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Painting Your Kitchen Cabinets

Updated: Feb 10

Completed Cabinet Painting Project

For many people, the kitchen is the most important room in the house...the epicenter of it all.  Not only is it the most heavily-used room, but also where many of the best conversations and memories unfold.  It's also one of the most commonly sought home improvement projects.  Homeowners are constantly considering ways to improve this critical space.

So, some questions for you; Are you tired of the same old kitchen? Is your kitchen outdated in appearance?  Has your kitchen been put through the ringer over the years and badly in need of a makeover?  Well, you're not alone!  According to the Bureau of Advanced Kitchen Statistics at Harvard, 87.8% of all homeowners are currently considering a kitchen renovation.  Amazing, right! Alright...OK...I made that up.   I don't know the percentage, but based on the volume of phone calls we get on kitchen cabinets, it's definitely a hot topic right now!

Here are some actual facts:

The good news is that according to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (for real this time- that apparently does exist), approximately 2 million kitchens were remodeled in 2017 alone.   The not-so-good news is that the center also indicates kitchen remodels cost 140% more than they did in 1995.


The bad news is that according to Remodeling Magazine, a 200 square foot kitchen remodel averages $22,000! Doht!

The vomit-inducing news is that according to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the average kitchen remodel across the United States is $34,000 and can exceed $130,000 for upscale projects!  

I know, I know, pull yourself together.  You have to be really good at life to afford a 130K kitchen remodel.  Or maybe you just need to have a sit down with little Tommy and Suzie and tell them that college isn't for everybody, you know...because Momma needs a new kitchen!  (Of course it's 2019, so the kids' names would be more like Connor and Madison) The point is... a full-scale kitchen remodel is simply not a practical option for many families.

Stay positive though, because there is hope!.  You don't necessarily have to tear your kitchen apart, uproot your life, and empty the coffers to make a huge impact on your kitchen and put a smile on your face a mile wide.

At Braun's Painting, a common project is painting kitchen cabinetry.   I would estimate we have painted 50 or more sets of cabinets over the past few years, and every time the customer was ecstatic with the result.  It is truly one of our favorite projects because of the dramatic impact it makes on the kitchen and the homeowner's spirit...and without devastating the pocket book.   The average cost for us to paint a set of kitchen cabinets in 2024 ranges from $3,500-$7,000. Not exactly chump change, but  these are much more manageable dollar amounts for such a huge benefit!  Listen, if you are in position for a full-scale remodel, we think that's amazing.  But if you aren't, we can definitely help you out! Take a look at some of these before/after pics of our work and see for yourself.

See what I mean?  That is some serious impact and value right there!  If you still want to see more pictures of painted cabinetry, you can check out the gallery on our website right here!

If you'd like a consultation on your kitchen cabinets, give us a call at 315-706-7828.  

If you don't quite have the budget to hire us, or you have that ambitious DIY nature, here are some tips you can follow to tackle this project on your own!

Label The Doors & Drawers

When you disassemble the cabinetry, be sure to label the doors and the locations they came from. If you fail to do this, you are headed for doom and likely divorce if you are married.  We just use a number system on some blue painter's tape and stick one on the cabinet location, and the corresponding number on the door.  We then simply flip-flop the tape on the doors while we paint the other side.  It works for us, but as long as you have a system to label, you'll be all good!

Plastic! Plastic! Plastic!

OK, if you're like my wife and you're worried about the sea turtles, then use cardboard or a lightweight and reusable drop cloth. Either way, you need to have some sort of protection for the countertops and appliances.  Canvas drop cloths work great for the floor, but are generally too bulky to cover the other areas.  As an alternative to removing all the items in the cabinets, you can also consider covering items with plastic wrap.  While it's not an overly messy job, there can be some dust creation and overspray from the cleaning products during preparation.  Even the most skilled painter will have tiny specs of paint that can fall below during application.

