How To Prep Cabinets For Painting

Are you looking into painting your cabinets? Are you unsure where to start?

When it comes to achieving results to be proud of, there’s never a more key place to start than correctly preparing your cabinet’s surfaces. By practicing excellent prep work skills, you’ll consistently achieve the best results possible for all your cabinet painting projects!

How to prep cabinets for painting

Below we’ve developed an easy-to-follow and complete step-by-step guide to help you learn the proper prep work skills needed to clean, sand, and prime your cabinets. We’ll also cover the tools and materials necessary to carry out this prep work.

A Complete Guide On How To Prep Cabinets for Painting

Follow this guide for our step-by-step explanation of how best to prepare cabinetry for painting!

Step 1: Importance of Prep Work for Cabinet Painting

When it comes to painting cabinets, quality prep work is critical. First, you’ll need to make sure your cabinet’s surfaces are ready to paint.

In some cases, cabinetry will not be suitable to work with and paint. You may even need replacement doors or the cabinets themselves.

You’ll also want to make sure paint applies correctly and lasts for a long time after all your hard work!

Step 2: Determine The Condition of Your Cabinets

Before even starting your project, you’ll need to determine the condition of your cabinets.

Ask yourself these questions. Have your cabinets been previously painted? Are they in proper conditions to be painted? Will any of my cabinets or doors need to be replaced?

You can paint previously painted cabinets in good condition, but they require extra preparations to remove the previous paint.

Step 3: Cleaning Your Cabinets

Next, you’ll want to clean the surfaces of your cabinets thoroughly. Wash your cabinets down using a sponge with gentle soap and warm water.

Let them dry, then use a cleaner such as TSP. Proper cleaning will help ensure the paint sticks to your cabinet’s surfaces and is long-lasting.

Failure to clean your cabinet’s surfaces correctly will cause your paint applications to chip, crack, peel, or require repainting much sooner.

Remember to practice excellent prep work skills for all your painting projects to attain the best results!

Step 4: Clean and Prep Your Painting Areas

Now that you have your cabinet surfaces thoroughly cleaned, create a clean space in your room for painting. You’ll need to lay down plastic drop cloths in all the areas you’ll be painting. Plastic drop cloths will help keep away any unwanted paint, such as spills and splatters.

Next, you’ll need to tape off the inside of your cabinets with painter’s tape. Painter’s tape is a great guide to help you paint straight and clean lines and keep unwanted paint from flowing into the wrong areas.

Place rosin paper across your countertops. Rosin paper helps protect the paint from getting on your counters.

Help yourself out and create a painting station! By having a painting station in place, you’ll have everything you need to carry out this project within arms reach!

Step 5: Tools and Materials

Painted Kitchen Cabinets

Tools Needed for Cabinet Painting Preparation:

  • Shop Vacuum for Dust and Debris
  • Power Drill/Driver and Bits to help you remove your cabinet doors
  • Foam Paint Roller with foam rollers
  • Paint Sprayer (See below)
  • Painter’s Trays and Plastic Tray Liners
  • Dust Mask or Painting Safety Mask, Rubber Gloves, and Protective Eye Wear
  • Paint Brushes
  • Screwdriver
  • Sponge
  • Pencil
  • Shop Rags
  • Ladder and Step Stool
  • Sawhorses

Materials You’ll Need for Cabinet Preparation and Painting:

  • Sandpaper- Fine Grit recommended
  • Wood Filler (if needed)
  • Good Quality Paint for Cabinets
  • Good Quality Primer
  • Painters Tape
  • Tack Cloth
  • Paint Stripper (if required)
  • TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) to thoroughly clean your surfaces
  • New Cabinet Hardware (if needed)

Step 6: Remove the Hardware From Your Cabinets

Next, you’ll want to remove all handles and pulls from your cabinets.

To do this, separate and label all cabinet hardware and place them in small plastic bags. Separating your cabinet hardware helps you know precisely where the pieces go back after painting. Skip this step when choosing to add new cabinet hardware.

