July 24, 2024


Painting Kitchen Cabinets

A fresh coat of cabinet paint can update the look of your entire kitchen, since cabinets are such a strong focal point. But contrary to what you might see on Instagram or Pinterest, the transformation won't happen overnight. "This isn't a lazy Sunday project," says Sherry Petersik, who, along with her husband, chronicles a variety of decorating projects on her popular blog Young House Love.

We're not trying to talk you out of this DIY home-improvement project — painting kitchen cabinets really is one of the best ways to breathe new life into a tired kitchen. But if you don't go about it properly, you could waste hours upon hours and end up with a kitchen that looks worse, not better.

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The experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute have decades of experience testing all of the products used in this project, from the cabinet paint itself to paint sprayers, paintbrushes for home projects and other application tools. For this how-to article, we combined those findings with insights from pros who specialize in cabinet refinishing.

It will take some time and effort on your part, but armed with our step-by-step guide, your cabinets will look new again for a fraction of the cost of replacement units.

Step 1: Assess your cabinets

    Not all kitchen cabinets can be painted. The best candidates are wood cabinets with plain, simple fronts, often referred to as Shaker style. Cabinets with intricate details and applied moldings will be harder to paint, and pros don't recommend refinishing cabinets covered in plastic laminate or rigid thermofoil, since paint doesn't adhere well to those glossy surfaces.

    If in doubt, run a test on an inconspicuous area, like the inside of a base corner cabinet. “We'll apply a small area of primer, let it dry overnight and then attempt to scratch it off the next day,” says Nick Slavik, a professional painter based in New Prague, Minnesota, and the host of the Ask a Painter Live show on Facebook. "If you can't scratch it off, you'll have proper adhesion."

    Consider the condition of the cabinets too. "If there's a lot of water damage, or the doors are falling off their hinges, you're better off replacing the units," says Devyn Doyle, owner of VI Painting in Eagan, Minnesota, and a member of the Painting Contractors Association. It's also important to note any heavy grain pattern, typical of species like oak and walnut, since the texture will likely show through, even after a couple of fresh coats of paint. Fine-grained species, like cherry and maple, have a silky-smooth texture that's more conducive to refinishing.

    Step 2: Come up with a realistic schedule

    OK, brace yourself: To do the job right, you need to budget at least 40 hours for the project. But you'll save a bundle, compared with hiring the job out. "Most kitchens will cost $4,000 to $6,000 for a professional finish," Slavik says. You can do the work yourself for less than $250. Enlisting a helper or two will make the work go faster, and the extra hands will be useful when handling large cabinet doors and other heavy or unwieldy objects.

    Step 3: Gather all the materials and supplies

    Having to run back to the home center after the work gets underway is a huge time waster. Here's a list of the basics:

    • Drop cloths
    • Painter's tape
    • Ladder
    • Drill or screwdriver
    • Degreasing agent
    • Sponges
    • Wood filler
    • Putty knife
    • Sandpaper (assorted grits)
    • Shop vac
    • Primer
    • Paint
    • Paint trays and liners
    • Applicators (sprayer or brush and roller)

    Choosing the right paint is essential to a smooth, durable finish. Pros recommend enamel paints specially formulated for cabinets and other high-touch surfaces. "Standard wall paint will leave you with a soft, tacky finish," Slavik says. Doyle agrees and usually goes with a European brand called Ilva for its adhesion and durability, but it can run more than $100 per gallon.

    Based on Good Housekeeping's latest paint tests, our experts recommend Benjamin Moore's Advance, specially formulated with kitchen cabinets in mind. It goes on smooth and easy and cures to an exceptionally hard, furniture-grade finish that can stand up to the busiest kitchens.

    painting kitchen cabinets

    Experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute use an abrasion machine to determine how well cabinet paints can stand up to the wear and tear of a busy kitchen.

