Part 3: Priming & Painting:
You made it to the last step and now it’s time for the fun part!
I know it’s been a lot of work but all those agonizing and detailed steps will seem like a dream soon and your new cabinets will still make you smile every day, I promise!
These little guys help speed up the time it takes to complete the project! They make it possible to flip the doors after only an hour or so of dry time to start coating the opposite side.
If any marks do happen to show, they are very small divots which will dispear by the second coat of paint.
If you want to complete the project as fast and smoothly as possible I recommend a paint sprayer. Unlike the rest of the supplies, it’s not necessary to purchase the most expensive spray gun to get the job done well. After testing out this budget-friendly gun I was so shocked by the results that I used for the rest of the project!
The other option I highly recommend is the Harbor Freight Spray gun which can often be picked up on sale for under $20. It requires a lot of prep work to clean all the oil that comes inside the gun has to be cleaned before and after use. It does an amazing job and has more options for spray pattern and paint thickness though so if you’re near a Harbor Freight I defiantly recommend it!
An air compressor is needed for the spray gun’s, if you don’t own one Home Depot or other local tool stores often have them for rent.
To prevent rollers and brushes from drying out when you’re taking a break wrap them really well with Saran wrap. If you’ll be wrapping paint supplies for more than 15 minutes, place the brush in the refrigerator high-humidity box.
I don’t recommend doing this for more than 8 hours since it will eventually dry out and the high-quality brushes and roller covers can last a lifetime if taken care of properly!
If the roller or brush are causing blemishes in your finish it means that they dried out and need to be thoroughly cleaned before re-coating the blemished areas.
If your cabinet doors slam shut, an easy and cheap fix is to place some of these silicone dampers on each corner of the edge of the door. They make different sizes and types but any will do!
Just like with paint, I recommend purchasing the highest quality brush and roller cover possible, this isn’t a project to cut corners on.
This is my FAVORITE paint brush!
Oval Sash brushes holds paint in the hollow center which allows you to finish a stroke without running out of paint and having to re-load.
When using a self-leveling paint (like the ones we discussed in Part 1) it’s important to avoid brushing back over a stroke before it’s dry.
If hand rolling, a high-quality roller cover is important for the last paint finish. I recommend the mohair roller covers in 1/4″ for the smoothest finish.
These rollers don’t shed fibers into the paint finish which is important since the last coat cannot be sanded to smooth out any issues the roller may cause.
Any residual dust leftover will cause blemishes in the finish that have to be sanded down and re-coated. These will pick up even the smallest dust particle to make sure the cabinet is ready for painting. They come in multiple packages so you should have plenty for this project with some left over, just be sure to put them back in the wrapping and don’t set them down on the ground.
To prevent your tack cloth from leaving behind a film that will cause chipping: Use light pressure and run the cloth over the areas (don’t press down). You can continue to use the same one over and over again until it’s dirty (just store it back in the plastic cover or a bag between uses.
If you’re using one of the primers we discussed in Part 1, it’s easier to use a disposable brush and roller cover instead of trying to clean the oil-based primer off. I like to use the shortly paint brush for this project, its high quality and the handle makes it easy to get into small areas.
This is an obvious supply needed if you’ll be using a paint roller and brush to complete this project. I recommend also picking up liner trays so that the primer doesn’t need its own tray and the liner can just be thrown away with the roller cover & brush.
Paint & Primer Supplies:
- Drop Cloth
- Paint Tray and Liners
- Primer (Recommended: Zinsser Shellac)
- Paint (Recommended: SW Acrylic-Alkylid)
- High-Quality Paint Brush (Recommended Picasso Oval Sash Brush)
- Roller cover with High-Quality nap (recommended Mohair 1/4″ nap roller)
- Primer roller cover (Throw away-recommended 3/4″ roller cover)
- Tack Cloth
- Primer Short Angle Brush (Throw away)
- Helpful: Paint Sprayer & Air Compressor
- Helpful: Painters Pyramids
- Helpful: Saran Wrap
1.Prep roller cover: Use the cheaper roller cover for the primer to avoid having to use chemicals to wash them clean. I recommend doing all your priming in one day or wrapping the roller and brush up very well to prevent dry out.
Prevent hairs from transferring to paint: After you’ve placed the roller cover on the frame, step on the end of your painter’s tape and unroll it to waist height. Roll the cover back and forth (refreshing tape as needed) until it no longer releases hairs onto the tape.
Prevent Paint Buildup: When using a roller paint can build up on the edges and cause heavy paint lines in the finish. To prevent this; Slightly singe the edges of the roller with a lighter, it will slightly convex the edges in toward the center.
2. First Coat of Primer: Paint the edges of your cabinet door with the brush before rolling paint on the back so that any paint that overlaps to the face of the cabinet door can be smoothed out and doesn’t cause drips.
It’s not important to get full coverage primer as the primer is coating every surface to prep the wood for proper paint adhesion. Go over knots and repaired areas with a second coat to be positive there will be no issues with the hot spots or bleed through.
Color Bleed: Some woods can bleed through paint causing reddish discoloration, this will happen slowly and may not show up for months. If you’re painting a wood known for problems with bleed through such as redwood, cedar, or mahogany (or not sure what type of wood it is), play it safe and do a second or third coat of primer over the entire area.
Hot Spots: Wood filler will absorb the paint which can cause a difference in the finished paint sheen. To avoid this; place a good coat of primer over the filler. If you find it’s still causing a sheen difference once the first coat of paint is dry then go back with a thin coat of primer before moving on to the second coat.
