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  • Writer's pictureMathew Camp

How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets in 2021: Four Essential Steps

Seriously Painting Ltd.’s Cabinet Painting Process

Based in Nanaimo B.C., we are professional painters who have years of experience repainting and refinishing cabinets across central Vancouver Island. If you’re interested in how we repaint cabinets, or if you’re considering doing it yourself we hope that this blog is helpful.

How To Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Repainting kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities are a great way to improve the appearance of your kitchen or bathroom. With the right preparation, almost any set of cabinets can look new again and be durable enough to withstand daily use and regular cleaning. Cabinet painting can be broken down into four steps.

The Four Essential Steps In Cabinet Painting

If you want your cabinets to look great and be durable there are four essential steps that must be followed. Cleaning, sanding, priming, and then painting. We take the necessary time to fully complete each step to ensure that we achieve the best results.

Step One: Thorough Cleaning and Degreasing

Easily the most underrated part of the prep for any painting project, cleaning is the most essential step in ensuring that your paint can properly bond to the substrate that is being painted. Grease, grime, detergents, and various other contaminants build up on your cabinets over time and create a thin and sometimes invisible film that prevents the paint from sticking to the surface.

What Should You Use to Clean Cabinets Prior To Painting?

When cleaning cabinets before painting you have a few different options when choosing what type of cleaning solution to use. Warm soapy water using normal dish soap works great. Another option is TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) which comes in a powdered form or premixed with water. Regardless of what you clean your cabinets with, be sure to rinse with water using a slightly damp cloth.

Step Two: Sanding

The second most important step in painting cabinets is thorough sanding. Smooth, glossy surfaces are difficult to paint because the paint has nothing it can stick to. Sanding helps paint adhere by creating very small abrasions on the surface to be painted that the paint or primer can bond to. How we sand will vary depending on the material we’re painting.

Best Sanding Practices

Starting with 100, 120, or 150 grit sandpaper works best for wood doors. When painting Formica, or Vinyl we lightly sand with 240 grit paper. Grit is the measure of coarseness, the lower the number the rougher the paper. Generally, 60-80 grit sandpaper is considered rough, 100-150 grit is medium, and 200-320 is fine grit. Be sure to sand between each coat of paint and primer. Sanding can create lots of dust so be sure to wear the appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) and work somewhere that's open and easy to clean if possible.

Step Three: Priming

Using a Primer/Sealer on kitchen cabinets or bathroom vanity will ensure that your paint looks great and has the best adhesion possible. Primers and Sealers act as a preparatory coating serving multiple functions. Primers and Sealers help to equalize surface porosity, typically adhere to glossy surfaces better than paint alone, and seal and tannins or other bleeding stains. We allow the primer to dry for 24 hours before sanding.

How To Choose A Primer For Cabinets?

One of the best ways to choose a Primer/Sealer is by following the manufacturer's recommendations. We always check the TDS (Technical Data Sheet) also known as the PDS (Product Data Sheet). These documents will act as a reference for anything we need to know about a product including what primers to use and when. Technical data sheets for all of Benjamin Moore's Coating can be found on their website. Sherwin Williams also has product data sheets available on their website.

Step Four: Painting

Once the cabinets are cleaned, sanded, and primed we can start applying our topcoats. Before each topcoat we lightly sand and dust off the cabinet doors and boxes.

Picking Paint For Cabinets

Choosing a high-quality acrylic enamel in a satin or semi-gloss finish is a popular choice for painting cabinets and vanities. The products we use most often are Benjamin Moore Advance and Benjamin Moore Aura Interior Satin finish. We use high-quality paint products to ensure a beautiful and durable finish.

How To Apply Paint and Primer To Cabinets

Primer can be applied with a sprayer or by hand with a brush and roller. The key to success with either application method is multiple light coats. We like to spray when possible however brushing and rolling can leave a great finish as well.

Sprayed Vs Brush and Rolled Application For Cabinets?

The main difference is in finish quality, as there is little difference in the durability. Sprayed finishes will be more evenly distributed making for a better finish, though spraying typically takes longer and requires more prep than a brushed and rolled application.

Respraying kitchen cabinets can provide you with a durable, near factory finish on your cabinets. Replacing kitchen cabinets takes weeks and can be quite expensive compared to painting. Our cabinet painting process is fast and can be much more affordable than replacing cabinets.

Seriously Painting Ltd.’s Cabinet Painting Services

If you’re located in central Vancouver Island we offer free quotes for cabinet painting services. Based in Nanaimo we serve Qualicum Beach, Parksville, Nanoose Bay, Lantzville, Nanaimo, Ladysmith, and surrounding areas.

How Long Does it Take to Paint Cabinets?

Typically, a full set of kitchen cabinets and boxes will take us 2 weeks in total. The doors are removed and sprayed off-site while we can either spray or brush and roll the cabinet boxes. Work being done on-site to the cabinet boxes typically takes 3-5 days. Prepping and painting the doors takes 4-5 days, although we don’t transport and reinstall the doors until they’ve had 5 days after the last coat of paint.

If you’re planning on DIY cabinet painting you should be prepared to spend 5-7 days working on them. Failure to properly budget your time and allow for all of the necessary prep will greatly affect the finished product.


Other Services

Exterior Cleaning

Pressure Washing

Drywall Repair

Textured Ceiling Repair

Epoxy Coatings

Garage Floor Coatings


(250) 802-7763

Monday-Friday 8:00 am-5:00 pm

Saturday & Sunday 10:00 am-4:00 pm

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