How to Glaze Your Antique Bathroom Cabinets? (6 Easy Steps)

how to glaze bathroom cabinets

Do your antique bathroom cabinets look dull and boring? Is it time to give their surface appearance an upgrade?

If so, then you need to consider painting and glazing your cabinets a new color.

A new coat of paint is a much cheaper way to enhance the beauty of your bathroom cabinets.

You won’t need to replace your cabinets or any of their parts. Instead, you’re merely changing the color on the outside in a few easy steps.

After you’re done applying the paint to your bathroom cabinets, you can finish off the project by glazing the cabinets.

What Does it Mean to Glaze a Cabinet?

The glaze in general is a much thinner paint film that goes over the base paint color to give it more contrast and richness.

It’s like a mixture of dark paint and water where the water is used to thin out the darker paint so that it is easier to apply to a surface.

You will need to wait until the base paint dries first before applying the glaze film.

It is best to use glaze on wooden fixtures and furniture pieces, such as bathroom cabinets.

If you want to make your wooden bathroom cabinets look older and more vintage, then adding glaze to them is a good idea.

Since the application process is easy, it is not necessary to hire a professional painter to glaze your bathroom cabinets.

Few reasons why I like this technique are:

1- Brings out details

If you desire to have a sheen like that of custom cabinets that comes with some exciting gorgeous details, you should try glazing them.

When painting, staining, or spraying the aging cabinets with your favorite color, the details, and the natural element of the wood are often lost.

Glazing your stained cabinets, on the other hand, gives your details a subtle boost-up so that nobody misses these designs out while looking.

2- Great for customized look

Glazing is a process that is usually done by hand.  

Glazed cabinets can help add that traditional customized antique look to your kitchen or bathroom.

These not only look to be warmer but also feel to be less modern and more antique.

Its, therefore, a best to have for those who want to add a bit of vintage touch to their bathroom.

3- Adds antique look and dramatic element

While the cabinets painted flat can give your bathroom a colder modern feel, having the cabinets glazed actually does the opposite.

While creating an antique look, it also adds a dramatic element to your bathroom which makes it feel warmer and homier.

The darker or more layers of pre-colored glaze you put, the more dramatic and sharper effect it creates in your room.

Think of the effect when you are in your bathtub and enjoying the scented aroma of a nearby bathroom diffuser along with an antique and dramatic element.

6 Steps for Glazing Your Bathroom Cabinets

The glazing process is an easy enough process to do on your own. The most challenging part is to choose a glaze that is the right color shade.

But if you select a glaze with a darker shade than your base paint color, then you will be fine.

After that, the application of the glaze on the wooden surface will be just as easy as it was to apply the base paint.

Step 1. Gather Tools

Gather all the necessary tools and materials first.

This glazing project will require a screwdriver, premixed glazing solution, plastic bag (resealable), two dry and soft cotton cloths, and one small paint roller made of foam.

Alternatively, you can use a China paintbrush instead of a roller if preferred.

Step 2. Remove Hardware

Use the screwdriver to remove the screws from the handles of the bathroom cabinets. Save the screws by placing them into the plastic bag.

You may want to remove the hinges and doors of the cabinets, but it is not required for getting the job done.

Step 3. Get the Glaze

Remove the seal from the premixed glaze container.

Add the glaze to the foam portion of the paint roller or the bristles of the paintbrush.

I recommend putting the glaze with a cloth as its much easier to work with.

Remember, you don’t need to add a lot of glazes to get the effect.

The glaze should only be applied as a thin layer (thinner than a paint or a stain you put).

Since you need to get a very light thin coat and not a thick overcoat, putting a thick coat of glaze will be the biggest mistake you will make.

Step 4. Apply the Glaze

Now apply the glaze to the surface of the cabinets using a thick-grade cloth. Rub it over gently to get a smooth finish.

If you are using a roller or brush move them in one direction only.

Focus on one small area of the cabinets at a time. The glaze on the cabinets will dry quickly. For this reason, it is better to focus on sections as you work.

Step 5. Clean the Excess Glaze

You can use the soft clean cloth to remove the excess glaze if it has not dried yet.

Leaving a slightly more glaze in the areas like millwork, grooves or engravings can sometimes look great.

So, if you have these designs on the cabinets you would need to decide whether you want to clean up the excess glaze or want to leave it as it is.

Plus, the glaze can easily build up in layers on your roller or brush, so removing some glaze is recommended when that happens during your project.

Step 6. Let the Glaze Dry

Let the glaze on the cabinets dry altogether.

After they have dried, reattach all the handles, hinges, and doors that you had removed previously from the cabinets.

Precautionary Tip:

Glazes tend to dry darker. So in between applying the layers, take a step back and look for the finish you get.

Do not wipe away the glaze too much as this can cause a dirty look which is not impressive.

Leaving too much of glaze on the surface will also not help as it can make the effect less visible.

While glazing painted cabinets you should be creating a balance between the both and wipe gently if you really feel.

what type of glaze for cabinets

What Kind of Glaze to Use on Cabinets?

