Are your cabinets old and outdated? Is the cost of replacement too much for your budget? Paint can work wonders! A new coat of paint can take your cabinets from old and tired to fresh and new. The following are some tips for successfully painting your cabinets.


Choose the right paint: Apply a primer to provide a suitable surface for the paint to stick to and to cover imperfections. Choose a bonding primer as it will adhere like glue to nearly any cabinet finish (varnish, vinyl, plastic-covered melamine). Purchase a high-quality acrylic latex paint for your topcoat. It’s durable and clean up is easy. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Semi-gloss or satin are the best finishes for a kitchen. Specialized cabinet paint is available and worth considering.


Purchase the right tools: A 4 or 6-inch foam roller is best for covering the sides of the cabinets and their face frames. A 3 to 4-inch synthetic square brush is good for large flat panels. A 2 ½ to 3-inch synthetic angled brush helps get paint into corners of door frames and doors with moulding.


Examine the cabinets: Wood, wood-laminate, and metal cabinets in reasonable condition can be repainted without difficulty. Plastic laminate cabinets might not accept a topcoat of paint. Check with your local paint specialist for advice. Try a test sample of the paint you plan to use in an inconspicuous area to ensure that it will bond to your cabinet material. If your woodwork is warped, badly worn, damaged or coming apart at the joints, you may need to purchase unfinished doors and paint them your desired colour.


Prepare the area: Empty the cabinets and clear the counters. Remove the doors, drawers and hardware. Label each with a number and corresponding location and make a sketch to show where all doors and drawers must go. This will speed and ease reinstallation. Cover countertops, appliances and backsplash with tarps or plastic. Apply painter’s tape to the walls along the cabinet edges. Put the hardware and screws in plastic bags and store inside the corresponding cabinets for easy reassembly.


Clean all surfaces with a grease remover such as TSP (trisodium phosphate). Mix according to instructions. Rinse with clear water and wipe dry. Allow to dry thoroughly.

Sand all areas lightly with a 120 grit sandpaper or a sanding sponge to provide the new paint with a firm, clean base for adhesion. Fold the sandpaper to get into detailed areas on doors and drawers and in the corners of the frames. In areas where the old paint is flaking, sand to bare wood. Blend the edges where the old paint meets the wood so the new paint will lay flat.  Vacuum sanding dust from all surfaces. Use a tack cloth to pick up any remaining residue.

Complete preparations and prime: Apply your primer making sure it doesn’t pool in corners. After the primer is dry, sand the flat surfaces with 220-grit sandpaper. Squeeze a thin bead of latex caulk into any open seams. Fill small dents, scratches, or dings with vinyl spackle and smooth flat with a putty knife. Spot-prime the spackle. Vacuum all surfaces and wipe them with a tack cloth.


Paint the cabinets: Start with the cabinet frames using a brush for small areas and a foam roller for larger surfaces. Paint the inside edges and openings of the face frames, then the outer cabinet sides, and finally the face frame fronts. Then paint cabinet doors and drawer fronts and separate wood pieces or mouldings. Use even strokes and apply paint in a thin, light coat. Follow product directions for the correct dry time. Resand all surfaces lightly. Apply a second coat of paint. Wait for the paint to be completely cured before putting cabinets back together.


Finish: Reassemble the cabinets and hardware using the labels and sketch you made to make sure the doors and drawers go back in the proper spots.

Transform the look of your cabinets with the right preparation, primer and paint. Talk to your local paint expert for advice on tools and paint choices. Painting cabinets is a big job but worth the time and effort. It will renew the look of your room!

Looking for advice on how to paint your cabinets? Call Calgary’s independent paint and blinds store, West Hillhurst Paint + Design at (403) 270-9696 or email at kyle@westhillhurstpaint.com Our knowledgeable professional design associates provide high-quality paint, a wide selection of blinds and expert advice for home projects. We offer excellent service and a variety of products to match any budget. Call for a consultation today!

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