Painting Kitchen Cabinets
By Owen Whetzel
Your kitchen cabinets may be old, stained, worn and dingy, but if they are well constructed, you can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars by painting them instead of replacing them. And, if you don't want to paint cabinets that are stained, it's often possible to restore them. Here are some suggestions:
Painting over existing wood cabinets
Cabinets need careful preparation, to achieve the best results.
You will want to remove all cabinet hardware. However, before removing doors and drawers label them in an inconspicuous spot (the bottom of doors or drawers usually works well), so they can be put back in the same location after painting.
The surfaces to be painted must be absolutely clean and free of dust, dirt, grease, oil, etc. Jasco TSP No-Rinse Substitute is an excellent pre-painting cleaner. (If you use Jasco TSP No-Rinse substitute, even though it contains a deglosser and the container says that sanding isn't necessary, you still want to sand.) Don't use ammonia or a cleaner containing ammonia. It won't rinse off and is likely to cause the paint you apply to yellow. Scrub the surfaces to be painted, do not simply wipe them down. Allow the surfaces to thoroughly dry.
Use a non-shrinking material to patch any unsightly dents (vinyl wood patch or spackling compound is usually sufficient) and then use a sanding block with 150-grit sandpaper, to sand the patched areas smooth.
If you will be installing new hardware, now is the time to see, if the holes in the new hinges and knobs or pulls are the same as the old. If not, drill new holes and fill the old with wood putty.
Lightly sand all surfaces, to be painted, again using 150-grit sandpaper. What you want to achieve is a smooth and dull surface before painting. Vacuum what was sanded and then wipe using a tack cloth, which will remove any sanding dust.
Apply painter's masking tape, to areas that won't be painted. If you will be spraying the cabinets, you will want to use both masking tape and plastic sheeting, to prevent overspray getting where you don't want it.
Apply two light coats of a high quality oil-based primer, that is compatible with the finish currently on the cabinets and with the high quality oil-based enamel, you will apply. Sand lightly between coats.
Two coats are particularly important, if you are going from, for example a medium-or dark color, to white. Apply oil-based paint, using a natural-bristle brush. If you use latex, use 100-percent acrylic latex and apply it using a synthetic-bristle brush.
For best results, doors and drawer fronts should be painted, while they are in a horizontal position. Lightly sand between coats using 150-grit sandpaper. As with all products you use, be certain to follow all warnings and manufacturer's instructions, particularly drying and recoat times.
NOTE: After the first coat of primer has dried, check areas you patched and, if necessary, add more wood patch or spackling compound. Allow the patching compound to thoroughly dry and then sand the area smooth.
If you brush-on a finish or apply it using a painting pad (using a roller could produce a textured surface, a foam brush an uneven finish), you will probably attain the best results by applying 2- to 3-coats of a high-quality oil-based enamel, sanding lightly between coats, to smooth the surface. A high gloss or gloss sheen will give the greatest washability and resistance to wear; however, reflection of light is highest with a gloss finish (The reflection of high gloss sheen is rated 80-90. Semi gloss sheen is rated 50-75. Satin is rated 30-45. Flat sheen is rated 5-15. Satin and flat are usually unsuitable for kitchen cabinets,) Poor application technique, usually over-brushing, could result in brush strokes being more evident with high gloss and gloss, than with other sheens.
If you spray-on a finish, apply 7- to 8 light coats.
NOTE: Some manufactured kitchen cabinets are coated with a very hard finish (e.g., catalyzed lacquer or conversion varnish). It is difficult to get primer and paint to adhere to these surfaces. Consider using a liquid paint remover, to strip off the old finish before priming and painting.>
If the cabinets have a veneer surface, that is other than wood, such as Melamine or a plastic laminate, such as Formica, you will need to lightly sand the plastic using 220-grit sandpaper and then apply a stain-killing primer, that will adhere to plastics. It is important to keep in mind, that the finish may not last as long as if the cabinets were wood.
Finish off the job by adding new hinges and pulls or knobs.
Improving the appearance of stained and clear-coated cabinets without painting
To cover many finished wood blemishes, apply Howard Restor-A-Finish, a simple wipe-on, wipe-off process, that is a unique finish-penetrating liquid, that restores the original color and luster to a finish while blending-out white heat rings, water marks, sun fade, oxidation, smoke damage, and many blemishes. Restor-A-Finish is available in nine colors: Neutral, Maple-Pine, Golden Oak, Cherry, Walnut, Mahogany, Dark Walnut, Dark Oak, and Ebony Brown.
You can read more about Howard Restor-A-Finish.
You will find Jasco TSP No-Rinse Substitute, wood fillers, sandpaper, tack cloths, Howard Restor-A-Finish, primers and paint, as well as other supplies and materials you may need, in OSH's paint department. Cabinet hardware is in the hardware department.
As with any painting project you do, it is very important that you carefully follow the instructions and warnings printed on the container of any products you use. Always test a small amount of whatever you use in an inconspicuous location, before applying it to a large area, to see if there are any adverse consequences.
The first time I painted kitchen cabinets, the results were so good, that we needed a new countertop. The countertop cried for a new sink and faucet. Then the resilient vinyl flooring looked old and outdated, so it was replaced. The final step was to add new lighting. Fortunately, the appliances were relatively new and blended in well with the other improvements, but I can see where appliance replacement could have been another thing on the to-do list.