if they were painted before. That is if the surface is unfinished or not.

Painting An Unfinished Surface

If you are priming and painting an unfinished surface, you will only need one coat of primer. You will probably need at least two coats of paint to cover up any patches, even for an unfinished surface. A second coat can hide brush strokes or enhance the depth of the color. 

Previously Painted Surfaces

You can get away with one coat of primer for cabinets that were previously painted if they were not a much darker color than you intend to paint them now. Two coats of primer will help you need fewer coats of paints to cover up the previous color if it was indeed much darker. 

On the other hand, it's really up to you whether you try to cover the color with additional coats of primer or extra coats of paint. You'll likely not need more than one gallon of paint or primer to get the job done. Therefore, it'll be the same result for the same amount of work and the same cost. 

Keep in mind that when painting a previously painted surface, it is not uncommon to need two to three coats of paint to achieve the color and finish you would like. 

Tip: If you find yourself having to apply more coats of paint than you expected, make sure you are giving each coat an adequate amount of time to dry. Trying to add another coat before the previous one is completely dry can cause it to pull up the previous coat. This means it will keep looking patchy no matter how many coats you add. 

How many coats of primer is too much?

You shouldn't need more than two coats of primer, but what's more important is how thick you apply it. If applied too thick and with too many coats, the primer can begin to bubble, crack, peel and not dry properly. Paint won't be able to hide any of these imperfections. If you've applied too much primer, you'll likely have to try and sand it down or remove it and try again. 

How soon can I paint over primer?

We know you're probably excited to finish your project, but patience is key. You will need to wait until the primer is completely dry before you paint over it. Follow the drying time directions on the can of the primer. However, generally, it is best to wait a full 24 hours before painting over primer. 

If you don't want to wait 24 hours, you can see if the primer is dry to the touch. If you touch it and it doesn't feel sticky or tacky, you can go ahead and begin painting sooner. 

What happens if you don't paint over primer?

This question could be interpreted in two ways. So, let's go over both. We can discuss what happens if you choose to paint without primer or if you choose to only paint with primer. 

If you choose to paint your cabinets without painting over primer, you won't have as smooth of a finish. Primer gives you an excellent base for painting and helps prevent paint from chipping down the road. 

Now, for the question that you're more likely wondering about: can you leave primer without painting it? 

This is a big no-no. You might be tempted to leave the primer without painting it, especially if you were planning on painting your cabinets white. However, primer is not made to be a topcoat. Before long, it will begin to yellow.

Also, the primer does not seal from moisture the way paint does. Which means it will stain if it comes in contact with any leaks. 

Should you sand after priming cabinets?

It might sound counterintuitive to sand after priming. You may be thinking, "but won't I just sand off the primer I just applied?" Don't worry; you won't! You should sand after priming your cabinets and between coats of paint with thin sandpaper. 

Sanding after priming and between coats of paints will help create a smooth surface and remove any paint build-up areas. Just make sure you remove any dust particles created from sanding to not paint them on the surface. 

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What paint finish to use on bathroom cabinets?

Your bathroom is a high traffic and high moisture area, so which finish will be able to stand up to these conditions? The most recommended paint finish for bathroom cabinets is semi-gloss. Semi-gloss is easy to clean and durable. In fact, it's a good finish to use anywhere in your bathroom, from the walls to the trim. 

Semi-gloss will have a lot of sheen to it and can showcase any imperfections, so keep this in mind if you're concerned about any imperfections in your cabinets. 

Click here to see INSL-X Cabinet Coat - Semi-Gloss Paint on Amazon.

Can you use satin paint on bathroom cabinets?

Though semi-gloss is the most recommended, it is not the only option for bathroom cabinets. If you don't like the idea of using semi-gloss paint because of the reasons we previously mentioned, you can use satin paint. 

If you're not looking for as much shine, satin paint can also be a good option for your bathroom cabinets. Satin paint, like semi-gloss, is also easy to clean. Keep in mind, though; satin finishes are not as resistant to mold and mildew the way semi-gloss paints are. This could pose a problem in the bathroom, where high moisture is inevitable. 

Click here to see INSL-X  Cabinet Coat Enamel, Satin Sheen Paint on Amazon.

For more information about what kind of paint you should use to complete your project, check out one of our other blog posts here: What Kind Of Paint Should You Use On Bathroom Cabinets?

Final Thoughts

At the very least, you'll likely need at least one coat of primer and two coats of paint. On the other hand, you shouldn't need more than two coats of primer and three coats of paint. The final number of coats you will need will depend on whether you're painting an unfinished or previously painted surface. If in doubt, go for the extra coat. Happy Painting!

If you're wondering about what other steps you need to take while painting your bathroom cabinets, take a look here: How to Paint Bathroom Cabinets [9 Steps]

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