Hot Topics: Painting Kitchen Cabinets White

A woman painting kitchen cabinets.

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Original Post: Yet another "painting my kitchen cabinets" thread. Just looking for more info.

yardnut Member

My house was built in 1994 and has stained wood cabinets and trim throughout the house. I loved all the wood when I bought the house, but the kitchen now looks terribly dated, and I am just completely tired of the look. Since I keep oohing and ahhhing at white kitchens, I've decided that I am going to give mine a much-needed makeover.

I've done some research of course, but now have a few questions. I should mention that I did redo my 2 bathrooms—one many years ago and the other about a year ago; both had vanities of the same stained wood. I did not do any prep other than a light cleaning of the exterior surfaces. I used Kilz and the best quality of the Behr primer+paint in white. I think the paint was a satin—I will have to check my old paint cans to be sure. I was very happy with the results; both cabinets still look very nice.

Everything I have read about painting kitchen cabinets has this whole multi-step process that, I suppose, is due to the higher use/dirt factor of the kitchen.

1) Clean all surfaces with a degreaser/good cleaner.
2) Use a deglosser (wipe it off thoroughly with a clean wet cloth). This is new to me. Definitely did not do this in the bathrooms and the paint looks fine. Is this just a extra step for certain finishes?
3) Prime with a good primer (I will use Zinsser Bullseye 123).
4) Pick out a paint (CabinetCoat? Or just a good paint + primer?) Satin? Semi-gloss? What is best for an easy-clean surface?
5) Paint cabinets/doors. Let dry.
6) Clear coat. Is this necessary? Wouldn't this make it more difficult for any touch-ups needed later?

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

I like to sand the varnished wood and then wipe away the sanding dust using a liquid deglosser. That will remove the sanding dust along with softening the varnish/poly for a short period of time, helping the primer bond better to the old finish.

I always use a solvent-based primer, either oil-based or pigmented shellac. For white and light colors, it's best to use latex or waterborne enamel since oil-based enamel will yellow over time. I'm partial to waterborne enamel as it dries to almost as hard a finish as oil-based does. There can be a big difference between the cheap latex enamels and the better grades of latex. The cheap latex enamels are prone to chip and peel even if proper prep was done.

No need for a clear coat! Just use a quality enamel (any sheen—your preference).

The Ideal Cabinet Repaint

stickshift Group Moderator

2. I would scuff sand instead of deglossing.
3. I would use an oil-based primer for this, but Zinsser is a good brand.
4. Good paint—yes. Nothing with 'primer in it' should be considered, IMO. Waterborne enamel would be my choice if you're painting white (Benjamin Moore Impervo or SWP Pro-Classic).
6. Nope, good paint is sufficient.

Handyone Forum Topic Moderator

You can't go wrong with the advice given, but check out this cabinet refinishing kit:
Rust-Oleum Transformations Light Color Cabinet Kit (9-Piece)-258109 - The Home Depot

I have seen homeowners get professional results using this paint kit. I personally like the dark kit over the light.

yardnut Member

I should have stated that I want to avoid sanding if possible. I have a LOT of cabinets, seriously. Also, there will be more to this project than just the cabinets. I'm exhausted just thinking about it. I guess I am thinking that sanding will be a much more time-consuming method than the deglossing? I am not going to consider using anything that does not allow soap and water cleanup. What exactly is "waterborne" enamel?

Handyone Forum Topic Moderator

I'm not in love with the soffit, but your doors look worth saving and applying a good paint job. The doors are solid raised panel, probably pine. I would consider new Blum compact euro hinges and new paint-grade drawer fronts. The drawer fronts can be ordered to size and I would recommend a slab type.

yardnut Member

I had not even thought about new drawer fronts—I like that idea. I have 15 drawers, though (there is a full desk in the kitchen as well) so I will have to check the prices. I agree—I like the slab best.

Yes, the cabinets are all solid wood, built in place. I too dislike the soffits, but there is no way I am undertaking the job of tearing them out. So, they will be painted as well.

Not sure about replacing the hinges. Again, that would be a pretty big cost—there are 60 hinges. I am planning on cleaning the existing ones (I did this with the ones in my bathroom and they turned out nicely) and spraying them with a nickel finish paint. The hinges are an interesting type—I had posted a thread about them a while back when I was doing the first bathroom.

Handyone Forum Topic Moderator

I think even if you kept the same hardware and soffit, this kitchen will look good painted. Everything looks pretty sound and the valance looks nice. I brought up changing any hardware because you want to fill any unwanted holes now, obviously. Remember, Bondo can be your friend sometimes when painting or refacing.

yardnut Member

BEHR 1-gal. White Alkyd Semi-Gloss Enamel Interior/Exterior Paint-390001 - The Home Depot

Is that^^ the same as a "waterborne" enamel?

marksr Forum Topic Moderator

That appears to be a waterborne enamel although I've never used that particular one. That brand doesn't have the greatest reputation.

Nothing beats sanding! It doesn't have to be a heavy duty sanding as just scuffing up the surface is sufficient. Liquid deglosser somewhat takes the place of sanding. I'd be leery of not using a solvent-based primer over the existing finish!

yardnut Member

As far as the primer, I used a water-based previously in the bathrooms and it did just fine. I really prefer to avoid anything not water-based. There's just too much work in front of me to be worrying about a messy cleanup.

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