I am so, so excited to share today’s post! We’ve always wanted to know the secret between professionally painted kitchen cabinets and DIY that gets tacky or chips off quickly. In this post, we teamed up with Asa Davis, owner of the Nashville painting company Davis Custom Finishes to teach you how to paint your cabinets like a true pro! I learned so much from Asa about how to paint your cabinets in a way that holds up over time and looks professional!
OK, I am passing the baton to Asa now …
Painting your kitchen cabinets can make a huge difference in the appearance of the room. However, if not done properly, the results can be disastrous. When armed with the right knowledge, you can paint your cabinets and know that the end results will be beautiful and durable. Here are the steps to properly (DIY) paint those kitchen cabinets.
Step 1. Remove the doors and drawers from the cabinet boxes. Take off any hinges, handles, or any other hardware that may be in the way of painting. (Pro Tip: Number the doors with a sharpie underneath the place where the hinges go and cover with a small piece of painters tape. This will make it easier when rehanging the doors.)
Step 2. Clean your cabinets. Possibly the most important step in the process is ensuring that all grease, grime, and gunk is removed from all of your cabinets. If there are any especially greasy cabinets, I recommend spraying the surface with Krud Kutter Degreaser. After excessive grease is removed, wet a clean rag with Liquid Sandpaper/Deglosser and wipe down thoroughly. (We recommend wearing rubber gloves when using liquid sandpaper.)
Step 3. Sand. All surfaces must be thoroughly sanded using a fine grit sandpaper (180 or 220 grit). If you have one, you can also use an electric sander to help speed up the process. There is no need to sand the surfaces down to the bare wood—you just want to make sure that the surfaces are thoroughly scuffed.
Step 4. Remove dust from all cabinet surfaces. To remove the bulk of the dust, you can dust off with an old paint brush. If you have an air compressor, you can blow the dust off with a blower nozzle. Next, while wearing rubber gloves, get a clean rag and apply some denatured alcohol to it. Wipe the remaining dust off the surfaces with the rag.
Step 5. Cover up the floor, counter tops, backsplash, and walls as you deem necessary. To do this, you can use painters tape, plastic, paper, canvas drop cloths, or a combination of all.
Step 6. Prime the cabinets. Now that the cabinets are prepped, it’s time for a coat of primer. If you have a paint sprayer and are comfortable using it, the most durable primer is shellac. The downside to this primer is that it needs to be sprayed using a respirator, as it is very odorous. The product can be cleaned up with either denatured alcohol or an ammonia and water mixture. For all the DIYers out there that are using a brush instead of a sprayer, the second best product to use on your cabinets is a high quality water-based bonding primer. Do your research on this and be sure you purchase a primer that will bond well to high traffic surfaces.
A paint sprayer gives the smoothest finish, however, you can brush or roll on the paint. A rolled and a brushed finish can turn out very nice as well. There is no difference in durability between spraying or hand painting.
Here are some recommended sprayers:
Step 7. Lightly sand. After the primer is fully dry, lightly sand the surfaces with 220 or 320 grit sandpaper. Remove any dust and then you are ready for paint.
Step 8. Paint. Once you have prepped and primed, the cabinets are ready for the first and second coat of paint. Do not cut costs on your cabinet paint. It is very important to purchase a high quality and hard drying paint that will withstand daily usage. I prefer urethane alkyd enamels. Be sure to allow plenty of dry time between coats of paint. Most paints recommend 2-4 hours of dry time between coats. Dry time can be sped up by using fans and being in a low humidity environment.
Step 9. Remove all masking and tape.
Step 10. Reinstall doors and drawers. Most modern hinges can be adjusted if necessary to ensure the doors are hanging properly.
What not to do:
I see many sets of kitchen cabinets that have been painted previously and the paint is not holding up. There are several things that may cause your paint job to not last.
-Not cleaning and sanding your cabinets properly or thoroughly. I can’t stress this step enough. Prep is key to long-term durability.
-Not using a bonding primer before painting.
-Using a latex paint instead of a urethane enhanced enamel. Traditional latex/water based paint will never dry hard enough to withstand constant touch and will become sticky and will eventually start peeling off.
Don’t let this overwhelm you—the project will be very rewarding in the end! Follow the steps outlined above and you can be sure your newly painted cabinets will look great and last for years.
Thank you so much to Asa Davis of Davis Custom Finishes in Nashville for contributing your expertise to this blog post!