What to Do and Not Do When Painting Kitchen Cabinets

What to Do and Not Do When Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Do you love your home, but hate the color of your kitchen cabinets? That’s okay! We all have been there before! Cabinet replacement can be super expensive, and not everyone wants strange men in their house painting their cabinets! The simplest solution to all these headaches is painting them yourself! Be careful though! You CAN’T rush these projects! Here are 13 things you should/ shouldn’t do when painting your cabinets!

Painted Kitchen Cabinets

1. Do NOT have unrealistic expectations: Painted cabinets have the potential to look wonderful, but they are not always going to look absolutely smooth. This is due to the fact that most cabinets have grooves. These grooves will not disappear just because you painted on them. This may not be noticeable at first, but after the stain and or paint dries it will become more apparent. You can try to fill the grain/grooves with putty, but this is very time consuming and is very hard to make perfect.

2. Allow yourself enough time: people often think that this is just a simple weekend project. However, this is not the case. Painting cabinets take at LEAST 4-7 days.

3. Do NOT “clean” the wood before painting: refrain from using soap and water. It is a necessity, however, to wipe your cabinets down with grease remover. A recommended grease remover you can use is TSP. Its specific purpose is to degrease items before painting. If you use soap and water on your cabinets and not the degreaser, it will not get rid of the grease. Then, when you add water-based paint on an oil-covered section, the paint will NOT stick.

4. You have to take out the doors and drawers: This first step is vital! Removing the doors and drawers also means taking out the hardware knobs and hinges. You may think that painting everything while still in tact they’re saving time, but reality this is NOT a long-term fix. Painting everything at once will make your cabinets AND hardware chip. The chipping process can start anywhere from immediately to a month. If this does happen, all you can do is sand EVERYTHING down. You may then soak the hardware to continue to remove the paint. It’s just best to save yourself the frustration, and take everything apart first.

Sanding Cabinets

5. Label where the doors, drawers, and hardware goes! What you take down will have to go back up later. It is very easy to forget what cabinet goes where, and what door goes to what cabinet. To keep the confusion at a minimal put a piece of masking tape to the back of each piece. Label the cabinets, and their matching pieces with identical numbers. Also, it would be in your best interest to write the EXACT location (think beside the dishwasher, to the right). This will eliminate confusion later. After you’ve done all your labeling, gather all the screws and hinges in a jar, or container of some kind. This will prevent you from losing them!

6. Do not skip the sanding. Do not be tempted to skip out on the sanding even if your cabinets appear to be in near-perfect condition. The best sandpaper to do is sandpaper with 150 or 200 grit. All the surfaces need is a quick buffing. Your goal is not to get down to the pure wood underneath. Your goal is to get the cabinets to go from glossy to matte.

7. Dust your cabinets before you paint! If you do not vacuum up all the debris before painting your cabinets will receive a gritty-like finish. It will literally look like you painted over sand. If that were to happen, you will have to sand, dust, and paint all over again! It’s best to remember to dust.

8. Elevate your cabinets before painting. If you do not prop up the cabinets before painting you run the risk of missing corners and the edges. Before painting the doors make sure you have painted pyramids. Set the doors on them. They will help you maneuver your brush more easily around the bottom edges.

9. Use paint primer. If you skip these steps, knots in the wood will bleed through the paint within the span of weeks to three months. It’s best to use a stain-blocking primer. This will help prevent surprise blotches as the paint cures. A recommended primer is Kilz Clean Start.

10. Paint the cabinets in the right order. It’s very easy to just jump right in, but don’t. Start painting the back of the doors and then work your way to the front. This may seem silly, and unnecessary having to start a certain way, but it’s very crucial. When you paint the one side you’re going to have to flip the door to do the other side. When you flip it you will run the risk of it smudging. If it is to smudge, it’s best it smudges on the inside of the cabinet.

Picking the Right Color for Cabinets

11. Avoid picking the wrong color. Painting cabinets is a relatively easy task, but it is not a task you’re going to want to repeat several times. It’s best to get the color right the first time. To find the perfect color for you, paint a big poster board with the color you are considering. Hang the poster board against your backsplash, and next to your appliances. If you’re unsure of what color to start with, google some paint trends for inspiration.

12. Avoid choosing the wrong type of paint. For a smooth finish, Benjamin Moore Advance is recommended. It is a bit more costly than others; however, you will be using less of it. To avoid visible brush marks, it is recommended to follow your brush strokes with a foam roller. This will help smooth things out. If you’re more experienced in DIY projects, you may consider having a finish by a spray gun. Keep in mind, though, that a spray gun is a bit more unmanageable than a brush. Personally, I suggest that if you have less experience with a spray gun to just stick with the paint brush.

13. Do not rush putting your cabinets back. Yes, it’s painful to sit and watch your cabinets take their good ole sweet time drying. If you put them up before they are dried, you run the risk of smudging the paint. If you smudge it, you’ll have to sand it and start from the beginning. All that hard work would be for naught. Stay patient, and let them dry.

Article by Charity Mills

Signature - Painting Cabinets

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.