Painting Kitchen Cabinets Part 1 – Prep Work

As I (we) removed the kitchen doors and drawers and moved them to the garage, John asked me a few times if I wanted to hire someone to do this part. I emphatically said no over and over again. Using the Critter spray gun was a learning curve, but I wouldn’t do it any other way.  Six months later, the paint job still looks fantastic!


Disclaimer:  I thought I had started a post on this process, but alas I made an old-school outline.  Yes, I am recording the process nearly 6 months later, but my outline is very detailed and is making it all come back to me!  Yay!  So, let’s get started.

The prep work has three main phases:  moving doors/drawers outside and sanding, preparing them to be painted, and setting up the painting booth.

Phase One:

After the knobs were taken off, I (we) removed and labeled the doors & drawers.  I can’t stress the labeling part enough!  Do this AS YOU REMOVE THEM!  No more than two people in this process…trust me.

Your doors and drawers all look the same size, but due to a million reasons why…they aren’t.  Make sure you label them where you won’t paint over the label!  DUH!  (Notice in the photo below, the white is the original primer.)

DIYDEEDS - Painting Kitchen Cabinets - label before painting

I read and reread all these other blog posts about whether or not to remove the hinges.  Since it appeared that the builder painted the hinges, and the hinges are the “hidden” type, I chose to leave them on.  One blog I read said to take them off, put them in a ziploc bag and place them in the cabinet. I figured if I removed them, no amount of organizational method would get them back to their original place, and I would have LOST MY MIND trying to put them back.  I digress…

Since I was using the Benjamin Moore Advance paint, the guy at the paint store said that the original oil-based paint will act as the primer.  I was skeptical, but it worked like a charm!

I had my little helper (a friend’s daughter) give them a light sand with 220 grit.  A light sand means to roughen up the old paint, NOT removing to bare wood…unless you have some spots that need to be repaired.


For those spots, I had to sand smooth…maybe add wood filler…sand again…prime (wait a day because when you rush this process, the paint won’t stick and you have to start over and it’s been 6 days and it’s July and really, really hot, and you begin to wonder if you should just call a painter, but then you remember that you want to do this on your own to prove that you can…oh sorry, I just had a moment).

Phase Two:

I started by taping the hinges with painters’ tape and flipped them out to use as “legs”. On the other side, I nailed in small picture-hanging nails for balance.  The photo below is the interior of a door.

DIYDEEDS - painting Kitchen Cabinets 3

Phase Three:

Again, a game of strategy ensued when I set up the painting booth.  Overspray is nasty and nearly impossible to remove from surfaces.  Yes, you think your paint is leaving the nozzle and only landing on the surface you’re pointing at, but trust me…small particles are FLYING EVERYWHERE!

Below is a photo of my garage and yes, the building to the right is my neighbors home.  Gotta love living in the city!  I thought that alley would make the perfect painting booth.


First, I bought some plastic painters drop cloths and used 10 foot 1x3s and made the “walls.”


I thought using a staple gun to attach the plastic to the boards was a brilliant idea…well until the plastic starting ripping.  DUH!  So, I recommend using painters tape to attach the plastic to the boards.  No photo of that because I was busy pulling down the “walls,” taping the plastic to the wood, and replacing the walls.


I made two “walls” and used the rocks in the alley to make them stand up right.


Next, I rounded up all the canvas drop cloths I could find and draped them over the fence, as well as all over the ground.  When I ran out of drop cloths, I grabbed some leftover wood and used that as well.  I recommend having a few of these on hand for painting projects.  They are much better than cardboard or plastic, since they don’t blow away OR blow into the piece that you just painted.


Next, I needed a bench to place my items on in order to paint them.  I used two sawhorses and another random piece of plywood.


At this point, I ran into a dilemma.  How was I going to walk around the doors/drawers and get all the sides? I didn’t want any finger prints on my doors (right?), and since the spray gun has a hose attached, which is attached to the air compressor, well…that just wouldn’t work.  Then I remembered that I bought a lazy-susan for some other brilliant idea that never came to fruition, and I attached that to another piece of plywood.


Man, I was on a ROLL!  Now, in order to be able to spray the edges, I needed to elevate each piece about 2 inches, so I grabbed some of my painter’s pyramids and placed them on the board that turned.


Stay tuned for Part 2 where I actually paint something.

Posted in DIY Directions, Remodeling Tagged with: , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *