Step 1: Prep the Room

before photo of kitchen with dark wood cabinets, inset of John Dee sanding a cabinet door
Photo: Brian Wilder (inset)
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Before starting a kitchen paint job, empty the cabinets, clear off the counters, and remove freestanding appliances. Relocate tables and other furniture to another room. Tape rosin paper over the countertops and flooring, and tape plastic sheeting over the backsplash, windows, fixed appliances, and interior doorways (to protect the rest of the house from dust and fumes). Mask off the wall around the cabinets. Finally, set up a worktable for painting doors, drawers, and shelves.

Pro Tip: In kitchens the key to a good paint job is surface prep. "Old cabinets are covered with everything from hand oils to greasy smoke residue to petrified gravy," says Dee. "You've got to get all that off or the paint won't stick."
Ask TOH users about Kitchen Cabinets

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    Tools List

    • drill
      Drill-driver
    • paint scraper
      Paint scraper
    • putty knife
      Putty knife
    • shop vacuum
      Shop vacuum with drywall-dust filter
    • random orbit sander
      Random-orbit sander
    • chisel-tip paintbrush
      2½-in. chisel-tip with nylon-polyester bristles
    • eye goggles
      Goggles
    • dual cartridge respirator
      Respirator (fitted with organic-vapor cartridges)
    • rubber gloves
      Chemical-resistant rubber gloves (long-sleeve style)

    Shopping List

    1. Low-tack painter's tape

    2. Rosin paper

    3. 0.5-mil plastic sheet

    4. Tack cloth

    5. Liquid deglosser and abrasive pad

    6. Lint-free rags

    7. 100-grit silicon-carbide sandpaper

    8. Two-part polyester wood filler or autobody filler to fill dings or screw holes

    9. 220-grit silicon-carbide sandpaper to smooth primer between coats

    10. 280-grit silicon-carbide sandpaper to smooth paint between coats

    11. Sanding sponges, medium- and fine-grit12. Vinyl spackle

    13. Oil-based primer for use on smooth surfaces or tight-grained woods (cherry, maple, birch); or
    14. Brushing putty to prime and fill open-grained woods (oak, ash, hickory)

    15. Oil-based spray primer for touch-up

    16. Siliconized acrylic-latex caulk

    17. Oil-based paint Easier to clean and more durable than water-based, which softens when ex­posed to heat or oil.