Repaint Kitchen Cabinets
A Simple How-To

HOW TO REPAINT KITCHEN CABINETS - It's an easy and inexpensive way to renew your kitchen.

If you have existing kitchen cabinets and want to update them, repaint kitchen cabinets.  You'll have a new, fresh look. 

If your cabinets are new and unfinished, painting them might be right for you, too.  It depends on the wood you have and the look you want.  Go to our Unfinished Wood Kitchen Cabinets page from this Repaint Kitchen Cabinets page for more information. 

COST TO REPAINT KITCHEN CABINETS

If you repaint kitchen cabinets, it will be much less expensive than purchasing new cabinets (a few hundred dollars (at most) versus thousands for new cabinets).

Updating your look by will be relatively easy if you follow some simple guidelines.

WHAT YOU'LL NEED TO REPAINT YOUR KITCHEN CABINETS:

  • Ladder
  • Drop clothes
  • Sponges, scouring pads, rags, to clean your cabinets with.
  • Bucket and some good, heavy-duty cleaner
  • 150 grit or finer sand paper
  • A synthetic bristle brush for latex-based paint.
  • A good natural bristle brush for oil-based paint.
  • Spray equipment (if you have it and know how to use it, otherwise just use a good brush).
  • Screw drivers to take hinges, doors, drawer fronts, etc. off.
  • Good Primer
  • Good Paint
  • Good ventilation
  • Some elbow-grease!!

REPAINT KITCHEN CABINETS:  Step #1 - CLEAN YOUR CABINETS

  • Take all your door and drawer handles off.
  • Take your doors and drawer fronts off, if you can.  It is easier to clean and paint them if they are laying flat.
  • Take the hinges off your doors if you can.  If you can't, when the time comes to paint you will need to either mask them off, or paint them.
  • Use a good, heavy-duty cleaner to clean your cabinets.
  • Rinse your cabinets well.
  • Allow them to dry thoroughly.

REPAINT KITCHEN CABINETS:  Step #2 -  SAND YOUR CABINETS

To have good looking and long-lasting painted kitchen cabinets, you need to have a good foundation for your paint.

Sanding your cabinets before you apply any primer or paint helps the primer and paint to adhere better to the cabinet surface.  This will help your paint job to last longer.

  • Make sure your cabinets are dry from washing them.
  • Use 150 grit or finer sand paper.
  • Lightly sand all surfaces that you will be painting.
  • Wipe down the surface, eliminating any dust the sanding caused.  You can use a tack cloth if you'll be applying an oil-based primer and paint.  Don't use one if you'll be using a water-based primer or latex paint.  Tack clothes have a drop of oil or varnish in them, and if used in conjunction with water-based products, may result in your finish not looking good.

ALTERNATIVE TO STEPS #1 &  #2 - APPLY DE-GLOSSER

If you'd rather use a deglosser, the new deglossers replace Steps 1 & 2 above.  There's still some value in lightly sanding your surface before you degloss, but read the label on the deglosser and follow those instructions.

The older deglossers really have a strong odor.  The new ones don't smell as bad, but still have chemicals in them that may be irritating.  Be sure to wear rubber gloves and follow the manufacturer's safety instructions.

If you have more time than money, just clean your cabinets and sand them.  It will save $10 - $20.  Not that much, but if you're on a budget every little bit helps.

REPAINT KITCHEN CABINETS:  STEP #3 - APPLY A GOOD PRIMER TO YOUR KITCHEN CABINETS (after you mask off any areas - wall, trim - that you don't want painted)

If your kitchen cabinets were originally stained and finished, and now you're going to repaint kitchen cabinets, you must use a primer.  The primer will prevent the stain and finish from bleeding through the new paint (yuk!!).

Ask your paint supplier for help in choosing the right primer for you, but the following are some guidelines:

  • If you are going to apply oil-based paint, you should apply an oil-based primer.
  • Never apply oil-based paint over water-based primers.
  • You can apply oil-based paint over a water-based primer.
  • You can use a latex paint over a water-based primer or a shellac-based primer (which is quite toxic, as are oil-based primers - you will need excellent ventilation).

Again, consult your paint supplier to make sure you have the products right for your application.

Primer Allows Paint to Bond Well - When don't you have to use primer?:

  • If your cabinets are already painted AND
  • You are just repainting your kitchen cabinets with a similar color paint (just giving them a fresh, newer look)

When you mask off:

  • Use a "Clean Release" painters tape
  • Mask off all areas you don't want paint on, like walls, trim, or parts of the cabinet
  • Remove the painters tape as soon as the paint is dry.  If you wait too long, you might take some of the paint with you that you don't want to (like peeling it off of the cabinets) OR  you might damage the wall or trim underneath the tape.  Painters tape is made to release easily, but, if kept on too long, especially in hot conditions, it can do damage.

REPAINT KITCHEN CABINETS:  STEP #4 - YOU ARE NOW READY TO PAINT THOSE CABINETS!!

Finally, you are going to have painted kitchen cabinets!!

Apply the paint with a high quality paint brush (synthetic for latex and natural for oil).  Use a 2" to 3" brush.  You may want to use a smaller brush for your cabinet frame fronts.

  • Apply your first coat thinly and evenly.
  • Make sure your first coat has dried completely.
  • Using 320 grit or greater sand paper, lightly scuff the paint.  This will remove any fibers, etc., that are standing up and make for a smoother second coat.
  • Use a cloth to remove excess paint dust.
  • Apply a second coat of paint, with even strokes.
  • You may be finished, but apply as many coats as you think are necessary.  Two are usually enough, though, especially if you've applied a primer.

REPAINT KITCHEN CABINETS: STEP #5 - CLEANUP AND RE-ATTACH DOORS, DRAWER FRONTS, AND HARDWARE

  • Clean up your area according to the type of paint you've used.  That information can be found on the back of your paint can. 
  • Be sure to properly dispose of your drop clothes, if used, and any paint cans, etc.
  • Make sure your painted kitchen cabinets, doors, and drawer fronts are completely dry.
  • You can now de-mask, re-attach hinges if necessary, hang your doors on again, and put on your handles.  You might want to think about purchasing new handles for a new or updated look.

Always Remember Safety:

Be sure your area is well ventilated.  Painting doors and drawer fronts is often done in a garage with all windows open and garage doors up.  Have fans running to circulate air.  Never paint in an enclosed area.

Be sure to wear the proper gloves.  To be safe, you can always invest in a respirator mask.  It is a small investment for your health.

And always follow manufacturer's directions for safe use of their products.

OTHER RELATED SITES:

Ideas for Painting Kitchen Cabinets
Some simple ideas how to paint and decorate your kitchen cabinets.

Unfinished Wood Kitchen Cabinets - How you can save money purchasing unfinished wood kitchen cabinets, and ideas on how to finish them.

The Woodworker's Depot - place to purchase high quality kitchen hardware, handles, and knobs at reasonable prices.

New! Comments

Have your say about what you just read! Leave me a comment in the box below.