As most homeowners know, replacing kitchen cabinets can be a huge investment in time and money. Maybe your cabinets are a bit outdated and dingy. Perhaps they are just too dark and you wish to brighten up your kitchen. As long as they are structurally sound and solid, there’s no reason why you can’t keep your cabinets and simply refresh them with a shiny new coat of paint. You can hire a pro to spray paint them and you would still save money over installing new cabinets, but the reality is, if you’ve painted walls and trim in your home, then you’ll do just fine painting your cabinets as well. There are a few extra steps to be aware of if you wish to have a smooth finish, but rest assured, professional results can be achieved by doing it yourself with a brush.
Below, we’ll discuss some basic things to keep in mind when painting your kitchen cabinets, as well as what sets this job apart from painting trim and other woodwork in the home.
- First off, choose the right paint. Kitchen cabinets get a lot more handling than any other painted woodwork in the home. Therefore, it makes sense to get the highest quality, most durable paint you can. A high quality acrylic enamel paint (water-based) will dry faster, be easier to clean up and will create less fumes. An oil-based paint will require more ventilation, time, and effort to clean up (using mineral spirits) but will offer a harder, more durable finish. With either choice, a self-leveling paint is a good idea, since it will smooth out the brush strokes and give you to finish your looking for.
- You’ll need to empty the cabinets and remove the doors. As this project could take at least a week before everything is put back together, it may be a good idea to set up temporary “cabinets” nearby. Plastic storage bins or standing shelving units can be good for this. During this process, it may be a good idea to take a couple “before” pictures in order to remember where everything goes. If you plan on keeping the same hardware, then number each set to correspond with each door and opening. A good place to mark the door with a number is the exposed area where the hinge was. Cover your number with a piece of fresh tape so that it can be removed after painting.
- Because kitchen cabinets (especially old ones) often have stains, built up grease, smoke residue and hand oils, a lot of cleaning and surface preparation is needed in order for the new layer of paint to stick. A degreaser product, such as one containing trisodium phosphate (TSP), can be effective at getting this layer of grime off your cabinets. Be sure to wear gloves, goggles and follow manufacturer’s instructions.
- Older cabinetry that may have a rough surface will need to be sanded smooth. For rough surfaces, consider using a sanding primer such as brushing putty that can then be sanded for a smooth consistent surface. If new hardware is going to be used, then fill all holes with putty and sand smooth before priming. Newer cabinetry that already has a glossy, smooth finish can simply be treated with a de-glosser that will remove the gloss and give the primer something to adhere to.
- The key to a smooth finish is patience. Prime all surfaces first, followed by a sanding with a fine grit paper (220 grit). Use a tack cloth to remove all dust and caulk any open seams or fill any more imperfections with spackle. Allow the spackle to dry and sand smooth with the 220 grit paper. Lastly, spot prime the touched up areas.
- The insides of the cabinets can be primed using a mini roller. Use painter’s tape to protect adjacent services such as the wall or backsplashes when painting the cabinet frame.
- Vacuum all surfaces and wipe with a tack cloth. Everything must be as dust free as possible before applying the top coat.
- When applying the paint, be sure to use even brushstrokes, with the grain of the wood.
- When painting door panels, use the following sequence to reduce the chance of lap marks and paint runs: first paint the area that surrounds the panel itself, and then do the main area of the panel, followed by the rails and stiles of the door (the frame that holds the panel in place).
- When painting doors, paint the backside first, allowing it to dry completely before flipping over and painting the front.
- Depending on the type of paint that you’ve chosen, allow everything to set and dry for 3 to 5 days before reassembling. This will ensure that the paint has cured and is hard enough to be handled.