There is a long process to paint kitchen cabinets. If you don’t properly prepare your cabinets, you’ll be sure your paint finish won’t last long. Proper preparation also gives you a good foundation to achieve the beautiful professional look you want for your upgraded cabinets. There are 7 steps to preparing your kitchen cabinets to receive the best durable finish.
The first step in the 7-step process is to remove all hardware. You want to remove the cabinet doors to make it easier to paint the kitchen cabinets. Most homeowners plan to reuse their hardware, so it is very important to remove their hardware to protect their hardware from the next steps in the 7-step process. After removing the hardware, you need to make sure to put the hinges, knobs, handles, and screws in a safe place so that when your painting project is done, you can easily install the hardware.
The next step is to mask your cabinets. The worst thing you can do is damage your walls and countertops while trying to paint your cabinets. When masking, you should cover everything, with paper or plastic, and use blue painter’s tape to easily remove and loosen the tape from walls, floors, and countertops. Most people skip the floor masking, but proper masking will give you crisp, clean lines on your floors. Painting near the floor is a difficult task to begin with, so be sure to tape and cover the floor to avoid having to clean up paint splatters later.
After everything is masked and covered, the next step is to degrease your cabinets. If you have new cabinets that have not withstood the cooking environment, skip this step. Most paints claim to block stains, but oil stains are something different and any oil left will cause your paint job to fail, plus oil stains will get through the paint. You don’t want to spend 4 days painting only to find that you will have to repaint your cabinets to remove oil stains. You can use any degreaser, just be sure to clean all the degreaser off the cabinets once you are done.
The next is the most difficult part of the prep process and that is sanding the cabinets. You must first ensure that the cabinets are dry after the degreasing process. Once you are sure the cabinets are dry, you will need to sand them down. Better to use 220-grit sandpaper or blocks. Anything thicker than 220 will cause deep scratches that will show through the paint finish, so be sure not to use a grit rougher than 220. When sanding, you need to make sure your cabinets are free of sheen and shine. If your cabinets were stained and sealed, the sealer is the clear coat and the sealer is what protects your cabinets, and that includes paint protection. Therefore, you must sand down the glossy protection of your cabinets.
Once you’ve finished sanding the cabinets, you need to remove any dust that remains afterward. Not removing all of the sanding dust can cause two problems. One problem is paint failure. The powder will prevent the primer from adhering properly to the cabinets. The dust creates a layer between your cabinets and the primer, which means your primer won’t come into direct contact with your cabinets and will be problematic at some point in the future. The other problem that dust will create is giving it a gritty finish. Once the primer dries onto the powder, the primer will take on the characteristics of powder, which is a gritty texture. Also, the gritty texture will make it difficult to clean the cabinets later. Smooth cabinets are easier to clean than gritty cabinets. Oil and dirt will get into the holes created by sanding dust. You should use microfiber rags to remove the dust after vacuuming the dust.
Caulking and wood filler for your cabinet imperfections will go a long way in helping your cabinet paint job look professional. You won’t have to wait to caulk after degreaser and sanding is complete to avoid damaging your cabinet and wood putty. If you need to fill something in your cabinets with wood, do so before caulking because after filling your holes or grain with wood putty, you will need to sand the wood putty until smooth. Then, I would repeat the dust removal process mentioned above. Even with your caulking, you want to use a very small hole to caulk your kitchen cabinets. Make sure to smooth the sealer properly by removing excess sealant and residue, as any sealant that is not smooth will show through the paint.
The last step of the 7-step process is to prepare your cabinets. Before priming, you need to make sure that the sealant is completely dry. If the sealer is not completely dry, then the primer will dry more slowly and cause failure later. If you don’t let the caulk dry, the caulk will shrink, crack, or shrink and crack once you have finished painting your cabinets.