Work Area Setup 

In most cases, we prefer to paint the doors and drawer faces at the job site.  Once we remove them, we generally try to setup shop in a finished basement, lightly used space (such as a dining room), or if the weather permits, even a large garage.  Sometimes the kitchens have a large eat-in area that is perfect for us to set up our flip-out tables.   We like to use two tables side by side, and some small horses to set the units on while working.  We protect the floors with canvas drop clothes.   It is highly recommended that doors are set down horizontally on the canvas drop cloths to dry.  It allows the paint to self-level as designed and reduces the likelihood of any pooling paint or runs.  Also avoid laying the units down on plastic as the plastic will just bunch up and stick to the sides of the doors and damage the finish.   Allow for at least 4 hours of dry time for each side of the door before flipping it over.

Preparation & Primer

The most important part of this whole process is the preparation.  Once you get the units disassembled and your work area set up, it's time to get all the wood surfaces cleaned really well.  We prefer to use Krud Kutter, which is a non-toxic and biodegradable cleaning product that does a great job degreasing and deglossing the surfaces.  Even if you think your cabinets are me...they need to be cleaned more!  Just use cotton rags and a little elbow grease as you wipe them down. You'll be amazed at the residue that lifts off the cabinets. NOTE: You'll notice in the picture below that sometimes the cabinets will have stickers that need to be removed, and most units will also have bumpers that will need to be removed and replaced with new bumpers at the end of the project.  You can find new bumpers (clear bumpers work best with painted cabinets) at Home Depot or Lowe's for roughly $3 for a pack of 16.

Once they are clean, you need to scuff-sand all the surfaces to help with optimum adhesion.  I recommend using 220 or "fine" sanding blocks as they are easy to handle.  Don't forget to wipe down the units with tack cloth or something similar to remove all the dust.

Now you are ready to apply the primer coat. We recommend a product called STIX, which is a urethane-based, high-bonding primer. This stuff would stick to ceramic tile if you needed it too, and it works great on finished wood surfaces.  The only down side to STIX is that is does NOT block stains well at all, so there may be instances with darker colored woods, that a different primer like BIN or KILZ could be required.  

Paint Application

I highly recommend using Benjamin Moore Advance paint in the satin finish for all kitchen cabinet projects.  It is a waterborne-alkyd enamel, and it's ability to self-level after application leaves a wonderful finish.  The satin finish is a subtle sheen without too much light reflection, but offers outstanding durability and washability for a long-lasting and practical result.  While it's an amazing product, it's "hide" or "coverage" ability isn't as strong as typical wall paints, so there are some instances (depending on wood type, texture, or paint color) that portions or all of the cabinets will require 3 top coats.  In many cases though, only two top coats of paint are required.

As far as application, we generally use a Whiz-roller system, which are small, tightly wound, 3/8" micro naps that allow for fast application and a smooth, uniform finish.  We also use high quality brushes for contoured areas and to cut in along counter tops, tile, etc.   It is also an option to apply with a sprayer as well, which has it's own pros and cons, but in most cases we prefer to use the Whiz rollers for their cleanliness, ease of prep, and paint control.  The ability of Benjamin Moore Advance paint to level as it dries is the key.   NOTES:  Don't forget to lightly sand the surfaces after the primer coat and in between each coat of paint.  This knocks down any particles and also allows for great adhesion.  Also, there are usually some areas of the cabinets (intersections, along molding and walls, etc) that will require a finely tooled bead of caulk for a perfect look.  While those gaps were acceptable with a finished wood look, they will stand out and be unattractive with a painted surface.  It will also be more noticeable if any doors are hung out of alignment, so be prepared to make adjustments to the doors if necessary.

That is our process!  It's not for the faint of heart and it is tedious, but if you have the aptitude and determination we recommend you give it a shot.  Feel free to give us a call if you need any advice or encouragement! 315-706-7828.

Thanks for reading!

Steve Braun

Braun's Painting

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