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How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets
Your cave-like kitchen feels that way because the dark cabinets have sucked all the light out of the room. But a brighter makeover doesn't necessarily mean replacing those gloomy boxes with all-new cabinets. READ: 12 Kitchen Cabinet Color Combos That Really Cook As long as the frames and doors are structurally sound, you can clean them up and brush on some new paint — and within a weekend, take that kitchen from dreary to sunny. As This Old House ­senior technical editor Mark Powers shows us below, all you need is some strong cleaner, sandpaper, a paintbrush, and a little elbow grease. What you don't need is a whole lot of money, as the transformation will cost you a fraction of even the cheapest new cabinets. And that's news that should sure light up your day.
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Overview:

Painting kitchen cabinets is, like any painting job, a simple task. But mastering the perfect glassy finish is all in the prep work. Before brush ever hits wood, there has to be a lot of time devoted to getting the surface ready to accept paint. That means properly cleaning, sanding and priming every inch of the surface, or the finish color won't stick well. Cleaning is the most important step in the process. Years of greasy fingerprints and cooking splatters can leave a layer of grime that inhibits paint adhesion. You can remove most of the gunk with TSP substitute (a cleaner from DAP or Savogran) or a degreaser — the former if the cabinets are not too dirty, or the stronger degreaser if the grime is thick — but it may take a couple of passes. After that, you'll need to rough up the surface with some 100-grit sandpaper to help the paint stick. The primer you use can also make or break the finish. To get a glassy surface, you need to use a "high build" sandable primer, such as Eurolux from Fine Paints of Europe, to best fill the wood and even the surface. The sandable part of that equation is imperative, so that you can smooth the surface before painting on the finish coat. You may even need two coats of primer to completely fill the grain. To keep the doors and drawers flat as the paint levels, make yourself a pronged drying rack by drilling screws up through several pieces of scrap wood. That way you can flip your work as soon as it's dry to the touch. Also, screw cup hooks into the edges of doors and drawers so you can grab hold and move them without fingerprinting the paint; then hang them up for out-of-the-way drying. The formula of finish paint you use contributes to the smooth look. Traditionally, painting cabinets for a high-traffic area such as a kitchen required using oil-based paints. However, working with oils can be messy, and the fumes are toxic. Fortunately, while latex paints will never quite self-level and flow as well as oils, they're getting close. Latex formulas specified for cabinetry — labeled "100 percent acrylic" — will create an even, durable finish. And, in many cases, they're also low in volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, which make that noxious paint smell. As long as you're sprucing things up, consider changing the hardware or putting on a faux finish for that added wow factor.
(This Old House)

Step 1: Prep the Room

Cover the countertop adjacent to the cabinets with rosin paper and painter's tape. Cover the backsplash with 0.5-millimeter plastic. Flag each cabinet door or drawer and its corresponding opening with matching numbered pieces of tape so you'll know which piece goes where. Remove all pulls and knobs, and then unscrew hinges from both the cabinet boxes and the doors. Pull out the drawers and, if possible, unscrew the fronts. Using a sponge and the appropriate cleanser, wipe down the doors, drawer fronts and cabinet frames wherever you plan to paint. Tip: If you're reusing your old hinges, also flag the paired hinges with their doors and location for easier reinstallation. READ: Easy Kitchen Cabinet Makeovers
(This Old House)

Step 2: Smooth Dings or Divots

Using a putty knife, fill any dings or divots with wood putty. Also, fill any old hardware holes if you plan on changing out the knobs and pulls. Using 100-grit sandpaper, sand the putty smooth and rough up the cabinets' finish. Sand with the grain, and apply enough pressure to push the paper into any crevices, nicks or dents without rounding over the edges. Screw cup hooks into the edge of the doors and drawers — on the top edge of upper cabinets and on the bottom edge of lower cabinets and drawers. READ: Kitchen Cabinets: 9 Things You Need to Know
(This Old House)

Step 3: Prime the Cabinets

Lay the doors face-down. Using a 2½-inch paintbrush, apply a coat of primer. Brush first against the grain and then with it. Paint the interior panel before the rails and stiles. Let the primer dry to the touch before flipping the pieces to paint the other side. Prime the outside of the cabinet boxes (and the inside if desired) while waiting for the doors to dry. Let the doors and drawer fronts dry to the touch, keeping them flat so the paint levels off. Then hang them from the cup hooks to cure completely.
(This Old House)

Step 4: Sand the Primer

Allow the primer to dry for several hours. Using a random-orbit sander and 220-grit sandpaper, smooth away any brushstrokes in the primer on the panels and other flat surfaces.
(This Old House)

How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Your cave-like kitchen feels that way because the dark cabinets have sucked all the light out of the room. But a brighter makeover doesn't necessarily mean replacing those gloomy boxes with all-new cabinets. READ: 12 Kitchen Cabinet Color Combos That Really Cook As long as the frames and doors are structurally sound, you can clean them up and brush on some new paint — and within a weekend, take that kitchen from dreary to sunny. As This Old House ­senior technical editor Mark Powers shows us below, all you need is some strong cleaner, sandpaper, a paintbrush, and a little elbow grease. What you don't need is a whole lot of money, as the transformation will cost you a fraction of even the cheapest new cabinets. And that's news that should sure light up your day.

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