Kitchen Cabinet Refinishing & Painting – The Smart Alternative to Buying New

Do you ever walk into your kitchen and continue to tell yourself you need to do something with your cabinets? How about painting your kitchen cabinets? Maybe they look dull or just dated. Old wood cabinets that were once your favourite feature don’t quite fit your home interior decor any more. Just because you don’t like them, does not always mean you need to go out and purchase new ones. Most of the time you can freshen them up and have them looking fantastic again, by simply having them painted. Yes, you can refinish your kitchen cabinets for way less than buying new ones!

Most people don’t even consider painting kitchen cabinets because the first thing that comes to mind is replacing them. This is true if they are in very rough shape, chipped at the edges or broken. When their condition is good, painting your kitchen cabinets is a great idea….and, it is more cost effective. The cost of refinishing kitchen cabinets ranges between 20-30% of replacement.

You may want to paint only the outsides of the cabinet doors. In this case, all the edges, adjoining sides and undersides as well as any trim showing from the outside would be painted as well. Most cabinets do not need to be removed for painting. Our painters usually paint them in place, with stunning results! Spraying in most occupied homes is not an option. There isn’t always an area available to place the cabinet doors and we don’t take them off site. When painting a home that is vacant, the opportunity presents to spray them in place or create a temporary spraying booth in the garage or the basement.

Preparing the Cabinets for Paint – The All Important Step One

Light sanding of all the surfaces kick starts the process. This may get a little dusty but not to worry, everything inside is fully covered and protected. Oh by the way, you don’t need to empty your kitchen cabinets before having them painted, unless you decide to freshen up the inside shelving as well. In fact it’s a good idea to lightly sand the surface even after the primer is applied.

Kitchen cabinet cleanerDegreasing. It’s always a good idea to wash the surfaces before painting, even in the cleanest of kitchens. During food prep, cooking or washing the dishes, cabinets get dirty. Where our hands touch, natural skin oils get onto the surface. Primers and paints need a clean surface for better adhesion. A product like Krud Kutter works well. If using TSP for cleaning, make sure to rinse the surface well as it will leave a film.

One thing to consider before priming, is what to do with the door handles and knobs. You might want to change them, which is fine, but will they be the same size? Do the current ones fit into one or two holes? Have you seen other ones you like that would require one less or one more hole? Ask the painters to patch the extra holes or drill new ones as necessary. New handles or knobs can make a huge difference to the overall look of your newly painted cabinets. You might want to give this some thought. Say your faucets are pewter, you could consider the same, so they would match. This is all very exciting!

primer good enough for kitchen cabinetsPriming. Now that the cabinets are ready, what kind of primer and paints should we use? Only a few years ago, using anything but an oil primer would be a recipe for paint failure. Good quality oil primers are still available and work just fine but they are not a popular choice. Customers don’t want the horrible oil paint smell in their home and professional painters don’t like breathing the solvents either. We suggest a top quality water based bonding primer. Some newer products offer as good and sometimes better adhesion as the oil primers used to.

Stix bonding primer. Our go to top quality Waterborne Bonding Primer is Stix, made by Insl-x. Insl-x products are owned by Benjamin Moore. From information frm their website: “Stix Waterborne Bonding Primer is a premium-quality, acrylic-urethane primer-sealer with unparalleled adhesion to the most challenging surfaces, including glossy tile, PVC, vinyl, plastic, glass, glazed block, glossy paint, pre-coated siding, fiberglass, and galvanized metals”

Priming and Painting the Kitchen Cabinets – What Paint to Use

Waterbourne Alkyd Products. Painters always used alkyd-based enamels for cabinetry. Alkyd paints were easier to work with because of their longer working open time and their leveling characteristics. Despite the good look and durable finish alkyds have a strong odour and a tendency for yellowing when painted in white.

Painting contractors that don’t want to give up the performance of oil based paint, can use the new waterbourne alkyd paints. They work about the same, don’t have the high odour and clean up easily. We have had good experiences using these enamels for kitchen cabinets. Specifically Benjamin Moore’s Advance and the Melamine from Dulux. The finish is smooth and very similar to the oil paint look.

Insl-x Cabinet Coat. Cabinet Coat is a urethane based acrylic enamel with very low odour (VOC is 50 g/l). The finish is tough and durable and it does not yellow over time. It lacks the open time of the alkyds but can give you a smooth factory like finish. It is surprisingly easy to apply with a brush and a fine low pile roller. Being an Insl-x product, it shares some of the chemistry with the Stix primer, mostly the adhesion qualities. Cabinet Coat  comes in two sheens, satin and semigloss.

Cabinet Coat paint for cabinets in a condo

Pre-catalyzed Epoxy products. These are one component acrylic epoxy coatings available from major manufacturers such as PPG, Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore (Corotech). They cure fast and offer good abrasion, chemical and stain resistance. The smell is not too bad, most have about 100g of VOC per litre. Prep and prime is still important here despite the good reputation that epoxy products have.

Breakthrough from PPG. Breakthrough is available at Dulux stores in Toronto. This is a waterborne acrylic with excellent bonding characteristics to most substrates. It dries fast and after curing it matches the toughness of alkyds with the flexibility of quality acrylics. PPG is marketing as an all purpose enamel and we had good luck using it on elevator doors, but it’s a great product for cabinets. If you are able to spray the cabinets all the better, as it produces a very nice low sheen.

Enjoy Your Refurbished Kitchen

The painters have left and you are ready to enjoy your kitchen and your new looking cabinets. How long will this beautiful paint job last and how can you extend the life of the paint?

  • Wait for the paint to cure before you expose the cabinets to everyday normal use. One month should be enough curing time for most paints.
  • Don’t use harsh chemicals to clean them.
  • Don’t scratch them with sharp metal utensils. This is the case for any finish but more so with newly painted cabinets.
  • Ask the painter for some leftover touch up paint. It will come handy if you chip a corner, especially when the paint is fresh.

Are your kitchen cabinets looking dated? You can refinish them for about 25% of the cost for replacement. Call us at 416 733-7767 to book an estimate.

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