Then, use a power drill or screwdriver to remove all door hinges and drawers; make sure to also separate and label these into small plastic bags.

Mark placements for each cabinet door from the inside with your painter’s tape. Labels will help you know exactly where to put your cabinet doors after you’ve finished painting. Make sure to label inside your cabinets and each door. Finally, place the cabinet doors on your sawhorses.

Step 7: Stripping Off Old Paint

Removing old paint on your cabinets requires stripping. You can find stripping solutions at your local hardware store.

Apply a stripping solution with a foam brush, follow the directions, and wait for the old paint to release from the surface of your cabinets.

Lastly, use a plastic scraper to peel away your old paint. Once your cabinet’s surfaces are dry, remove any extra paint with sandpaper.

Step 8: Washing Down Your Cabinets

You’re now ready to wash down your cabinets and doors. First, clean your cabinets thoroughly using a sponge, warm water, and gentle soap.

Once dry, apply a TSP solution to remove any dirt, grease, or residue from your cabinet’s surfaces.

Sometimes a lightning cleaner or degreaser is needed for heavy-duty cleaning.

Step 9: Getting Ready for Painting

You’re now ready for priming and painting! Grab some fine-grit sandpaper and lightly scuff up the cabinet surfaces. By lightly sanding, you’re allowing primer and paint to grab onto your cabinet’s surfaces which in the end give you long-lasting results!

Sanding will cause dust, so use a shop vac to help thoroughly remove any dust or debris from your surfaces and workspace. Once everything is free of dust, use a tack cloth to remove any additional dust; you’ll be surprised what’s still left behind!

Step 10: Adding A Coat of Primer To Your Cabinets

We recommend applying a good quality primer to your cabinets for flawless coverage. A good quality primer will give you the best results and a smooth application.

With this painting project, unless you will be working with dark-colored cabinets, you’ll only need one coat of primer. In the case of darker cabinets, use two coats of primer.

Step 11: Ready for Painting!

Lastly comes the most exciting part! When your primer dries thoroughly, you’re ready to apply paint!

Choose a good quality paint for this project, preferably one made specifically for cabinets.

We recommend using sawhorses or similar tools for this painting project. Setting your cabinet doors on sawhorses for painting helps keep them off the ground and dirt or dust from mixing into your paint. Using sawhorses additionally gives your cabinet doors proper airflow to dry quickly and evenly.

You now have perfectly prepped cabinets ready to be painted! You’ll love finding out how painting your cabinets will completely update your space!

Step 12: When to Hire A Professional Painter

Taking on the task of painting cabinets is lengthy and can come with challenges. Therefore, we encourage you to explore all your options before finalizing which route to take.

You’ll find sometimes it’s easier to hire a professional painter than paint cabinets on your own. Compare final costs for tools, materials, and the length of this project to discover the right path for you!

Additional Things to Consider When Prepping Cabinets For Painting

Using a Spray Painter

Proper use of a paint sprayer can come in handy with this project. It would allow things to go a little quicker. Make sure always to read all directions and know how to use your tools correctly before use.

Spray application could help achieve quicker results if you have experience using a paint sprayer. Always use protective gear when using a spray painter.

Extra Steps Before Painting Cabinets

Depending on the type of cabinet material you’ll be painting on, it may require additional steps before painting.

If you plan to paint oak cabinets, you must ensure they are smooth to avoid wood grain showing through your paint. Instead, use wood grain filler to fill in the grooves and keep your painted surface smooth and flawless!

Wrapping Up Prepping Your Cabinets For Painting

Now that you’ve correctly washed, sanded, prepped, and primed your cabinets, you can now begin your painting transformation!

By using this step-by-step guide to prepare your cabinets for painting properly, it will give you confidence knowing you’ve prepared your cabinet’s surfaces correctly. This guide has set you up to achieve freshly painted and updated cabinets!

Ready to schedule your free kitchen cabinet painting quote?