What is the best finish for paint on kitchen cabinets?
On my kitchen cabinets I use a Sherwin Williams alkyd enamel in a semi gloss white. I sprayed the doors outside and I brushed and rolled the carcasses in place. It has been about 15 years and they still look great.
I did an experiment on one of my bathroom vanity doors. I sprayed one with Sherwin Williams Polane T, which is a polyurethane. I cut back the hardener significantly and sprayed about 5 mills. I air dried to touch and baked at about 180 for 20 minutes. I lightly sanded to removed nibs and woodgrain and repeated the process. I ended up with a nice semi gloss that has lasted about 12 years and looks like it will last forever. I ended up leaving the trade and no longer had a paint booth and oven, so I never completed the project.
Yes, I still have a bathroom vanity with one odd door.
When painting kitchen cabinets, it’s less about the paint you use and more about the prep work. As Paul mentioned, if you’re working with anything other than real wood cabinets, you might want to consider an alternative to painting them. You can have them sprayed (for metal cabinets) or refaced (for laminate). If you are lucky enough to have real wood cabinets though, you’re in for some work.
As mentioned, a good outcome for painted cabinets is 90% prep. It will take some time to get the brushwork right and avoid putting the paint on too thick or thin, but none of this matters if the surface you’re working with is in bad shape. Here’s what I did to repaint my cabinets, all of it in the prep work:
- Remove the doors and clean the surfaces – do yourself a favor and remove the cabinet faces before getting into this project. It’s much easier to do the work when the doors are accessible. Once the doors are off, thoroughly clean them and the frames. Do this more than once to get all of that grime off.
- Fill any holes, dings, and deep scratches – you’re going for as level and blemish-free surface as possible. If you’re relocating hardware, fill the holes. Same goes for any deep scratches.
- Sand, vacuum, wipe, repeat – once your filler dries, start sanding the doors and the frames with a fine grit sand paper. Again, you want to get as close to a perfectly smooth surface as you can. After sanding, use the hose and brush attachment on your vacuum to remove the dust from sanding. Then, use a damp lint-free cloth to mop up any dust you missed. Sand again if needed, but always vacuum and wipe more than once to get all the debris you can!
- Prime – this is one of the most important steps in the prep work. You’ll need to prime based on the type of wood you’re working with. For example, oil-based primers work well on wood like maple but not on something like oak with larger grains. You’re better off using a wax-free shellac to help minimize the grain. Keep in mind, wood with pronounced knots like knotty pine will need to be carefully sealed and primed to avoid bleeds through the finish.
If seem like there’s a lot of work to do before jumping into painting, that’s because there is. All of the work is well worth it for cabinet that look amazing.