The Dos and Don'ts of Painting Cabinets

HGTV Magazine has the tips and tricks you need to know.

Photo by: Kim Cornelison

Kim Cornelison

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DO figure out what kind of kitchen cabinets you have

Wood and MDF can be painted without much drama. The hardest part is removing the stain or the finish with a deglosser (also known as liquid sander). Plastic laminate cabinets are tougher, sometimes impossible, to paint successfully. Discuss with a paint consultant at a home improvement store before attempting these yourself. 

DO take off the cabinet doors, pull out the drawers, and remove the hardware

Label everything so reassembly is easier. 

DON’T rush through cleaning

Kitchen cabinets are magnets for grease and food splatters. Get rid of gunk with a heavy-duty cleaner like phosphate-free TSP.

DO consider an alkyd paint

This specialty paint, popular with pros, is like a hybrid of oil and latex paints: It gives cabinets a super-durable finish that can withstand lots of use — and abuse — dries to a glossy sheen, and is resistant to moisture and humidity. 

DON’T think you can rush through this project

With all the prepping, cleaning and painting, you’ll probably need a minimum of two weekends to finish everything, so plan (and pace yourself) accordingly. 


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