How Do I Paint My Kitchen Cabinets?

Are you asking yourself, “Should I paint my kitchen cabinets?” Then you have come to the right place. Kitchen cabinet painting has been growing in popularity over the last decade at a fast pace. The kitchen has always been the hub of the home and the main gathering place for meals, parties, homework, and just about everything else. It is where most people actually see other members of the family more than any other room in the home. For this reason, the kitchen should be inviting, fresh, and really show the personality of the home.

Kitchen cabinet finishes have evolved over the last 50 years. We have moved from the old brown stained cabinets and gone toward a combination of finishes including dark, light, and two-toned paint color combinations. Right now, white is still KING of the cabinet colors. Grays and pastels are also very popular. Some paint the kitchen island an accent color to add a little pop of color to a white kitchen. Two-toned cabinets are painted with one color on the upper cabinets and one color on the lower cabinets, leaning toward the darker color on the lowers. Colors are “in” and there is no right or wrong colors. You want to have a vision of what you want and the imagination to picture it before you ever start painting the cabinets.

Where Do I Start?

Protecting the KitchenBefore you start, know that you taking on a big project when you decide to tackle painting your kitchen cabinets. It is a multi-step process and can take weeks to complete, even if everything goes correctly. We paint cabinets everyday and rarely do things go perfect so be ready to adjust. Before you start painting, you will have some preparations to do. Cover all of the floors and counters to protect them from paint drips. Remove all the knobs and pulls and empty all of the cabinets and drawers. Take all of the cabinet doors and the drawers to an area with plenty of room for painting them and laying them out to dry flat. The garage or a basement may be a good spot for this. I would suggests not doing these items outside for the simple reason that you don’ t want bugs getting into the paint before it dries. When removing the doors and drawers, you need to mark them so you know the exact place they came from. This will allow you to re-install them in the same place with no issues. We usually number left to right and top to bottom. When you remove the hinge from the door, mark the door under where the hinge goes and cover your number with a small piece of tape.

Preparing My Cabinets to Paint

It is time to prepare the cabinet boxes for painting now that the cabinets are empty and the doors and drawers are removed. To do this, you will clean the interior and the exterior of the cabinets with a kitchen degreaser. Grease buildup is the enemy and although you may not see it, it is most likely to be a film on the cabinets. You can not paint over grease.

Sanding the cabinets allow for the primer to hold onto the old finish. Sand all surfaces to be painted with 180-220 grit sandpaper. After sanding, take a damp rag and wipe all the dust from the cabinets. This same attention needs to be given to both sides of the cabinets doors and the drawers.

You will also caulk all the cracks where the cabinets are put together with an acrylic siloconized caulk. We use a White Lightning 3060 caulk that is a 40 year caulk. The caulking can be done now or you can wait until after you prime the cabinets. 

Priming My Kitchen Cabinets

Do not skip the priming. It is vital if you want to get a paint job that will last for years to come. We recommend 2 primers for people painting their own cabinets. It will depend on what you are priming over. If the cabinets have been stained in the past and have a clear coat, we recommend Rustoleum’s Cover Stain oil based primer. If the cabinets have previously been painted, we recommend Stix Primer by Insl-X. Both can be brushed and rolled.

The doors will need to be primed and left to dry on each side before going to the other side. Usually 24 hours will be sufficient for either primer to dry and be able to flip over.

Depending on the original finish, you make need to put 2 coats of primer to get a good coverage for the finish paint.

Primed, Now What?

Not so fast. Now that you have everything primed, you are getting close to start with the finish paint. Before that, you need to sand everything again with 220-240 sandpaper and wipe it all down to remove the dust. Holes need to be filled with painters putty and all cracks are caulked with the caulking. Once this is completed, you are ready to paint.

Painting the Cabinets....Finally

Cabinet doors are drying in the spray boothStart with the interior of the cabinets and the drawers. Use a small brush to “cut in” the corners and edges and then use a 1/8″-1/4″ nap mini roller to cover the larger surfaces. Take special care when painting and do not leave runs, drips, sags, or missed spots. This is not a race and every coat is as important as the final coat. Do as much as you can with the roller as it will leave a better finish for you.

Paint the back of the doors first and allow them to dry. Wait a minimum of 24 hours before painting the front side. Expect to put 2 finish coats.

What Kind of Paint Should I Use to Paint My Cabinets?

For the homeowner, we recommend Benjamin Moore Advance Satin. It will dry hard and have a beautiful sheen. The downside is it is not an easy product to use. You will have to watch for runs and it does take a while to dry. Benjamin Moore Scuff-X Satin is an easier paint to use but does not dry as hard but is just as great looking.

Putting It All Back Together

Cabinet PaintingNow you can re-install all of your doors and drawers and we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Remove your tape to show where the doors go and do them one at a time until they are all hanging. Put your hardware back on and be easy on the cabinets for at least 30 days to give the materials time to completely cure to full hardness. You have done it! Congratulations and be proud. Hopefully everything turned out great!

Final Thoughts

Are you are still asking yourself, “Should I paint my kitchen cabinets”? Check out another one of our blog posts about using a professional cabinet painter HERE. It is not impossible but, as you can tell, it’s not a Sunday afternoon project. We have painted over 500 kitchens and know the amount of work it takes. If you are considering other options, it may be time to get the help of a professional cabinet painting company like Carolina Painting and Pressure Cleaning.

What We Do Different as a Professional Cabinet Painting Company

Cabinet Spray BoothThe instructions above are a great representation of all the steps we have to go through if we come to paint your cabinets. The biggest differences are that we take all the doors and drawer fronts to our spray shop to professionally spray the pieces in our spray booth. That leaves a factory-like finish on those items. We use high quality rollers and brushes that do not leave roller marks or brush marks. We also use a variety of cabinet finishes that all meet the KCMA (Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association) cabinet finish requirements and offers superior protection against scapes, scuffs, stains, and chemical resistance. They are “professional use only” products and are super tough.

We average a 1 week turnaround from start to finish on most kitchens and are at your home an average of 2 days with a lot of the work being done at the spray shop. We have the ability to furnish new doors, new hardware, new soft close concealed hinges, new drawer boxes, and new drawer slides. The biggest thing we offer you is your time back. You don’t spend nights and weekends trying to finish a job that will stretch out for weeks while leaving an unusable kitchen in the meantime. Reach out to get on our schedule. To give you an idea of the cost to get your cabinets painted, we have a Virtual Online Estimator.

If you would like to discuss your project with us, you can schedule your estimate below, have us contact you, or call us. We would love to talk with you to see if we can help.

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