How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

Tools Required
  • Utility knife
  • Screwdriver
  • Putty knife
  • Finishing sander
  • Sanding block
  • Shop vacuum
  • Brushes
  • Brush/roller spinner
Materials Required
  • Drop cloths
  • Masking tape
  • Abrasive pads
  • Wood filler
  • Dust masks
  • Sandpaper
  • Sanding sponge
  • Mineral spirits
  • Cheesecloth
  • Deglosser
  • Mineral spirits
  • Furring strips
  • Primer
  • Paint
  • Bonding additive
  • Paint conditioner

Before You Begin

Follow the steps below to complete this project. Not sure you want to tackle this job? Find a painting contractor who has the skills and tools to do it right. Click Home Advisor, a free referral service that connects homeowners with local prescreened contractors.

  • Step 1 : Remove what you can

    Remove cabinet doors and drawers from the cabinets, and then remove the hinges and door/drawer knobs or pulls. Bag and label the hardware and take note if certain specialty hinges go with a particular door. Use a drill/driver to make quick work of backing out the screws, or use a hand screwdriver. Remove everything inside the cabinets and drawers and store them in cardboard boxes.

  • Step 2 : Prepare the work areas

    Use painter's masking tape to protect the area surrounding the cabinet frame like the walls and any built-in appliances. Place a window or box fan in a nearby window to exhaust dust and fumes out of the kitchen. If the fan doesn't fill the opening, cut cardboard and tape it over any open areas to make the fan more efficient. Open another window or door, preferably in a room adjacent to the kitchen, to provide an airflow through the room. Protect countertops with large pieces of cardboard or canvas drop cloths. If you are power sanding without a dust-collecting system, cover furnishings nearby with plastic drop cloths and tape 4-mil polyethylene (plastic) sheeting over any interior doorways.

    Set up a place to sand (unless weather permits outdoor sanding). To support the work for painting cabinet doors, lay drop cloths on the floor then place 1x2 spruce furring strips across sawhorses to support the doors. Set the drawers with fronts facing up on the sawhorses. Wear goggles and, if recommended by the paint manufacturer, a cartridge-style respirator suitable for paint fumes.

  • Step 3 : Clean the woodwork

    Clean the woodwork

    Wipe the cabinet doors and drawer front surfaces thoroughly with a rag soaked in mineral spirits or a grease-cutting cleaner to clean them. Work carefully in molded areas to leave no trace of grease. Use an abrasive scrubbing pad if the cabinet is difficult to clean.

  • Step 4 : Repair any damage

     Repair any damage

    If you plan to replace the knobs or pulls that don't fit in the old holes, fill in the holes with a fast-drying wood filler. Spread the filler with a putty knife. With most types of fillers there is some shrinkage, so you may need to apply two coats. Do this on any damaged areas of the cabinets, as well.

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