Thinking about painting your Kitchen Cabinets?
Updated: Jul 14, 2018
Tired of the dull cabinets you've had for so long, and thinking about giving your kitchen a face lift by painting your cabinets? Great! There are so many beautiful colors that can enhance any kitchen, making you feel like you have a brand-new space to prepare meals and gather with friends. However, painting kitchen cabinets may seem simple enough, but the truth is, there are some very important steps necessary to consider to be sure to produce
the very best results.
1. Prepping, prepping, and more prepping! Did I mention prepping? In other words, this cannot be stressed enough. Unfortunately, many do-it-your-self folks often end up cutting corners where prep work is concerned because, let's face it, it is no fun and it can take a long time. This is where the virtue of patience is needed more than ever. A project like this can't be done in a day or even in a weekend if it is expected it to turn out like the pictures seen online of other people's painted cabinets. Realistically, the time frame for a project like this is about 1-2 weeks, depending on how busy life is and the amount of time available to commit to working on the cabinets.
The first thing that must be done is to clean the wood with a special cleaner designed to remove years of build-up such as grease, grime, dirty hands opening and closing cabinet doors and drawers, etc. Most paint stores can recommend the best product for the job. In addition, there are special products available to dull the gloss on the wood finish to ensure the paint bonds properly. However, some may prefer lightly sanding the surfaces and that's fine, too. Make sure to vacuum and/or dust off the sanding residue left behind. In our opinion, unless the cabinets have areas that require sanding for reasons other than knocking the surface gloss off, using a special product that can be wiped on with an old rag is less time consuming. The second must is to remove all the doors and drawers and the hardware. Many people choose to purchase newer updated hardware to complement their new cabinet color! Keeping track of how many door and drawer handles helps to ensure you buy the correct amount. It is also important to remember where the doors once hung up when painting is completed because they will need to go back in the same place. Therefore, it is worth labeling things to help remember where everything goes. Believe me, this step is worth taking! Finally, it is important to have a traffic-free space where the cabinet doors can be painted, such as the garage or a spare room. If both sides of the cabinet doors will be painted, consider purchasing “paint pyramids” to elevate the doors to make painting simpler from side to side. In addition, be sure to protect the area from paint drips and splatters by using drop cloths when painting the cabinet doors and drawers.
2. Primer: Now that the prep work is complete, move on to the next phase; priming the wood. How nice it would be if the paint could just be applied at this point and be done, but this is a crucial step that will make the life of the cabinet color last for the life of the cabinets if done correctly. If this step is skipped, the cabinets may appear to look great for a few months before the wood grain, knots, and other discrepancies in the original wood begin to show through and things begin to look blotchy. Therefore, it is important to use a stain-blocking primer because most cabinets are originally painted with a rich stain.
3. Color Choice! This is super important because it needs to be a color one can live with for many years and be happy about it. This will be a personal preference in terms of deciding what color to go with, and it will depend a lot on the color of the walls and appliances. There are thousands of resources available online or at the local home improvement stores for ideas to help make this decision.
4. Choose the right Paint! Two things…don’t buy cheap paint…and make sure the paint has the proper sheen needed for the finish. Buying the best paint, even if it is more expensive, is worth it for such an investment. If cheap paint is used, then the end result will be a cheap look. It’s that simple. Next, make sure the sheen is what you want; flat is usually not a good choice for cabinets; satin or semi-gloss are the two best choices. At this point it is a personal preference. Some may like a shiny finish, which comes from using semi-gloss, and others may prefer a less-glossy look, which comes from using a satin finish. However, if a more rustic finish is desired, there are ways of making this happen with a combination of a satin finish and a flat finish paint, but that is a whole different project and goes beyond this basic DIY blog.
5. Use the correct applicator! How do you know which brush is the best to use?? There are so many different types available. There is no easy answer to this for the DIY person because learning the difference between brushes and the different bristles needed for varied surfaces is trial and error. This part can be frustrating for DIY folks because brush strokes are often visible and unless they are perfectly straight and feathered out just right, the finish may not always be what was expected. However, if done correctly, a foam roller can be used to smooth out the brush strokes. We usually use a paint sprayer for the smoothest finish, but not everyone has a paint sprayer.
6. Putting everything back together: Patience must be practiced at this point because placing the doors and drawers back too soon can smudge, chip, or scratch the paint. Waiting at least three days is a safe time frame, and in the long run the cabinets will have long-lasting beauty for years.