How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets (Budget-Friendly Renovation at Its Best!)

- Tuesday 16, January 2024 -

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Kitchen renovations can cost a bundle, except this budget-friendly face-lift: painting your cabinets. Hire a professional to paint the cabinets in a midsize kitchen or spend on materials and a weekend tackling this job yourself. When it’s done, it’ll look like you installed a brand-new set.

Here’s how to paint kitchen cabinets.

Prep the kitchen cabinets for painting

When you paint anything, preparing the surface so it can receive a fresh coat of paint is the most critical step—and this is doubly true for cabinets, which demand a smooth, glossy finish.

Start your prep by removing the cabinet doors, hinges, and hardware (trust us, it’s faster than taping around it all). Next, scrub cabinet doors and frames clean of any built-up grease and grime. Let them dry before filling in divots with wood putty.

Sand before you prime

Now you’re ready to sand. Use 120-grit sandpaper to rough up every surface. Sand back and forth in the direction of the grain, and never in a circle, which could damage the wood. Then apply a primer that bonds well.

Tim Bosveld, vice president of marketing for Dunn-Edwards Paints, suggests testing the primer in an inconspicuous spot to see how well it holds up. Let the primer dry thoroughly for at least a few hours (or for however long is recommended on the label).

Eliminate dust

Before you paint, vacuum every cabinet surface, then wipe them all down with a damp sponge or tack cloth to get up every last bit of dust. After that, try to maintain a relatively dust-free area. It doesn’t have to be antiseptic (you’re painting cabinets, not performing a stem-cell transplant), but fewer particles flying around mean fewer can land on your wet paint.

Lay the doors on a dropcloth, and put another one under the cabinet frames to catch any drips.

The best way to paint cabinets

Professionals spray-paint kitchen cabinets, which produces a glossy finish. But spray painting not only needs a skilled hand, it also requires expensive equipment. Instead, beginners should use a small roller to apply 100% latex paint made specifically for cabinets, like Aristoshield, for a smooth look. After you roll on the paint, use a brush to feather the surface smooth with a light touch.

Don’t forget to paint the insides and frames of your cabinets, too. And if you want to make your cabinets pop, consider painting the inside or door trim a different color in a vibrant hue. Give the first coat of paint about four hours to dry before applying a second coat. When everything is dry, simply reattach the doors and whatever hardware you removed.

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