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Cabinet painting is a cost-effective way to renovate the style and décor of your kitchen. If you have old-dated kitchen cabinets, repainting them is a great idea. Before painting your kitchen cabinets as a DIY project, it is crucial to determine whether you will use a water-based or oil-based primer and paint.
If your cabinets already have paint on them, you will want to check if your kitchen cabinets were painted with oil-based or water-based paint. Once you figure this out, it will help you choose the proper paint type for repainting your kitchen cabinets.
Although you might want to select latex over oil, it may not properly adhere to the surface. If you don’t have old paint, you can choose a water-based product that is easier to work with. Though oil primer with an alkyd top coating will work best for most DIY situations, it isn’t easy for beginners.
After choosing any paint – latex or oil – you must select a degree of shine. For kitchen cabinets, we recommend you go with a satin finish. However, semi-gloss should be your choice if you want more glow. You can easily clean the cabinets later if you paint them with a high-quality product, no matter the sheen.
Tools For the Job
It is always best to shop at the stores where the pros do. Check out our blog about kitchen cabinet primers. If you are using a low-end product, it might be a good idea to use an oil primer. For a DIY kitchen cabinet painting job, you will need various tools and materials, including
- sanding block
- drill w/ screw bit
- green scrub pad
- tack cloth
- 220-grit sandpaper
- painter’s bucket
- Two sets of 4″ mini roller with a foam sleeve
- Two 1.5-inch tapered paintbrushes
Depending on your chosen products, you need other items, as some will vary. Let us tell you the steps to painting your kitchen cabinets.
9 Step Guides For DIY Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing
To begin your DIY kitchen cabinet refinishing project, follow this nine-step process below to get the best possible results:
1. Cleaning the Surfaces for Painting your Cabinets
If your kitchen cabinets are greasy, the primer won’t properly adhere to the cabinets unless you clean them properly with a grease cutter. We use a three-step cleaning process to try and eliminate any missing spots by making us go over the cabinets multiple times.
You also want to clean any areas you might need to apply tape too since you will have issues with the tape sticking if they are dirty. In short, you may need to dean more than just the cabinets. Make sure to clean around the microwave or stove and anywhere you need to apply tape.
The most recommended cleaner is usually Tri-sodium phosphate. In the U.S., some states have banned the use of phosphate. So, if you don’t find Tri-sodium phosphate in the hardware store, you can go for the phosphate-free product. These products can cause bonding issues if not used properly, so we don’t recommend them for DIY projects.
We recommend using a heavy degreaser and a green scrub pad to remove the grease easily. You can spray the cleaner directly on the wood scrub and then wipe them clean before using clean water to rinse with a damp rag to get the remaining cleaner off.
2. Protecting Other Surfaces Before Starting
Cover your floors and counters before getting started so you don’t scratch any surfaces you don’t want to beyond just getting paint on your surfaces. Scratching is another issue to consider getting ahead of before starting. Use rosin paper to cover the counters and drop cloths to protect the floors. You can use masking tape to hold the form in place.
3. Remove Doors and Hardware
First, remove all the pulls and knobs from the doors and drawers. We recommend putting the screws back in the nobs and pulls. The organization will make the installation much faster as they may not all be the same size.
For all hinges, remove the single screw attached to the cabinet frame. Use extra care not to drop any of your doors. It may be a good idea to get some help. Also, remove the two screws attaching the hinges to the doors. You may need to use a tool to pry them to remove the hinges slightly.
We recommend keeping all the screws in a sandwich bag, separated by size. Any unique hinges should be separated; you may also want to take pictures before taking these apart.
If you have cup-type hinges, you might see two extra screws, which allow the adjustment of the door position after the installation. You don’t need to do anything with the adjustment screws. Leave them as they are, and ensure you keep the hinges in the cabinet where they came from to put them back in the same spot.
4. Sand the Surfaces
In this step, you need to sand the surfaces. The purpose is to scuff up the surfaces. This way, the primer will adhere to it. You may want to buy a variety of sandpaper to help you choose the proper grit. For contoured or rounded surfaces, you can use small-size sandpaper. Also, be careful with sandpaper to ensure you don’t leave any scratches on the surface, as they can show through the final coats.
This step is crucial if you use a water-based primer because they are more prone to bonding issues. Vacuum the surfaces and use a tack cloth to wipe them. This way, you will remove any remaining dust particles.
5. Masking off the Cabinets Before Applying the Coatings
To mask off the adjoining surfaces and the internal areas of the cabinets, you can use painter’s tape and plastic or masking paper. Paper, plastic film, and tape will protect any remaining surfaces you may end up with paint splatter. Masking is beneficial when leaving areas you don’t want to paint. It can also be the most crucial step for the DIY person as they do not have as much experience painting as a professional painter.
6. Prime the Cabinets
Next is to “cut in” where your kitchen cabinets meet the ceiling, wall, or floor. Doing so will allow you to use your tapered brush accurately. After cutting in the edges using your brush use a 4″ mini roller with a foam sleeve to minimize the brush marks.
We always recommend doing two coats of primer but ensure proper dry times between coats. Two coats are essential for oak cabinets to avoid staining and bleeding through your finish coats.
7. Wood Surface Repairs
After primer and before painting, you should take some time to fix any wood defects you might find. Maybe a nail hole on the side of a cabinet. After primer, you must ensure your wood filler bonds well to the surface. You can also sand any spots that might not be as smooth as you want. If you sand anything to bare wood, you prime them again. You need to lightly sand over all the surfaces to get the smoothest finish before going to the next step.
8. Apply the Paint
After successfully priming, repairing, and sanding the cabinets, it’s time to apply the first coat of paint to the surfaces you have prepared. The best way to do it is similar to priming using another brush and mini roller. A mini roller will leave minor brush marks and help achieve a smooth finish. Typically, you need to wait for at least 3-4 hours.
After the first coat dries, it is time to apply the second coat. Wait for 4 hours more – so that the paint has dried properly. Sometimes you may need to do more than two finish coats. Using foam rollers leaves the finish close to spraying without a sprayer, making the paint very thin.
Make sure the cabinets look good before you move on to the next step of unmasking. Always follow the instructions of the manufacturer for recoat and dry times.
9. Removing all the masking
Unmasking is the final step of your Kitchen cabinet painting DIY project. We recommend waiting at least 24 hours before reinstalling the door and drawers. You will want to use a razor knife and carefully cut the paint between the tape and cabinets. It would help if you still pulled very slowly and at an angle so the tape is almost folded back upon itself.
This technique will help as you can remove the paint off the wall or cabinet. Now you can carefully put everything back together using extra care not to mess up the new finish.
Hooray, your Kitchen Cabinet Painting Project is Finished!
Enjoy your renewed, stylish kitchen. In summary, it is not easy for everyone to paint kitchen cabinets as a DIY project. So, careful planning, proper tools and materials, and following the abovementioned steps can help you. You can do much more research on other topics with the coatings and products you will use.
Good Luck! If you want to find out what it might cost to have your kitchen cabinets professionally painted, set up an appointment with us if you are in the Cleveland area. There is much more to learn here on our site, and a lot of pricing info is available.