For a Simple Spruce-Up, Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Instead of replacing kitchen cabinets, give them a new look by painting them, inside and out.


It isn't necessary to replace cabinets when a good coat of paint could make all the difference. (click to enlarge)

It isn't necessary to replace cabinets when a good coat of paint could make all the difference. (click to enlarge)

If your kitchen cabinets have become grimy and dull, you can give them a facelift with a new finish.

Materials and Tools: 

power drill
spackling compound
220-grit sandpaper
new drawer pulls and door pulls (optional)




1. Begin by removing all of the pulls and handles from the drawers and doors with a drill. Be sure to wear eye protection. Once all the drawer pulls are off, remove the drawers from the cabinets and number them so you can return them to the right slot.

2. Put down drop cloths. Use cotton instead of plastic so that the paint is soaked in and not smeared. Remove any shelves. Clean the cabinets with warm, soapy water. Rinse with clear water and wipe dry with a cloth.



3. Patch any holes that mar the doors or cabinets with spackling compound. Once the spackle is dry, rough the surface of the doors and drawers with 220-grit sandpaper. Wipe down the surfaces with a dry cloth to get rid of any remaining dust.

4. Sand the cabinets as well with sandpaper. Use a 40- or 60-grit to completely remove paint, then step up to 100-grit, then 220-grit to finish things off.



5. Begin priming the surfaces. A good coat of primer prepares the cabinets for the topcoat. Primer goes on just like regular paint. Be sure not to prime the insides of drawer openings — they will not be painted.



6. Beginning with the interior, paint the back interior wall of the cabinet. Move on to paint the top of the cabinet interior and all the partitions. Use long, steady strokes. Paint the side wall and shelves. You are working from the inside out so you don't get paint on you reaching past wet paint.

7. Now that the entire interior is finished, move on to the exterior surfaces. If you are working with louvers, paint from the outside in to avoid drips.

8. When painting drawers, do not paint the top edge, bottom edge or the full side. The wood could swell and the drawer won't slide loosely. Paint the front face, the top front edge and just a small portion of the sides.

9. Once all surfaces are painted, allow to dry overnight.



10. If you are adding new drawer pulls, measure the width between the holes and transfer to the drawer fronts, marking the locations. Drill holes at the marked locations on the face of the drawers, then insert the screws that hold the pull in place from the inside and secure the pull. Repeat the same steps for door pulls. Repeat the entire process for all pulls.

11. Reattach the original hinges to the doors. Hold the doors in place and reattach to the frame. Attach all hinges and doors. Do any touch up painting for any scuff marks that may occur.

You are done. This work routinely costs less than $100 and takes two days to complete.

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