Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

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How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

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Painting kitchen cabinets.

I want to repaint my kitchen cabinets. Do I need to sand and prime them before painting? Also, what kind of paint should I use?” -Courtney

Hi Courtney,

Start by cleaning your cabinets thoroughly to remove any dirt and grease. Next, take off the hinges and knobs, and lightly sand the cabinets to remove the gloss for better adhesion (or use a liquid deglosser).

While priming never hurts, whether it’s necessary or not is determined by the type of paint (oil or latex) currently on your cabinets and the type you plan to use for repainting. If you’re changing the type of paint or painting over natural wood cabinets, then it’s important to prime the cabinets first.

If you are repainting with the same type of paint that is on them now, then priming is optional. To determine the type of paint on your cabinets, and learn more about primers in general, read our article A Homeowner’s Guide to Paint Primers.

Use a high quality woodwork enamel paint on your kitchen cabinets. Either an oil or latex paints can be used, though they each have their advantages and disadvantages:

  • Oil-based paint has a smoother surface and dries harder than latex; but it requires a solvent like mineral spirits for clean up, has a strong odor, and dries slowly.
  • Latex paint cleans up easily with water, comes in low and no VOC (volatile organic compounds) formulas, and dries quickly; but it shows brush marks more and is softer and tends to imprint, allowing items placed on shelves to stick unless shelf paper is applied.

I prefer a medium gloss (such as semigloss or eggshell) for kitchen cabinets, though high gloss hold up well. Avoid using flat paint on kitchen cabinet, since it doesn’t clean as well.

Good luck with your project,

Danny

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5 Comments on “How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets”

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  1. Lori Says:
    May 25th, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    Hi, I have a condo that was previously rented out. I am moving in for a year because I bought a house that has been delayed and need a place to live. I decided to redo the kitchen cabinets and counters. I got a quote for $15000.00. A friend of mine was telling me to prime my cupboards and then paint them a really dark brown. So I have put a hold on the new kithen and decided to prime them all not realizing what I had gotten myself into…
    I bought the Behr paint. I chose the darkest of brown I could find. I am using a little roller to roll the paint on and am not liking the way it looks… Is this because I’ve only put one coat on. Will it get better or will you always be able to tell from afar that it was painted. I’m thinking of just ripping out the kitchen and paying the $15000.00.
    What do you think???

    Thanks

  2. Lily Tucker Says:
    August 20th, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    You could have purchased new doors and drawer faces from taylorcabinetdoor.com in paint grade hardwood so you can paint them yourself to match the boxes. Purchase doors hinged to save time and money. The cost (depending on the size of the kitchen) could be under $2000 pluse the cost of the painting supplies.

  3. hilton head kitchen cabinets Says:
    January 4th, 2010 at 11:15 am

    It really depends on the look that you are going for and how much money you have laying around. Painting kitchen cabinets is always like putting lipstick on a pig in my mind. It makes the look better but in what way? There a different color and that’s about it. It may brighten up the room but but its not going to drastically change the kitchens look. Also if you are selling a home in today’s market buyers have become savvy to cheap fixes. If your going to sell you home compare your kitchen cabinets to your neighbors kitchen cabinets if their house is for sale if there painted no worries paint yours too. If you feel that your house needs a little pep in its step to sell go for it.

    If you’ve got the money to spend replace the cabinets, you will love your new kitchen and everyday that you come home will make you smile!

  4. Russ Says:
    June 23rd, 2013 at 2:02 am

    what is the best way to paint wood paneling. and what do I need to do the job right, thanks

  5. Karen Says:
    July 25th, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    I’ve been using Annie Sloan chalk paint and dark wax for the distressed look. The results are remarkable. Many different colors and looks. Look it up on line.

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