    Now let's talk applicators. Every pro we talked to uses a paint sprayer on cabinets. Not only does using the power tool result in beautiful, even coverage, but it's also about 10 times faster than painting with a brush, and speed is crucial to a pro's bottom line. Of course, pros are painting every day, so sprayers are worth the investment. But our experts find many other uses for the equipment, from refinishing furniture to painting and staining decks, fences and other exterior surfaces. In our latest tests, the Wagner Control Spray Max was named best value paint sprayer on the strength of its competitive price and versatility, including its ability to spray paint, wood stains and polyurethane finishes.

    If you go the manual route, experts recommend a two-inch angled brush for cutting into the inside corners and crevices of cabinets and a roller for flat surface areas. Be sure to pick the right paint roller nap:

    "A traditional woven roller will create too much texturing in your finish, so opt for a finer material, such as a microfiber option, to ensure an ultrasmooth finish,” says Nicole Gibbons, founder of the paint brand Clare. A mini-size roller that's around 4.5 inches wide is best for smaller surface areas, like cabinets.

    Step 4: Remove the doors and drawers

    With a schedule set and your supplies in hand, you're ready to get started. First things first, empty the cabinets, clear the counters and move any furniture that's in the way. Then cover the backsplash, counters and floor with drop cloths, builder's paper or plastic tarps.

    Many DIYers make the mistake of trying to save time by refinishing their cabinets in place. Don't do it! "Your cabinets and hardware will start to chip and show signs of wear within a month — or even immediately," Petersik warns.

    Instead, use a drill or screwdriver to remove all the doors, drawers and hardware. Because they'll need to go back in the same place, use numbered labels to help you remember where everything goes. A piece of masking tape stuck to the back of each component will do just fine. Write its exact location (e.g., "above sink, left") so there will be no guessing where it goes later. Then stash screws and hinges in a jar for safekeeping.

    Step 5: Prep the surfaces

    Good prep work starts with a thorough cleaning. "No matter how clean you think your kitchen is, you need to wipe everything down with a grease remover," says Don Fahrbach, president of professional painting company PNP Craftsmen in New York City. Otherwise, when you add a water-based paint to an oil-covered door, the paint won't stick. He recommends a paint-prep degreaser called Klean Strip TSP Substitute and a nonabrasive scrub sponge for stuck-on spots.

    Once the doors and drawers are clean and dry, use wood filler to repair any cracks or chips. Then hit every surface with sandpaper; the goal is to knock the shine off so that the new coatings have something to grab onto.

    "We start with 180-grit sanding sponges, catch the dust with a shop vac, then use a damp microfiber rag to remove any last dust," Slavik says.

    Next, apply the primer coat, either outdoors or in a well-ventilated part of the house. This will help conceal any stains or graining and help with the adhesion of the finish coat. Before reaching for the sprayer or brush, it's important to sand the surface again, this time with an ultrafine 220-grit sandpaper. These extra steps stretch out the project, but they're the only way to get proper adhesion and an A-plus finish.

    Step 6: Apply the paint

    All right, time to add some color. Speaking of which, given how time-consuming cabinet refinishing is, you won't want to do it again anytime soon. Experts advise painting a poster board with a sample can of paint in the color you're considering. Then, hang it next to your backsplash and appliances to make sure it really works.

    Whether you're using a paint sprayer or brush, start with the doors and drawers; they take the longest, since you need to paint both sides and let them fully dry in between the two top coats. Beginning with the back sides, apply one coat, wait 24 hours, then move on to the second coat. The following day, flip the doors and drawers over and paint the first coat on your front-facing sides. Wait 24 hours before painting the second coat. Use the drying time in between coats to paint the insides of the cabinets.

    Step 7: Reassemble the cabinets

    Wait 24 hours (or several days, if you can) after applying the final coat before reinstalling the doors and drawers. This will give the paint time to dry and cure to a hard, enamel-like finish. If you rush the process and accidentally smudge some of the paint, you'll have to sand the door and repaint the surface. Trust us, it's worth the wait.

    "Painting cabinets can be tedious, but if you take your time to do it the right way, you'll be so happy with the results," Gibbons says.

