Medicine Cabinets: Repair Toothbrush Water Damage & Prevent Its Return

You know that patch of peeled paint, exposed rusting metal, muck, and bacteria growth that is located below the toothbrush holder in the medicine cabinet?...Well that’s what I am repairing in my daughter’s bathroom in this project case study.
It was a bit of work, but the results were excellent and my daughter loves it - so I’m a happy daddy. I’ve included plenty of photos to help you follow along.
STEP-1: Sand Through the Muck & Rust
a. I started out overly optimistic regarding this sanding step (pic-1). I armed myself with sheets of sand paper (wet or dry) and a sanding sponge. Luckily, it only took about 5-10 minutes for me to recognize that was a mistake and to come to my senses.
bathroom tips medicine cabinet repair water damage, bathroom ideas, home maintenance repairs, Pic 1 Started out manually sanding
Pic-1. Started out manually sanding.
b. I broke out the power vibrating sander and ground through the paint and metal with vigor (pic-2). It still took quite a while to sand the rust damage out of the metal surface.
bathroom tips medicine cabinet repair water damage, bathroom ideas, home maintenance repairs, Pic 2 Yep a power sander was the way to go
Pic-2. Yep - a power-sander was the way to go
c. Manually sanding the cabinets sliding mirror channels was arduous and gross (pic-3).
bathroom tips medicine cabinet repair water damage, bathroom ideas, home maintenance repairs, Pic 3 Manually sanding gross door channels
Pic-3. Manually sanding gross door channels.
d. In fact, at one spot in the channel the rust had created a raised bump. It took a metal file and elbow grease to remove the defect (pic-4)
bathroom tips medicine cabinet repair water damage, bathroom ideas, home maintenance repairs, Pic 4 Metal filing a raised bump of rust
Pic-4. Metal filing a raised bump of rust.
e. Although I was able to use the power sander on the back and top surfaces of the cabinet, the sides required more manual sanding (pic-5). The old paint needed to be roughed-up to be ready for applying primer.
bathroom tips medicine cabinet repair water damage, bathroom ideas, home maintenance repairs, Pic 5 Used sanding sponge to get the sides
Pic-5. Used sanding sponge to get the sides.
STEP-2: Prepare Cabinet for Primer Coat
a. I thoroughly rinsed and dried all interior cabinet surfaces, especially the mirror channels.
b. The cabinet was taped off with newspaper and masking tape to protect the surrounding areas that I didn’t want to get primer on.
STEP-3: Spray on Primer Coat
a. I chose to apply a primer coat to fill in the rust-damaged metal areas, provide some rust protection and as an adherence layer for final coat of paint.
b. For ventilation, I opened the bathroom window and used a stand-up fan. I had forgotten how stinky spray painting was – even with ventilation. I had to put on a painter’s respirator to stay in the room.
c. I applied one coat of grey Rustoleum ™ Primer (pic-6). Placed the fan in the room to blow the fumes out of the window and closed the door. Since that part of the house still stunk like paint, I used Fabreze ™ Spray to knock the odor down. It helped.
d. Note that Primer only creates a semi-smooth surface. To do a really good paint job, I would have had to wet sand all of the primered surfaces. Since I was in a hurry, I decided to live with semi-smooth results.
e. I let the primer coat dry overnight.
bathroom tips medicine cabinet repair water damage, bathroom ideas, home maintenance repairs, Pic 6 Med Cabinet after Grey Primer coat
Pic-6. Med Cabinet after Grey Primer coat.
STEP-4: Spray on Final Paint Coat
a. I wiped all the primered surfaces down with a damp rag to remove dust and loose primer particles, then dried the surfaces.
b. I chose Rustoleum ™ Metal Spray Paint – Gloss White for the final coat,
c. Using the same ventilation and safety methods in STEP-3, I applied the white paint heavily to smooth out the semi-smooth primer surface (pic-7).
bathroom tips medicine cabinet repair water damage, bathroom ideas, home maintenance repairs, Pic 7 After application of White Paint
Pic-7. After application of White Paint.
It came out smooth enough for a quick job and the damaged metal was undetectable (pic-8).
d. I let the paint dry for about 6-hours.
bathroom tips medicine cabinet repair water damage, bathroom ideas, home maintenance repairs, Pic 8 Damaged metal is now undetectable
Pic-8. Damaged metal is now undetectable.
bathroom tips medicine cabinet repair water damage, bathroom ideas, home maintenance repairs, Pic 10 Finished results Toothbrush Ready
Pic-10. Finished results - Toothbrush Ready!
Project complete, daughter and daddy are happy.

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