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How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets


Along with painting the kitchen cabinets, the knobs and other hardware can also be replaced for a new look. Also, instead of repainting the entire cabinets, the cabinets can be refaced by painting only the doors.

Choosing the Paint and Primer

Choose a paint that will withstand a wide range of heat and humidity since it will be taking a lot of changes in temperature and moisture being in the kitchen. The paint should be durable and easy to clean because it will be taking a lot of knocking around with the constant use in the kitchen. A good paint and primer choice is oil-based for the aforementioned reasons. Satin, gloss, or semi-gloss paint should be chosen. One gallon of paint and two quarts of primer are needed. Use a two and a half to three inch natural bristle brush. A roller or a pneumatic paint sprayer can be used for the doors if they are removed and placed outside to paint. With a roller, the paint will still need to be applied with a brush to cover any areas that the roller could not cover with each coat. A brush will be needed to paint the cabinet boxes themselves.

Take the Doors Outside

Remove all hardware from the cabinets. Remove the doors from the hinges, removing the lower hinges first, then the uppermost hinges. Bring them to the garage to paint, or to a well-ventilated place, preferably outdoors. Lay the doors across a pair of sawhorses, or place them on newspapers on the ground. Good ventilation is important because the oil-based paint and primer have extremely strong fumes. Even if latex paint is used, the primer that is needed is shellac based and shellac also gives off very strong fumes. If painting the façade of the cabinet boxes, make sure that there is enough ventilation in the kitchen with doors and windows open while priming and painting. If you cannot remove the doors, then proper ventilation is important, and keep the cabinet doors open when allowing the primer and paint to dry, so that they will not stick shut when the paint has dried.

Roughen Up the Surface

All of the surfaces to be painted need to be cleaned with soap and water, rinsed, and wiped with a clean rag and allowed to dry. The doors should be done first, and then the rest of the cabinets. Roughen up the surface with either sandpaper or a liquid deglosser. If you use the deglosser, follow the instructions on the label in order to apply it properly and allow it to dry adequately. If you use sandpaper, sand it first with a coarse, about 80 grit, sandpaper. Wipe off the sawdust with a clean cloth. Try to get as flawless a surface as possible. If there are any nicks in the surface, fill them with a little wood putty and when dry, sand the excess putty down even with the surface for a flawless look.

Applying Primer and Paint

Apply the primer with a brush dipped one inch into the primer in the can and shaken off against the lip of the can. Start at the center of each door and work towards the outer edge. Be sure to pay special attention to any grooves and corners in the door surface. Let dry overnight or according to the instructions on the label before applying the paint. Prime and paint the façade of the cabinets, then the sides and underside if desired. Apply two coats of paint in a thin, even coat. With each brush stroke, brush back onto the area just painted to catch any drips. Allow each coat to dry adequately according to the instructions on the paint can before applying the next coat. If necessary to achieve an even paint surface with no drips, sand the dried paint surface with a fine, 400 grit sandpaper before applying the final coat of paint.

Replacing the Doors and the Hardware

After the final coat of paint has dried adequately, put all the hardware back on the doors and the cabinets, and hang the cabinet doors back on their hinges. If you have new knobs or handles, put these on instead of the old ones. If desired, stencils or antiquing can be used to decorate the cabinets even fancier, but these would need to be done before the doors are replaced on the hinges.



Give Your Kitchen Cabinets a Facelift brought to you by” Lowe’s Home Improvement: Buy Kitchen Cabinets, Paint, Appliances and Flooring. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 June 2010.

Simkins, Brian. “How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets |” DIY Home Improvement Information | N.p., n.d. Web. 9 June 2010.

“Kitchen Cabinets.” N.p., n.d. Web. 9 June 2010.

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