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DIY Projects: Painting Kitchen Cabinets

DIY Kitchen Cabinets

Read This Before You Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets

A new coat of paint can make your worn kitchen cabinets look new again and transform your room. While it may look super simple, DIY painting kitchen cabinets is no small undertaking. Read through the tips below to set yourself up for success and make sure you get the job done right.

Give yourself enough time.

This is not a weekend job. It will take at least four to seven days.

Select the right paint. 

paint buckets

Choose a high quality acrylic paint that will stand up well to repeat cleaning. Acrylic latex-based paint is easy to clean up and is durable. A gloss finish may show a lot of dings or mistakes. Opt for semi-gloss or satin finish.

As for color, it’s important to get it right the first time. Paint a poster board with the color of paint you’re considering. Put the painted poster board next to your appliances and backsplash to make sure it’s the color you really want. 

Take all the doors off, pull the drawers out, and remove all of the hardware on the cabinets.

painting cabinets

This means everything. All of the hinges, screws, knobs, and the magnets that help to keep the door shut. Place them in a jar for safekeeping. 

Label where your doors and drawers go. 

Use labels on masking tape stuck to the back of each piece to help you remember where everything goes. A simple location description (think “below sink, right”) will help so that there’s no guessing where it goes later.

Get your handheld electric sander ready.

A handheld electric sander will evenly prep the surface for the primer and paint to adhere to. It speeds up the process and saves muscular effort. It’s a must. Sand everything all at once, getting it done and out of the way.

Purchase a lot of sandpaper and tack cloths.

It is essential that the surface of the material you’re painting is sanded and clean in order for the primer and paint to properly adhere. 

Purchase multiple packs of sandpaper to fit your handheld electric sander. 

Buy a lot of tack cloths to wipe the sanded surface down and remove the dust and debris. 

Use an oil-based primer.

An oil-based primer creates a suitable, well-adhered surface for the paint to stick to and it covers imperfections.

Purchase the appropriate painting supplies.

paint brushes

  1. Painter’s tape. It’s your friend and is especially handy around the nooks and crannies that surround appliances or with trim along the walls.
  2. One type of paint roller for primer, another type for paint. Use high-density foam rollers for applying oil-based primer and low-nap rollers for rolling the paint itself.
  3. Disposable paint trays. Put the disposable tray in your permanent tray so you can roll on a firm surface. Throw it away when you’re done. Super easy clean-up.
  4. Extra paint rollers and brushes. Make clean-up easy and have extra supplies on hand. Cleaning the brushes only works well a few times. 
  5. Plastic wrap to seal your rollers and brushes overnight. If you’re planning on working a few days in a row, this will help the paint to stay wet on the bristles, ready for work the next day.

Cabinet bases and backsides of cabinet doors go first.

Since the cabinet bases and backsides of the cabinet doors will bang together and make the most contact, by applying primer and paint to them first, you give them more dry time, which definitely helps in the long-run.

Apply light coats of paint.

The thinner each coat is, the better it is, so you can avoid having to sand out visible drip marks and re-painting.

Apply a polyurethane topcoat.

This creates a barrier for the paint finish to protect it from wear and tear.

Be patient.

Let the paint cure (reach maximum hardness). This is days after the paint is dry. Haste makes waste, or in this case, smudging the paint and having to sand the cabinet and repaint it.

Re-attach the cabinet hardware to the door first, before installing the door to the cabinet.

Common sense, right? While we’re at it, have another person help you out when installing the cabinet doors. You can handle the lower cabinets by yourself, but with upper cabinet doors, it’s a whole lot easier with an extra set of hands when you’re working over your head.



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