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Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Any suggestions on painting kitchen cabinets?

Cathy from Thurmont, MD


Painting Kitchen Cabinets

I understand! - When I moved in, the kitchen cabinets were hot pink! No kidding! Not everyone has nice wood cabinets!



  • You'll need to prime them first with a high adhesive primer (like Zinsser 123). It's best to sand them a bit first to give them a bit of "'tooth". But if you use the high adhesive primer you can sometimes get away without sanding first (just make sure to clean with TSP). If you do sand, use a fine grit sandpaper, then make sure to use a tack cloth to get of the fine dust or your paint will not stick

  • Next: use a high quality semi-gloss or gloss latex paint or even better, instead use a 100% acrylic paint. This is usually sold in paint stores and it's sometimes sold for painting masonry. 100% ACRYLIC is a super high quality paint!
    It's not just for artists, it also comes in gallons at paint stores. OR

  • You can skip the whole priming thing altogether if you want to use Melamine paint. Melamine is that cheap (usually white) coating on less-expensive furniture that looks like white Formica. It's glossy and hard to paint, so they came out with a super-adhesive paint that will stick to anything. It's pricey and it's oil based, so you should wait until the weather warms up so you can open the windows to air out you home if you use it. It gives a lovely, hard finish. You can even buy a melamine primer, although you don't really have to prime if you are using melamine paint. Sand the shelves to roughen them up, prime (if you choose to) and paint. You'll have to wait about 15-24 hours between coats, and a week or two before you can put anything back on the shelves. The smell isn't as bad as oil paints of old. The mineral spirits used for clean up is much worse.

  • One more option, I had a friend who painted her kitchen cabinets and she swore by Marine paint. You'd have to call a boat or marine store to see where to buy it. It's made to withstand that harsh salt air, so it's super tough! My friend said she had painted her cabinets with Marine Paint and after 15 years they were still in perfect shape!

When I painted my cupboards, they were plain, so I glued on woven chair cane, before gluing I painted the cane and the cupboards, then cut molding to frame them out, painted the molding, then framed the cane on the cupboards. The caning and matting can also be stained with wood stain. Be sure to coat cane and matting with a varnish, like urethane for use in the kitchen. Here's a URL to buy cane, woven mats, bamboo etc.


Another cool idea that's easy to do is to "Skin" your cabinets with either copper or aluminum. You buy the thin metal as roof flashing in the roofing area of the home center. You just, "skin" the doors, the rest of the cupboards you paint with either an aluminum paint or a copper spray paint, that you spray into a paper-cup then brush on. Or you can use "Hammerite". It looks just like hammered metal, plus you don't need to sand OR prime with Hammerite! This way you can get a stainless steel or a pewter look for a great price! It's really easy.

Cyinda (03/05/2007)

By Cyinda

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Our house has Quakermade cabinets that date back to the 50's. Originally they were painted in what looked like a robin's egg blue baked on enamel. Over 50 years of use the finish had gotten somewhat scruffy. The cabinets however where in excellent condition. So we thought that we should paint them.


After extensive investigation we hit on the idea of taking them to an Automotive Body Shop. We chose the color right from the car colors (Oldsmobile Almond, I think we used). They were done in less than a week and people are asking us where they can buy the cabinets. They came out that well. So if you can take them out of the kitchen this it isn't a bad idea. Cost wise for the entire kitchen 20 cabinets upper an lower was about $1,800

By Mike

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