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Learning how to paint kitchen cabinets effectively can be a great way to save some money on transforming your kitchen. The price of paying for a brand-new set of kitchen cabinets can be too much for any homeowner to handle. However, you can make your food preparation area look as good as new with a fresh set of painted kitchen cabinets.

While not all cabinet doors and interiors will be suitable for painting, many could look fantastic with just a fresh coat of paint and a little bit of hard work.

Today, we’re going to give you a guide on how to paint kitchen cupboards successfully, so you can fall in love with your kitchen all over again.

Do You Need to Sand Cabinets Before Painting?

Before painting kitchen cabinets, you should know that this process will generally work best with wooden cabinets you have already sanded (or removed the finish from). If you have laminate cabinets, you may be able to apply paint, but it won’t adhere as well to the surface, which could lead to a patchy finish.

If your cabinets have a factory smooth finish, sand them lightly with a 120-grit sandpaper or sanding sponge. You shouldn’t need to sand bare wood. If there’s paint on your kitchen cabinets already, you might need more than brown builder’s paper to get all the doors and edges ready for painting.

It might also be worth using some wood filler on areas of the wood grain where you see natural dips to improve the painting process. You should also apply a primer to your cabinets whenever possible, as this will help the paint stick to the wood and ensure your final coat looks as smooth as possible.

An enamel underbody primer is generally the best bet, combined with oil-based paint, so you can reduce brush marks.

What Kind of Paint Should You Use on Kitchen Cabinets?

So, what is the best paint to use on kitchen cupboards?

As mentioned above, the right paint for most cabinets will be oil paint. This is because oil paint takes a little longer to dry fully on your painting projects. This ensures you have longer to work on removing any brush strokes left behind on the surface.

Latex paints are becoming increasingly effective for those who want a durable finish or a range of different styles for their new cabinets. You can get all kinds of matte and semi-gloss paints in a wide range of colours. However, oil-based paints are generally more user-friendly, and they may be better suited to you if you’re going to be using a mini roller during the painting process.

Water-based paint is more likely to leave a patchy finish and brush strokes on your cabinets, so it’s best to avoid this paint where possible unless you know the cabinets you’re painting respond well to paint. You can also consider water-based paints if you spray the paint onto your cabinets. But keep in mind that it can be difficult to get the ideal finish with a sprayer.

Ideally, you’ll want a set of high-quality brushes with large edges to make quick work of the flat panels throughout your kitchen. You could also consider using a mini roller, but make sure you’re using the right type of paint to eliminate roller marks.

A smaller brush may also be necessary, so you can paint the edges of the cabinets and their doors without making a mess or ending up with extra paint on the flat areas.

The Best Way to Paint Kitchen Cupboards

Painting kitchen cabinets take a decent amount of time. You’ll need to set aside some time when you don’t need to use your kitchen to keep the room dust-free and keep people away from the paint for as long as possible while it dries.

Step 1: Prep the Room

Good prep work is crucial when figuring out how to paint kitchen units and cabinets successfully. Empty all the cabinets and clear the counters from kettles, plates, pans, and others. Move any free-standing tables to another room, tape paper over the countertops, flooring, and anything else you need to protect against the backsplash.

It’s also worth getting some masking tape ready to tape off the wall around the cabinets. Then, set up a workstation where you can keep the best paint for your needs, your brushes, and anything else you need.

Step 2: Remove Drawers, Doors, and Shelves

Next, remove all the drawers, doors, and shelves from your cabinets as best you can. It might be helpful to mark the drawer fronts, doors, and drawers with a wipe-clean marker to ensure you don’t mix things up when you’re putting your cabinets back together.

changing the colour of the cupboards' doors

During this time, you can also clean the cabinet, doors, and drawer fronts by spraying them with an anti-grease cleaning solution. This will help remove any of the dirt or oils that may prevent you from getting the perfect factory finish.

Step 3: Prep Your Cabinet Boxes

If you’re painting kitchen cabinets inside, open the windows for ventilation and use a deglosser to strip all of the wood. You should have a clean rag ready to catch any drips. If you’re filling any gaps or dents in your cabinets, you’ll need to apply the filler, then use a foam sanding block to get rid of any lumps and bumps.

Vacuum the cabinets inside and out to reduce the risk of dust damaging the finish or wipe them over with a clean microfibre cloth.

Step 4: Apply Primer

Now you’re ready to apply primer to your cabinets and drawers. If the cabinets are quite heavily stained, you can consider using a stain-blocking primer to seal knots and other surface defects. However, an oil-based or acrylic latex primer will be fine for most.

