Home>Discussions>PAINTING & FINISHING>Painting Stained Trim and Kitchen Cabinets
7 posts / 0 new
Last post
Painting Stained Trim and Kitchen Cabinets

Hi all,

My wife and I are considering painting our kitchen trim and cabinets. I'm a little nervous about this because I don't have a lot of painting experience but there is only one way to get it right? But, with that said, I don't want to screw this up and have paint peeling in a year or so.

So I assume the steps include:

1. Sand all surfaces
2. Clean all surfaces of dust
3. Prime
4. Wait for the primer to fully dry and cure
5. Paint

Please let me know if I'm missing something or if you add or change any steps.

Also, I would like your recommendations for primer to use and paint brand/type to use.

Thank you so much for your help!

Re: Painting Stained Trim and Kitchen Cabinets

I'd make the primer Zinsser BIN oil based. It dries in one hour.

MLB Construction
Re: Painting Stained Trim and Kitchen Cabinets

depending on how nice you want to have your cabinets come out....you might want to consider leaving that job to professional painters. they'll spray the cabinets and doors with primer and paint leaving a nice brush stroke free, roller stroke free finish.

you can paint a bedroom wall...even i can paint a bedroom wall....i do quite a bit of painting but i wouldn't feel comfortable painting kitchen cabinets for a customer for fear that it might not come out perfect.

we just finished do a bunch of work at a house, my painter did the kitchen cabinets, we did the window trim in all the other rooms. the cabinets look like new.

Re: Painting Stained Trim and Kitchen Cabinets


Just a slight correction to Houston Remodelers' post: Zinsser BIN is actually a white pigmented shellac. Its solvent is denatured alcohol. I would agree that it is a fantastic primer. In fact, I preferred it when priming kitchen cabinets because of its tremendous adhesion, fast drying, and unlike lacquer primers, it would not "fish eye" if a spec of wax or grease failed to get removed from the surface.

My preference for fine cabinetry is still oil based enamels due to their hardness and leveling ability. Their main drawback is their tendency to yellow with age. Of course, they are also slower drying than latexes or lacquers.

You might consider purchaseing an HVLP (High Volumn, Low Pressure) spray gun. These are self-contained units which use an air turbine to supply air rather than a compressor. Some creditable brands can be had for as little as $100. Google
"Earlex sprayers". They are made in England and quite good for their price.

Generally, paints will have to be thinned to spray well, acrylic/latexs more than oil. The BIN primer sprays well when thinned about 10% with alcohol.

The doors are best removed and sprayed flat. This allows you to lay on the paint without fear of runs. This is true when brushing also.

Removal of the doors also greatly simplifies the painting of the cabinet bases. If the hardware can be removed, do so!

Re: Painting Stained Trim and Kitchen Cabinets

Thanks for your advice - having a painter friend come and give his opinion tomorrow.

Re: Painting Stained Trim and Kitchen Cabinets

Step one for kitchen cabinets is wash thoroughly with TSP and rinse. You have to get off the grease and other schmutz.

Re: Painting Stained Trim and Kitchen Cabinets

All good advice. Before anything is done you need to determine what the material you are going to paint is constructed of. They have made cabinets from exotic hardwoods to basically plastics, think malamine (sic).

Depending on the degree of gloss you want for the finished product you can go from a low gloss in 100% acrylic latex to a semi gloss in acrylic latex. To get that glass like high gloss sheen you will need to use an oil based product. I highly recommend Pittsburg Paints SUN-PROOF line in 100% acrylic latex, exterior grade semi gloss, leaves a hard surface easy to clean. If you are not going to spray the paint on, which I highly recommend. We must first determine the finish that currently exists, i.e. is this wood that is stained and or varnished, has it been painted previously, is this a factory finish generally a stain and poly sealer? The basic painting is only one step in the process. I am going to presume the cabs etc. are wood based. I highly recommend we spray to get the best finish. Regardless of the application these are the steps I recommend for a nice finish.

1) Remove all hardware where possible. Label each set of hardware in a sandwich bag to correspond with each individual door and drawer. If the hardware can not be removed meticulously mask in place with a high quality masking tape. I use Froggy brand up here, green in colour. Trim with a good quality utility knife.

2) Remove all drawers and doors.

3) Clean well with TSP or Spray 9 cleaner. Do a test spot for the Spray 9 before goin hog wild, this is strong stuff.

4) Once clean and dry use low grit sand paper and lightly sand vertically on the doors and horizontally on the drawers. (always do the backsides on all surfaces to ensure you are comfortable with the task and if the results are not satisfactory you have done very little damage if any, peace of mind is a great confidence booster. This includes painting.)

5) Tack rag all the surfaces well.

6) Starting with the back of 2 doors prime with Zinnzers or Kilz primer. Let dry thoroughly.

7) Lightly sand with no less than 100 grit and tack rag surface.

8) On 1 door only, prime a second coat, let dry. Repeat step 7.

9) Apply your first coat of paint choice to both door backs. Let dry thoroughly.

10) You now can determine if 1 coat of primer will do it. Generally 1 coat of good quality primer as previously suggested is plenty but now we know for certain.

11) Now for 1 door wet sand using a sanding block with a finer grit yet, tack rag. On our second test door apply a first coat of paint. Dry completely.

It's time now to determine the best results for our first coat of paint. I highly recommend wet sanding between each coat and tack ragging repeating until you have achieved the best results for you. Do all the back sides of each door and drawer. By the time you do the door fronts you will have experience and the confidence that the results will be great.

I don't roll other than the primer, unless painting a large surface, once paint is rolled on try back brushing with a 1/2 loaded brush. Experiment, don't forget you are getting all this experience doing the backsides, you won't ruin anything.

Do not cheap out on brushes, get yourself a 1", 2" and 3" or 4" brush. By the time you do the fronts you will be confident enough for a 5" brush I bet.

The brush must match the paint chemistry. Paying less than $15.00 per brush is not a good brush. I always purchase at a paint specific store, Sherwin Williams, Pittsburg Paints for example. Paint is their business and they want yours, they will answer all your questions, and generally well. Don't cheap out. You might get a few bucks off at a big box store although they do their best they just don't have the time to spend with you, thus the $ difference.

Buy a paint paddle that goes on the end of your power drill and stir every time you open a can, in fact if that can is open more than an hour give it a mix. Keep the lid on is a good practice. You can't loose a gallon of paint when a can with the lid on tight falls over.

If you do use a water based paint give the brush a quick rinse and wipe and seal in a freezer bag. I have left brushes on the air tight bags by accident and had a good brush ready to go 3 months latter.

I can tell if someone can paint when there is a maximum of 3" or less on the end of the brush. I have no idea how but dear wife dips the brush into the can until her hand is wet!!

By the time you paint all the cabs, drawers, and carcasses you can do the trim at lunch time.

Good luck and save the suds for the end of the day if applicable.

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.