Skip Navigation

How to repaint your kitchen cabinets for a DIY upgrade


How to repaint your kitchen cabinets for a DIY upgrade

If your kitchen cabinets are looking a bit worse for wear, there is no reason to run out and buy new ones. You have the perfectly great option of painting your cabinets instead. Any surface can be painted, and the finish you get can be as good as if done by a professional if you follow these tips on how to paint your cabinets


The secret to any good job is preparation, and painting is no different. Make sure that you have an ample supply of quality brushes, as well as enough paint and primer for the job. You also want to remove everything you can from the kitchen (it is too awkward to work around things), and mask off any areas that the paint may splash or be tipped. You should also remove any doors and moveable panels, and number them so they are fitted back to their original position. Handles hinges etc. should be removed and numbered in bags to go back to their original door.


The next step is making sure that all the grease and grime are removed from surfaces. Use a mixture of 4 parts water to 1 part tri-sodium phosphate for this (you can use a store bought cleaner if you prefer), and wipe over all the surfaces. Make sure not to let it soak as you will need the cabinets to dry before proceeding.


All your sanding needs to be cleaned off before going to any next step, and you will need a suitable grit for each stage too. If your cabinets have been painted before sanding the paintwork will be fine, as long as it is adhering to the surface well. So your first job is to sand every inch of every surface so that your primer will stick to it. Use a medium grain paper, with a sanding block on any edges to keep them square, and make sure any paint edges are smooth with no ridges. Once you have finished, you should vacuum the surfaces and rub over with a tack rag.


You will need a suitable primer for the wood you have, and you may even need a primer putty on course grain woods like oak or mahogany. As with most painting you should start applying the primer at the top, working across any grain to fill the gaps. After applying a coat you should lightly brush off by using a light stroke from top to bottom; this will even out any brush marks. After at least 8 hours the primer can be sanded (I would leave it for a day) with a 220 grit paper. If there is any filling that needs to be done, or caulking around joints, you should do that now. You will then need to apply a fast drying spray primer over any unprimed areas before vacuuming and rubbing over with a tack rag again. Once all this is done you can start applying the finishing coats.

Finishing Coats

The finishing coat on the cabinets themselves is as straightforward as the priming, but make sure the areas have been sanded with a 220 grade of paper, are clean, and that you have a very good quality brush before starting. Doors and panels are a bit more awkward as they have 2 sides to paint. This means that you either have to spend 2 days on them, or hang them to dry. The door front should be painted flat on a suitable surface (this will stop runs) and allowed to dry before being sanded with a fine grade paper and applying another coat. Be careful of corners and if there are any rails make sure these are painted first. Again brush off to finish both coats. When your coats are finished, you can do the same on the other side.

Two Sided Painting

You can paint both sides in one go, but you will need to hang the door when drying. You simply need to fix some hooks to an inconspicuous place inside the panel, and use them to hold the door up for painting and hang it to dry. Paint the front panel, leave it for an hour, pick it up by the hooks and paint the back of the door, then hang. This is not as efficient as it sounds and personally I take the 2 day route. Once your doors are completely dry you can refit the furniture, and put the door back in their original openings.
This may seem a long drawn out process, but the truth is, to a great job you will need to take the time. However, the satisfaction of seeing the finished product is, in my opinion, well worth it.


By: Neil Purnell

comments powered by Disqus