How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets?

paint kitchen cabinets

Kitchen cabinets are the essential components of every home, affecting the overall design and aesthetics. Thus, any homeowner should match their cabinets with their interior design. Although various durable wood materials are available for the kitchen cabinets, the paint finish can wear or tear over time. Instead of replacing the whole set with new products, which can cause a considerable amount of money, it is better to paint them with high-quality materials. Most people seek a DIY painting guide for custom kitchen designs, and this article provides every essential information that anyone will need to paint kitchen cabinets.

What You Will Need to Paint Kitchen Cabinets?

There are different practical types of tools available for making cabinets. However, you will need a few essential ones to paint your kitchen cabinets, including:

  • Screwdriver
  • Marker
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Sponge
  • Heavy-Duty Cleaner (All-Purpose)
  • Wood Filler (Optional)
  • Drill
  • Sand Paper or Sanding Block
  • Vacuum With Brush Attachment
  • Tack Cloth
  • High-Quality Primer
  • Paint Brush

Cabinets Painting Process (Step By Step)

The cabinet surface people repaint determines how they should approach the job. If the kitchen cabinet door designs are slab or flat, the painting process is more straightforward. In the case of having cabinets with raised panel doors, the painter should put more effort into creating better finishes.

If you want to paint kitchen cabinets properly, it is better to follow the following steps. It is essential to complete every step entirely and precisely.

Step One

Start the kitchen cabinet painting by emptying the boxes. Then unscrew any of the kitchen cabinet doors, and remove the drawers. Label and mark where each component goes with a painter’s tape and marker. To do so, put the painter’s tape in a safe spot, including where the hinges were attached. If reusing the hardware, always mark it in and store it in a bag or storage.

Step Two

The second step to paint kitchen cabinets is to wipe down all the surfaces that need to be painted. The cleaning must be done with a sponge and a cleaning substance that strips down any wood material of grease and dirt. One of the wood cleaning substances you can use is TSP-PF all-purpose, heavy-duty cleaner, perfect for Plywood and MDF kitchen cabinets.

Step Three

Some homeowners plan and prefer to replace the kitchen cabinet hardware such as the pulls or knobs with new ones. In such cases, it is essential to fill the holes that exist from the old hardware with a wood filler and then leave them until they dry completely. Then, drill a new pilot hole with precision and sand the wooden exterior part. It is better to vacuum any dust using a brush attachment to have a more clean workplace. Wipe the kitchen cabinets with a tack cloth.

Step Four

Step four of painting kitchen cabinets is priming all the wood parts with steady strokes. Remember to choose the direction equivalent to the wood grain while working in long.

Step Five

This step is about taping off the kitchen cabinet shelves edges and any wood material existing in your product with the painter’s tape. Then paint the cabinet’s interior and shelves with the preferring color and material. Wait until the paint is entirely dry for further procedure.

Step Six

Now, it is time to paint the kitchen cabinet doors, drawers, and frames with a color that contrasts with the paint used for the interiors and wait for it to dry.

Step Seven

The last step is to reinstall all the cabinet doors, drawers, and hardware. Follow all the marks and labels you put on your cabinets to install everything with the best result.

Note for Sanding: If the old kitchen cabinet surface is in an acceptable condition, you will not need to sand the doors and the exteriors down to bare wood material. All you need to do is rough the surface to allow the paint finish to adhere better and quicker. If you do the sanding, you should remember to feather the edges of the sanding area to enable the paint to lay flat on the surface.

Note for Painting: It is essential to apply primer-sealer to all the surfaces before painting. It is possible to do this with a spray, roller, or brush on flat surfaces.

How to Paint MDF panels for Doors and Cabinets?

MDF panels or Medium Density Fiberboards are suitable materials for producing home furniture, custom kitchen cabinets, and doors. These inexpensive wood products are engineered composite materials made from sawdust and resin, fused in considerably high pressure and heat. MDF panels come in various sizes and finishes. However, unlike other industrial wood substances, these fiberboards are free of knots, rings, and natural wood grain. Thus, cutting MDF doors with a CNC router is very easy, and as a result, they are often utilized for such applications as custom cutting and kitchen cabinets. Moreover, the hard and smooth surface of MDF doors takes paint and veneer with the highest quality.

MDF Doors and Panels Painting Process

Painting MDF doors or panels for kitchen cabinets requires a full understanding of the material. The smoothness of MDF panels comes from the factory sandings, and the face is already ready for further painting. However, the edges are often more porous and will need prep for a uniform, smooth finish. Additionally, the material’s porosity makes the MDF doors unsuited to water-based products for coating purposes. Follow the guidelines below, and you will achieve the best results.

