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7 Steps to Prep Your Kitchen Cabinets for a Professional Paint Finish

There is a long process to painting your kitchen cabinets. If you don’t properly prepare your cabinets, you’ll be sure your paint finish won’t last long. Proper preparation also gives you a good foundation for achieving the beautiful, professional look you want for your upgraded cabinets. There are 7 steps to preparing your kitchen cabinets for the best durable finish.

The first step in the 7-step process is to remove all hardware. You want to remove the cabinet doors to make it easier to paint the kitchen cabinets. Most owners plan to reuse their hardware, so it is very important to remove the hardware to protect it from the next steps in the 7-step process. After removing the hardware, you want to make sure to put the hinges, knobs, handles, and screws in a safe place so that when the painting project is done, you can easily install it.

The next step is to mask your cabinets. The worst thing you can do is damage your walls and countertops while trying to paint your cabinets. When masking, you want to cover everything, with paper or plastic, and use blue painter’s tape to easily remove and release the tape from the walls, floor, and countertops. Most people skip floor masking, but proper masking will give you crisp, clean lines on your floors. Painting near the floor is a difficult task to begin with, so be sure to tape the floor and cover it to avoid having to clean up paint splatters later.

After everything is masked and covered, the next step is to degrease the cabinets. If you have new cabinets that have not held up to the cooking environment, skip this step. Most paints claim to block stains, but oil stains are something different and any oil left behind will cause the paint job to fail, plus oil stains will go through the paint. You don’t want to put 4 days of paint on only to find that you’ll need to repaint your cabinets to remove oil stains. You can use any degreaser, just be sure to wipe all the degreaser off the cabinets once you’re done.

Next is the hardest part of the prep process and that is sanding the cabinets. You need to make sure the cabinets are dry first due to the degreasing process. Once you’re sure the cabinets are dry, you’ll need to sand them. It’s best to use 220-grit sandpaper or blocks. Anything coarser than 220 will cause deep scratches that will show through the paint finish, so be sure not to use grit coarser than 220. When sanding, you should Make sure your cabinets don’t have a shine or luster. If your cabinets were stained and sealed, the sealer is the clear coat and the sealer is what protects your cabinets, and that includes paint protection. So you need to sand down the shiny protection on your cabinets.

Once you have finished sanding the cabinets, you need to remove all the dust that remains afterward. Not removing all of the sanding dust can cause two problems. One problem is paint failure. The dust will prevent the primer from adhering properly to the cabinets. The dust creates a layer between the cabinets and the primer, which means the primer won’t come into direct contact with the cabinets and will be problematic at some point in the future. The other problem the dust will create is giving it a gritty finish. Once the primer dries on the powder, the primer will take on the characteristics of the powder, which is a gritty texture. Also, the gritty texture will make it difficult to clean the cabinets later. Smooth cabinets are easier to clean than gritty cabinets. Oil and dirt will become embedded in the pits created by sanding dust. You should use microfiber cloths to remove dust after vacuuming the dust.

Caulking and wood filler in cabinet imperfections will go a long way to making your cabinet paint job look professional. You won’t have to wait to caulk after degreasing and sanding are done to avoid damaging the cabinet and wood filler. If you need to fill something in your cabinets with wood, be sure to do it before caulking because after you fill the holes or grain with wood filler, you will need to sand the wood filler smooth. Then you would repeat the dust removal process mentioned above. Even with your caulking, you want to use a very small hole to caulk your kitchen cabinets. Be sure to smooth out the putty properly by removing any excess putty and debris, as any putty that is not smooth will show through to you in the paint.

The last step of the 7-step process is to prime your cabinets. Before you prime, you need to make sure your caulking is completely dry. If the putty is not completely dry, the primer will dry more slowly and lead to failure later on. If you don’t let the putty dry, the putty will shrink, crack, or shrink and crack after you’re done painting the cabinets.

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