New Year, New Cabinets

Your kitchen is the heart of your home and cabinetry is its most important feature. If your cabinets have good bones but are tired and dated, you might want to consider painting them. Painting can breathe new life into your cabinets at a fraction of the cost of replacing them.

Let us Begin

Remove the doors and drawer fronts. Label each with a number and label its position with a coordinating number. Next remove all the hardware, pulls, knobs and hinges.

Cleaning, Sanding & Repair

Cleaning is very important.  Use a good grease-cutting cleaner to remove grease, grime, and food spills. Now is the time to remove the small bumpers on the inside of the doors. In addition to the fronts, we recommend painting the backside of the doors. After cleaning, sand the cases, doors and drawer fronts with a medium grit sandpaper. Now is the time to make any necessary repairs such as re-gluing joints, caulking cracks and filling deeper nicks. Wipe away any dust.


Protect surrounding areas with tape, plastic or drop cloths.


Start by using a stain-blocking, bonding primer. An example of this product is a shellac-based primer such as Zinsser All-Prime. Whatever primer you choose to use, be sure to use the recommended solvent for clean-up. Apply two coats of primer on all surfaces to be painted. After the primer is dry, lightly sand all the surfaces with a medium-fine grit sanding sponge.

Choose a Finish

Oil or latex? Latex dries quickly and cleans up easily.  Oil paint will give you a harder, more durable finish, but a solvent is necessary for clean-up.  For cabinetry a satin, semi-gloss or gloss finish will give you the best durability.  A waterborne alkyd product specifically formulated for cabinetry is popular with professional painters.  It has excellent flow and leveling, is a low-odor and VOC formula that cleans up with soap and water. It provides a tough finish that stands up to repeated washing.

Brush, Roll or Spray?

Spray-on finishes leave you with the smoothest results but are harder to DIY if you don’t have the right equipment.  When it comes to brushes choose a high-quality fine bristle brush to get a seamless look. Rollers come in a variety of materials, microfiber, foam synthetic and mohair are just a few. A mini very fine nap mohair roller cover works well. Whether you are spraying, brushing or rolling the doors and drawers, apply the primer and paint with them lying flat.  Apply to the backs first, then the fronts.

Let it Dry!

Apply at least two coats. You may want to lightly sand between coats with a very fine grit sanding sponge, but it is not necessary. The longer the paint dries, the more durable its finish will be. At minimum, let the cabinets dry for at least 24 hours, however letting them dry for two or three days is even better. Once everything is fully dry, replace the hinges and hardware, re-hang the doors and re-attach drawer fronts.

Dawn Griffith is owner of Chippewa Valley Painting and a member of the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association. Blog posts are submitted by members of the Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association. For more information please call 715-835-2526 or email

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s