Step No.1 of Paintig MDF Doors

Step one of painting MDF doors and cabinets starts with removing any additional hardware and setting them aside until thoroughly drying the paint. It is essential to protect the workpiece and area with extra clothes for making the cleanup easier. Doors and cabinets made from MDF panels will produce a considerable amount of dust when sanded, and the particles can irritate the lungs and eyes. Thus, using protective goggles and a dust mask is crucial.

Step No.2 is Cutting and Sealing the MDF Panels Edges

Whether the MDF doors or cabinets have a factory edge or feature custom cabinet cutting, the edges must involve sealing for accepting the paint and being matched with the smoother surface of the product. The painter should seal the areas by running a coat of drywall compound on the material with fingers. After the drying is completed, the product requires smooth sanding with sandpaper, and the scratches on the surface of the MDF panels should be filled with a special compound. Then the entire piece should be sanded with sandpaper. After sanding is completed, the carpenter should wipe the product down with a tack cloth for removing the fine dust and any remaining dirt.

Step No.3 is Mainly About Painting the MDF Doors

The third step of painting interior MDF doors or kitchen cabinets involves priming the MDF panel with solvent-based primers, which are available in various models in the market and online shops. It is crucial to avoid water-based primers as they cause swelling in the wood fibers, resulting in a surface that seems to have a raised grain even if there is a lot of effort put into the sanding process. It is practical to utilize a brush, roller, and spray gun to apply the suitable primer for the project.

Step No.4 is Applying the Primer

The fourth step of painting MDF doors and panels is the most critical stage and needs to be done with high precision. This step involves applying the paint and the preferred primer with applicators that can be brushes, roller, or spray gun, whichever is the best for the demanding project. After the first layer or coat of paint feels dry to the touch, apply a second layer of primer or paint if the work requires it. In case of spotting any patchiness, scratches, or other inaccurate finishes, the painter should cover the entire MDF door with another layer of paint. This will help the painter create a high-quality surface for the project, and it will also increase the durability of the MDF doors.

Step No.5 is Allowing the Paint to Dry

Step number five starts with allowing the paint to dry thoroughly on the MDF door surface. Then, this step involves applying the preferred sealer, including lacquer, polyurethane, wax, etc. If there is an expectation of the MDF panel project to have daily use in order to preserve the paint finish, the paint sealing must be done precisely. For instance, painted kitchen cabinet doors can benefit from an extra protective layer that protects the product from tear and wear. On the other hand, MDF panel crown molding will definitely be out of reach, and therefore it will not require a sealer.

Step No.6 is Assembling the Hardware

The last step of painting the MDF panel for doors and kitchen cabinets is to allow the paint to dry on the product’s surface. When the MDF door is dried thoroughly, the painter should replace the removed hardware and step back to compliment the work. After the paint finish is dried, the MDF paneled door will look similar to other painted wood. It is a fact that DIY people can create custom wainscoting, trim, or furniture partly with MDF panels and other practical wood materials. Once the product is painted, the final piece will blend seamlessly.

Top Cabinet Construction Methods

Kitchen Cabinets

Cabinet construction methods are systems that manufacturers and carpenters utilize to produce products that can enhance the functionality and aesthetics of the interior. Customers are often curious about the process of these methods before considering buying them for their beloved homes. The construction method’s quality determines the lifespan and durability of the remodeling and new kitchen development investment.

There are many various cabinet construction methods to create a cabinet due to the different ways of joining woods and materials together. Thus, producers can utilize multiple systems of joining the products carcass and frame facing. Many homeowners demand projects that need to be completed as soon as possible, and they do not favor spending a lot of time on methods that look perfect. However, with the systems, tools, and products available in the industry, there is no need to build robust joints, which is followed by utilizing few joints to increase the work pace and make things simpler. Each project’s requirements will be different, and some situations will need better creativity for making the method work. Thus, cabinet construction methods will be easy and fast in some cases, and others will consume too much time.

Now, let us introduce a few of the most common cabinet construction methods practical in making these products. Each method has its unique purpose and properties. Generally, experience and available tools will help customers choose the most efficient system for making their kitchen cabinets. However, this does not indicate that they will always create aesthetic products. Thus, it is essential to take more steps for ensuring the beauty of the cabinets, which means that it is crucial to have a plan ahead and determine the cabinet pieces that will be visible after the process is finished.