3. Sand the Primer: Once the primer is dry, give it a light sanding with 150 grit paper.
It should sand off in a fine dust. If the primer balls up during sanding it’s not dry enough to sand yet!
4. Wipe Clean: Take one of your rags and wipe every inch of the cabinet doors clean before applying the second coat of primer.
The sanding step will remove any fine dust particles left but if a large amount is left it will goop up in the primer and cause a mess that will then sand down to the wood and have to be re-coated.
4. Flip & Repeat: When it’s time to prime the other side, remove your tape marking (used to remember which cabinet it goes back on) and gently place it on the edge or completed side that is now dry.
I usually place the markers on the top edge of the uppers and the lower edge of the base cabinet doors since those areas won’t be seen once the doors are installed.
5. Sanding: After all primer coats are dry, take the 220 grit sandpaper and sand it smooth. Use a light hand to prevent going through the primer. The goal is only to smooth out any imperfections such as stray dust or hairs that have settled into the primer.
This is the last chance to get everything perfect for painting so take your time!
6. Clean Up: Be sure that all the dust is gone before applying the paint! Any leftover sawdust will create a gooey mess in the paint finish so you want to be sure that they are completely clean & dry before painting.
Use a rag (and denatured alcohol if you have it) to wipe them down and then go over the detailed areas with the tack cloth.
You made it to the last step, I’m giving you a virtual high-five!!
- Start on the back of the doors: This is especially important if using a new spray gun so you only risk messing up the back of the doors.
- Paint in the direction of the wood grain: This ensures that the paint levels correctly and you get the smoothest finish. If your cabinets are anything like ours the wood grain will still show through slightly in the finished product but its very minimal.
- Allow the paint enough time to fully cure: Give each side at least 24 hours to allow the paint to cure enough to be handled. Paint usually takes about 20 days to fully cure but after 24 hours the surface has hardened enough to be gently handled. If you used a paint sprayer this step is even more important since the coating can be heavier.
- Always paint in thin layers: It’s better to do 3 coats than 1 heavy coat! Paint cures by releasing the water or solvent into the oxygen and leaving behind the binders and color which cross links and forms a hard barrier. If it’s not allowed to cure or is applied too thickly, the undercoat will remain damp which results in chipping, peeling or cause doors and drawers to stick to the base.
This is when the painters pyramids come in VERY handy. Never set a newly painted surface on the ground, small particles and dirt can easily get embedded in a non-cured paint finish even if it feels dry to the touch.
1. Lay your doors out: If you have the recommended painters pyramids now is the time to use them! Just lay the doors on top, elevating them slightly off the drop cloth.
2. Use the paint brush to go over the edges and recessed or detailed areas.
3. Roll over the remaining areas overlapping the still wet edge creating a single layer finish. If using a paint sprayer; be sure to practice on scrap wood first to make sure the spray pattern and thickness is correct before spraying the paint on your cabinet doors.
If using a self-leveling paint like one of those we discussed in Part 1, be sure to only roll down and not back up. This can take some getting used to since we do this when painting walls and other surfaces, just leave the paint alone and any areas will most likely level out.
4. Paint the base cabinet’s in the same order as the doors/drawers. Start on the outside edges and small drawer divider pieces with a high-quality paint brush.
After each coat has dried, lightly sand it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove any dust that has dried on the surface (if you have to remove these later you must sand through the layers of paint).
5. Lightly sand with 220 grit sandpaper after each coat has dried to remove any dust that has dried on the surface.
This step is important because fixing any imperfections left will mean sanding the last layer of paint and applying another coat.
6. Apply 2nd coat and a 3rd if necessary. BE SURE to allow each coat ample time to dry and level out properly! Once again, sand between each coat but DO NOT sand after the last coat.
REMEMBER: Cure time is different from dry time! It’s better to be safe than sorry after everything you’ve done. Be patient and allow the process time to cure to a durable finish. The results are worth the wait!
7. Removing Tape: Remove any painters tape from the cabinet bases, drawer sides, etc before the paint has fully dried. This prevents the paint from curing on the tape which causes the paint to peel up when pulled off. Pull the tape up at as close to
Pull the tape up at an as close to 180-degree angle as possible, if pulling closer to a 90-degree angle then pull the tape up and tilted away from the painted surface.
1.Hardware: Place all the hardware back on the cabinet doors and drawers. If you’re installing new hardware wait until everything is installed so you can make sure they are in the right place before drilling new holes. Drill from the front through to the back of the drawer so any splintering and chipping. Be sure to take your time drilling and don’t force the bit through causing splinters.
I recommend keeping the hinges that came with your cabinets, they are hard to replace and is usually more work than it’s worth. You can always update the finish with spray paint if you need to change the hardware’s look.
2. Reinstalling Doors: Screw the hinges (you taped to the inside of the cabinet bases) back onto the correctly marked door. Test the opening and closing of the doors to verify they are working correctly.
If your doors slam closed you can place the recommended bumpers on the inside corners of the doors to dampen the sound.
3. Be Gentle: The paint will take up to 30 days to fully cure. Since you allowed the each coat of primer and paint to dry your cabinets will be hard enough to reinstall (and gain some sanity back) 24-48 hours after your last coat.
Be gentle with your cabinets for at least 30 days to make avoid marks and dents. While it’s possible to fix some things that may happen, it’s difficult to do and after doing all this work its best to just be careful!
Now…grab a glass of wine and stand back & enjoy your work!
I realize this is A LOT of information but I hope it helps some of you achieve a fresh and new kitchen without having to remodel.
If you make it all the way through be sure to share your new kitchen, I love seeing how much a simple paint job can completly transform a space!