How to Properly Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets | Ask This Old House

In this video, Ask This Old House painting expert Mauro Henrique shows host Kevin O’Connor the proper way to paint cabinets for a new, updated look.

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Kevin O’Connor meets expert painter Mauro Henrique back at the shop to tackle a kitchen cabinet painting project. Mauro plants to show Kevin how to prep the cabinet, prime it, and coat it with a durable paint designed for the job. And while the two are working on just one cabinet, they discuss how to scale the project for much larger projects.

Skill: ⅕
Cost: Less than $100, depending on the number of cabinets
Time: A weekend, depending on the number of cabinets

Shopping list:
Degreaser spray []
Latex primer []
Water-based trim and cabinet enamel paint []
Roller sleeves []

Screwdriver/screw gun []
Permanent marker []
Rags []
Foam sanding block []
Tack cloth []
Paint tray []
Paintbrush []
Mini paint roller []

How To Properly Paint Kitchen Cabinets
1. Start by using the screwdriver or screw gun and removing the drawer pulls, doorknobs, drawer fronts, and doors. Be sure to mark each drawer front and door with a marker to prevent mixing up the doors. The best place for this mark is behind the hinge location.
2. Clean the cabinet by spraying it with a degreaser solution and wiping it down with a rag. This removes all the oils and grease that could prevent a perfect finish.
3. Use a foam sanding block to scuff the surfaces of the cabinet, drawers, and doors. This is a light sanding meant to give the primer something to adhere to, so don’t sand to the bare wood. Use a tack cloth to remove the sanding dust before moving on.
4. Pour some primer into the paint tray and load the roller and brush. Using the brush along the edges and tight spots, and the roller on the large, flat surfaces, coat the cabinet, doors, and drawer fronts with a coat of primer. While you’re allowing the primer to dry, wash your brush and roller sleeve, and pour the excess primer back into the can before washing the paint tray.
5. Pour some trim and cabinet enamel paint into the paint tray and load the brush and roller with paint. Use the brush to cut in along the edges, push paint into the corners, and leave out roller strokes. Use the roller to apply enamel paint to the large flat surface where possible. Cover the rush and roller with plastic bags to prevent them from hardening while you wait for the first coat to dry.
6. Apply a second coat to the cabinet. This coat should provide a perfect, consistent finish without any thin or light areas where wood might show through.
7. Once the second coat dries, reattach the door and drawer fronts. Enjoy the fact that you’ve given your kitchen cabinets a fresh new look without investing a lot of time or money.

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About Ask This Old House TV:
From the makers of This Old House, America’s first and most trusted home improvement show, Ask This Old House answers the steady stream of home improvement questions asked by viewers across the United States. Covering topics from landscaping to electrical to HVAC and plumbing to painting and more. Ask This Old House features the experts from This Old House, including general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, landscape contractor Jenn Nawada, master carpenter Norm Abram, and host Kevin O’Connor. Ask This Old House helps you protect and preserve your greatest investment—your home.

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How to Properly Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets | Ask This Old House


20 thoughts on “How to Properly Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets | Ask This Old House”

  1. Apologies but not much useful information. Why not recommend some good brand of cabinet paint? Or the best type of brush to use for not leaving stroke marks? The most important thing in painting cabinets is getting a smooth finish with no blush marks. Lightly sanding with fine sandpaper (220 grit) after the 1st coat of paint, will help give the final coat a smooth finish

  2. I'm confused…In the notes there is a link to INSL-X Cabinet Coat Enamel paint which is really good stuff, yet at 4:00 he breaks out the Behr paint. Ugg.. what's up with that?

  3. I painted my 50yr old cabinets after stripping and sanding but the only prob I had was the paint cracked at the hinge location. Behr latex..same primer

  4. I love this old house but this video is definitely geared towards home owners. If you have a sprayer it definitely helps with a high quality finish. We use a primer like zinzer cover stain or an oil based primer then cover with Sherwin Williams Pro classic with alkyd or PPG Breakthrough for final coats but ask your paint store about cabinet grade paint. They will know what works best.

  5. I've worked at the paint store and have done this exact job multiple times. be sure to do your research and make sure the job is done properly. People tend to overlook and not be prepared.

  6. Thank You Very Much for this video. i always wanted to paint my kitchen cabinets. but i realy did not know how to. i have watch this old house and ask this old house on pbs and mpbs right from the very first show. all of you are Awesome! 🙂

  7. I`m wanting to have a fireplace put in with gas logs. Wish you guys would come put it in for me ! I live in a small town, dont know who to do the work for me.

  8. Noticed you didn't use masking tape for the counter top. While I know professional painters don't mask as much, you are showing novices how to do it – so you should have at least mentioned that.

  9. A question I have not found the answer to: Several professional painters (for outside) said primer should sit for 24 hours before you paint so it will 'cure'. The paint can says dry in an hour or so. I have some paint failing and not sure if it is bad paint or that I painted too soon after primer. (I would never use the primer + paint.) This Old House or even other painting videos have never addressed in any video the question of how long to wait .

  10. I’m warning u all. Don’t do it. U have to use oil based laquer or it will chip. U can do touch ups but if your a perfectionist you might be mad. Also again if your a perfectionist, a sprayer will make them look more like factory finish then rolling. I love u 🤟

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