Step 3: Prime the cabinets

Prime the kitchen cabinets
Photograph: Kolin Smith
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Lay the doors facedown. Using a 2½-inch paintbrush, apply a coat of primer. Brush first against the grain and then with it. Paint the interior panel before the rails and stiles. Let the primer dry to the touch before flipping the pieces to paint the other side. Prime the outside of the cabinet boxes (and the inside if desired) while waiting for the doors to dry.

Let the doors and drawer fronts dry to the touch, keeping them flat so the paint levels off. Then hang them from the cup hooks to cure completely.
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    Tools List

    • putty knife
      Putty Knife to fill holes and dings

    • drill
      Drill/Driver

    • paintbrush
      2½-Inch Nylon-Polyester Paintbrush with chisel-tip bristles (have two, for switching from primer to paint)

    • paint sprayer
      Airless Paint Sprayer (optional; rents for $75 a day)

    • Phillips screwdriver
      Screwdriver

    Shopping List

    1. Paint Oil-based or 100 percent acrylic latex paint specially formulated for cabinetry applications or high-traffic areas. You will need about a gallon per coat on a bank of four upper and lower cabinets.

    2. Primer to fill the wood grain and to create a smooth surface for the final coat. Look for ones labeled "high build" and "sandable." If your cabinets are laminates, not wood, get a "sealer" primer for smooth surfaces that can't be sanded.

    3. Rosin Paper to cover and protect countertops

    4. 0.5 mm Plastic to cover the backsplash and surrounding areas 5. Painter's Tape

    6. Scrubbing Sponge

    7. TSP Substitute or Degreaser to remove built-up residue

    8. Wood Putty to fill old hardware holes

    9. 100-Grit and 220-Grit Sandpaper

    10. Tack Cloths to wipe the sanding dust off the cabinets between coats

    11. Fine-Grit Sanding Sponge to smooth the primer on the trim

    12. Cup Hooks to hang the doors while they dry