Painting Kitchen Cabinets: A How To

Painting kitchen cabinets is one of the most cost-effective, easily doable ways to give your kitchen an impressive new look. It’s a fairly simple process, but the key to producing a professional-quality result lies in patience and thorough preparation.

Before you begin, you’ll want to be sure you know what kind of cabinets you’ll be working with–wood, wood-laminate, metal, or plastic laminate–as this will partially dictate which tools to use and how to proceed. Wood and metal cabinets can be refinished following the steps below, but plastic laminate may require special paints and techniques.

Then you’ll need to gather your tools and materials: fine-grit sandpaper, a sanding block, tack cloth, steel wool, a paintbrush or roller, painter’s tape, primer sealer, semigloss paint, denatured alcohol, and trisodium phosphate. All of these things should be easy to find at your local hardware store.

Once you’re ready to begin the process, the first step is to remove the doors, drawers, knobs, and any other hardware. Mark where each piece came from, particularly the location of cabinet doors, so that the hinges will line up again at the end. Clean all the surfaces to be painted with a mixture of one part trisodium phosphate to four parts water, rinse them, and allow them to dry.

Lightly sand the doors so that the new paint will have a good surface to adhere to, paying particular attention to any areas that are especially worn due to frequent use, and then vacuum up the sanding dust so that your paint does not get grainy. Then apply an even coat of primer-sealer.

When you’re ready to paint, tape off the interiors with painter’s tape for a clean finish. Then start painting the inside edges, working your way out toward the sides and then the front faces. Use thin, light coats (they show fewer brushstrokes and dry more quickly) and allow the paint to dry thoroughly between applications. Two coats should do the trick, but three may be preferable since kitchen cabinets are subject to a lot of cooking heat, grease, and everyday use.

Once everything is dry, replace the knobs and cabinets, then step back and marvel at your new kitchen!

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