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Living Space: How to paint kitchen cabinets, in 7 doable steps

Kathryn Weber, Tribune Content Agency on

If you’re wondering how to paint kitchen cabinets, you’ve come to the right place. Giving your cabinets a makeover can dramatically change the look and feel of your kitchen, whether you’re opting for a clean white paint or a more adventurous dark or colorful hue.

Before you get started, there are some key things you need to know about how to paint kitchen cabinets, as the process is different than learning how to paint a room or how to paint a wall. For one, it almost always takes longer than you think — often twice as long, says Hunter MacFarlane, a project expert with Lowe’s based in Mooresville, North Carolina.

Second, if your cabinets are not made from wood or have a very intricate design, you may want to call in a pro. If you’re dealing with fairly straightforward wood cabinets, though, there’s no reason you can’t DIY. Here, two experts share the step-by-step process for painting kitchen cabinets.

1. Start small.

The kitchen is a central spot in any home and is probably heavily trafficked. That’s why MacFarlane recommends testing out your cabinet-painting skills in a smaller, less noticeable room first. “If you have a small bathroom with a vanity that needs repainting, that’s a good place to train yourself,” he says. If you start here and feel like you’re in over your head, you may need to call in a pro for the kitchen cabinets.

2. Prepare the area.


“Preparation is everything in painting,” MacFarlane says. Many people want to jump right in because they’re excited to see how it will look (and who can blame them?), but it’s imperative to cover every surface, empty all drawers and move everything out of cabinets (and the appliance garage, if you have one) and into another room in the house before getting started.

If you can, move appliances over or out of the way, and cover your countertops, overlapping up the wall if possible, to avoid any splatters there. Novices may also want to tape off the ceiling, and any spots where the cabinets meet the wall, with painter’s tape, just to be safe.

3. Remove and clean all cabinet doors, drawers and hardware.

These don’t have to be painted in the kitchen. It’s better to move everything that you can to another location, such as an attached garage, MacFarlane says. Then wipe them down to remove grease and prepare them for painting. You’ll also need to remove the hardware. Soak the hardware in a mix of warm water and Dawn dish soap to remove grime and buildup, then dry and store in labeled plastic bags.


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