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A Step-by-Step Guide to Painting Cabinets

Spruce Up Kitchen or Bathroom Cabinets

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Lee Wallender Using Tack Cloth Prior to Painting Cabinets

Lee Wallender Using Tack Cloth Prior to Painting Cabinets

Copyright Lee Wallender; Licensed to About.com
Painting your kitchen or bathroom cabinets is an easy, inexpensive way to improve their appearance, whether they’re an outdated shade of avocado green or you simply want a new look. Don’t be afraid to experiment with a bold color — it’s only paint. If you don’t like the results, you always can paint them again.

What You’ll Need:

Step by Step Guide to Painting Cabinets

Part I: Preparation

  1. Remove all objects from the cabinets and drawers. Spread a drop cloth or drop cloths around the work area to avoid getting paint on your floors. Also, apply masking or painters tape to any surface (such as countertops where they join the cabinets) that you don’t want to get paint on.
  2. Place a small piece of masking tape on the interior of each cabinet door and drawer. Number each piece or identify it in way that will help you remember which cabinet the door or drawer was removed from. Don’t use too much pressure when applying the tape; you’ll need to move it as you prime and paint each side of the door or drawer.

    Part II: Fixtures

  3. Use a screwdriver or reversible drill to remove the doors and hinges from the cabinets.
  4. Drawer fronts may be difficult to remove, depending on the model. You may choose to leave the drawer fronts attached.
  5. Remove hinges, knobs and pulls from the cabinet doors and drawers. You might consider replacing all of the hardware during the project to give your cabinets a truly fresh appearance.

    Part III: Cleaning/Sanding

  6. Clean the doors, drawers and cabinet bases with mild soap and water or a household cleaning solution, then wipe them down with clear water.
  7. Inspect the cabinet bases, doors and drawers for nicks and dings. Use a putty knife and putty to repair any damage. Smooth the putty with the knife and allow it to dry, then sand it smooth.
  8. Lightly sand the outside of the cabinets as well as the doors and drawer fronts. Use medium- to fine-grit sandpaper. This will help the primer and paint adhere to the surface. Wipe down the surfaces with a damp cloth to remove dust. For a really clean surface, use tack cloth

    Part IV: Painting First Coat

  9. Paint each door and drawer front with primer using a sprayer, roller or brush. A sprayer, which you can rent at some hardware stores, works best for this job. If you use a brush, paint with long, smooth, even motions so the brushstrokes aren’t visible. Don’t forget to paint the edges of the cabinet doors. Allow the primer to
  10. Turn the cabinet doors over so you can prime the unfinished sides. Apply primer and go over the edges a second time. Allow the primer to dry.
  11. There are two types of paint that you can use for this job: latex or oil-based. Oil-based paint dries to a durable finish that works well in high-traffic areas and is less likely to show brushstrokes than latex paint. However, oil-based paint takes longer to dry, and painting equipment must be cleaned up with chemical solvents. Oil-based paint should be applied in an extremely well-ventilated area. Latex paint dries quickly and can be cleaned up with water. Use a semi-gloss, satin or gloss paint; these are durable and easy to clean.
  12. After choosing the type of paint and color, apply it to the cabinet doors. If you are using latex paint, use a synthetic paintbrush or sprayer. Oil-based paints require a natural-bristle brush or sprayer. Don’t forget to paint both sides of the doors, but allow the front to dry before painting the back. Paint the cabinet bases and drawer fronts and allow the paint to dry.

    Part V: Paint Second Coat

  13. Apply a second coat of paint to all surfaces and allow it to dry.
  14. Reattach the old hardware or attach the new hardware.
  15. Attach the doors to the cabinet bases and reattach the drawer fronts if necessary. Slide the drawers back in.

Three Great Time-Saving Tips for Painting Cabinets

  • Paint just one cabinet door first to be certain that you like the color.
  • Once you settle on a color, take the painted cabinet door to the store to select new hardware.
  • Some paint manufacturers make paint specifically for kitchens and bathrooms; consult a salesperson for advice.
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Painting Interior Walls With Latex Paint

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