Cabinet paint is all the rage these days. Stained cabinets are out and it seems like everywhere we turn there are painted shaker cabinets in their place. This puts the trendy homeowner of an older house in a conundrum: “Do I replace my cabinets or paint the one’s I have?” Well, unless they plan on cracking open a can of worms (ie. countertops, backsplash, plumbing, fixtures, etc.) and turning their $8,000 cabinet paint job into a $27,000 kitchen remodel, this homeowner usually settles on painting the cabinets they have. And that’s great! Going this route can turn out excellent. However, there are tried and true steps to a successful cabinet paint job. This is why hiring a professional with a track record of cabinet paints that last and don’t chip and look beautiful is advisable. In other words, this is not a DIY project you should take on if you want a showroom finish. However, by knowing the overall process of a successful cabinet paint job, you can vet a contractor to be sure that they know what they are doing.
Step 1, Job Site Prep
We start by prepping the floors and countertops. Then your cabinet doors and drawers are removed and labeled to keep things organized. All hardware will be removed at this point as well. Once the doors and drawers are all removed, all of the cabinet box faces, walls, appliances, windows, and ceiling will be prepped with tape, plastic, and paper. This is in preparation for spraying; in essence your kitchen is being turned into a spray booth. Your kitchen will be fully enclosed from floor to ceiling. Expect for your kitchen to be mostly unusable for about 3 days once work begins.
At this point the cabinet doors and drawers are taken to our shop where they will be further prepped and painted in our spray booth. The cabinet box faces will be prepped and painted separately. We will get into that process in step 2.
Step 2, Paint Prep
Now that the work area has been prepped and the doors and drawers are in our shop, the paint prep process begins. We start by cleaning all painted surfaces with TSP to remove any grime and grease. Then we move on to sanding. The goal is to roughen the surfaces which will receive paint in order to achieve high adhesion. We use 220-320 grit sandpaper. Do not expect to see the surfaces sanded down to raw wood. This is just to give the primer and paint more surface area to stick to.
Step 3, Primer
Now the primer is applied. We spray Zinsser BIN shellac primer in most all situations. Shellac primer is the most durable primer product for this application and will stand up to kitchen related wear and tear like slamming cabinets, dropped dishes, and toe kicks. We always spray cabinet paint. There is no way to get a smooth, showroom finish with a roller or brush no matter what someone tells you. Some painters will thin the primer and paint and apply with a brush or roller. However, while the thinner allows the paint/primer to “lay down”, the hardening of the primer and overall durability of the finish are diminished in the process of thinning it.
After the first coat of primer dries, we apply a second coat to all surfaces. Then, to prepare for paint we sand all surfaces again.
Step 4, Paint
After wiping all surfaces down with microfiber towels to remove any dust from sanding, we paint. We spray Benjamin Moore ADVANCE, a top shelf hybrid product. Again, we always spray and we always do two coats. Now your cabinets are painted. At this point we de-prep your kitchen to allow you access to the space again. However, it will take 3-6 days for the paint to initially cure (up to 30 days to fully cure) so we always talk home owners about being very careful not to knock the cabinet surfaces at all. In some cases, the home owner may prefer to leave all surfaces prepped for the duration of the initial curing period just to be safe.
Step 5, Install
At this point everything has finished initially curing and your doors and drawers are returned. If you have chosen to update the hardware, the pulls and hinges will be replaced this point which can often involve conversion from one hole to two hole pulls which will take place on site as the door are being reinstalled. Fine tuning adjustments will be done so that all doors are level and symmetrical. We also always reinstall your doors and drawers with bumpers to avoid chips or scratches down the road.
Those are the basic steps to an excellent cabinet paint job. If you are in the Austin, Texas area and are planning your cabinet paint job, feel free to contact us for a quote today!