    Headshot of Monique Valeris

    Senior Home Editor

    Monique Valeris is the senior home editor for Good Housekeeping, where she oversees the brand's home decorating coverage across print and digital. Prior to joining GH in 2020, she was the digital editor at Elle Decor. In her current role, she explores everything from design trends and home tours to lifestyle product recommendations, including writing her monthly column, "What's in My Cart."

    Headshot of Rachel Rothman

    Chief Technologist & Executive Technical Director

    Rachel Rothman (she/her) is the chief technologist and executive technical director at the Good Housekeeping Institute, where she oversees testing methodology, implementation and reporting for all GH Labs. She also manages GH’s growing research division and the analysis of applicants for the GH Seal and all other testing emblems. During her 15 years at Good Housekeeping, Rachel has had the opportunity to evaluate thousands of products, including toys and cars for GH’s annual awards programs and countless innovative breakthroughs in consumer tech and home improvement. 

Property: ‘The major mistake’ you can make when painting your home’s exterior

When it comes to portray your interiors, there are quite a few popular tips, ideas, and traits to achieving the excellent complete. But what about when it will come to the outside the house? Your exterior is accountable for making a initial and long lasting effect on all who move by your home – so it’s crucial to get it ideal. Those people on the lookout to build an affect that sets the tone for the relaxation of your scheme, then knowing how to paint a house’s exterior the expert way is the best put to start and a component of having that specialist finish is being aware of what you need to have to avoid.

In accordance to Alex Sinclair, director of solution facts at Sherin-Williams, the major oversight homeowners make happens extended ahead of they even contact the paint brush. 

In fact, the method starts with your paint thoughts at the shopping for phase. This is what each and every house owner requires to know ahead of portray the exterior of their house.

Alex stated: “The most significant mistake that can be designed when identifying which paint to use outside the house is not making use of a solution formulated for exteriors.”

When seeking for paint colors for the home exterior, Alex urges homeowners to get time to analysis the high quality and attributes of a distinct paint to the ecosystem in which it will be applied. 

Study A lot more: How to get a ‘smooth’ and ‘consistent finish’ when portray ceilings

The painting professional reported: “The very best exterior paints present UV and temperature protection, generating them resistant to peeling, blistering, and cracking.

“Homeowners really should appear for paints formulated to resist color fade, chalking, mildew, and dirt, saving them money and time in maintenance in the very long term.”

For a long lasting paint complete that will depart your neighbours envious, the specialist adds that you must seem for a coating with self-cleansing technologies that sheds dust on make contact with with rain or h2o. 

So, you can commit much less time protecting your home’s exterior and much more time experimenting with new color ideas inside. 

Exterior paint protects your dwelling by giving it an extra layer towards harsh climate, animals, and other factors that can invade the architecture and penetrate the walls. 

Exterior paint can also defend your house’s siding from the wind and solar to preserve the everyday living of your exterior walls. 

In its place of h2o acquiring its way via the cracks of the paint and into your home’s structure to develop problems these types of as mould, rotting, and dampness, exterior paint can include an additional level of defense to continue to keep out undesired creatures and situations.

When portray the exterior, the gurus claimed: “Make absolutely sure the weather conditions is acceptable for portray by picking out a good, dry working day. 

“Give on your own as a lot time as doable to get the work accomplished.”

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Effortless ESTIMATES Household Routine maintenance Idea: Leading 5 Exterior Painting Suggestions for Home owners to Contemplate

Household Services ESTIMATES Built Easy

Effortless ESTIMATES Household Routine maintenance Idea: Leading 5 Exterior Painting Suggestions for Home owners to Contemplate
See below the Leading 5 points to take into account when employing a paint contractor for your house. Paint on the exterior of your property serves much more uses than appears alone. This can be your first barrier to moisture penetration into your household and deterioration of the partitions.

Easy Estimates is a free services and is excellent for owners trying to find aid from the pressure and time-consuming procedure of finding that excellent firm to work on their most high priced possession.

Major 5 EXTERIOR Painting Ideas: By Ty Lewis, Proprietor of Effortless Estimates LLC. Lewis, a longtime Brevard County resident and dwelling maintenance skilled, owns Easy Estimates LLC, a absolutely free support to owners looking for aid from the anxiety and time-consuming system of obtaining that ideal organization to get the job done on their most costly possession.

