Fancy a new kitchen but life’s getting in the way of a full revamp? Painting your cupboards is a cheaper and easier alternative to get a new look without all of the work (and cost!) No need to be left without a kitchen for weeks on end while the builders come in; you can just follow a few steps to get smooth, long-lasting results on your existing doors that will freshen up your room in a flash.
Does your kitchen fit the bill?
Most wood cupboards are suitable for an overhaul as long as you carry out the right preparation. However, laminate is the exception to the rule because the smooth surface resists paint adhesion so this will need a different approach. Any type of wood (including MDF) will do well, but stained or glossy cupboards should be stripped before you get started.
If you’re going to redo your kitchen by painting the cupboards, you can just start applying the paint, right? While it’s tempting to start with the paintbrushes, there’s actually more that you need to get done in preparation first.
To start with, find an area that gives you enough space to work, is well-ventilated to protect you from dust and fumes and make sure you throw down some dust sheets so you don’t get paint anywhere you shouldn’t! Wherever you choose, it will need to be big enough to allow the doors to lay flat while working and quiet enough that you can leave them to dry for a day or so.
When you’re set up in your zone, label each cupboard door and drawer before you take them off so you’ll know what goes where when it comes to putting them back on. Once they’re off, remove hinges and hardware and store them carefully so you don’t lose anything.
Now you’ve got yourself ready, you’ll need to clean all surfaces thoroughly to remove any dirt, dust or oil on the surface or trapped in crevices. Use a clean cloth and scrub thoroughly with a degreasing cleaner, which will help with paint adhesion later on. As you clean the doors and drawers, check to see if there are any holes or flaws. If you spot anything, fill them in with wood filler and allow it to dry fully before moving on to the next step.
Sanding take one
Your lovely clean surface now needs to be sanded; you’ll need an orbital sander and some medium grit sandpaper (hand sanding is an option but be prepared to build up your biceps!) Painted cabinets should get a thorough sanding with 120 grit paper, but no matter the finish, go over the full surface with 220 grit too. It’s a good idea to use a sanding sponge to dig into any tough areas that need special attention or corners that are hard to get with the sander. Make sure you check on any wood filler repairs you made and sand those areas to match the rest of the surface. Once you’re finished, wipe everything down with a soft cloth to remove any dust.
With the newly smooth surface, you’ll need to choose an appropriate primer. Apply a first coat on your doors and drawers and wait until surfaces are dry to the touch before painting the reverse side.
Sanding take two
After the doors have had a few hours to dry fully, take the orbital sander again and lightly go over each surface with a fine grit sand paper. You’ll also need a fine grit sanding sponge to make sure trim grooves or door edges haven’t collected any excess paint. Remember, your cabinets may need a second round of priming and sanding to achieve a smooth finish.
Time to make a splash
Now it’s the fun stuff. For best results, choose a high quality paint with a hard finish to make sure it can withstand the wear and tear a kitchen undergoes. Satin, semi-gloss and gloss are all good options, and will allow for easy cleaning in the future. Paint should be dry to the touch before tackling the back and make sure you keep all surfaces flat while allowing paint to dry for at least two hours once you’re done. Follow these steps again for a second coat to get a true colour on your cupboards.