Painting cabinets is a difficult job, even for confident DIYers. Homeowners can and do successfully paint their own cabinets, but just because somebody has painted their own walls before does not mean that they’ll have a fun or easy time painting cabinets.

Everyone should be aware of these four things before taking on this project:

  1. Spraying is the best method by far, and the only method accepted by professionals.
  2. Kitchen lighting is bright, which makes imperfections in the paint stand out
  3. Cabinets need a semi-gloss or satin paint to look good, and these paints are harder to work with
  4. Painting cabinets is a much more process than painting walls

1. Spraying is the best method by far, and the only acceptable method for professionals

Why? For two reasons: it’s much faster, and results in superior coverage. Cabinets are made of smoother, harder materials than drywall. If you roll your paint on, you’ll end up with noticeable imperfections in the texture known as stipple.

Furthermore, if you don’t have access to a sprayer, or you’ve never used one before, that’s another challenge on an already difficult job.

2. Kitchen lighting is bright, which makes imperfections easier to see

We can’t impress enough that painting cabinets is a difficult painting project. If you’re confident in your ability to run a sprayer, just remember that your kitchen is probably the brightest room in your house. That means that imperfections that wouldn’t be visible in other rooms will be visible here.

3. Cabinets need a semi-gloss or satin paint to look good

Like trim, cabinets are made of harder, smoother material than drywall. These surfaces need a glossier paint, such as semi-gloss or satin (eggshell is “standard” for interior walls- more on sheens here). The downside to these paints is that they highlight every little detail and imperfection.

4. Painting cabinets is a much more involved process than painting walls

Painting cabinets is a process with many more steps than painting walls: you’ve got to remove the doors and drawers, label them to make sure they go back on the right cabinet opening, take off the hardware, mask the whole kitchen, seal the doorways so overspray won’t get into other rooms, prep the surfaces, and apply at least 2-3 coats of material.

Then there’s all the little details you need to know, like using a couple light layers of paint instead of one heavy one, doing a light sand between layers of paint, labelling all your doors and hardware so they get back on the right cabinet (otherwise the doors won’t align properly), and setting up a hanging system for painting your doors and drawers.

In summary, homeowners need to know that just because they’ve painted interior walls or even trim before, doesn’t mean that painting cabinets is going to be an easy, fun or successful project. It’s not the type of job you do in a weekend.

Your kitchen looks small until you start pulling doors and drawers and realize that you’ve got 20, 30 or 40 units to remove, prep, paint and reinstall. And until you’re done, your kitchen will be in varying stages of unuse.

Again, any competent DIYer can succeed here. But the risks and difficulty of the job make it one that not every DIYer should tackle.

Get professional help painting your cabinets

Painting cabinets is a good way to give your kitchen an updated feel without replacing your cabinets. If you’re in the Twin Cities area and need an estimate on your cabinets, you can contact Cedartone Painting.

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