Kitchen Cabinets: Paint Instead of Replace
Is your kitchen looking tired and worn? Don’t have the money to replace your older kitchen cabinets with brand new ones? No need to despair. Painting old kitchen cabinets – either yourself or by a professional painter – will bring new life to dated, but still usable cabinetry. Even if you do not consider yourself handy or one that can easily take on renovation projects, painting kitchen cabinets is very doable and can have fantastic results, even for those of us who are all thumbs.
The first step in deciding whether or not to paint your kitchen cabinets is to determine if the cabinets can be re-painting. Depending upon the material used to build the cabinet and the finish currently on the cabinet, the process of refinishing them may or may not be a task that you can handle. If you have any doubt at all in your ability to take on this project, consult with a professional. It will save you a lot of money and headache in the long run.
Preparing the Cabinets
The next step in painting your cabinets, if the cabinets are made out of wood, is to sand each one. It is recommended that you use a medium weight sand paper to sand each cabinet. You can sand the cabinet doors in place or remove each door. To remove the doors, you will need a screwdriver. Depending upon the type of screws used on the door hinges will determine the type of screwdriver you need.
Remove each door including removing the hinges. Next, remove each door handle. Towards the end of the project, you can decide if you want to use the original hinges and door handles, or if you want to replace these with new ones. Depending upon the design of your kitchen, you may want to install all matching hinges and handles, or mix and match them.
Whether you remove the cabinet doors or not, you will need to sand each one to remove any paint, varnish, or other type of finish. The goal is to reveal the original wood surface. Sanding will create dust. This is true for both sanding by hand and sanding with an electric sander. Either way, prior to sanding, you may want to clear off your kitchen counters and cover up any appliances, such as a microwave, with plastic to keep the surfaces and appliances free of dust.
After sanding is completed, dip a clean sponge into warm water and wipe the cabinet surfaces clean. You don’t need a lot of water, just enough to remove the dust and dirt. Once the cabinets have been sponged off, remove the remaining water and any dirt with a clean cloth. Now you are ready to paint your cabinets!
The Pre-Painting Step
Painting kitchen cabinets can be lots of fun! If you are unsure as to the color or colors you want to use, go to your local hardware or paint store and purchase a few testers of paint. Testers are small containers of various paint colors that are much cheaper than purchasing a full gallon of paint that you may or may not like. Paint a small part of each cabinet to see which color or colors you prefer. Once you decide on your color(s), you can go back to the store and purchase as much paint as you need. If you are not sure how much paint you need, ask the store’s paint expert who will be able to guide you as to the amount of paint you need to purchase to complete your project.
Depending upon the cabinet surface and the paint you have selected to use, you may or may not need to prime each cabinet. Many new paints already contain a primer so you do not need to purchase both a primer and the paint. Again, ask the paint expert at the store where you are buying the paint for advice.
There is still one more step that you will need to take before you purchase your paint and that is to decide what type of paint to use. For example, acrylic enamel paint is water-based. This means that it is not very smelly and it is quite easy to clean up. In comparison, alkyd paints are oil-based and are very stinky. As a result, your kitchen or area where you are painting must have excellent ventilation. In addition, alkyd paints require mineral spirits to clean up paintbrushes and surfaces that you may have painted accidentally. On the plus side, this type of paint will give you good coverage and cabinet surfaces will be durable for easy cleaning.
Painting Your Cabinets
Now that you have your paint, paintbrushes, and clean towel or cloth for spills or clean up, it is time to start painting! Make sure that the paint is completely stirred and mixed. This may require you to take a wood stir stick (usually provided by the store for free when you the purchase the paint) and thoroughly stir the paint in the can, using an up-and-down/stirring motion. This way all of the paint, including the paint at the bottom of the can, gets completely mixed together.
Using your clean paintbrush, dip it in the can of paint only about one quarter of the way on the bristles. Using long, even strokes, apply the paint to the cabinet. Follow the grain of the wood to get complete and neat coverage. Continue the process until the entire cabinet is covered with paint. Depending upon the type of paint you are using, the color of the paint, and how well the wood surfaces absorb the paint, you may need to apply 2, 3 or 4 coats of paint. You know when you are finished painting when you cannot see paint strokes or the underlying wood of the cabinet.
Finishing the Cabinets
After you have painted all of the cabinets, it is time to apply a finish in order to seal the paint into the wood and to give the cabinet a professional looking finish. A clear seal will not only protect the wood and the paint, but will also look like you have done a very professional job!
Deciding what type of finish to apply to your cabinets may depend upon the type of paint that you have used to paint the kitchen cabinets. A flat paint without any gloss might look best with a finish that dries a bit on the shiny side. In comparison, a glossy paint may only need a sealer applied over it. The best thing to do is ask the paint professional at your local area paint or hardware store.
The Final Results
Painting kitchen cabinets provides you with several positive results. By doing this project yourself, you have saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars by not having to hire a professional painter to do the job. In addition, you have saved the cost of purchasing and installing brand new cabinets. The only costs were the paint, brushes, painting tape, some rags, maybe a drop cloth, and your time. In the end, you should feel very satisfied with the job you accomplished, the money you saved, as well as the value you have just added to your home.