Cabinet Painting | How To
Whether you just moved in to a new place and you’re redecorating, or you’re freshening up the old fixtures in your lifelong home, a new coat of paint can do wonders for any room. This is especially true for the rooms where you spend a lot of time, like bedrooms, living rooms, and kitchens. But it’s not just about the colour of the walls – the accent features of a room are what really bring it to life. With that in mind, you’re likely wondering: what’s the best way to paint your kitchen (or bathroom, or garage) cabinets? Read on to learn what The Urban Painter has to say about cabinet painting.
Creating The Right Workspace For Cabinet Painting
Cabinet painting can be tricky, so you’ll want to plan things out properly from the start and save yourself a lot of hassle later on. Let’s deal with the cabinet doors first.
Clear a workspace in an open area, like a garage or unfinished basement, where it’s okay to get a bit messy. Lay out some plastic sheets to protect your floor and walls, and put down long boards to create shelves, on which you’ll lay the cabinet doors to dry. If you can, set up a fan to blow air out of a gap in the plastic – the less dust you have in the space, the better.
Using The Right Cabinet Painting Tools
Before you even start any work, make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need. These include: sandpaper (especially some that’s very fine, for small bumps), tack cloths, rags, small movable blocks to use as supports, degreaser and adhesive remover, filler that works for the material (usually wood), tape, and hand tools (drill and bits, putty knife, etc). It’s best to have access to a sprayer with small-aperture, fine finish tips. We do not recommend painting cabinet doors with brushes and rollers, as it simply will not be as smooth as a sprayer finish.
Planning and Prepping
Once you have the right equipment, you’re ready to start! Before you take out a single screw, sketch out a diagram of the cabinets in the room, and label them with numbers. Then, as you remove the doors from the hinges (and not the hinges from the frame), use a pencil to number the corresponding doors inside the area where the hinges attach. Put a piece of tape over the number, and just like that, you have a foolproof system of matching doors with their proper place when you’re done. Keep the hardware in a big resealable bag or container as you take it out, clearly label it and set it aside in a safe place. This will save you major headaches later on.
Once the doors are in the prep room, take some time getting them just right: removing grease and stains, sanding down rough patches, filling cracks and holes, caulking gaps, and triple-checking every surface for imperfections. It’s especially important to remove dust particles from hard-to-reach cracks (as they will blow around and stick in wet paint from the sprayer). It seems tedious, but the little things will seem huge under bright kitchen or bathroom lights – so trust us, it’s best to catch them now. There’s no rush, and it will make the actual painting much easier.
Painting the Cabinet Doors
First, you’ll be priming the doors to make sure that the topcoats of paint stick properly. Make sure the doors are laid flat on their fronts, and that you can easily access all sides of them as you spray. Inspect one last time for dust, and then, using a fine finish tip such as a 211 or 213, hold the nozzle 10-12 inches away and spray all four thin sides of the door with a smooth, sweeping motion – always pulling the trigger before you’re over the surface, and releasing once you’re passed the other side. This prevents splatters and drips from the spray gun while cabinet painting. Once the sides are primed, do the same sweeping motions on the main surface, overlapping each pass by 50% to ensure even coverage. (If there are indents or curves, be sure to compensate accordingly.) One pro tip: always keep the gun moving! If you hold it in one place, the primer (or paint) will build up and run, creating unsightly drips and bulges.
Once the whole side is primed, carefully lift the cabinet door from the bottom and place it on the drying rack, which should be far enough away from the spray area that it will not get overspray or dust. Plan at least 4-6 hours drying time per coat, depending on ambient temperature.
When they’re ready, flip them over and do the same to the other side. Once that’s dry, inspect both sides for bumps, ridges, cracks, or other imperfections, and fix as needed. Then you’re ready for the paint! Repeat the process for at least two coats, and remember that cabinet painting isn’t something you want to rush. Also, by starting on the back side, you finish with the front side drying face up – ensuring the best possible coating to face out into the room.
Painting the Cabinet Frames
While you’re waiting between paint coats, you can tackle the frames of the cabinets. There are several approaches to this, depending on how much time you have to spare and the amount of work you’re willing to do; we often spray as much as we can, and do finishing touches in the hard-to-reach areas with a small foam roller and a brush, if necessary. This involves putting protective plastic and paper across the open spaces, hinges, and surrounding walls, and firmly taping it down everywhere, which can be quite a chore on your own. Overall, though, it results in a smoother, more professional appearance. However you decide to do it, though, remember these tips:
- be sure to choose the correct roller (small nap or foam) and brush, so that you don’t have excess paint running down in drips.
- cabinets (especially kitchen ones) can be very greasy from years of build-up. A thorough cleaning with degreaser is necessary for proper adhesion.
- primer goes before paint!
- Semi- and high-gloss paints may show areas of different paint coats that overlap (known as “flashing”). Always do a full coat of the entire section at once to prevent this.
- Always check your seals before spraying near taped sections, and watch out for dust blown around by the sprayer.
Once the cabinet frames and doors have had ample time to dry (at least 24 hours since the last coat was applied, if not more), carefully peel off tape and plastic from the work areas. Look under the tape in the hinge areas of the doors and match each one to the cabinet it came from. Keeping an eye on fingerprints and oily skin marks on your fresh paint, gently screw the hinges back in the same way they came out, and replace knobs and rubber stopper pads (if the doors have them). Look for any touch-ups while you’re up there, and be sure to clean out any dust that’s been shaken loose. Check to make sure they close and open properly. And that’s it! You just painted some cabinets!
Overspray during this process hardens in the air and falls to the ground as tiny beads of paint, which then gather more dirt as they roll around. As a result, the floors in spray areas will be very dusty, and care should be taken to contain it – it’s a good thing we put all that plastic down! Roll the plastic up to trap all the dust, and dispose of it accordingly. Use a broom, vacuum, static electric duster, and wet cloths to restore the room to its previous glory.
As for extra paint, put everything into as few cans as possible (hopefully just one partially-full can), and label it on top with the date, area it was used, and address, just in case. This will make sure you can match it if needed, or recommend it to a friend if they like the colour and finish. Show them this article, and they can learn to paint cabinets too!
The Urban Painter is here to help!
That all sounds like a lot of work! Well, it is – doing the job right takes preparation, practice, and persistence. If it seems like it’s too much to take on, why not let us do your cabinet painting in Calgary for you? We have all the tools, knowledge, and space to make your cabinets look brand-new again. And did you know that we do free quotes, too?
Call The Urban Painter today for your free estimate, and to get on the road to having a fresh, new set of cabinets in your home for a fraction of the price of replacement. It’s the perfect way to add value on the marketplace! We also help with overall interior home painting and exterior home painting in Calgary so you can call us for all of your painting needs!