10 Things You Need To Know Before Painting Kitchen Cabinets

man in kitchen painting cabinet trimPainting kitchen cabinets might look like a walk in the park, but here are a few things you need to know before painting kitchen cabinets. If you score Pinterest for the latest trends in fashion, fun and home décor you might be getting the hint that painting your cabinets is the best way to spruce up your kitchen on a dime. After all, every DIY kitchen seems to be gleaming in a unique coat of paint.

Blue, plum, yellow, the options are endless but the reality is a little less sunny. Painting kitchen cabinets isn’t for all. For starters, cabinets need to be in overall good condition in order to take kindly to a paint job. Plus, a lot of things can go wrong without proper know-how and tools.

Here are the top 10 things you need to know before painting kitchen cabinets yourself.

1. Keep Your Expectations Realistic To Your Cabinets

If your cabinets are chipped, warped or otherwise damaged painting is not recommended, nor is it a fix-all solution. The actual stability and overall quality of your cabinets will greatly influence how the end results turn out. Even cabinets in great condition are not going to look perfect after you paint them.

What you can’t see in those dressed-up Pinterest posts is the bumpy appearance painted cabinets tend to develop, especially if you have visible open grain. There is always the option to fill in grain with putty, but this is incredibly time-consuming and a bit challenging. 

Your expectations will dictate how your entire project is planned, executed, and received by you and your family. You need to be realistic with yourself when it comes to a DIY home restoration project. This deservingly so tops the list of things you need to know before painting kitchen cabinets.

2. You Must Clean And Prep Cabinets First

Grabbing a can of paint and going hog-wild on your cabinets might sound like an ideal way to make your Sunday breeze by with accomplishment. But before you start that pot of coffee and get going beware that it’s not so easy to paint kitchen cabinets.

Prior to any painting, cabinets must be removed, cleaned and properly prepped. Even if you think your cabinets are clean they need to be thoroughly wiped down with a grease-removing agent. Before you ever touch paint to your cabinets clean, clean and clean some more! Even if there is a thin layer of dust on the surface the paint is going to go on chunky and leave a gritty finish. If this does happen you will need to clean, sand and start from scratch.

You will then use sandpaper to rough up the surface before applying primer. The primer is going to impact the end result so choose wisely.  We recommend a stain-blocking primer to prevent unexpected blotches from showing up after the paint cures. (reference

3. It Takes More Than One Day

People often think they can paint their cabinets in one day but it’s going to take a lot longer than that. First, you will completely remove cabinets and hardware before cleaning and prepping all surfaces. Once you factor in all of this plus the time it takes to apply just the right primer and paint while also waiting for different layers to dry, you are going to need a considerable amount of time. You will also want to take into account the cabinet hardware. Since hardware has to be completely removed anyways there’s no better time to give it a good soapy scrub down.

At the very least it will take one full weekend to paint your cabinets, but usually it takes closer to 4-7 days when done properly.

Don’t rush hanging cabinets back up before they are completely dry. It might be painful to sit and stare at your beautiful new cabinets in the garage while your kitchen sits barefaced, but patience is your BFF when it comes to preventing smudged cabinet faces. (reference)

4. Don’t Forget To Label Where All Drawers, Doors And Hardware Go

When taking your cabinets apart it might seem like an easy task to eventually put everything back in its rightful place. Think again, once all of your cabinets and drawers are spread out with a fresh coat of paint it’s going to be difficult to remember and locate where everything goes. To avoid any issues with this simply label your cabinets, drawers, doors and hardware so that it is easy to find where everything goes when the time comes.

5. Avoid Cheap Paint At All Costs

The goal of any DIY project is to save money but you don’t want to cheap out on the paint that you use. Benjamin Moore Advance is a good option, and costs around $53 a gallon. As a point of reference, the average kitchen cabinets require 2 gallons of paint. You are going to pay more for quality paint like this but it will truly show in the final results. High-end cabinet paint provides a much smoother overall finish.

6. Should You Paint The Insides Of Your Cabinets?

Painting the inside of kitchen cabinets can offer a nice colorful surprise but it’s not an easy task, that’s for sure! If you’re up for the challenge you might be tempted to stick with basic shades of white but if you like color it looks amazing to add a pop of yellow or bright blue inside. (reference)

7. Paintbrushes Will Leave Marks

If you use a standard paintbrush to get the job done you will find that it leaves behind visible marks on cabinets after the paint cures. If this is going to bother you a spray gun will provide a much smoother finish. You can rent a spray gun if you don’t have one, but it’s not the easiest to use and takes some practice. We recommend practicing on an old piece of wood before moving onto your cabinets. Whenever you use the spray gun make sure to cover all surrounding areas with plastic sheeting. It’s easy for the microscopic overspray to reach all kinds of unwanted places so don’t leave anything uncovered.

Using a roller made of foam is an easier option and may leave a slight pattern in the surface, but nothing compared to a single paintbrush. We recommend using a 4 to 6-inch roller for cabinet frames and doors.

8. You Need Adequate Space To Paint Kitchen Cabinets

You are going to need to have enough space to set out each cabinet, paint it, and then leave it there to dry. Without enough space you are going to end up with a big mess on your hands. A garage or spare bedroom makes for the perfect space. A driveway can work but isn’t recommended because of exposure to the elements may compromise things due to potential rain, wind or dust.

9. Consider How Long You Plan To Keep Your Current Cabinets

The longer you want to stretch out the use of your current cabinets the more careful you want to be about painting them. If you plan to have them for a long time you can always sand them down and paint a different color, but it’s a lot of work to do so. If your cabinets are here for the long haul it’s best to go with more conservative colors that you are sure to still like a couple years from now.

10. What Is Your Budget For Painting Kitchen Cabinets?

If you have room in your budget you might want to consider getting new cabinets all together. New cabinets are always going to look better than painted cabinets. If your current cabinets are off for more reasons than just color it might be time to replace instead of repair. The average kitchen cabinets can last as long as 50 years, so there are many circumstances when you want a new look before your cabinets have lived out their full life. Still, cabinets can be recycled, or put to use in other parts of your home (such as the garage or laundry room), allowing you more creativity to add the latest cabinet styles. 

Quick Ways You Can Spruce Up Your Kitchen Cabinets Without Any Paint At All

Paint isn’t the only way you can spruce up your cabinets without spending a fortune.

-Add a magnetic strip to the backside of cabinet or pantry doors for a new way to store anything fitted with a compatible magnet. Spices, recipes, spatulas, cookie cutters and more can attach to the backside of a door for out of the way storage that is easy to access.

-Add glass doors to some cabinets for a new look with a decorative touch. Place glass doors where you store a nice stack of dishes, coffee mugs, or fancy China. This is an especially good idea if your cabinets are in overall good condition but a few doors are dinged up, warped or otherwise unattractive.

-Change out hardware for something new and unique, this alone can have a dramatic impact on the appearance of your kitchen. Buying and adding new hardware is an easy DIY project that takes very little time and money. Plus, there’s no real risk. If the new hardware doesn’t look good you can simply remove and return.

-Deep clean your cabinets. Grease and grime are bound to build up on kitchen cabinets and this can really take away from appearances. A deep scrub with a grease-removing agent can make a big difference by bringing some sparkle back into your kitchen.

-Buy new cabinets at wholesale prices for an affordable kitchen facelift that looks amazing for many decades to come.

Looking for picture perfect cabinets at an affordable price? The pros at Tops Kitchen Cabinet have you covered with great looking new cabinets at wholesale prices you can afford.

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