How to Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets

Painting your kitchen cabinets can have a dramatic impact on the look of your kitchen. This project is relatively inexpensive compared to the high-ticket cost of replacing your cabinetry. But some homeowners are hesitant to do the work, fearing a less-than-desirable result. This task may seem intimidating, but with some time, care and a little know-how, you can give your cabinets a whole new look. Follow these steps to get the best results from this DIY kitchen project.

Step 1:

Prepare your work area. Clear the room of any items that might get in your way. This includes furniture and anything on your countertops and cabinets, like small appliances and knick knacks. Lay drop cloths on the floor. Tape down protective paper or plastic on your counter tops.

Step 2:

Prepare the cabinets for painting. Remove the cupboard doors and remove all hardware from both the doors and the cabinet boxes. Be sure to keep the right screws with the right hardware so you can reinstall them when completed. It’s a good idea to number your cabinets and their corresponding boxes using painters’ tape so that you can easily replace them when you’re finished painting.

Fill any holes or gaps with wood filler. You may also want to fill any unwanted wood grain with spackling. Some types of wood, such as oak, will have many pores and a deep wood grain that may show through your paint. This is fine if that’s the look you’re going for, but if you want a smooth finish, you might want to include this step.

Once your filling or spackling has dried, lightly sand the entire surface of your cabinets with 100-grit sandpaper. You do not need to sand away the existing finish completely, but you want to create a slightly rough surface for your primer to adhere to. If your cabinets have molding, use a green abrasive pad sponge to sand it as it will fit better into the corners and edges than sandpaper.

After sanding, use a T.S.P. Cleaner to wash down the cabinets. If you find that your cabinets have a build-up of grease, you may want to do this before you sand as well. After washing, rinse them well and let them dry according to your T.S.P. Cleaner’s instructions.

Step 3:

Clean up your work area. You do not want any dust from your sanding to get stirred up and redeposited on your cabinets or in your paint as you work. Clean all surfaces in the area you’re working, including the floor.

Step 4:

Prime your cabinets. You will apply your paint and primer with either brushes and a roller or a sprayer. A sprayer is faster and will give a more finished look because it decreases the possibility of brush marks or drips. You can purchase – and often rent – sprayers to use at home. Usually, they are powered by an air compressor. If using a brush, apply your primer first against the grain and then with it. This will help to give you a smoother, even finish.

Depending on the current finish of your cabinets, you may wish to apply two coats of primer. It is important to let the primer dry completely before applying the next coat of primer or paint. When choosing a primer, an enamel underbody primer is recommended. While some water-based paints might do a great job, professionals often prefer oil-based priming for this type of job as it will finish smoother with fewer brush marks and provide a nice undercoating for your paint.

Step 5:

Once you’ve primed your cabinets, it’s time to paint. You will need to lightly sand your cabinets again before applying the paint. Be sure to clean your cabinets and work area of any sanding dust before applying your paint. It is ideal to use a paint with a melamine component to improve the durability of your finished work. If your paint requires a second coat, you will want to sand between each application. When your paint has dried, apply a finishing topcoat for additional shine and durability.

Whenever you are painting indoors, be sure to keep the area well ventilated. Painting your cabinets is a project that takes some time, so be prepared for your cabinets to be out of use for a few days. Keep in mind that the paint will not be fully cured for up to 30 days so be cautious to avoid bumps and bangs on your newly painted cupboards. Once you’ve painted your cabinets, you might also want to replace the hardware and hinges to complete the fresh new look.