Butt Joints and Wood Screws Cabinet Construction Method

Building cabinets by drilling butt joints and wood screws are the fastest method to produce the carcass without special tools requirements. The only tool that is necessary for this system is a drill to drive the screws. Some carpenters utilize suitable fasteners and wood glue to ensure the product’s stability. This method is ideal for projects where painted kitchen cabinets are installed. Once the face frame is on, and the caulking, painting, and filling are done, the joints will no longer be visible.

The one and only concern with this approach is that the fasteners can be visible. However, there are several ways to hide them, including covering the sides of the cabinets and ensuring that the screws are counter-sink so that the installer can fill them with wood filler or putty. If the sides of the products cannot be seen, the visibility of the screws will no longer be an issue.

Butt Joints and Pocket Hole Screws

Another easy way to create cabinets for different uses is utilizing butt joints and pocket hole screws. This method requires a jig for drilling holes, but it will often go for a stable and sturdy product to join the face frame. Pros of this system include being easy while the fasteners will not be visible. However, there are few cons for this method:

  • The visibility of back panels from sides
  • Time-consuming process for pocket drilling
  • A special jig requirement

Dados Cabinet Construction System

Dados cutting is used to allow the cabinet’s bottom, back panel and fixed shelves to recess into the sides of the product. However, it can be time-consuming and tricky, but it pays off in aesthetics and appearance. This cabinet construction method requires special tools and equipment such as a table-mounted router and table saw, while the carpenter should put so much effort and patience into the work. Creating the correct type of width for dados is tricky when the thickness of the materials is different. Thanks to caulk, when constructing a cabinet for the further painting process, it will not require much precision like natural or stained wood. Thus, this method can create a clean look with no visible back panels or fasteners. However, due to the system’s complexity, it will need experience, special tools and precision for the best results.

Dowel and Dovetail Joints

Quality cabinet doors and drawers are often created by using either the dovetail or dowel method. Cheap and low-quality products utilize staples that will not hold for a long time. In opposition, dovetail joints are deemed to be the premium standard for constructing MDF kitchen cabinet doors. This method features interlocking sections of woods that hold each other firmly and do not require additional nails, staples, or screws. The best carpenters use dovetail joints and add wood glue to create the longest lasting and finest cabinetry systems available. The dowel jointing method is almost similar to the dovetail system, but it is more suitable for homeowners or contractors who need to get the job fulfilled with a smaller budget.

Best Paint Finishes for Kitchen Cabinets (part 2)

Paint Kitchen Cabinets

As told in part 1 of this article, changing the set of kitchen cabinets can extremely cause expenditure increment. Thus renovating the products using different paint finishes can be economically beneficial and will instantly improve aesthetics of the house portion.

People often get stuck into a dilemma of choosing old-school oil paint or latex paint which is available widely for their cabinets. Latex material is often recommended for kitchen applications due to its offering which is lower levels of unstable organic compounds production and its drying pace which is higher than the oil material. However, oil paint gained its popularity due to its easy applicability and long lasting characteristics which is ability to be scrubbed and clean regularly.

Latex Paint and Oil Paint Finish Comparison

Oil paint finish is popular due to its resilient specification, thus using this type of can be very efficient for kitchen applications. Opening cabinet doors with sticky or greasy hands can cause strains on the material, however oil paints have the ability not to be scratched and get cleaned easily with simple scrubbing without taking any damage. This paint takes a long time to dry in between coats, and the time is approximately up to 16 hours which can be considered as a draw back from some people’s perspective. Waiting for the paint to dry while having no good circulation especially inside MDF cabinets can become an issue. Keeping equipment and also some dry foods out of the cabinets for a day is surely annoying. Latex-paint, unlike the oil finish can be dried and ready for another coat in about two to four hours. This means the job can be done easily in few hours and the kitchen will be put back together instantly.

Having fast pace drying characteristic is not the only reason for using Latex as a paint finish. Two biggest pros of Latex are about its VOCs and yellowing. Water-based latex often has no VOCs unlike the oil paints which release higher levels of volatile organic compounds. Using paints which are known to produce VOCs on the cabinets which are surrounding for consumable materials such as food, eating utensils and spices is not recommended. These emissions can cause health damage and conditions in organs such as nose, eyes and throat. The surfaces which are covered with oil-paint are expected to take yellow hue over time and the cabinets might start to look dingy. Also, these paint finishes are prone to yellowing in low light conditions, thus painting inside of the kitchen cabinets which have slab doors, flat doors and etc. is not recommended.

Latex paint while having many advantages are much easier to use as painting material for kitchen cabinets. Nowadays, most of these paints are produced with greater durability for cleaning. This is an important factor for kitchen application, thus choosing a washable or scrub able finishes needs to be considered.

