Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Your kitchen cabinets take more misuse than any other piece of woodwork in your home. Cabinets are opened and closed countless times a day, and they are placed in the kitchen where the air conditions would be vicious to any kind of woodwork. In one moment the kitchen can be very dry - like when your oven is on a high temperature for a long period of time - and a few minutes later the kitchen can be near 100 percent moisture when you start roasting vegetables or boil a large pot of water.

These steady atmospheric changes can wreak havoc on the structural soundness of your cabinets, as well as on the finish. As if these harsh conditions weren't enough, the surface finish of your cabinets is constantly exposed to fingers that are covered with grease, butter, meat, etc. All of these things play a major role in explaining why your kitchen cabinets may look like they could use some refreshment.


Before you begin re-painting your cabinets, there are a few details that you need to think to make sure that you are pleased with the result. Are your cabinets painted now or are they finished with a stain and varnish? If they are painted, do you want to paint them the same color? Take some time to think about what you want your refreshed kitchen to look like before you decide. This could be an chance for you to not only get the cabinets cleaned up, but to completely change their look.

1. Clean the Cabinets:
Preparation is the chief step in the process of painting your cabinets, and it is very important to make sure that all of the surfaces you are going to paint are fully free of all grease, grime, food residue and whatever else may be stuck to them. You will find the whole procedure is much easier if you remove all the cabinet doors. Once you have taken them all down, find a place where you can lay them out flat. Use an all purpose cleaner and a rag and then allow them to dry thoroughly.

2. Sand the Cabinets: 
Once they are dry, use a piece of fine grit sandpaper - 150 or finer - and make a few passes over all the flat surfaces of the doors. Don't forget to do the thin facing pieces on the cabinet boxes themselves. The slightly sanded surface will allow the primer to bite and hold onto the kitchen cabinet surface. It can be a boring process, but taking the time to lightly sand your cabinets before you prime and paint them will greatly increase longevity of the paint job. Don't underestimate the importance of this step!

3. Apply Primer: 
After sanding, it's time to prime the kitchen cabinets. Primer forms a better bond with the surface than paint alone would. This means that the paint is less likely to chip and peel if it gets bumped with dishes or pots and pans. If your cabinets are already painted and you are re-painting them the same color, it is OK to skip this step and go ahead and apply the paint. If, however, your cabinets are stained and you are trying to cover up the natural wood grain with paint, you must prime them first. The paint will not stick to the varnished surface and the color of the stain will most likely bleed right through your paint.

There are many types of primer that you can use, and which one you choose is largely based on what kind of paint you want to use over the top. If you are using an oil-based paint, an interior oil based primer is recommended. These products tend to have a very strong odor and they are best used when you can properly ventilate the room. The best option would be to take all the doors that you removed out to the garage and paint them there with the overhead door open.

If you are planning to use a latex paint for your top coat, then a shellac based primer is recommended. This product tends to dry fairly quickly, so make sure that you are ready to go before you begin applying it. The shellac based primers, just like the oil based, carry a very strong odor and caution should be used.

4. Paint the Cabinets:
At this point, after sanding and priming, your kitchen cabinet doors probably look awful! Don't worry, you've built a great base for the top coats of paint, which will bring your kitchen bouncing back to life. There are some ways to apply the paint. A pneumatic sprayer is the best way to get a smooth and glossy finish. If you don't have access to one, however, don't panic - you can still get a great finish by using a high quality paint brush. 2 1/2" to 3" would be ideal.

The key to achieving a expert finish with a brush is to use very thin coats. It may be tempting, after all the work you've already to done, to try to coat the paint on as thick as possible just so you can be finished. This is not a good idea. The best and most tough paint jobs are built up by consecutive thin layers of paint, not just one thick one.

5. Add additional Coats: 
Lightly apply your first coat and let it dry totally. If you truly feel like to get a professional finish, take some 380 grit sandpaper and very lightly sand the flat surfaces again. You are not trying to take away the paint, but instead are insuring that the next coat has the smoothest possible surface to adhere to. Once that is complete, add your second coat.

In most cases two coats of paint will be enough. Occasionally, though, you may find that you get better results from three. This is often exact with woods that carry a heavier grain, like oak. Once the doors are painted and fully dry, simply hang them back up, sit back, and enjoy the bright, clean and renewed space that you've worked so hard to achieve.


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