Painting your cabinets is a stunning way to give your kitchen or bathroom a whole new look. It is also one of the most cost-effective and least disruptive ways to do so. If you want your cabinet paint job to look impressive and provide long-lasting satisfaction, the preparation stage is highly important. To get the most out of painting your cabinets, here are a few key suggestions.
Is Painting Your Cabinets a Good Idea?
When done well, painting cabinets is a one-way ticket to give your room a fresh look. Paint can also protect cabinets from greasy fingers and stains common in kitchens. That being said, the process is not without its risks. Cabinet joint separation over time can disrupt a paint job that looked great immediately afterward, and cabinet paint can make dents, scratches, and dings more noticeable.
The best way to avoid these is by making sure your cabinets can handle paint. Paint will not erase damage, so any imperfections, holes, and dents should be repaired before you paint your cabinets. In this endeavor, wood glue is your friend. It is also a good idea to caulk cabinet doors with recessed panels before adding paint. Otherwise, a layer of paint will emphasize the cracks along the panel edges.
Some damage cannot be salvaged, and in such cases it is better to replace your cabinets instead of going to all the trouble of painting only to have veneers peel or delaminate. If your cabinets are old and especially frail, sagging, cracking, or have loose hanging rails, you should probably think about replacing your cabinets.
What Should You Do Before Painting Cabinets?
Before you even think about painting your cabinets, you must prepare your space and gather the right materials. While we know it can be tempting to simply dive right in, making sure your space and your cabinets are properly prepared will ensure that your new cabinet paint job will last.
Spacial awareness before you paint your cabinets has two major components: where you will paint and where the cabinets will dry. Paint in a place where you can have good ventilation. This will protect your lungs, though wearing a mask in addition to protective eyewear is also a good idea. No matter where you plan to paint, be sure to cover the floor, countertops, and appliances. This will minimize the risk of paint drips and dust damaging other elements of the room.
Especially if you plan to paint your cabinets while they are still attached to the wall, make sure you tape off everything that you don’t want to get paint on. It is also important to have a space where your cabinets can dry without compromising the paint job, a place where people or animals will not accidentally bump or brush against wet paint.
It is very important that you apply a layer or primer before painting your cabinets. The primary role of primer is to help paint adhere well to your cabinets, but it can also prevent stains from bleeding through, seal the surface of your cabinets, and conceal imperfections.
It is common to only need one coat of paint unless the paint you are applying is very different from the color of the cabinets. Let the primer dry completely to a hard finish before applying a second coat or paint. Choose the right kind of primer for your project: latex, shellac, or oil-based.
Pick Your Paint
Cabinets usually perform best with acrylic paint as opposed to vinyl. Acrylic latex-based paint is durable and easy to clean up. Your paint finish also matters. Satin and semi-glosses are common for cabinets because they hold up well. A high gloss finish can lend an ultra-modern look but is also more likely to highlight painting mistakes and dings and scratches.
How do you prepare cabinets for painting?
Is it time to paint yet? Not quite. The last step before painting your cabinets is to make sure the cabinets themselves are prepared. Make sure you cover all these basics:
- Remove all cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware. By doing so, you minimize the amount of taping and tentative painting necessary, making the painting process easier. As you remove doors and drawers, be sure to label which boxes they should be returned to, and keep all the hardware with its specific unit. This will make reinstallation much easier.
- Strip away old paint. This may only be necessary if there is a previous coat of paint on your cabinets and you plan to stain.
- Sand your cabinets. Sanding helps to roughen up cabinets enough for paint to adhere really well. It removes the glossy varnish, exposing the wood itself. We recommend sanding with a medium-grit sandpaper. If you want to save some time, you can use an electric sander. Afterwards, make sure you clear away residual dust and shavings completely.
- Perhaps the most important step before painting your cabinets is to give them a deep clean to remove dirt, grease, or other grime. Pay careful attention to cabinets around the stove and below the sink. Don’t be afraid to use a mild degreaser as you clean.