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Painting Your Kitchen Cupboards

Last Updated Aug 23, 2012 · Written by Rob Schneider

If you can't live with the kitchen you've got, but can't afford a kitchen renovation, painting your kitchen cupboards can be a creative and inexpensive option. With the right tools, some help from your local paint supplier and a little imagination, you may end up liking your DIY kitchen cupboards even more than a brand new, custom made kitchen.

Getting Started

Start by choosing the type of paint you need to use for the type of doors and cupboard interiors you have. Most cupboard interiors and many doors today are made from melamine, so if you are going to paint any melamine surfaces, you will need to use special tile/laminate paint designed to adhere to melamine's tough, dense surface. Newer kitchen doors made from timber have usually been sprayed with polyurethane, so unless you sand them down to bare wood, you will need to use a polyurethane paint or clear finish on those.

Before you begin, think about any other changes you want to make. This is your opportunity to replace the handles on your doors or turn an upper cabinet into a feature cabinet. A local cabinet maker may be able to make new glass panelled doors for you and a nearby lighting supplier can provide you with LED lights for the cabinet interior. A set of new handles will give your hand-painted cabinets their final decorator touch, but if you are replacing knobs with handles or vice versa, you'll need to putty the old holes and drill new ones before you start. Your local hardware store will be able to provide you with the right putty and other hardware supplies you need.

Are you ready to start now? Here's how to begin:
  1. Remove the doors from their hinge plates and then remove the hinges from the doors. Take note of the different adjustment features. They will help you line the doors up when you replace them after painting.
  2. As you remove the doors, take note of their size and placement in the kitchen.
  3. Put all the hinges and screws in a box or plastic bag for safe keeping.
  4. Remove the old door and drawer handles and knobs, then check to make sure any new ones will fit neatly into the holes.
  5. If there are holes to be filled, do that first and set aside until dry. Putty shrinks, so you may need to allow filled screw holes to dry fully and then apply filler a second time to fill the dimples created by the dried putty. If you fill them "fat" (slightly raised) you may be able to avoid this second step. Sand flat with a sanding block and fine sandpaper before you start painting.
  6. Prepare all surfaces by washing down with TSP (trisodium phosphate) or sugar soap as needed. This is the most important part of the job, because all grease and oil must be removed or the paint won't adhere.

Painting Your Cupboard Doors

You can use either a foam roller or a paint brush to paint your doors. In either case, start with one undercoat followed by two thin topcoats. Paint the edges first; then the backs of the doors; and finally the door fronts. Watch out for drips and runs on the hard edges. A light touch-up before you set them aside to dry will remove them.

Your top coat will be the one that makes or breaks your painting job. One way to help ensure a perfect finish is to rehang the doors before you apply the final coat to the front surfaces. This way, they will hang vertically, which will help prevent flies or dust from falling on the surface and ruining your paint job.

When you've finished painting, take a well deserved break and come back to a freshly painted kitchen. Finally, install your new handles, stand back and admire your handywork. You've done a great job.

Featured Brand

Blum Australia manufactures hinge, lift and pull-out systems primarily for the kitchen.

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