Mistakes Painting Kitchen Cabinets

Never paint your kitchen cabinets like this!

No one is more meticulous than professional cabinet finishers so here are some pointers to consider before hiring or painting kitchen cabinets yourself.

This video IS NOT how we would ever recommend cleaning, preparing or painting kitchen cabinets. In fact, this is how you ruin a beautiful kitchen. Watch and never do what they are doing.

The Cabinet Painter is a specialized Trade: Follow these steps and your cabinets should last years!

Preparing and painting older cabinets that have already been installed requires many more steps beyond the traditional staining and clear coating methods. Here are the basic pointers that we follow.

  • Kitchen cabinet painting cannot be done well in a cold or dirty garage. A spray painting shop and specialized equipment for cabinet refinishing are essential;
  • Remove and label everything that can be logically removed from the kitchen itself but never remove the boxes from the walls;
  • Properly seal crowns, corners and wall openings for a reason. Painting wood as opposed to staining wood is far more meticulous and requires 3 hats to do it all properly.  Cabinet builders stain and varnish wood and do not normally repaint existing cabinets. They understand staining and open grain and do not need to worry about dark cracks because it's called "character".  Cabinet makers have little need to know about removing 20 years of grease and how to paint around walls, fridges, stoves, flooring etc. Cabinet painting is a specialized art that goes way beyond wood finishing. Kitchen cabinet painters are combinations of wood finishers and house painters all in one;
  • Fill and caulk cracks in proper order and let products cure between coats;
  • Do not caulk or fill problematic or subjective cracks that can open up over time. Cabinets panels are made to move! (shrink and expand!) Just because you can caulk doesn't mean you always should;
  • Kitchen cabinet painters should be excellent fine finishers AND home interior painters able to hand paint details to MATCH spray finishing. Your kitchen looks NEW, not like DIY repaint;
  • Always SAND varnishes off for a reason;
  • We do not use TSP because it is incompatible d-greasers and de-glossers for a very good reason;
  • Use razor knives to meticulously clean corners and debris out of cracks where grease builds up over years. You cannot rely only on household cleaners to remove grease in corners, grain and cracks - Sanding is essential;
  • VERY IMPORTANT - Hand rub sanding sealer into the oak grain so the open grain gets filled. You still want to see the grain but you do not want the grain open. It looks great when it's filled;
  • Use a vacuum system for extracting dust out of the shop;
  • Label everything so your kitchen goes back together perfectly;
  • Remove and re-install new hardware;
  • Use non-grain raising primers, undercoats and top coat with acrylic paint;
  • Protect and deliver freshly painted cabinets flawlessly so everything looks amazing at the end of the job.

Cabinet builders stain and varnish new wood, they normally do not repaint existing/ 20 year old cabinets that have grease etc embedded into cracks and corners where paint will without question, break away and look terrible a year later. They understand staining and open grain finishing, but do little about dark cracks as this is all part of how wood looks. Cabinet builders have little need to know things regarding removing 20 years of grease then how to get paint to stick to old varnishes, then get sprayed finish to match paint around the boxes attached to preexisting walls, refrigerators, stoves, flooring etc. Cabinet painting is a specialized trade. They are a combinations of wood finishers and house painters who can fine finish all in one.