Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Painting kitchen cabinets requires important prep work as well as choices of product to apply to the surface. Skip one of the following steps and the final finish may peel off.

1. Clean the surfaces; the last thing you want to push around is dirt or grease. If possible, remove the doors, hinges and handles. Despite what you think this will make the job go faster and give a better job. Use a weak solution of trisodium phosphate, Simple Green, or your favorite cleaner that has a degreaser in it, and water. Always apply the cleaner twice, about two or three minutes apart to allow the product to loosen up the dirt. Then rinse very well and let dry.

2. Sand all the surfaces lightly with 220 (or so) grit sandpaper or a medium fine ‘plastic wool’. This procedure shouldn’t require much elbow grease; just try to contact all the areas at least once. The goal here is not to leave any shiny spots.

3. Pre-dust everything with a damp towel or a rag moistened with alcohol. Then change into fresh, dust free, work clothes, nothing worse than getting dust from your shirtsleeves on your dustless job. Now just before priming, wipe the surfaces again, this time with a tack cloth. A dust free finish is a beautiful thing.

4. Prime the woodwork with a quality primer/stain-blocker. Sometimes a stain will ‘bleed’ through the wrong primer, and if it does it can ‘bleed’ through four coats of primer. You have some choices in selecting the right primer, oil-based as in Kilz or Bin (alkyd), or water-based like Bin’s 1.2.3. (latex).

5. Apply the finish coat. Here again oil-based enamels are still superior in durability to the latex, however this is becoming an opinion thing (I am from the old school). And just because it is an oil-based paint doesn’t mean it has to be high gloss. You can purchase an oil paint in any finish from flat to satin to high gloss. Latex can also work well here; it just isn’t my first choice.

Tip: When painting cabinet doors, insert a long skinny screw into one of hinge screw holes. Use this screw to hang the doors with when painting. I use a coat hanger bent with a small ‘u’ at the low end, and a big hook at the other. This allows me to paint both sides of the doors at once, and then hang them from a pipe or screws in the basement joists.

Tip2: When painting relatively small flat objects, use a three-inch roller and pan combo. It is fast, leaves a smooth finish, and is inexpensive at $3.