Paint on the exterior of your residence serves additional functions than appears to be alone. This can be your initial barrier to dampness penetration into your home and deterioration of the partitions.

Typically, two coats of exterior paint are utilized to the property but, only just after it has been carefully force washed and sealed with a sealer and caulk.

Washing all partitions and surfaces that paint will be used to eradicate mildew and debris from separating the new layer of paint from your home letting for suitable adherence when applied. Compact cracks in the stucco, siding, and/or close to windows will be sealed with the suitable exterior caulk as effectively.

A single software of sealer is advised before applying the coats of paint to the residence.

Top rated 5 matters to consider when using the services of a paint contractor for your home:

■ Insured
■ Pressure washing included in the scope of operate
■ Sealing all small cracks incorporated in the scope of do the job
■ Top quality paint goods
■ At minimum a single coat of sealer and two coats of paint used

Acquiring a pair of estimates from dependable organizations is a great way to compare pricing, and wait around moments, and ensure you are receiving the most effective worth for your expense.

Quick Estimates Totally free Company Will save Homeowner Time, Revenue

As any standard property owner appreciates perfectly when the inescapable and in no way-ending property-related advancement or routine maintenance assignments come up, it’s a white-knuckle and exhausting knowledge to obtain the ideal contractor to give well timed, high-quality and responsible function.

Easy Estimates LLC performs with reputable area service vendors hungry for your company. Easy Estimates LLC will fulfill with you at your residence, consider the wanted assistance, and supply various estimates from diverse firms in a well timed method.

We not only supply the estimates from multiple providers with just one appointment with our expert, we will also share awareness and a distinct understanding of what each and every organization is offering with their estimate.

All that is still left for you to do is pick out which firm meets your requirements for solutions, such as:

■ ROOFING – New Roof or Substitute Roof (Shingle, Metallic, Tile, Flat Roofs)

■ GUTTERS & GUTTER GUARD (Solutions Offered)

■ SOFFIT & FASCIA (Choices Accessible)

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Ty Lewis, a longtime Brevard County resident and house maintenance qualified, owns Uncomplicated Estimates LLC, a cost-free provider to house owners searching for aid from the pressure and time-consuming process of acquiring that fantastic organization to do the job on their most expensive possession.

Realizing homeownership about time can be too much to handle by means of individual activities, Lewis has created this no cost extensive support that eliminates time and tension with scheduling and getting estimates from high-high-quality nearby home services suppliers.

“Our absolutely free to the home-owner products and services had been designed to eradicate scheduling multiple appointments for numerous income reps to arrive to your household – if they even demonstrate up!” said Lewis.

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Lewis will satisfy with you at your household, evaluate the needed provider, and provide various estimates from diverse enterprises in a well timed fashion – and these companies are cost-free of charge to the homeowner.

He will not only supply estimates from many providers with 1 appointment but will also share knowledge and a crystal clear knowledge of what each individual service provider is giving with their estimate.

“We analyze and share the provider provider warranties, presented high quality, manufacturer’s warranties, waiting interval for the assistance to be concluded, business critiques and considerably additional to assistance you realize and make your mind up which company supplier satisfies your specifications.”

TY AND MICHELLE LEWIS personal Uncomplicated Estimates LLC, a free provider to householders trying to get reduction from the worry and time-consuming system of locating that best organization to do the job on their most high priced possession. Figuring out homeownership above time can be overpowering by private ordeals, Ty and Michelle have designed this absolutely free extensive provider that gets rid of time and strain with scheduling and obtaining estimates from large-quality area property assistance suppliers.


The Lewis’ have deep roots in Brevard County that go again just about 40 a long time when Michelle’s dad and mom, Dr. Jim Palermo and his spouse Kerry, moved to the House Coast.

Ty acquired his bachelor’s degree at the College of Central Florida and has encounter in customized boat creating, as a roof job estimator and has a enthusiasm for building and has extensive initial-hand involvement in quite a few of his individual dwelling construction jobs.

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