How to Paint Unfinished Kitchen Cabinets

Kitchen remodeling can cost in tens of thousands. If you paint them yourself, installing unfinished kitchen cabinets takes a bit of sting out of the final bill, but don't just start slapping on the paint. Follow the proper procedure for a quality job that looks like you hired a pro.

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Paint unfinished cabinets white for a bright, cheerful kitchen.

Step 1

Remove drawers and cabinet doors and all hardware including pulls, handles and hinges. Use a screwdriver, or a drill with screwdriver bits. Keep doors and drawers in order to make reinstalling easier.

Step 2

Locate the rough spots on your cabinetry. Wear a pair of cheap, cotton gardening gloves and run your hands over all the unfinished wood surfaces. The gloves will catch or drag on the rough spots. Mark those spots with a pencil.

Step 3

Sand the pencil-marked rough spots with coarse or medium-grit sandpaper, depending on how much sanding each spot needs. Use coarse grit-paper on extremely rough spots and medium-grit on the rest. Sand along the grain of the wood, not against it.

Step 4

Sand the entire unfinished wood surface with fine-grit sandpaper to prepare a smooth surface for painting. Sand with the grain. Wipe away all the sanding debris with a tack cloth, a sticky cloth treated to remove dust before painting or staining.

Step 5

Apply sanding sealer to all unfinished wood surfaces with a paintbrush. Choose a sanding sealer appropriate for the type of paint you plan to use. Follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding the number of coats and drying time. After the sanding sealer dries, give your wood a light sanding with fine-grit sandpaper. Clean sanding debris from your wood with a tack cloth.

Step 6

Prime the unfinished wood with a primer designed for the type of paint you've chosen--oil or water-based. Start with the small areas and trim and cut-in with a 2 to 3-inch sash brush. Apply primer to larger areas with a 6-inch paint roller and roller cover. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the number of primer coats and drying time. Wash your sash brush thoroughly.

Step 7

Paint your cabinets with your topcoat paint. Cut-in trim and small areas first, using your sash brush. Paint larger areas with your 6-inch paint roller and a new roller cover. Let the paint dry completely and repeat with a second coat. Let the second coat dry.

Step 8

Reattach hardware and reinstall cabinet drawer and doors. Be careful not to damage your new paint job.