Home Improvement: Lots of Tips for Painting Kitchen Cabinets

I have gotten LOTS of questions about painting my kitchen cabinets (click here to see the finished product).

So I have compiled some tips, facts and regrets to make the overwhelming process seem doable.

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Facts:

  • I was only unable to cook in the kitchen for 2-3 days during the whole painting process.
  • It took me 66 days from start to finish for the prep work, painting, and then putting everything back in place. I know I could have completed it faster but life happened.
  • I used a self-leveling enamel paint specifically made for painting cabinets.
  • I did not sand before painting.
  • I did use a simple cleaner on the cabinets to remove existing grime.
  • I did 3-4 coats of paint on every surface.
  • I allowed each coat to dry for 24 hours.
  • I used an angled paint brush and a foam roller for painting.
  • I did not paint the inside of the cabinets.
  • 1 1/2 gallons covered 17 doors and drawers plus the frames.
  • Painted cabinets will chip. It’s inevitable.

Tips:

  • I stocked up on disposable plates and cups so I didn’t have dishes to clean on top of the paint mess I had EVERYWHERE.
  • I also stocked up on easy meals (hello Trader Joes), and we ate quite a bit of Papa Johns.
  • I moved my kitchen table and chairs into the basement and used that area for all the paint mess.
  • I taped paper to all the exposed floors so I didn’t have to worry about drop clothes.
  • Cover all your appliances so you don’t have to spend a hour cleaning off tiny bits of white paint on your black appliances (like I did).
  • Number all the drawers and cabinets. By the time you are finished you won’t be able to remember which one goes where. Trust me on this one.
  • I used a paint can spout which saved me on A LOT of clean up time.
  • Paint the cabinet frames before you paint the doors. It makes the whole process MUCH easier because once the frames are done you can remove the paper “drop-cloths” and use your kitchen normally while you finish painting the cabinet doors.
  • I painted the doors in batches of six. Four coats on six doors, and then once dry I hung them. It gave me a sense of accomplishment when I felt like the process would never be over.
  • Painting the cabinet doors was MUCH easier because of the framework my husband put together for me.
  • Do NOT paint on rainy days. The humidity really effects the paint.
  • Initially the paint looks horrible, but as it dries the finish become more even and the brush strokes disappear.
  • Once you are ready to put hardware back on the cabinets be sure to place a towel underneath the cabinet to keep from messing up the finish as you use a drill or hammer to secure the hardware.

Regrets:

  • I wish I had sanded the cabinet doors. The areas that get the heaviest use chipped almost immediately. I ended up sanding, and repainting a few of these ares which seemed to do the trick.
  • Priming at least the doors, and possibly the frames would have helped with the wood grain showing through. Live and learn.

Products to make the job easier: all these products came from Home Depot but can be ordered on Amazon as well.

Shur-Line Model Paint Can Lid $2.97
I  Shur-Line Model Paint Can Lid $2.97

I tend to be a messy painter so anything to make the job cleaner is greatly needed. This simple pour spout saved me time and money! And I didn’t have to take the paint can lid off and on all the time because the spout is air tight when closed.

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HANDy Paint Pail Model # 25001-Qt. Paint Pail
HANDy Paint Pail Qt. Plastic Liners (6-Pack) $3.97
HANDy Paint Pail Qt. Plastic Liners (6-Pack) $3.97

This “handy” paint container and liners made painting on a ladder so much easier. The liners make clean-up a breeze. And the magnet on the side keeps your paint brush clean.

Brown Builder's Paper $10.97
Brown Builder’s Paper $10.97

Using painter’s tape I fastened this brown paper to the floor anywhere I thought I might drip. And it was thick enough that even the drips didn’t seep through to the hardwood. And it stayed put for 2 months. Awesome product.

Cabinet Coat 1-gal. Kit Includes White Trim and Cabinet Enamel
Cabinet Coat 1-gal. Kit Includes White Trim and Cabinet Enamel $51

I am not going to say this is the best paint ever, but if you are a novice painter (or just not a great painter) it hides brush strokes and dries to a nice hard finish.

It says that you don’t need to use primer, but I should have anyway.

For the money this is a great product. Some of the other cabinet paint options I looked at were $80 -$100 a gallon. It does have a limited selection of tint-able colors. It is only sold online, but Home Depot can tint it for you in the store. I just used the bright white that came in the can.

And the best part was that it really adhered to the laminate areas on my cabinets. So if you have a mix of laminate and real wood cabinets this is a great option.

Overall I am very pleased with how the painted cabinets look now. I am not sure if I will ever tackle painting cabinets on my own. I might opt to save my pennies next time and hire a professional.

I hope that helps.

Feel free to ask questions.

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Framework on casters my husband made to help with the painting process.

Tips For Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Before After Kitchen Cabinets

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