How to Prepare and Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Ugly kitchen cabinets are hard to ignore. You see them every time you walk in the kitchen and when you open them up day after day. Repainting cabinets is a common technique among apartment maintenance, property management, residential painters and even DIY homeowners, as a transformative overhaul, saving time and money. If you’re looking for an updated kitchen, here is what we recommend before, during and after your process.

Order your products by phone without ever leaving your home or jobsite with Paint Dash: Free, Same-Day Delivery call a McCormick Paints’ store near you.

Preparation is Key

Preparing your wood cabinets for painting is just as important as painting them. Follow these steps before you start painting!

  1. Begin by emptying the cabinets completely and then clean thoroughly, making sure all grease and dirt are gone with a great cleaner. Recommended Product: Spray Nine 
  2. Remove knobs and handles, and check hinges. Label them in baggies so that you don’t forget where they go.
  3. Carefully tape off paint-free parts, such as hinges, countertops, and appliances. 
  4. Once your cabinets are clean and taped off, take note of any holes, dents and other imperfections. Use a wood filler to repair holes and imperfections. Recommended Product: Elmer’s Wood Filler
  5. Start sanding: Using a rotary sander works best on flat areas. Hand sand the hard parts and do not overlook the cabinet door edges. If the cabinets are stained, use 220 grit sandpaper. If they are painted and there is a rough stipple that looks like orange peel, use 120 grit sandpaper before going to a finer 220 grit sandpaper. 
  6. Wipe cabinets using denatured alcohol to remove any remaining dust and residue.
  7. Allow 15-20 minutes for the solvent to evaporate before applying a primer coat. If there is an overabundance of paint on the surface, consider stripping the paint off the

Your Primer is Crucial

If you want professional-style results, it’s imperative to prime before you begin painting. Choosing the correct primer is crucial to the process.

Oil primers adhere and block wood tannin the best. Zinsser Cover Stain Low VOC-Classic Oil-Base is not only compliant in all states, it’s the preferred primer of choice. In addition, McCormick’s uniX Multi-Purpose Stain Blocking Primer 06460 is a great second choice.

Although uniX is an excellent stain blocking primer, water–based primers do not hold out wood tannin as well as oil primer. Before priming, we recommend applying a test sample on an area of the wood cabinet.

Finish Strong with McCormick Interlok Eggshell or Semi-Gloss

For a high-visibility project like this, it is important to purchase higher-quality products that ensure long-lasting results. If you’re ready to update your kitchen cabinets, you’ll need to select a new paint color. We can match any color through a color matching system.

We recommend uploading a photo of your kitchen to our Color Visualizer Tool to see which colors you like the best in your space. When you’re ready to get started, use our free, same-day service to get your tools delivered to your doorstep or site. Order your paint, sundries and supplies through Paint Dash and start your project that day.

Once you find your color, consider your finish. Interlok Egg Shell or Semi-Gloss are the preferred finish coat sheens because they deliver a beautiful finish with durability. Both the recommended primers and Interlok finish coats can be applied by brush, roller, and spray application.

Whether you’re looking for a cool balance of white such as Lunar Moon or a moody color like Frozen Stream accented with brand brass knobs, repainting kitchen or bathroom cabinets gives the room a brand new feel. Cabinets are a focal point, so if you can’t stand your current ones, give them a facelift with paint and our tips and tricks.