How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Painting Kitchen Cabinets
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If your kitchen cabinets need an upgrade, but you don’t want to spend the money to replace them, paint is a great option. This DIY project will give your kitchen the facelift you’re looking for at a fraction of the cost.

Prep Your Cabinets for Painting

To ensure professional quality results, you’ll need to put some work into prepping your cabinets before they’re ready for a coat of paint.

  1. Clear out your cabinets and countertops. Cover your countertops, backsplash, and appliances with a drop cloth or rosin paper.
  2. Label all doors. You can do this with masking tape or write directly on the door in an inconspicuous spot. This will make your life much easier when it’s time to re-hang them.
  3. Remove all hardware. If you’re going to reuse your current hardware, place the pieces in a plastic baggie and stick it in the corresponding cabinet. This way, you won’t have to play a guessing game when you’re re-assembling your cabinets later.
  4. Scrub away the grease. Kitchen cabinets naturally collect grease, food particles, and dust. You want to get all of that off before you start painting. Use a solution of one part trisodium phosphate and four parts water to effectively clean your doors and cabinet boxes.
  5. Gently sand the cabinets with 100 grit sandpaper to ensure the paint will adhere. You don’t need to sand down to bare wood. Thoroughly vacuum any sanding dust and wipe with a cloth to ensure you’re left with a clean surface.
  1. Apply a coat of primer. Priming your cabinets will ensure a smooth, professional look when all is said and done. If you want to speed up the process, go for a fast-drying primer.

Start Painting

Now that your cabinets are prepped, it’s time for the fun part–applying fresh paint!

  1. Choose your paint type. Oil-based paint was once the standard for kitchen cabinets, but water-based paints have come a long way. They’re easier to work with and just as durable. A favorite among professionals is Benjamin Moore Advance Satin Finish, which you can get for around $56 a gallon.
  2. Paint with a mini roller. A paintbrush will leave stroke marks in your finish, while a roller will apply the paint smoothly. However, it’s a good idea to have an angled brush on hand to get into any corners a roller can’t reach.
    Start with the door’s edges and make your way to the front face of the cabinet. Apply your paint in thin, light coats, while still covering the entire surface. Go slow and steady to prevent air bubbles.
  3. Lightly re-sand between coats. Wait at least four hours for your first coat of paint to dry, and then lightly re-sand the surface so your second coat has something to grip. Wipe away all sanding dust with a tack cloth.
  4. Paint your second coat. When using high-quality paint, two coats is usually all it takes. However, you might consider doing a third coat if your cabinets tend to take a beating during everyday use. Be sure to lightly re-sand again before you apply a third coat.
  1. Reinstall your cabinets and hardware once everything is completely dry and you’re happy with the finish.

Spray Painting

While the steps above outline the most common way to paint your cabinets, you can also use spray paint. You’ll still need to follow the prep work steps to clean, sand, and prime your cabinets first. You can, however, use a spray primer rather than rolling it on.

  1. Take your doors outside or to a well-ventilated space. Spray paint is messy and releases fumes into the air, so make sure to protect yourself and any objects you don’t want covered in paint.
  2. Start spraying, holding the can 8 to 10 inches away. Move in long, light strokes, up and down and back and forth for an even, professional look. Apply a few thin, light coats for the best results.
  3. Seal the job. Spray your painted cabinets with a sealant to protect them from general wear and tear. This step will keep your freshly painted cabinets looking like new for longer.

Project Costs

Choosing the DIY route for painting your kitchen cabinets will save you a lot of money. The average cost of hiring a professional for this job is around $1,000. As you can surmise from the extensive prep work that goes into this project, most of that cost is for labor. While taking on this project yourself will cost you time, you can expect to spend about $105 on materials. That’s a savings of $895!

If you have patience and a free weekend, painting your kitchen cabinets is the perfect DIY project to spruce up your home.