Prep & Supplies
Some of the recommended supplies in part 2 & 3 are completely optional.
Many of them are budget friendly and can make all the difference in the speed of the project and the final result of the finish.
After we talk about the various tools and supplies we will cover the prep work.
It’s not a fun job, but it makes the priming and painting process quick and painless.
This isn’t a project to cut corners on since it can lead to mistakes and do-overs so be sure to take your time with the prep.
Most of these items can be found at your local paint store or online & are things I feel are more than worth their cost:
Using a sander will cut the required work down by at least half and your arms will thank you later. A basic model can be purchased for under $60. Without an orbital sander, you have to manually sand between each step. A ‘random orbital sander’ moves in circles while also vibrating which creates a consistent and small scratch pattern making it easy to paint over and disguise.
If you already own a standard square-sheet sander this can be used for the flat surface areas and hand sand the edges and any decorative moldings.
Frog tape is my personal favorite for cabinet painting. It’s important to pull the tape off before the paint fully drys to avoid peeling up the coat, Frog tape makes a ‘delicate surface tape’ that makes this easy to do this without any peeling.
3M with edge lock is another favorite by many but frog tape seems to work better for cabinets in my experience.
Degreasing the cabinets is one of the most important steps to take inc cabinet painting. Skipping this can cause peeling, chipping, and adhesion issues any place that has been touched by oils or food. TSP will remove any and all oils and residue, even off the oldest cabinets! This is located in the painting aisle at stores like Home Depot, not the cleaning isle (odd, I know).
Simple green is another popular cleaner choice but I don’t have any experience with it.
This is the MOST IMPORTANT parts of the entire project, please don’t skip this step!
Nobody likes scrubbing and sanding, but there is a reason that the professionals do this every. single. time.
If you hire someone to come do your kitchen this part takes up a large chunk of the budget!
- Painters tape (recommended FrogTape)
- Plastic Bags
- Sharpie or Marker
- Degreaser (recommended TSP)
- Wood Filler (recommended ZAR)
- Cleaning Gloves, Nitrile Gloves, Safety Glasses, Etc
- Sand Paper (Grits 220, 150, and 100)
- Drop cloth, and/or Rosin Paper
- Screw Driver
- Sponge, Shop Towels and/or Rags
1.Protect: Lay down your tarp & tape off any appliances to prevent degreaser from ruining the finish. If you have a removable microwave sitting inside a cabinet hole (like we do) take it out so you can paint the inside to match the rest of the cabinet front and bases.
2. If keeping the existing hardware: Start by removing the knobs or handles. Place all the screws and handles inside a plastic bag, tape the bag inside the cabinet on whichever side the corresponding door was removed from. Leave the doors and drawers on the cabinets, for now, it’s easier to use the degreaser all at once.
Example: If you have a double door cabinet, tape the bag from the Right-hand door onto the Right side wall of the cabinet. This step saves you A LOT of headaches when you go to re-install the cabinet doors and drawers. Missing hardware and screws can completely ruin your project.
3. Mix up the degreaser based on the manufacturer instructions. Start scrubbing down the doors, cabinet base fronts, an drawers. Be sure to get into all the crevices and scrub around the area the hardware was installed or areas that are often touched by people. It’s amazing what builds up over time and how gross the water becomes as you’re scrubbing.
Be sure to wear cleaning gloves, long sleeves, and protective eyewear for this part. TSP can irritate skin and you don’t want to get it in your eyes!
4. Rinse as you go. The TSP can dry which can sometimes cause issues with chipping or peeling paint once the cabinets are finished. You don’t want this to happen after all the hard work you’re about to put in! Just keep a bucket of fresh rinse water or a spray bottle nearby while cleaning and use paper towels to wipe it off.
Don’t worry if you see a white haze or it looks like there is a film, the TSP can cut into old top coat and make it look hazy.
5. Use your painter’s tape to mark the doors location. Figure out a way that is easy for you to remember. In an older kitchen, most of the cabinets have different size doors and hinges which mean if they get mixed up it will be almost impossible to get the doors level and lined up properly when reinstalling. Marking the doors helps make sure they get returned to their proper cabinet and hinge set.
Check and see if your cabinets have adjustable hinges, this means that you can fix any tilting or sagging of the door fronts!
6. Sanding: If the cabinets have flat faces your one of the lucky few! If, like us, they have recessed door fronts or heavy edge detailing it’s going to take a bit more work. Take the doors and drawers outside to a work area (this will help minimize the sawdust inside).
Start with 100 grit sandpaper working up to 220 (100,150, and then 200). It’s not necessary to go higher than 200 grit when painting over the sanded finish, it just needs to be smooth to the touch.
Hand sand the edges, details, and recessed corners to prevent damaging the delicate wood edging.
IMPORTANT: Any defects such as; sharp areas, rough patches, or raised knots will show in the final paint finish so it’s VERY IMPORTANT you remove any imperfections, splinters, and raised wood knots.
7. Repair: If your cabinets are anything like ours, the tops of the drawers and some of the cabinet door knots have dents and dings that need to be filled. Apply the wood filler with a rubber scraper or fingers, allowing it to dry before coating again (it often shrinks when drying). After its dried sand it flush with the wood surface for priming.
IF INSTALLING NEW HARDWARE: Measure the distance for the new screws and fill in the old holes if need be. Sometimes new hardware will fit your existing holes so you can skip this process, if not go ahead and get those filled in with the rest.