As a professional interior decorator, I get lots of great questions about home improvement. Not long ago someone I know asked me for advice on painting their kitchen cabinets. I know a lot of DIY (do-it-yourself) websites and many TV shows promote painting your kitchen cabinets. My opinion is a little different. I want you to know some unpopular truths about painting your kitchen cabinets.
1. Painting the kitchen cabinets is not a weekend project:
The work required to properly prep the surface of the door fronts and the boxes which requires removing hardware, washing several times, sanding all the surfaces, wiping off all the sanding dust can take some considerable time. Now add to that taping off the areas in the kitchen you don’t want to get paint on and removing items in the drawers, removing all the door fronts. You need to place the door fronts on a level surface.
The next step is priming all surfaces and letting it dry. Now you can actually start painting but be sure to do several thin layers of paint and have the paint thoroughly dry between the coats for the best finish. It is easily a 2 weekend project if not 5 to 6 days to do the job right and not make it look like an amateur. Once all the cabinets are painted, let them dry and cure for 2 weeks – yes, weeks – before you re-assemble and use your kitchen.
2. Painting the cabinets is a “band-aid” – not a long term remedy
Even if done properly and with great care, the products available for the home DIY just won’t last. When painting the cabinets plan to get 5 years out of it before it needs a touch up or more. Yes, for a quick solution or if you need to put the house on the market – Painting cabinets is a solution. If you plan on staying in your house for the foreseeable future – plan on painting them again. Painted kitchen cabinets are not for the long term.
3. Painted cabinets are not for you, if you are a ‘clean freak’
If you use cleaners to wipe down your cabinets, think again. You need to treat painted cabinets very carefully. Cleaners can weaken the paint on the cabinets and actually soften it. Cleaning them frequently will wear away the paint and they will look worse than they did before. You just can’t use typical cleaners on painted surfaces. Most of the time people paint cabinets some variation of white or cream. Over time those colors show dirt, grease, and stains very easily even with gloss paint.
4. Kitchen cabinets are the most used piece of furniture in the house.
Kitchens get the most traffic of the whole house (along with the bathroom) . Three or more times a day people are opening, shutting, splattering, steaming the surface of the cabinets. Imagine if you had a painted piece of furniture – like a much loved chair – that was used as much and in conditions like a kitchen for years – would it hold up? no. It will be worn, marked and chipped before you know it. If you seldom use your kitchen (you know the take-out phone number by heart) than painting your cabinets may be for you.
5. Professional direct-from-factory cabinets hold up better than any DIY job
The factory has the tools, machines and drying facilities to bake the paint on. You do not. You just can’t get the durability from a home project. if you like the painted look, the manufactured cabinets that are already painted are so much better. Save the $100 you would have spent on paint and use it to start saving for a true solution. Our society always want a quick fix. Quick change is not always the best solution in the long run.
So to summarize: Yes, in pinch and for the short term (less than 5 years) painting cabinets works beautifully. Long term solution in my professional opinion is No. So…did that person (the clean freak, family of five, done-in-one-weekend person) who wanted advice listen to me? No – they did not. I’ll be talking to them again sooner than they think.If you want honesty in regards to the best strategies for your home decorating plans, I‘ll be glad to help you. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to set an appointment.