How to paint kitchen cabinets

How to paint kitchen cabinets properly is a question that keeps coming up. There seems to be lots of different ways or guides on how to paint kitchen cabinets but most of them miss one or two crucial steps. If you have decided to paint your kitchen cabinets and want to know how to do it properly then read on..

Lets assume that you have a wooden kitchen and you would like to freshen it up instead of throwing it out. Painting your kitchen cabinets (properly!) will give them a completely new look as you can see with these two before and after pictures.

The first step is to remove all the doors & drawers. Make sure to number each door & drawer so you will know which goes where at the end of the job! All the knobs, handles and hinges should be removed and stored safely.

The next step is to clean & remove grease from the cabinets. We like to use a product called Krud Kutter but sugar soap or a good quality degreaser will do. This is the most important step in how to paint kitchen cabinets, if you skip this then you practically guarantee problems further on.

Once clean the cabinets should get a good rub down with sandpaper to give the surface a key. This helps the paint stick properly. Using a 240 grade sand paper give every square inch a good rub down to remove the sheen. Once finished dust the surface off and wipe down with a tack cloth to remove any left over dust.

Now its time for the first coat of primer. There’s lots of different types of primers available but the best is Zinsser B-I-N Primer and this is what we recommend you use. Using a mohair rad roller and paint brush apply a thin layer of B-I-N Primer to the surface of you kitchen cabinets. Once the primer has dried you should fill any holes that you can find with a good quality wood filler. 2 pack wood filler is very good for this and unlike some other fillers it is less likely to shrink.

When the filler is dry sand everything down until you have a nice smooth surface. Dust and wipe with a tack cloth again then apply one coat of Coverstain primer.

Once the coat of Coverstain primer has cured, usually about 2 hours, its time to move onto the top coat. Lets say you are using a water based eggshell for the finish, its best to apply 2 coats of eggshell for best results. In this quick video you can see how to apply the paint to the cabinet doors. You will need to make space somewhere to leave your doors to dry. We use drying racks designed for this purpose. If you don’t have drying racks then laying the doors out on the kitchen counter might be an option.



Just before the final coat is applied you can fill any gaps that stand out with caulk. Caulk is a flexible filler applied with a caulk gun. Once you have filled a gap with caulk make sure to wipe of any excess caulk with a damp cloth. Once the caulking is completed and given a couple of hours to cure you can then apply your final coat.

Once the doors have fully dried you can go about replacing the hinges, handles and the doors themselves. Thats it, that’s all it takes to transform your kitchen. It might sound like a lot of work but its worth it to get a long lasting finish and its a fraction of the cost to replace your kitchen cabinets so well worth the effort!

What tools you will need to paint kitchen cabinets:

  • Screw gun/screw driver.
  • Rad roller with mohair sleeves
  • Paint tray or scuttle.
  • Paint brushes, synthetic brushes are best for water based paints

What materials you will need for painting kitchen cabinets:

  • 180 – 240 grade sandpaper.
  • B-I-N Primer
  • Box of tack clothes.
  • Water based eggshell
  • Caulk
  • 2 pack filler

Thats how to paint kitchen cabinets!

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