Kitchen cabinets are one of the most noticeable things in your kitchen. How many times have you said: “Wow, look at those beautiful cabinets” or “Yuck! Those cabinets look horrible!” It is usually one or the other because the cabinets really stick out in a kitchen. It is probably because they protrude from the walls and surround the entire work area of most kitchens.
It is undeniable that cabinets are one of the most noticed features of any kitchen. That’s a good reason to think about repainting cabinets to keep your kitchen looking good. We all know that keeping them clean and looking nice is not always easy. Kitchen cabinets are subject to all kinds of dirt, grease and grime that can be a housewife’s nightmare to keep clean. After some time they are absolutely impossible to keep clean and paint or refinishing is the only thing that can help them. If that’s the case in your home, we can help.
Painting Unfinished Cabinets
If your cabinets are new and have never been stained or painted before, then your work may not be as difficult as it would be if they were old and painted in the past. However, if they have been installed for a while and already have finger prints and grease all on them in spots, then you may still have to refinish the surface before painting. If they are reasonably clean, you can normally get away with a good wash job and then primer & paint.
Sometimes they may not be as smooth as they could be though because of the cut of the wood. In those cases, they should be either hand sanded or sanded using an orbital sander to get the rough spots and then gone over with a vibrating sander until smooth. Then primer them and paint them. Apply two or even three coats of paint to get them looking real even and nice.
For real shiny perfect looking paint jobs, you can sand after the first coat of paint so that the next coat goes on super smooth and shiny. To do that, you need to use some real fine grit sand paper and hand sand it lightly. You should use about 400 grit, for sanding in between coats of paint. Also you don’t want to sand heavily, just smooth the paints surface, don’t try to take it off.
Repainting Cabinets that have Been Painted
Repainting cabinets that have had previous paint jobs can be challenge. It definitely takes longer to paint over paint then it does to paint bare wood in most cases. This is partly due to the fact that if they have been painted, chances are they are older cabinets that have a thick layer of dirt and grime on them. Finger prints normally will embed themselves into the paint surface and make the surface rough and damaged.
Therefore, in most cases it is recommended that you sand the cabinets down to the bare wood before applying primer and repainting them. In extreme cases you may even want to replace the cabinet doors and all the hardware to give them a new look. Otherwise you need to take off the cabinet’s handles and thoroughly sand down the old paint to the wood beneath with a random orbit sander.
When you get the majority of the old paint off, you can switch to a vibrating sander to make a smooth finish to primer. At this point you can opt to hand sand to a smooth finish if you don’t have a vibrating sander or don’t care to use one. After you have smooth surface, clean up any sanding dust, allow any wet surfaces to dry and apply primer.
Make sure you ask your paint retailer to sell you a primer that works well with the paint you buy. You don’t want to use a water based primer if you have an oil based paint! Your retailer will know what you should use, so don’t worry about it too much. After you have an even thin coat of primer on the cabinets, let it dry completely before painting.
You can apply your first coat of paint and let it dry very well. Then sand it lightly with 400 grit paper to scuff the first layer of paint so the next coat goes on smoother. Also don’t forget to mask off anything you don’t want to get paint on. Use a mask tape that pulls off without leaving a mess behind. Any painter’s masking tape will do fine. Use a plastic drop cloth to prevent paint from getting on appliances, counter tops and the floor.
There are a lot of tools and supplies you will need for painting jobs and some particular to repainting cabinets. Here is a list of what you are likely to need for this job. This list includes some recommendation for paint and primers to use as well.
1. Paint: you want to choose a color that either matches the rest of your kitchen or offsets the other main color of your kitchen. Picking the same color as the rest of the room is the safe choice, but also the boring option. If you really want your cabinets to stand out and become an attractive feature in your kitchen, paint them a complimenting color instead of the same color as the rest of the kitchen. So if your kitchen is all white, you can pick almost any color you want, but if your kitchen is white and has a lot of green accents, then you may want to paint your cabinets green too.
2. Primer: It’s best to pick a paint first then have your salesman recommend a primer to go with it. The salesmen are usually experts at what primer to use with what paint, but in case you are on your own or have a lazy sales person, here are some general guidelines. First if you use a water based paint use a water-based primer. If you use an oil-based paint, use an oil-based primer. That’s easy enough to remember so that is what we recommend, although you can use a water based paint with oil based primer, you cannot use oil based paint with a water based primer. Since that’s harder to recall, you can just match them up when in doubt.
3. Paint cloth or drop cloths. Any paint supply store will have lots of cheap plastic drapes you can use to cover anything quickly that you don’t want to get paint on. Paint can be messy, especially for the inexperienced painter, so buy enough to cover the entire surrounding floor, counters and appliances to be safe.
4. Masking tape; You want a tape that will pull off without leaving residuals behind, so buy what the paint store recommends, don’t use duct tape or real tacky masking tape.
5. Ladder: for most kitchens a small step ladder is all you need.
6. Gloves. You may want to use rubber gloves for cleaning and handling paint and then work gloves for sanding and spreading paint with a brush
7. Eye protection: whenever there is power tools involved, use safety goggles to be safe.
8. Orbital sander
9. Vibrating sander
10. Rubber sanding blocks. No bigger than four by four inches for cabinets.
11. Several grades of sanding paper. You want a range of grits from 100 to 400 for cabinets because you will start with 100 to get off the old paint and work you way to 400 grit when you are sanding a smooth surface between coats of paint.
12. Paint stirrers: paint stores always give these away, so grab several to stir you paint and primer before using.
13. Paint brushes: You should at least have one small brush under 2 inches and one bigger brush about 3 or 4 inches wide.
14. Paint remover/cleaner: ask your retailer what type to use to clean up the paint you are using. You also use this to clean the brushes and rollers if you use them. Water based paints can be cleaned up with just water if you do it right away.
15. Screw drivers: You need a screw driver to take off the handles from the cabinets. That will normally require a Phillips head, but you will want a regular flat head screwdriver to open your paint cans, so you will need both types of screwdrivers.
16. Dust mask: when sanding, there will be tons of dust in the air and paint dust can be hazardous to breathe in, so using a good face mask is a must.
17. Paint sprayer: Optionally you may decide to spray your paint, if so, choose an electric or air sprayer.
18. Air compressor: if you opt for the air gun sprayer, you’ll need an air compressor.
As you can see there are a lot of supplies needed to do this job so be sure to have them all before you start. Although a couple of them may be optional such as paint spraying supplies, most of them are needed to do the job right. When it comes to the kitchen, painting the cabinets can increase a home’s net worth greatly. Cabinets are the center pieces of most kitchens so it is important to keep them looking nice.
Photo by nolaclutterbusters, Creative Commons Attribution