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How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets - Better Homes and Gardens - BHG.com

Paint tray and stir sticks

Before you start painting your cabinets, it pays to prepare for the job ahead. If possible, take one of your doors to your local paint retailer and talk with a pro about what kind of material you're working with and what products will help you achieve the best results. The pros can give specific advice if they know more about your project.

Select a primer that's recommended for the type of surface you have (wood, metal, or laminate) and have it tinted to the color of the top coat. This is especially important if the surface is dark or stained because the original finish can "bleed," or be visible, through the top coat. Again, consult with the expert at your paint retailer who can help you decide between a waterborne or solvent-borne primer.

You'll need to choose between acrylic enamel paint and alkyd paint. Acrylic, or water-base, paints are low-fume and clean up easily with water. Alkyd, or oil-base, paints require good ventilation because the paint contains solvents that can irritate your lungs and make you feel sick. Alkyd options require mineral spirits for cleanup, but they provide a hard, durable paint finish. Whichever you use, buy the best quality paint you can afford for a lasting finish. A self-leveling paint that levels out the brush marks as the paint dries for a super smooth finish is often a good choice. It does, however, set up fairly quickly, which can make blending brushstrokes tricky.

Use painter's tape to protect the wall or backsplash tile from paint drips or messes. Cover the countertop with a drop cloth. Use a roller or paintbrush to paint the frame and sides of the cabinetry unit or cabinet box. If your cabinets have a lot of detailing, it will be easier to use a tapered brush. A roller works well on larger flat surfaces and flat-panel doors. Avoid painting inside the cabinet unless the shelves are fixed and would benefit from a fresh coat of paint. Apply paint in light coats, allowing it to dry completely between each coat. This can take a day or more per coat.

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