Mid-century kitchens are charmingly quirky. They feature one-piece metal cabinets and era-trendy colors like aqua, green, pink, and yellow. While these designs were on point at the time, they can be difficult to repair and maintain 70 years later. When a homeowner needed help matching her aqua-colored metal cabinets to the existing bank, she called paint expert Mauro Henrique for help.
Matching Paint Colors
The first step in repairing the existing cabinets is to have a customer color-matched paint made. You can do this at almost any paint store, but you need to bring a sample. In most cases, the easiest solution is to either remove a door or bring a removable shelf to the store. They’ll be able to scan the color, add pigments, and mix a perfect match for your repair.
How to Paint Metal Cabinets
- Start by cleaning the surface of the cabinets with a degreaser spray. This will remove any cooking or skin oils from the surface, allowing the paint and primer to adhere better and provide a better-quality finish. Spray a microfiber cloth and rub down the entire surface to ensure it’s clean.
- Tape off the area around the repair. Tape along the backsplash and any adjacent cabinets. Keep the edge of the tape tight to the existing surfaces.
- Sand the repair area with fine-grit sandpaper, such as 220-grit sandpaper. Be sure to scuff the damaged areas as well as the rest of the surface. So, if the damaged area is the corner of a cabinet door, scuff the whole door. Wipe off any sanding dust with a microfiber cloth.
- Prime the cabinet doors with metal primer. Spray the damaged area and allow it to sit until dry (following the manufacturer’s instructions).
- Pour the color-matched paint into a roller tray and place a fresh roller sleeve onto a paint roller. Dip the roller into the paint, drag it up the tray, and coat the roller sleeve.
- Apply the paint to the cabinet surface. Start about 4 inches from the bottom, roll upward, and then roll back down to prevent drips. With each subsequent pass, overlap the previous pass by about half. Allow the paint to dry for about three hours.
- Once dry, lightly scuff the surface of the cabinet with 220-grit sandpaper again, removing the dust with a microfiber cloth. Apply a second coat of paint following the same procedure. Follow up with a third coat if necessary.
To prep the cabinet surface, Mauro cleans the cabinets using degreasing spray cleaner. To protect the surrounding area, Mauro lays out a drop cloth onto the countertop and tapes off the edges of the cabinets with painter’s pre-taped masking film.
To smooth out the texture and remove any remaining rust, Mauro and Molly sand the rusted areas of the cabinets with 220-grit sandpaper.
To prep the bare metal surface on the cabinets, Mauro and Molly apply rust-resistant primer spray for metal surfaces.
To prep the entire cabinets for painting, Mauro and Molly sand the surfaces with 800-grit sandpaper.
To paint the cabinets, Mauro uses a semi-gloss acrylic Direct to Metal (DTM) paint. To apply the paint, Mauro uses 6” foam rollers and applies 2 coats.
All supplies used for this project can be found at most home centers.
- Degreaser spray
- Microfiber cloths
- Painter’s tape
- Plastic sheeting
- Various grits of sandpaper
- Metal primer
- Color fan deck
- Paint-matched color