When Keith and I purchased our home, we knew that something would need to change with the cabinets. Keith is actually a very talented cabinet maker, but to save time and money, we decided to paint all of our cabinets. The trend of painting cabinets has been increasing over the past few years, and it isn’t as daunting as one might think. Our kitchen cabinets needed to be painted a different color, while our bathroom cabinets just needed paint to make them more current. I’m going to explain how to prep cabinets to be painted, so you too can change up your look, on a budget.
An important thing to keep in mind is that the prep work may take more time than the project itself, but it is worth it in the long run. When it comes to painting cabinets, there are things you can do to give a flawless look, without needing to hire a professional. Some of the outcome is dependent on the prep work, and some is on the products used.
Before beginning any cabinet paint project, make sure you have the following items on hand:
- blue painter’s tape
- 120-grit or 150-grit sandpaper
- paint conditioner (I use Flood Floetrol when using latex paint)
- hi-gloss paint
- high quality paint brush – don’t skimp here, and get something nice such as the Purdy brand brushes. The exact brush will depend on your style of cabinet doors. If you have flat front doors, then the 2-inch XL-Cub will be perfect for the doors and boxes. If you have more decorative doors with stiles and rails then you may want a 1-inch or 1.5-inch angled sash brush just for that.
The first step to beautiful cabinets is emptying them out and clearing the space around them. This step is especially important if you will be painting inside the boxes, or any shelves. Once the space is clear, it is time to do some taping. Using blue tape to tape off the walls, counters, toe kick (or baseboard), etc. is very important, unless you are a pro with a paint brush. It is recommended that you tape off anything that could get paint, that you don’t want to get painted. In the step, you will also want to remove all of the cabinet doors and hinges. No need to wrestle with the doors while trying to paint.
Once your space is ready to be tackled with paint, it is time to get those cabinets ready for a coat of paint. This step is extremely important, so don’t skip it. Break out the sandpaper, either by hand or with a sander. When painting over cabinets that have been dinged up a lot, or have several coats of paint already, use the 120-grit sandpaper. If the cabinets are in pretty good shape, and are fairly smooth, then a 150-grit sandpaper should do just fine. Sand off any food particles, bumps, grime, you name it.
Don’t forget to sand those cabinet doors that have already been removed. Dealing with the doors works best when having a setup for them, where they can lay horizontal during the sanding and painting process. There are a variety of ways to do this, but the easiest would be to lay out several 2x4s, raised up by sawhorses or boxes. Sand both sides, and all edges of the cabinet doors.
The cabinets are just about ready to get a coat of primer on them. Before doing so, it is crucial that the cabinets and doors get wiped down, or blown off, to be rid of any loose sawdust. Go ahead and paint on the primer. If painting cabinets white, use the white primer. I have painted some cabinets gray, so I used the gray primer. The important thing is to have a primer that will help prevent mildew and mold, since cabinets have been known to get water on and around them.
Allow the primer to dry completely before painting. Now it is time to do one more sanding, before painting. Sand all cabinets and doors again, and blow (or wipe) them off before painting.
To prep the paint, follow the instructions on the paint additive of your choice. The paint conditioner gives directions on how to add it to the paint, before painting. The conditioner is what will help give that professional look, free of brush strokes. Using an oil-based paint and primer has also been known to aid in this cause.
When it is time to paint the cabinet doors, be sure to paint the back sides first. The outcome of the fronts will matter most, as they get seen the most, so be sure to end with these. After the back sides get painted, allow them to dry completely before turning over. If they are at all damp or sticky, laying them on the 2x4s can pull the fresh paint off once they are turned over. This is why we finish with the door fronts facing up. If any paint does get pulled off, then give it a very light sand and touch up. If you have any bumps or blemishes, then a very light sanding should help
These steps should get you on your way to great looking painted cabinets.