Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Painting Kitchen Cabinets is a Cost Effective Kitchen Remodeling Project

By Mark J. Donovan

Painting kitchen cabinets is a great way to restore them to their original beauty. Kitchen cabinets take a beating due to the fact that the kitchen is the most utilized room in the home. Between the constant opening and closing of kitchen cabinets and drawers, and the wild swings in humidity levels due to cooking, kitchen cabinets can quickly become worn out and shabby looking even after just a few years. Painting kitchen cabinets offers an affordable, do it yourself solution for revitalizing them.

Before jumping in and painting your kitchen cabinets, it is important to first step back and evaluate the current finish on your kitchen cabinets. If they are painted, you can either paint them the same color or try something new.

In addition, a coat of primer may not be required when applying new paint to painted kitchen cabinets. If they are stained, then you will need to prime them first before applying paint. In either case, however, you must first clean and sand the kitchen cabinets before painting them.

Remove Kitchen Cabinet Doors and Mechanical Hardware

For best results when painting kitchen cabinets you should remove the kitchen cabinet doors and all of the mechanical hardware on the kitchen cabinet doors and faces. This includes, hinges, knobs, and handles.

Clean and Sand Kitchen Cabinets

Prior to painting kitchen cabinets it is imperative that they are first thoroughly cleaned and sanded. If these steps are not done, the paint will not adhere well to the kitchen cabinets and in short order you will end up with kitchen cabinets that have paint flaking and chipping problems.

Painting kitchen cabinets is a cost effective kitchen remodeling idea.

To properly clean, sand and paint kitchen cabinets it is best to remove the kitchen cabinet doors from the cabinet faces and work on them in a garage or other well ventilated work area.

To clean the kitchen cabinet doors and cabinet faces, use a commercial cleaner and a rag and thoroughly scrub them to remove grease, food and grime.

After thoroughly cleaning the kitchen cabinets, next lightly sand the doors and faces with 150 to 180 grit sandpaper. You do not need to sand them down to the bare wood. The purpose of the light sanding is to rough up the kitchen cabinet surfaces so that primer and paint can adhere better to them.

Priming Kitchen Cabinets

Once the kitchen cabinets have been cleaned and sanded, you can now apply a primer. A primer helps ensure a better bond between the paint and the kitchen cabinets. Again, you do not need to apply a primer if you are painting over originally painted kitchen cabinets, unless you are applying a much lighter paint over a dark paint. In this case, you should probably apply a primer to the painted kitchen cabinets first. You should always prime over previously stained kitchen cabinets, as paint does not adhere well to stained or varnished surfaces.

Kitchen Remodeling Bid Sheet

When it comes to applying primer, it is important to use the right kind relative to the paint you plan to use. There are a variety of primers available to choose from. If you plan to apply an oil-based paint to your kitchen cabinets, then you should use an oil-based primer. If you are plan on applying a latex paint to your kitchen cabinets, then you should use a shellac-based primer.

Both primer types have strong smells. Consequently make sure the kitchen and the area where you are painting the kitchen cabinet doors are well ventilated.

Allow the primer to fully dry prior to painting the kitchen cabinets.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

To paint kitchen cabinets you can use either a sprayer or a high quality 2 ½” wide paint brush. A sprayer is idea for achieving the ultimate in finish, however a high quality paint brush does nearly as well, particularly if you apply multiple thin coats of paint. You can typically rent a sprayer from your local home improvement center if you want to go the sprayer route. Also, when painting kitchen cabinet doors in a garage make sure the temperature is in the proper range as specified by the paint instructions.

If you plan to paint your kitchen cabinets with a paint brush, make sure to apply thin coats. Typically 2 or 3 coats are necessary to achieve a smooth and professional finish. Ideally, you should lightly sand between coats of paint with 400 grit (very fine) sandpaper. This will help to achieve a very smooth paint finish. Make sure the paint is thoroughly dry before applying additional coats.

Reattach Kitchen Cabinet Hardware and Kitchen Cabinet Doors

After the final coat has fully dried, reattach the kitchen cabinet hardware to the doors and cabinet faces. Then reattach the kitchen cabinet doors to the kitchen cabinet faces to complete the project.

For help on your kitchen remodeling project, see my Kitchen Remodeling Bid Sheet. The Kitchen Remodeling Bid Sheet provides a request for quote checklist section that you can provide to prospective kitchen remodeling contractors. It also includes a comprehensive kitchen remodeling cost breakdown table, in Microsoft Excel format, that allows the contractor to include his projected remodeling costs for every phase of the project.

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Additional Kitchen Remodeling Design Resources


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