Bathroom cabinets tend to absorb moisture, which can cause them to warp, swell, discolor, or otherwise get damaged. Because water is central to bathrooms, there are some practical steps–such as purchasing cabinets made with water-resistant materials, ventilating the bathroom, and regularly inspecting the plumbing for leaks–that can help protect cabinets to keep them looking their best and lasting longer.

Considerations Before Purchasing Cabinets

When renovating a bathroom, look for cabinets that are made from materials that hold up better in wet conditions such as acrylic and PVC. These materials are more affordable, durable, easy to clean and maintain, and come in a wide range of colors and styles, making them a popular choice for bathroom cabinets.

While many homeowners naturally gravitate to wood cabinets for their durability and aesthetic appeal, they are vulnerable to water damage. High-density plywood and engineered wood (also known as ‘MDF’) are wood options that perform better in bathrooms than traditional cabinet woods.

Ideas for Waterproofing

If the cabinets you choose aren’t already waterproofed, you can do this yourself (or hire someone to do it for you) to keep moisture from seeping into any seams or other small openings in the cabinets.

Apply a liquid or spray-on sealant (such as polyurethane), specially designed mildew-resistant paint, or a bathroom varnish with a foam roller or paintbrush. Paint and varnish will also allow you to add a decorative touch with different colors or finishes to make your cabinets pop. 

Paint that resists water tends to be glossy or semi-glossy because these finishes are better at repelling water. Two coats are generally recommended.

Another idea is to apply adhesive-backed contact paper to the tops of the cabinets that are exposed to moisture. No one will see this, but it will act as a protective barrier against moisture that can build up in the upper reaches of bathrooms.

Make Sure the Bathroom Is Well-Ventilated

To reduce the humidity in a bathroom, leave a window slightly open (especially during showers) or install an exhaust fan to whisk away the steam. A dehumidifier is another option that can help keep a bathroom drier.

Check the Plumbing from Time to Time

Cabinets often conceal plumbing, so you need to make sure you don’t have any hidden leaks (large or small) that could damage your cabinets from the inside. Water can be tricky and where you see a leak may not be the source of the problem. There could be a leaky pipe, a problem with a sink or faucet, or old caulking that is peeling away and letting water sneak in and dribble until it finds an opening and spills into the cabinet. 

If you find water pooling in a cabinet, wipe it up immediately so it doesn’t have time to do permanent damage. Setting up a fan to blow on the area until it’s completely dry is not a bad idea, either. If you see water dripping, place a bucket underneath to catch the water or find the turn-off valve that feeds that pipe and twist it counterclockwise until it is off. Then, call a plumber.

Make sure all seams are sealed, including the seam between the wall and countertop. In addition to protecting against water, sealing will prevent dirt and grime from accumulating and keep that area looking clean. If your bathroom counter is made of wood, it absolutely needs to be varnished to keep splashes from doing damage.

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In Summary

While no material is 100% waterproof, you can make your bathroom cabinets as water-resistant as possible so they will last for years to come. That said, sometimes they just need to be replaced.

If you are a homeowner or an investor wanting to flip a recent purchase, check out the modern bathroom cabinet options offered at 27estore. Our team of professionals is available to guide you in making the right cabinet choice based on your specific needs. We are well-versed in the standard width of a bathroom cabinet and can offer creative solutions such as a storage cabinet above the toilet!