You can apply your primer to the drawer fronts, doors, and other elements of the cabinets wherever you’re going to be applying new paint. To get a good finish, use a brush to paint along the edges of your cabinet frames, then finish the paint job with a roller to cover all of the larger, flatter surfaces.

Step 5: Start Painting the Cabinets

Once your primer is dry, you’re ready to start painting. Take it slow and start with the body of the cabinet. Rushing the work means you’ll end up with painted cabinets covered in streaks and other patchy messes.

If you’re using a similar shade to the original paint job on your cabinets, you might be able to get away with just two coats. However, if you’re going to be painting over a dark finish with a light colour, you may need to do multiple coats.

Work slowly and carefully, making sure you use your smaller paintbrush to cut along the edges and push the paint into the corners, so you’re not left with any gaps. For the cabinet interior, it’s often easiest to apply your paint with a smooth-surface miniature roller. Between coats, cover the brushes and rollers you’re using with plastic bags to stop them from drying out.

If you’re concerned about paint lumps in between coats, you can lightly sand the dry coat of paint. Try not to sand away all of your hard work. Clean away the debris afterwards before applying your second coat.

Step 6: Paint the Drawers, Shelves, and Doors

While the second coat on the cabinet bodies is drying, you can prep, prime, and paint the doors, shelves, and drawers using the same steps mentioned above. It’s often a good idea to lay some newspaper or paint plastic down on a table to do this work on a flat surface and reduce the risk of drips or spills.

When painting a panelled door, start with the area around the panel before carefully working inwards. If you want to speed up the drying time for your doors, you can twist screw hooks into the edge of the door to hold them up while you paint both sides.

Step 7: Put Everything Back Together

Once the second coat on all of the components of your cabinets has dried fully, you can begin to put everything back together. Reattach the door and drawer fronts and wipe everything over to make sure it’s as clean as possible.

You can now sit back and enjoy your beautiful, refreshed cabinets.

Is Painting Kitchen Cabinets Worth It?

Learning how to paint kitchen cabinets successfully can take a lot of time and work. You might be wondering whether it’s worth all the effort. Painting wooden kitchen cupboards do take a few hours of your time, but if you have a good surface to work with, it can be well worth your time.

a man fixing the cupboards

While you might not see the impact on your kitchen with the first coat, your kitchen will seem transformed by the time you reach the finish coat, The right paint can immediately upgrade your kitchen finish and make your cabinet door, drawer, and other surfaces look as good as new.

The biggest benefits of deciding to paint kitchen cabinets instead of replacing them include:

• You get to re-use your existing kitchen cabinets and cabinet doors without having to rebuild everything from scratch. This can save you money.

• The money you save on each cabinet door and surface will give you more cash to spend on other aspects of renewing and reviving your kitchen.

• You can get creative with your kitchen cabinets. Plus, you can choose any colour you want, including those you wouldn’t typically be able to find on a pre-made cabinet door or kitchen unit.

Of course, painted kitchen cabinets won’t be right for everyone. Painting doors on a kitchen cabinet with a gloss finish will lead to an unprofessional end look. Remember also to dedicate enough time to each stage of the painting process. You’ll need to sand lightly, to begin with, prime your kitchen cabinets, then wait a few hours between the first coat and second coat.

Can You Paint Gloss Kitchen Cabinets?

As mentioned above, you won’t be able to paint every kind of kitchen cabinet because some cabinets are designed in a way that won’t allow new paint to adhere to them. If you’re learning how to paint kitchen cupboard doors and shelves, you’ll need to make sure you’re starting with the right surface and the correct kind of paint.

white food preparation space

A clean wooden surface with no gloss applied to it is often the best option for your painting project. You can use products from paint stores to remove the factory finish on a set of wood cabinets if there is one before you begin to paint.

Make sure you use a damp cloth to wipe over all the cabinet doors and other components before you start applying wet paint to dirt or dust.

Start Painting Your Kitchen Cabinets

Discovering how to paint kitchen cabinets effectively is an excellent way to bring new life to your kitchen. You can paint cabinets in a range of colours and styles to match your personal preferences and update the look of your kitchen as often as you like.

The key to success is ensuring you have the right tools and the correct kinds of cabinets, to begin with. At the same time, it’s important to make sure you’re patient and careful with your efforts. Rushing through the painting process will just lead to mistakes.

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