Glazes for cabinets and other wood furniture are available in two different formulas i.e. water-based and oil-based.

  • Usually, if you have stained cabinets, oil-based glazes will work better
  • And for painted bathroom or kitchen cabinets, water-based glazes are ideal

Since oil-based glazes contain linseed oil or kerosene, they will tend to dry slower (usually in about 40 to 60 minutes).

This means it’s easier to work with oil-based glazes as compared to water-based glazes.

If you want to apply a coat of glazing on cured polyurethane, you can use oil-based polyurethane and epoxy resin glazes.

What Colors to Use?

Since there are so many pre-colored glazes available on the market, you can choose an already-tinted glaze according to your taste and personal feel.

How much paint you add to the glaze, will typically determine the translucency of the glaze you will achieve.

So, if you want you can also tint your own glaze by mixing glaze and paint in a ratio of 4:1.

If you want to make your glazed cabinets look chocolaty, for example, you can do that by mixing chocolate-colored paint with a clear glaze.

The more chocolate-colored paint you use with the glaze, the darker the glazed chocolatey cabinets will look.

In case, you do not want to get a darker or sharper face-lift, you can simply use a clear colorless glaze for your cabinets to get that charming welcoming look.

TIP: If you just want to try the color to make sure how it looks, you can start by glazing inside of the cabinet first. Once you are sure about the tone, you can move ahead.

Can You Use Gel Stain as A Glaze?

Yes, you can apply gel stain as a glaze over finished stained wood.

This will offer the wood of the cabinets with more appealing and antiquing character.

Gel stain can also be applied to unfinished wood to provide them better protection and a deepened look.

Is Gel Stain Better?

Gel stain is preferred most as it does not require you to sand the surface.

Since gel stain is thicker you can use it for painting a faux wood grain or for many other creative applications

You can also even out the finish later in time, by applying multiple coats without the need of removing the previous coat.

The only difference between a gel stain and a glaze lies in the volume of pigment and binder they contain.

While stains come with some binders, glazes contain very less or no binder. Glazes usually contain more pigment than stains.

What Type of Paint You Should Glaze On?

I have glazed (de-glazed, and re-glazed) over a variety of different types of paints like latex paints, oil paints, enamels, polyurethane, chalk paints, etc.

Not only on bathroom cabinets but on various other furniture pieces like sideboard buffet, hutch, wooden mirror frame, vanity, etc.

IMO, glazing will work best over latex-based paints with eggshell or satin finish.

Glazing over flat and glossy paints is not very easy to work with.

Glaze may work over oil-based paints for you, depending on various factors (like the brand of paint, how old it is, etc)

But you should not try glazing over chalk paints, especially if its unsealed.

Since chalk paint is naturally porous, glazing over it will make the glaze to settle down in pores.

This will create a muddy messy look rather than a smooth, silky and buttery surface.

Can You Paint Over Glazed Cabinets and Furniture?

Painting or staining over glazed cabinets is NOT so easy and I will not recommend doing so.

If you fail to do it properly you will be wasting your time, energy and maybe also damaging the finish forever.

Since paint or stain does not adhere to the glaze coating well, it’s important to remove the glaze first if you really need to paint.  

You should then apply a coat of good primer followed with a premium quality glossy paint.

How to remove glaze?

Removing the wood glaze from cabinets is an important step which you should pay heed to. And this should be done carefully.

If not, you can damage the accent glaze finish on your cabinets forever. And then painting over it to cover the flaws can be pretty expensive.

As long as you can put some extra time and effort into removing the coating of glaze precisely, you can do all this in a DIY way without the need of hiring a professional painter.

Here are a few steps you can follow to remove old dried glaze from cabinets:

  • Using a power palm sander (fitted with a fine-grit paper) start sanding the cabinets
  • Work slowly to remove the entire glaze both from inside and outside of the cabinets
  • Take a damp cotton rag and wipe away the dust particles completely
  • Since you have used a damp rag, let the cabinet dry for half an hour
  • Check again if there is still some glaze left – if it’s still there, sand the surface a bit more
  • While sanding make sure, you do not sand too hard to get the bare wood – your goal is to only remove the glaze layer

You will need to sand around the edges and corners well so that it matches with the rest of the cabinet.

For this you can use a sanding block (without a sander) or a bit of liquid sandpaper will do the work for you.

Now when you have removed the entire glaze, you are ready to paint.

The primer and paint will now stick better without the risk of getting any bubbles, cracks, or peel-offs.

The bottom line

The glaze is so versatile that you can easily add some (to your old aged furniture) for achieving many different looks.

To glaze or not to glaze your bathroom flat panel cabinets will generally depend on the overall design, look and feel of your space.

Make sure the surface of the cabinets is clean and dry before glazing it. A smooth paint coat should have already been applied to the distressed surface.

If you used oil paint as the base paint, then it’ll need 24 hours to dry. There can be no cracks or splinters in the wood either.

If everything checks out, then you can go ahead and apply the wood glaze.

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