How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Contemporary kitchens

Contemporary kitchens

If you want to remodel your kitchen and do it on the cheap side, consider painting your kitchen cabinets as opposed to refacing them.  First do a visual inspection to make sure the cabinets are worthy of giving a second life.  If they are chipped, scratched, and falling off the wall, you may want to re-think the process.  These steps are all part of the analysis phase.

We are going to go ahead and describe the painting process since it is such a good idea for the budget minded home owner.

Preparation

Like any other room you paint, you are going to have to clear the area of obstacles.  This means removing all the dishes and pots and pans and finding a new home for them temporarily since you will be painting the insides of the cabinets.

Cabinet painting is a multi-coat process that usually requires about 24 hours between coat times.  This means the entire painting process will take several days so alot your time accordingly.  If you live in New Jersey and plan of painting your cabinets during the summer, it’s going to cut into your beach time.

What Type of Cabinets can be painted?

Wood cabinets made of solid wood and those made of plywood with a veneer on top. The surface needs to be able to be sanded.   If your cabinets have a vinyl veneer or a wall paper like surface, you won’t be able to do this and the paint will not stick.

Getting Started

Follow the steps below:

  • Remove the doors and drawers and all the hardware attached to them.
  • Wash each surface to be painted with TSP or a heavy duty cleaner (Spic and Span or Simple Green) to remove any dirt and grease.  Grease from cooking must be cleaned off or sanding the cabinet will be a mess.  Your sand paper will continually get gummed up.
  • Sand all areas with 100 grit (medium) sandpaper.  Don’t totally remove the old finish unless it is peeling.  If it is, blend it in to the surrounding areas.  All the surfaces must be dulled in order for paint to adhere to the surface.  Be careful on the corners.  It’s easy to round off square edges when using a medium grit paper.
  • Clean up the residue dust with a shop vac or other vacuum.
  • Use a tack cloth and run it over your sanded cabinets to pick up any residue that the vac didn’t get.
  • Apply a primer coat.

Make sure you sand the cabinets between each coat of paint applied (starting with the primer) with a light grit 220 sandpaper.  Focus on the imperfections in the paint such as dust or paint lines.

Type of Painting

Many folks will at least entertain the thought of “do you think I can use spray paint”.  That’s the first thing that comes to mind with most people simply because it is the easiest with little clean up.  Sorry guys, but the good old brush method will work best.  Painting with a brush allows you to get in corners and regulate the amount of paint applied with much better control than a spraying can.  Make sure the brush you are going to use is of high quality.  Oil based paint is what we suggest to use.  A good brush will spread the paint evenly.

Type of Paint to Use

Your first coat will be a primer and should be an oil based enamel paint.  The second coat is called a “split coat”.  The term “split coat” is titled as such because you will be cutting the paint with a 50/50 mixture of the primer and the final finish you plan on using.  The third coat is the finish color.  Use an oil-based enamel as it will have a glossy finish that will allow you to clean the cabinets.  Remember, patience, diligence, and care will provide you the best results.

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