i should be mopping the floor: Kitchen Cabinet Painting Tips

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Kitchen Cabinet Painting Tips

I constantly get asked for a post on painting cabinets. Ironically, I had posted one on my other blog over a year ago. I think it's fitting to bring it over here this week...because guess what I'm up to right now at the new place? Yeah...I said never again. I truly didn't think we'd be moving again anytime soon.

Now that we're on kitchen #3 of painting our own cabinets (and countless friends' cabinets, too), I've concocted a few tips of my own to share. Honestly, I'm pretty pleased to say that almost three years later and this kitchen in this post still looks as fresh as the day(s) it was painted...there's only one little chip in the whole kitchen (and that was from a glass shattering). 
Kitchen Cabinet Painting Tips  
I've painted cabinets in lots of homes...and helped several friends along the way with theirs, as well. While I have to admit, this is, quite possible my least favorite painting job {it's not for the faint of heart}, it's definitely something lots of us tackle. Hoping these kitchen cabinet painting tips I've compiled over the years will help you when you take on your own cabinet painting! Read below for more>>>
Kitchen Cabinet Painting Tips  
This was the previous state of my kitchen. Builder grade all the way! ACK! Those cabinets drove me bonkers. This photo was taken over three years ago...before we even redid our island. We also added large crown moulding to the tops of the cabinets before painting them. To see how we redid our island, click here for the tutorial on my other blog. To see how we added crown moulding to the cabinets before painting them, click here.
  Kitchen Cabinet Painting Tips  
I start a bit unconventionally and clean the doors and then fill all gaps with silicone or wood filler. Allow this to dry. Then I removed all of my cabinet doors. {I used a degreaser for cleaning.} I prefer to fill while the doors are still hinged...so they don't move too much in the process.

Kitchen Cabinet Painting Tips  
After the doors were down, I began the arduous task of sanding my cabinets. There's really no easy way around this. Since I wasn't restaining, I really only needed to sand off the top layer...enough to give the cabinets some tooth to hold the paint. I also do this sanding by hand. I'm normally a palm-sander kind of girl, but cabinets are a different story. I use a sanding block and 150 grit paper. Again, this isn't to take the cabinets down to the raw wood {unless you're staining...but that's an entirely different tutorial}, it's just to rough them up. After you're done sanding, remove all sawdust with a tack cloth. If you prefer to paint with tape {to keep from overpainting surfaces onto the wall}, go ahead and tape up at this stage.

Kitchen Cabinet Painting Tips  
I usually start on the doors first, per section. By that I mean, I work in kitchen sections...I complete the bank of cabinets on the sink side first, then the bank by the refrigerator...and on and on. To do the cabinets, I use styrofoam blocks to set them up off of my surface...I like to make sure the blocks are smaller than the cabinet doors, but large enough to hold the doors up.
  Kitchen Cabinet Painting Tips  
I do two coats of primer on the front sides of all the doors {I prefer this Zinsser Bullseye Primer that adheres to just about anything}. I let these dry completely {overnight if not longer}. Then, I flip them and do two coats of primer on the back side. Then lots of drying time again. Then we flip again. Now, two coats of paint on the front and repeat with the back after the paint has dried for at least two days {again, this is a grueling project...basically because of dry time!}. I like to use a semi-gloss for kitchen cabinets, but that's just preference. Semi-gloss is pretty popular for cabinets and trim. It's easy to clean. I also prefer latex paint over oil-based...but that's totally preference. This time around, I did not do a sealer. I used a super high quality of paint made specifically for cabinets. In our previous kitchen, I sealed with water-based polyurethane. Please note: always, always, always test your Polyurethane before applying it to all of your cabinets. Some poly sealers will turn white paint a yellow tint...and if you poly all of your fresh white cabinets and they turn yellow, well...it won't be pretty. Trust me on this one...after spending weeks on this painting, you'll be miserable if you ruin it in one quick coat of crummy poly.

Kitchen Cabinet Painting Tips  
After all of the doors were finished, I attacked the cabinet bases. Same process: two coats of primer, two coats of paint. Again, I didn't seal this time around because of the paint I used. But, see my note above if you're wanting to add polyurethane to yours. Another quick tip is to always paint with the grain of the wood.

Kitchen Cabinet Painting Tips  
Staying with the grain is a bit more involved on the doors, where trim can run opposite directions. Just stick with the grain of the wood. I also prefer to use an angled {cut-in} brush on cabinets. It's great for details, especially on cabinet trim. After everything has completely dried {and you've sealed, if you choose to do so}, replace your door hardware and rehang your doors. And then take a three day nap since you're no doubt exhausted from this insanity. I have to say, this might be the very last time I paint cabinets with a brush. While I love the look of fine brush strokes into cabinets...it's just so much work. Next time, I plan to buy a sprayer and knock it out a lot faster.
  Kitchen Cabinet Painting Tips

But, the results are always worth all of the work!

Kitchen Cabinet Painting Tips
Are you into painted cabinets? What tips do you have for this crazy job?






10 comments:

  1. So glad to hear the cabinets have stood the test of daily use and only one blemish to report! I am trying to get the courage to paint my builder grade oak but am going for an off-white. I am leaning toward a matte finish and a matte sealer to hide more painting sins. I did a small desk like this and it turned out very well. BUT a whole kitchen of cabinets is HUGE! We have a sprayer for the doors so I think as I keep looking at what you and others have done its time to breathe deep and move forward!
    Hey you mentioned painting again. Will you change the colors? -Linda

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    1. You should totally go for it, Linda!! It is scary...but worth it in the end. We actually bought a new home...a 1972 fixer upper! So, yes, that's where we're painting again. I'm doing white on top and Robin's Egg Blue on the bottom. :)

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  2. So much work but totally worth it! Great job.

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    1. Yes!! It can feel like climbing a mountain at times...but golly is the view nice once you reach the top, lol! Thanks for stopping by, Jessica!

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  3. Found you through the Live Randomly Simple linkup, and your post comes at the perfect time for me, because we're moving this weekend and the first thing I want to do is paint the kitchen cabinets. Thanks for sharing!:)

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  4. I have a big kitchen I have been putting off painting until the weather gets warmer and I can do it out in the garage. Thanks for the tips

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  5. SWEET! I love your kitchen cabinets being white. I'd love to have white cabinets also, but they are still too new and my family wouldn't like it. :) Beautiful work. Your friend, Linda @Crafts a la mode

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  6. Wow, what a difference! These look gorgeous! I am dying to paint our cabinets (which are the same wood finish as your original ones). Since I'll be having a baby in a few weeks that's obviously out for a while but I'm pinning this for when thinks get a little more relaxed :)

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