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  • The Brolaws

How to DIY your bathroom vanity on a (very small) budget

My wife and I set out to renovate our powder room over the holidays. We decided to do it as a Christmas present to each other because ours was in rough shape and needed an update, badly! We were working on a pretty small budget for this project and one of the big costs that usually adds up in any bathroom reno is the vanity. They can range anywhere from $300 to $3000 dollars depending on the size and how complex you get with them. Seeing as we didn’t have it in the budget, we decided to do a little DIY on an old vanity to get the colour and finish we wanted. So, my wife went online and found a vanity someone was trying to get rid of for $80. I went to take a look at it and ended up talking them down to $40 because it was in pretty rough shape. After a bunch of back and forth, they gave in and sold it for the $40! The vanity was scratched all over and had a Thermofoil finish which means that it had a laminate finish on top of it that had been glued on. So, I needed to strip off that finish in order to get the nice navy finish we wanted.

Next, I got out the blow dryer. If you have a heat gun this process will be a lot easier but since I didn't have one (and most people don’t) the blow dryer was the only option. This is a true DIY - In all of my years, I’ve never done this before. Building a vanity would have been easy but doing it with only $40 would have been pretty tough. Next, I turned the blow dryer to high heat and put it right up against the Thermofoil membrane to reactivate the glue that was underneath. That way the membrane comes right off. Then I took a putty knife and I scraped it right along. I’ll also say that yes, this is pretty tedious work and took a long time but it’s totally doable. I’d advise using a heat gun in future to save time. I repeated the steps of heating up a little, scraping and peeling off more each time. This is where you’ll want to sit down and find a comfortable position until you’ve got as much glue and laminate off the cabinet as possible.

Once I had it all stripped down I took some light sandpaper to it to get the glue off and get it nice and smooth. Next was the priming. It took about three coats of primer with a good sanding between each coat. I started with a 200 grit and moved to a 400 grit when I was finished. All in all, there were three coats of primer with a good sanding in between each coat to make sure that the finish was nice and durable and also looked good! Once I had all three coats on, I used an all-purpose enamel paint from Sherwin-Williams and used my Graco paint sprayer and painted two coats of the navy blue paint. For an extra smooth finish, I’d recommend sanding in between these coats as well. After you’re done painting, let it dry and that’s it - you’re all done and ready to install! Man, this thing was totally transformed from start to finish. I was so proud of how it turned out! One other thing I’ll say is that if you’re wanting to tackle a project like this then you’re going to need to have a lot of patience, especially if you want it done right and looking its best!

To recap, this is definitely something you can do on your own, given you have the patience. If you’re on a budget, hop on Kijiji and have a look around - people are always trying to get rid of stuff like this. Remember, always talk them down! Next, take your time in stripping off the old glue and use that elbow grease to give that puppy a good sanding. Sanding is key to making your new vanity look like new. Don’t half-ass this! Trust me, put in the time and you’ll be happy with the results! Take a look at the pictures, there is no way I could have bought something that good for $40! Give it a try, share your pictures when you’re done! -Dave (The MUCH better looking BroLaw)

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