It is important to mention that if the material used for cabinets is MDF or Solid Wood, their surface need to be properly prepared before applying latex paint. This paint finish is more likely to show variances in the texture and grain on the wood unlike oil paint which goes on smooth. If a smooth and good look is desired after finish, some prep work beforehand is necessary.

There is an additional situation for using latex-paint which is when a kitchen cabinet is already painted instead of being pure wood. When the type of the paint which is already applied on the material cannot be identified, using water-based paint formulas having latex are the safest option. Oil-paint never adheres well over latex material; however, the latex-paint can be applied to a surface with any type of paint finish.

Simple Application Tips

If the cabinet has flat doors, they can be renovated with quick work of painting application with simple usage of painting roll having ¼ nap. Paneled cabinets obviously require more precision and work. For evenly coated surfaces and inset areas, paint brush can be very handy. It is also important to choose a synthetic bristle brush if latex paint is applied. The water-based paint can swell the natural bristles.

Best Paint Finishes for Kitchen Cabinets (part 1):

Kitchen Cabinets

The process of installing a complete new set of kitchen cabinets for renovating purposes might be very pricy. For transforming the look of any kitchen with lower price, fresh paint finishing is the most recommended procedure. With choosing right paint, the visuals of the area will be beautified while covering up dingy and dull surfaces. The most important thing while choosing a color, is to be precise on what type of paint finish will be the best and long-lasting for the cabinets. Finishes which are easy to maintain and clean are also in priority.

Considering Materials in Kitchen Cabinets

The first step for deciding the paint for cabinets is to consider the materials which the products are made of. The most common materials for this application are Solid Wood, Wood Veneer over a board, MDF and Laminate. Each type of these materials have their own characteristics, thus they will require different type of paint finishes.

Cabinets with Solid Wood

Solid natural woods are perfect candidate for being painted due to having scuffed surfaces. The surface must be sand in order to be prepared for paint and the results in this case will be much smoother and will have better finish. This is important specifically for kitchen cabinets which already have stained or glossy finish. Getting through to the first layer is often done using sandpaper or a liquid de-glosser. Is also important to know that natural woods absorb a lot of paint especially when It comes to water-based latex paint.

Cabinets with Wood Veneer

For cabinets which have wood veneer especially with a very thin layer hardwood attached to pressed material, sanding procedure is required before paint finish. Before starting the sanding, checking for loose edges. Cracks or chips is essential. These issues need to be repaired using wood glue. The veneer is just a thin layer covering the material beneath, thus the sanding must be done precisely. The surface must be rough enough to take the paint finish appropriately.

MDF Made Cabinets

Kitchen cabinets which are made of MDF, are extremely suitable for paint finishes. Two priorities should be considered when it comes to preparing MDF for paining which are using an oil-based primer and sealing the edges. Due to the porous edge of MDF, using some drywall compound for sealing it and keeping moisture from swelling the material is essential during the painting process. Using oil-based premier can be helpful for the first layer and then applying water-based latex paint to the surface is allowed. If the latex gets applied before the oil coat, it can be absorbed in MDF and will surely damage the product.

Laminate Made Cabinets

Painting laminate cabinets is way more challenging and it requires advanced skills in comparison to MDF and Solid Wood. This material is plastic which is printed and held fast on top of a composite layer. Due to the smoothness of the finish, the importance of prep work increases significantly. Choosing a laminate-specific primer or paint can be very helpful. These products bong to the shiny surface of the material. Sanding process is also required for paint finish the laminate material. Due to avoiding sanding through the surface, the procedure must be done with precaution. Thus using a fine sandpaper is necessary.

Other Paint Finishes

Cabinet doors are objects which are frequently get touched, pulled, slammed and etc. Thus, these factors can cause damage and paint scratches. They are other general finishes in addition to specified ones for materials. This finishes can improve the quality of the cabinet surfaces and decrease the risk of getting damaged due to the factors told.

The best choice for paint finish kitchen cabinets is using semi-gloss or gloss finish. This finish will increase the sheen and the reflection of the light, thus the product will be more beautiful and durable in the long period. Longevity of the cabinets is an important factor when it comes to environments such as kitchen. Both semi-gloss and gloss are considered as washable finishes and increase resiliency when being scrubbed or washed. This ability is due to presence of resin and binders in the structure of these paint finishes Also the sheen characteristic of the semi-gloss can be helpful for detecting water spots and stains. Painting kitchen cabinets which have flat finish paint or eggshell must be avoided. These finishes are not washable as like as the gloss one. Scrubbing these products can be highly damaging and it can go through the paint and scratch the material beneath.

In part 2 of this article, Oil paint and latex paint will be specifically introduced.