Re-facing Cabinets: Five Tips for Painting

Painting takes effort but the savings and the end results will have you smiling at your newly transformed kitchen or bath. Here are some tips to help you through the process.

1. Remove hardware and cabinet doors. It may seem like more work, but painting will go smoother and easier if you remove hardware and take the cabinet doors down. Set hardware aside in a safe place. Number your cabinet doors as you remove them, so you’ll know which ones go where when it’s time to replace them. Just write the number on the backside of each door in an inside corner.

2. Sand the doors and cabinet frames. Your cabinets have some type of finish on them whether it’s stain, polyurethane, or a previous coat of paint. In order to get the new paint to cover well and adhere properly, it is important to sand the existing finish to create some texture that the paint can grab onto. Always wipe surfaces completely after sanding to remove all the residue.

3. Prime your surfaces. Priming wooden surfaces helps seal them and it may help you avoid having to apply many extra coats of paint. Without primer, a good deal of paint may be absorbed by the wood, causing you to apply coat after coat to achieve an attractive finish. For kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, look for moisture resistant primer formulas that help prevent mold and mildew. Choose a primer that works with your paint (oil based primer with oil based paint). Make sure primer is completely dry (generally overnight to 24 hours) before applying paint.

4. Apply paint properly. Always follow the grain of the wood. Don’t try to apply paint too heavily. It won’t dry well and may cause drips. Apply a thin, even coat, and when it’s dry, apply another coat if necessary. This will produce a higher quality finish.

5. Consider adding a protective finish. A clear topcoat may protect the look and the life of your cabinetry. Make sure the finish you choose is compatible with your paint and that paint has dried to a hard finish before applying it. Make sure the top coat is completely dry (not just to the touch) before replacing hardware and re-hanging cabinet doors. The label should suggest the amount of time necessary to dry completely.

Note: If it is very hot or humid, primer, paint, and top coats will generally take several hours longer to dry fully.