Many homeowners dream of giving their kitchens a full-scale remodel. Though such a project can give a kitchen an entirely new look, that look does not come cheap. According to Remodeling magazine’s 2013 “Cost vs. Value Report,” homeowners can expect to spend more than $53,000 on a major kitchen remodel and recoup just below 70 percent of that cost at resale. So while the idea of a full-scale kitchen remodel might be a dream project, the cost of such an undertaking is beyond many homeowners’ budgets.
But homeowners who cannot afford a full remodel can still give their kitchens a new look and can do so for relatively little money. Painting kitchen cabinets a new color or simply giving fading cabinets a fresh coat of paint can instantly add life to a kitchen, giving the room an entirely different feel without breaking the bank. The following are a few tips for homeowners planning to paint their kitchen cabinets.
* Assess your existing cabinets. Some cabinet materials, including wood and metal, can be repainted without much of a fuss. But other materials, including plastic laminate, are not so amenable to repainting, and will likely require specialty paints. Homeowners with plastic laminate cabinets should first paint a spot or two with a sample paint, being careful to choose a spot that’s concealed. If the paint bonds well to the plastic laminate, then you can go forward and buy enough paint to redo all of the cabinets. If the paint does not take, consult a professional to find a paint that’s likely to be a better fit. Expect this process to be one of trial and error.
* Plan for ornate cabinets to take a little longer. Painting projects will go faster when cabinets have flat fronts, but they can take considerably longer when cabinets are unique and more detailed. If your cabinets are ornate, then factor this extra time into your schedule.
* Remove the doors and hardware. When painting cabinets, it’s best to essentially disassemble them, removing the doors, handles, knobs, latches, and any additional hardware. When removing hardware, be sure to set them aside in clearly marked plastic bags so it’s easier to reassemble the cabinets once the fresh coat of paint has dried.
As doors are removed, number each door and its corresponding location, much like products that require assembly are numbered at the factory. This makes it easier to reassemble and ensures the cabinets and their hinges will align properly once you have finished painting.
* Don’t paint dirty surfaces. Cabinet surfaces have likely collected their share of dirt, grease and grime over the years, so you want to clean these surfaces thoroughly before painting. Once surfaces have been cleaned, rinse them off and give them ample time to dry.
* Sand the surfaces. Once the surfaces have been cleaned and are completely dry, it’s time to start sanding them. Lightly sand the doors using a wood sanding block, working to create a firm base to which fresh paint can easily adhere. Areas that are most exposed to wear and tear may require some extra elbow grease, and some areas may be especially flaky. When old paint is flaking off, this means the previous finish did not adhere very well to the surface, which is not necessarily uncommon in kitchens, where moisture and grease residue can make it harder for paint to adhere to the surface. In such instances, sand the flaky areas to the bare wood before spot-priming with a primer or sealer designed for areas with heavy staining. After all of the sanding is complete, vacuum the surfaces to ensure there is no leftover sanding dust before painting.
* Apply primer-sealer. Primer-sealer ensures the fresh paint will bond well to the surfaces, preventing conditions like flaking in the future.
* Paint the cabinets. After the primer-sealer has been applied, it’s time to paint the cabinets. Begin with the inside edges and openings of the face frames, followed by the outer cabinet sides and then the front of the frames. Then move on to the cabinet doors and any drawer fronts you might be painting as well. Cabinets with more elaborate designs require closer attention to detail than flat cabinets. When painting, opt for thin coats, which dry more quickly and also create fewer visible brushstrokes. When applying multiple coats, allow the paint ample time to dry between coats. Four hours between coats is a good rule of thumb, and lightly resand all surfaces before applying the second and final coat of paint.
* Reassemble the cabinets. Once the final coat of paint has fully dried, carefully reassemble your cabinets and then enjoy the fresh and inexpensive new look that your freshly painted cabinets have created.