Tips for Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Painting kitchen cabinets seem like an easy task to take on, but it’s not as easy as you might think if you’ve never done it before. Painting wood isn’t just about applying the one to the other – there are a lot of factors involved in just how good the end-result will look, including the type of wood you’re dealing with as well as the kind of paint.


Here are some essential tips for painting kitchen cupboards that you should know – and that can make your job a whole lot easier when it comes to doing something new.

Tips for Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Step One is Sanding & Cleaning

The first step to painting any type of wood is to prepare the wood first. It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a cupboard or table! Preparing the wood means cleaning the piece you’re working with – and from there, it usually takes some light sanding. After this is done, the next step is applying primer – most paints don’t just “take” to wood, and one coat of paint rarely takes on top of another.

Paint Samples

The next step to repainting wood will be to decide just what shade you want to go with – and sometimes this can be one of the hardest things to do. If you see a shade that you want to match, sometimes it’s best to take a literal sample of the paint (like a paint chip) to a hardware store to ask for help: There, they can match the exact shade in a paint for you instead of the need to sort through thousands of shades yourself.

Sometimes it also helps to choose a smaller piece of the same type of wood that you’re hoping to paint, and to apply a small swatch of paint on to this. This helps you to see in which way the wood reacts to the paint – wood tends to “absorb” shades, and it can make the paint look a different shade than you would have expected it to, so testing where possible is always best.


Sanding Tips

While you can use an automatic sander, some pieces are best done by hand instead. This is due to the fragility of some woods, especially when we’re talking about restoring an antique piece to its former glory.

For the best results when sanding down your cupboard, make sure that you wear a mask, and sand with the grain rather than against to avoid any unsightly chips coming off the wood while you’re working. Make sure that you don’t apply paint too thickly – and make sure that you use the right brush.

Dust off the cupboard between sanding and painting: If not, you risk trapping sawdust with paint.

Also, if you’ve never worked with paint before, remember that paraffin – paint stripper – goes a damn long way towards cleaning up the mess afterwards.

Need Restoration Instead?

If you’re working with an antique or vintage piece, hold off on painting first – if you want a piece to have its original value, you might not want to paint it at all. But if you don’t mind it affecting the resale value, go ahead and paint. If we’re talking about very vintage, very heavy or very old places, see an expert valuator before doing anything: If you destroyed a piece worth thousands of dollars with the wrong paint job, it would be a tragedy, and this happens every day.

Another thing to keep in mind when sanding, painting or restoring vintage pieces is the fact that some paints and varnish of the time – as well as some types of sawdust – can be considered very toxic. Always wear a mask, always clean up after and always make sure you know what type of paint and wood you’re working with.