Is it time? For us, there was no amount of cleaning or touching up that could get rid of the marks, dings, and smears. Read on to learn how to easily paint kitchen cabinets.
For your reference, our cabinet frames and doors are solid wood. If yours are made from a different material, such as laminate, you will need to research the appropriate type of finish.
Start With a Clean Slate
First things first – clean them! You don’t need to get all fancy. Just grab a bottle of spray cleaner and a rag. If there are a lot of greasy chunks, you might need a scrub brush as well. If necessary, take another rag dampened with water to rinse. Wipe dry and allow to air dry for a little while as well.
(The above advice is for cabinets that you already have in place. If you are installing brand-new, unfinished wood cabinets, you can probably use a lot less elbow grease on this step, or eliminate it all together.)
Understand that these tips are thorough. Yes, they are easy, but not necessarily quick.
I know that there are products out there claiming that you won’t have to sand or prime. Maybe they work, maybe they don’t? I don’t have first-hand experience with this.
And, since we’re talking about KITCHEN cabinets, I’d like to go with the best possible odds for excellent results.
Kitchen cabinets generally take quite a beating, after all, yes?
“Preparation is 90% of the Result”
We have a friend who is a professional builder and craftsperson. We seek his advice whenever we toy with the idea of doing a PROJECT.
He stresses the importance of preparation BEFORE you actually begin to paint.
Cleaning was just the beginning.
Here are the recommended next steps:
1- Once you’ve cleaned the surfaces and dried them, use painter’s tape to cover the areas near the edges that you wish to protect.
The walls, floor, and trim surrounding the cabinets are most likely to fall into this category.
Apply the tape carefully. It’s very forgiving, so if you don’t line it up PERFECTLY at first, just lift it gently and try again.
This step is SO worth it!
Next…how to easily paint kitchen cabinets
2- Remove handles and knobs from the cabinet doors and drawers that you are painting.
3- If possible, remove the doors and drawers from the frames.
4- Using sandpaper at about 220 grit, give the cabinets a light sanding. This is a very important step if you want the paint to grab the surface.
*FARMHOUSE TIP – Wipe off the dust from sanding with a slightly damp cloth before putting any paint on the wood. Also, try to work when you have the best possible lighting.
(If you are painting brand-new, unfinished wood, you’ll want to put a coat or two of primer on them first. The same is true if you are changing from a dark to a light paint color as well.)
5- Start with the lower cabinets first. Apply paint with your roller and/or brush, being careful to evenly distribute the paint. Check for drips and wipe them away.
6- AND paint the INSIDES of the doors first.
(I would use the brush to get inside any nooks, crannies, corner spaces and tight squeezes before painting the flat parts)
7- Once you’ve mastered your “technique,” you can move on the the frames and the outsides of the doors and drawers. Again, in good lighting, carefully paint each part as evenly as possible, wiping away drips or excess with a rag.
8- Let the paint dry between coats. We found that 2 coats of paint was perfect.
The Type of Paint Can Make a Big Difference
I did a little bit of research on this topic.
You see, when our cabinets were installed five years ago, the paint that we used was a regular semi-gloss paint that one would use to paint interior trim.
Enter CABINET ENAMEL!
Oh. My. Goodness.
I would also recommend purchasing the very best quality paint you can afford.
In our case, that worked out to be Benjamin Moore Advance in a semi-gloss finish.
(If you’re interested, our color choice is called, “White Dove” I-06)
It went on smoothly, self-leveled, and dried to a lovely, durable finish.
It was also easy to clean up with water and soap.
A Few Good Tools Can Make a Big Difference
In addition to high-quality paint, I would also invest in good tools.
This means a decent brush, at the very least.
If you like using a roller on the larger, flatter areas, that can save a little bit of time.
Here is the supply list:
1- Paint brush – I prefer the “Wooster” brand (“Shortcut”)
2- Flat head screwdriver(large) or paint can opener
3- Hammer (to close the paint can)
4- Drop cloth(s)
5- Painter’s Tape – I prefer the “Frog” brand
6- Surface, such as a table (but a floor will do if you have good knees) on which to lay the doors
7- Rags, towels to catch drips and help with clean-up
8- Small roller, roller cover, and roller pan (if you prefer for the flat surfaces)
More Tips on How to Easily Paint Kitchen Cabinets
You may also want a plastic bag to in which to place your brush and/or roller so they won’t dry out between uses.
For clean-up, I have a brush cleaning tool. It helps to separate the bristles of the paint brush and get excess paint off.
I would also encourage you to set aside as many days as you need to finish this project. I have to work in smaller, slower chunks, so I set aside one month.
(It wasn’t necessary to do that, as I finished the job within 2 weeks.)
So if you work faster, adjust your schedule accordingly.
I love when the job is done and the cabinets look so clean, bright, and fresh.
It is a real sense of accomplishment.
And there is a certain satisfaction when you see the absence of fingerprints and drippy messes everywhere.
What are your thoughts on how to easily paint kitchen cabinets?
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Hi Wendy! Love this post. I am now inspired to paint my kitchen cabinets!
This was great information. I have really been eyeing my kitchen cupboards lately, they need sprucing up desperately. You make it look so easy. Thanks for this.
Great detailed information! I like the tip about the lighting. I wouldn’t have thought of that. And I also appreciated knowing that the higher quality paint basically self-levels. I don’t know why I didn’t put two and two together that it should do that (as opposed to a cheaper paint). Great helps! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks, Debbie! So glad it was helpful.
Paint makes SUCH a difference! We painted our cabinets too – I love your drawer pulls, they’re gorgeous.
Thank you, Megan! The drawer pulls are from the Martha Stewart line at Home Depot. They may be discontinued – I can’t seem to find them anymore.
Love this! What a great and useful resource for anyone wanting to paint their kitchen cabinets. I know where to find it if and when we need it 😃
Thank you, Anja!